“The title, ‘Water the Chances’ represents his philosophy on life, to cultivate every opportunity you’re given, finding the patience to see it grow and having the foresight to know when it’s time to move on.”
March 16, Lowcountry native and local favorite, Joseph Vicars will be releasing his long-awaited solo album. Surprisingly, Vicars is one of the few local musicians who actually originates from the south, and is proud of it.
When church was not in session, Vicars spent most of his time there tinkering on different instruments and practicing for hours. By the 6th grade, he joined the school band and played a number of different brass instruments such as the trumpet, the french horn, the saxophone and his favorite, the tuba. He continued with school band up until his senior year when after taking a class on Jazz Performance Theory, he fell in love with the bass guitar and began experimenting with improvisation. But, Vicars always had a passion for bass instruments in general because of, as he puts it, “the deep connection and bond between the melody and the rhythm.”
The oldest of three brothers, Vicars spent most of his childhood in Murrels Inlet, where he had strong ties to the Gospel Pentecostal Church. His father, a minister at the church, moved the family into a house next door. It was not only a place of worship but one of song and dance where his mother, sang and played piano and his father, who was gifted on a number of instruments, a quality Joe also shares, favored the bass and drums.Most of his friends back then were of Gullah descent and had opened him up to a whole new type of music, Reggae. He felt a strong affinity to Reggae and found it oddly similar to his Bluegrass roots, commenting that, “they both share the same musical backbone, with the emphasis on the 2 and the 4, and when stripped down, the two sonically line up.”
Growing up, Vicars’ parents didn’t approve of most music outside Gospel so unlike most kids his age, it wasn’t until his late teens that he finally discovered bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. Soon enough, rock and roll became yet another core influence, as he continued crafting his own personal and unique sound.
After high school, he bought his first car and discovered a freedom he never had before, the open road. He would often drive out to different trails and go backpacking with his dog, a wolf hybrid named Mischa. It was then he learned of his other passion, his love for the outdoors.
This would set in motion his lifelong sentiment of travel, as well as his deep respect for nature.
One day, almost out of impulse, Vicars decided to head out west. After driving along the coast for a few weeks, he arrived in Alamogordo, N.M., where he literally pulled over, parked the car and started walking. Eventually, he ran out of food and water, relying solely on what nature would provide him, which was a desert diet of rainwater, scorpions, lizards and cactus.
He crossed two major highways before stumbling out of the wilderness somewhere in Arizona and caught the first bus back to New Mexico. He grabbed his car and decided to extend his west-side joyride, stopping in Las Vegas and at different sites like the Grand Canyon. But, once he reached the Pacific Ocean, something told him it was time to go home.
A jack of all trades, Vicars moved back home and started his own flooring business. To stay sharp, he would bring his guitar to the jobsite and would work on songs during his lunch break.
Needless to say, it wouldn’t be long before he got his passport and began traveling again.
Joe’s first trips were to Canada, Mexico and a few other Latin American countries thereafter.
During this time, he moved inland and was working as a manager at the College Street Pub in Asheville, N.C. This was the first time in his life that he hadn’t lived near water, so after residing there for almost four years, he longed to be back by the sea. About this time, Vicars met Drew Hillier, who was there visiting during the off-season and the two became fast friends. As summer approached, Drew returned home to Hilton Head where he was in need of a new roommate. When Joe caught wind of this, he jumped at the opportunity and moved in.
Once he was settled, Joe realized that in order to play more gigs and make a living at it, he would need to put his original writing on hold and focus more on learning covers. That’s exactly what he did, and after seeing some of the musicians save up their money during the summer months so they could travel in the off-season, he realized he wanted to do that too. This began another slew of adventures in the years to follow, landing him in the jungles of Costa Rica, European countries such as Norway and Iceland and places such as the Domincan Republic, where he would discover his newest obsession, kite-surfing.
This quickly became just as important to him as music, comparing the exhilaration of kitesurfing to the rush he would get while playing for a live audience.
But these were not all joyous times abroad, there was a period when he lived in Amsterdam, his first experience living in a city, and was flat broke, had no job and was becoming increasingly more depressed. He refers to those days as being the loneliest time of his life.
Once his friend photographer Bop Mulder arrived back home in Amsterdam, Bop took Joe under his wing and things finally started looking up. He was introduced to a DJ by the name of Peer Vos, who introduced him to the world of Electronica. Joe was also the first person in Amsterdam to take the didgeridoo and incorporate it into electronic music, pioneering a sound that would give birth to his newest project, Flux.
The many different places Vicars traveled, directly reflects the sounds you hear while listening to his new album. The title, “Water the Chances” represents his philosophy on life, to cultivate every opportunity you’re given, finding the patience to see it grow and having the foresight to know when it’s time to move on.
The 11 songs on the album are a culmination of the past 15 years, so when he first stepped into The Sound Studio, he was a bit overwhelmed by the gravity of it all. He was nervous at first, wanting to make sure that he did these songs justice but when he began tracking his first song everything seemed to just fall into place.
The album features an array of local talent, including veteran engineer Greg Critchley, as well as mixing engineer Will Snyder, who Vicars both credits as having a large role in bringing back the local scene to its days of prominence. It also includes appearances by singers Jessica Sheridan and Amanda Russ, guitarists Craig Coyne and John Wilkins, jazz pianist, Martin Lesch, Jevon Daly on fiddle, Danny Dennison and Dave Brogan on horns, as well as Celtic drummer, John Ruxton.
Now that Vicars is wrapping up this chapter of his life, he is looking forward to the future. He is already close to finishing his newest project, his one-man show, R2Dtour which he plans on releasing in early July. Vicars defines it as having the organic feel of his solo album, crossed with Flux, but with slightly less Electronica. You will be able to catch his R2Dtour set every Monday at the Boardroom starting this summer. Also, keep your eye out for a newly revamped Storks project coming soon.
You can purchase his new album on iTunes or pick up a copy of his CD at the album release party, scheduled for 10 p.m. on March 16 at the islands newest venue, the Broken Spoke.
The Broken Spoke is hosting Joseph Vicars’ album release party at 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 16. “Water the Chances” is an 11-song solo album featuring an array of local talent, including veteran engineer Greg Critchley, mixing engineer Will Snyder, singers Jessica Sheridan and Amanda Russ, guitarists Craig Coyne and John Wilkins, jazz pianist Martin Lesch, Jevon Daly on fiddle, Danny Dennison and Dave Brogan on horns and Celtic drummer John Ruxton.