He’s toured the world with some of the biggest names in blues and funk, had his music featured in an American Express commercial with Tiger Woods, and recorded several well-reviewed albums. He’s the fiery guitarist known as Sol, and his influences span the country, and the globe.
Sol was born in North Carolina and grew up there, as well as in Virginia, Ohio and Arizona. He went to college in Tennessee, and he has family scattered across the US, as well as in Brazil and Costa Rica. The music and cultures of all these places make Sol the musician that he is. He also happens to have a musician dad who has played with some of the greats in blues, folk and rock.
“I grew up surrounded by music,” Sol said, “hearing rock, blues, soul, folk and jazz. I appreciate music from all over: samba, bossa nova, jazz etc.”
Some of Sol’s most formative experiences came from his involvement with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. The MMRF is a North Carolina-based non-profit organization that helps pioneers of blues and roots music make ends meet and put out their music on CD. Sol tells the story of his involvement:
“Before Music Maker had officially been established, my father was touring with his friend Tim Duffy (President of Music Maker) and Piedmont blues legend Guitar Gabriel. During my summer breaks from school I would travel around the deep south helping to do field recordings with Tim Duffy. I started working with Music Maker first as a recording engineer, then a mastering engineer, and also as a session musician. After they began to hear my musicianship, they pulled me in for quite a lot of shows. Working with them has been a great experience; I’ve been able to travel around the world, and to work with many deep, spiritually-rewarding artists. Music Maker is a great organization that I’m proud to work with.”
Through Music Maker, Sol had the chance to travel around the world, backing up musicians like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Taj Mahal. He also put out one of his albums, “Volume: Blue,” on the Music Maker label.
“’Volume: Blue’ has been described as an underground blues/hip-hop mash-up,” Sol said, “and is a tribute to some of my musical mentors. It is my attempt to share the philosophy, life lessons and soul of artists like Guitar Gabriel and Cootie Starks with the youth of today. I have a deep respect for all of the artists that are a part the album. All of them have had a great impact on me, not just musically, but also personally.”
These days, Sol calls DC home, and he’s recording and touring around the east coast with his band Funk Root. They’ve put out one CD, “Freedom,” with another on the way sometime this year. Funk Root includes musicians who have worked with many local legends, including Jah Works, Corey Harris, Hobex, Mary Ann Redmond and Deanna Bogart.
Deciding he wanted to settle down just a bit after all the relentless touring, Sol has made the L.A. Bar & Grill in Arlington a kind of home base. Besides the open jam showcase he hosts every Thursday—a popular event that covers blues, funk, folk and every genre in between—Sol also plays gigs at the bar and helps manager (and avid live music supporter) Sean Deloatche find bands for the bar’s Friday Night Music Series.
“Sean and I work together on a vision of bringing in quality music while keeping a laid-back atmosphere,” Sol said. “Every Friday, this relaxed venue is transformed into a lively party spot for music lovers of all kinds.”
Sol does not plan on stopping the music anytime soon. He is dedicated to spreading the gospel of blues and roots music, and making people get up and dance while he’s at it. He’s grateful for the chance.
“I try to be thankful,” he said, “for every day, every show, every musician I work with, and every venue and promoter I work with that is focused on quality and integrity.”