Artist of the day: Woody
Florida native Forrest Detweiler, a.k.a. Woody, is a self-described flternative-folk musician. Drawing inspiration from “the people and world around him,” he “sees the world in a different light.” Culling from his experiences, he paints picturesque tales of love and relationships.
Tirelessly, Woody performs across the bay almost every night in settings ranging from dive bars to large venues. The singer will perform with Rebecca Loebe and Wil Erickson at the Attic Records Christmas Gala, 6 p.m. Saturday at the Hideaway Cafe, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. We were lucky enough to wrangle him for a few minutes to hear his story.
Tell me about your early musical awakenings and how you started.
Well, I grew up in a church that only had a cappella music. My dad was the one in charge of leading singing, so I would go and listen to him. ... I’ve been singing since I was a kid.
I started playing the trumpet when I was about eight and I went through college and got a trumpet performance degree. While I was in college, I got bored with the trumpet, because I don’t like sitting in a room by myself for eight hours; I’m more of a social creature. So, my best friend showed me how to play a little guitar.
I started to do music in church as a worship leader, and that’s when I started playing (guitar) and singing together. Then, I decided that I wanted to put a band together and write some music. It wasn’t church-related, it was just music.
I was married for a period of time and we had an agreement that I could do music and she would pay the bills. So I did that for a few years and I didn’t get anywhere. I did an album myself and I had a little conversation with Atlantic Records. He said, “Hey, man, you got a great voice, you got great music, but you don’t have a fan base.” I said, “You’re right.” I lived in the middle of nowhere and was married; I wasn’t able to go anywhere and play.
After the three years was up for our agreement, I went back to the work force and did some different sales jobs. I got divorced, lost my job and said “You know what, f--- it, I’m gonna start playing music.” That was almost three years ago. I’ve been playing music full time (since then). I’ve been playing cover gigs around bars. It put me in front of people, had me writing music and meeting musicians, and having a blast.
I just signed with a small, local record label called Attic Records about four months ago. I’m their first artist. We put an album out the end of August; that’s my first solo album (Paris). I’m really proud of it. We had a great time putting it together.
How would you classify your vocal style? I noticed a similarity to Mumford and Sons.
The first time I heard them I was in Los Angeles at a bar in Hollywood: Chateau Marmont. This is while I was doing my sales job, before I started playing music again. I was with my aunt, and she looked at me and said, “This sounds like your singing.” So I went over and asked the DJ who it was. So I went, looked them up and downloaded their album. I was before Mumford and Sons, (laughs) except nobody heard of me.
Do you feel you have a duty as an artist?
Certainly, as a human being, I have a duty be true to myself and do what I love. That makes me a happy human being. As an artist, I think it’s important for me to be authentic and play stuff that I like playin’. Express myself through that and write honestly, be authentic with my writing and the things I say.
As far as a goal as a musician, is to be as successful as possible and to connect with as many people. My goal is to go around and play for as many people as I can and make it a party wherever I go.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*