Bridges, Hannon: Country music team

Published 7:17 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

John Bridges performs for students recently in the Polk County Builder’s Club program. &bsp;I met with Brook, John and John&squo;s girlfriend, Stephanie, over lunch at Kyoto&squo;s restaurant in Tryon. While waiting for the food I put in the CD to have a listen. What struck me was the honest and clear story told sweetly and simply with just vocals and guitar. Even though I&squo;m not as big of a fan of country music as my mother or my sister, it was a song that I enjoyed for both the lyrics and the music.

John performed some selections of his music last week for students in Polk County as part of Polk&squo;s Builder&squo;s Club program.

So, John, how was it sitting down to record one of your own songs?

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It&squo;s so different because I&squo;ve always played live and never recorded, so it was totally different recording. I can hear the mistakes.

When did you start writing songs?

I started at maybe 17 or 18, and have been singing since I was seven years old. I lost a bunch of the songs I wrote right out of high school. I had stopped writing and singing for about three years. But finally got back into it because this is what I&squo;ve wanted to do my entire life. I&squo;ve always wanted to be a country music singer.

So what triggered you to get back on track?

I tried out for the &dquo;Nashville Star.&dquo; The first time I tried I was in a group of 700 and made it down to the last few people. That really triggered me to get started on country music. In the meantime, I played Christian music in churches. I started going to different churches and singing. This past year I tried out for &dquo;Nashville Star&dquo; and made it past the first round. &bsp;

What is &dquo;Nashville Star?&dquo;

It&squo;s a show with the same principle as &dquo;American Idol&dquo; except country. You have all these preliminary rounds in various cities. The first time I went to Columbia, S.C. and second to Charlotte, N.C. They narrow it down to ten contestants from all the cities and then they compete on TV. It&squo;s a cheap way of making a name for yourself, but I&squo;ll take it. The people who have the discipline and the drive to make it would make it anyway. Those without it even with the opportunities provided by the show will vanish again if they don&squo;t have the discipline. I would like to make it as a musician outside of the &dquo;reality&dquo; TV deal.

My dream as a kid was to be just like Kenny Rogers and play the Opry and have tons of fans and be famous. My dream now as an adult is to make just enough money to eat and travel around the country doing what I love to do, singing. That&squo;s the dream job for me.

Did you grow up here?

I grew up in Rutherfordton and that&squo;s where I live now. &bsp;

Have you had much community support?

Yes, although not many people know about it. My church has always known that I want to be a singer and they have been very supportive. My girlfriend is supportive and Brook Hannon has been helping a lot.

So you have one track done, what&squo;s coming up next?

Within the next month I should have about 5-6 original songs ready on a demo album. I have a lot of original songs that are started but not finished.

Brook: We already have studio time booked out.

John: Colin Smith is playing lead guitar with me. Hopefully we&squo;ll be starting to play in the area over the next couple of months. I cut steel at Timken right now. For a day job I love building houses, but I couldn&squo;t compete in the current market where quality is not as much of a concern as price and speed.

What drew you to the country music genre?

The reason why I like and sing country music is because that&squo;s what I am. I work hard, I play hard and I live in the country. Country music talks about everything from going muddin&squo; to heartache. It&squo;s every kind of music with a Polk/Rutherford feel. I listen and sing music that I can relate to. That&squo;s what I like. It&squo;s feel good music. A lot of people think country music is whining and crying like Hank Williams. George Jones and Charlie Daniels play good upbeat country. Charlie Daniels can take a song about his girlfriend leaving and kick it up and make it move.

Are those songs in that notebook you&squo;re flipping through?

This yellow pad is a journal from day one working with Brook with dates and places to be and some of the song writing we&squo;ve done together at home. &dquo;Good Love,&dquo; the one you heard, was written in about 15-20 minutes.

So what&squo;s the next song going to be?

I love Ford trucks and we&squo;ve been working on a song about Ford trucks.

How did you and Brook come to work together?

The first time Stephanie mentioned he wanted to work with me, I said &dquo;Brook doesn&squo;t know anything about what I do.&dquo;

Brook: John and I met in class.

John: What happened was Stephanie and I had just started dating. I was texting her in class and Brook was sitting next to me and looking over and figured out that I was dating Stephanie. Stephanie and Brook had worked together with the Voyagers program and so that&squo;s how we became friends. I got to know him better hanging out with that program.

Stephanie: Then we saw the article about Brook and realized he was really going someplace with working on the music.

John: Thankfully we&squo;re at a point in society where we&squo;re getting away from racial tensions. Country has Cowboy Troy and Rap has Eminem.

Brook: The rapper Nelly recorded with Tim McGraw. When you have a common goal and a love of music anyone can come together and work together. I am country because I live here and I love to go fishing.

John: If you live in a town where the lights turn flashing yellow at 11 p.m. you can relate to the songs I write. It&squo;s all about lyrical content. If there&squo;s a good beat and guitar but you can&squo;t hear the lyrics, what&squo;s the point? Music and singing is about the lyrics and the song, not about screaming and sounding like a demon or a bear. &bsp;

So how did the project get started?

Brook: I was still in school at the time, and then at the end of school I had to do a multi-track recording with someone. So I called John and he recorded &dquo;I&squo;m Still a Guy&dquo; by Brad Paisley. The teacher and the students were impressed and asking &dquo;Who is that singing?&dquo; Me being me, I saw this as an opportunity and took the chance to record another song and then met and played the recording for Chris Riddle. So we set a date and shot a video with Chris. We had a great time. We started at 7:30 that morning and got it done in one day. It&squo;s been a blessing having access to the studio at the school too.

What has it been like working together so far?

Brook: John&squo;s down to earth and a good communicator and gets along with anyone.

Stephanie: He&squo;s a good person, that&squo;s the difference. He&squo;ll always be a good person.

What are your goals?

John: To have a career doing music is great because I&squo;m doing something I love. Hopefully this time next year we&squo;ll be doing a follow up and there will be much more to discuss.

Brook: I noticed this opportunity to put John on stage. Melvin Rodriguez with 3rd Day Production has signed on to record three of the songs. He&squo;s willing to do a video. Andy Balla from Hendersonville has signed on to record some songs as well. Markston Music is the company that I&squo;m operating to pull this together. Success for me right now is getting to sit down with John talking about music and working to get him in the studio. We haven&squo;t seen the money yet, but I feel successful. Team-wise everyone has been great. We just had an anonymous donor leave money to help toward producing and promoting John.

John: We have an idea and dream, but no product yet.

Stephanie: It&squo;s amazing how much we&squo;ve done just this summer.

John: Right now I want to play smaller shows and venues and work a name out for myself and then later on build the band for bigger shows. I really want to bring the stories back to country music. A good country song tells a good story. There&squo;s a lot you can explain with a song that you can&squo;t when you&squo;re just talking to somebody.

I&squo;ve got a dream and it might happen, it might not, but I have to live my life the way I want to, whether or not I get supported. I think everybody owes it to themselves to go after one dream. The reason I want to go after this, when I have children one day and sit down and talk to them I want them to know that they can be anything they wanted to be. I couldn&squo;t encourage my child to chase their dreams if I hadn&squo;t chased mine with all my heart.

On July 29, John made his debut performing his original music for the kids at Polk County Schools&squo; Builder&squo;s Club. It was a kid friendly show, with talk about directing emotions into a positive thing like music rather than into destructive habits and activities.

As we finished our meal and checked our fortunes, the signs were good. I couldn&squo;t argue with mine, &dquo;You are original and creative.&dquo; Brook was reminded, &dquo;You are a happy man.&dquo; Stephanie was given positive support: &dquo;Good things are going to come to you.&dquo;

And to top it off, John received a big green light on this project with: &dquo;Your present plans are going to succeed.&dquo;

As you&squo;re watching the local music listings, keep an eye out for this up and coming young star, or contact to find out more about John Bridges.