Virginia native Nelson Braswell discovered the love of music at an early age. A self-taught vocalist, guitarist, and bass player he has had the opportunity to open for acts like Ratt, Dokken, and others. Over the years his work has appeared on five various albums, most recently he can be found on Potomac Records. The two newest singles Roll With It and Devil’s Playground are available from there now.
What was it like growing up in Virginia? How did that affect who you are as a person?
It was as typical as living anywhere else, I guess. As a kid, we moved a lot, due to my step father being a truck driver. So I, at a young age, was frequently the new kid in school, until my early teens when we finally settled down. In Virginia, I experienced city and country living growing up. I worked hard and played hard…music, work, hot rods, and outdoor activities.
Why do you think you chose to stay there?
I have a long history of roots in Virginia. I have several generations that have lived there, and it has been home and felt like home after all of these years. I did live in Jacksonville, FL for a while and have done a lot of travelling over the years, so I have been able to see a large portion of the United States. And we all have to live somewhere, right? Wherever you go, there you are.
The music scene there seems very tight knit, why do you think that is? Do you think it is a good thing to have so much support?
I think the music scene can be tight here because we all run in the same music circles some good, some bad (laughs), but mainly because we are all trying to be heard as artists, and there is strength in numbers. It is a good thing to have a good foundation of people who believe in you and share some of your same dreams and goals whether they come true or not.
Do you happen to remember what your very first favorite song was?
I would have to say, Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s, All Along the Watchtower. Keep in mind, this was the early 70’s. I was blown away by his guitar work the first time I heard it and wore several albums out, one of which I still have today in Mint condition.
Who are some of your earliest influences?
Of course, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Rodgers and Bad Company, Led Zepplin, Thin Lizzy, Montrose with Sammy Hagar on vocals, Sammy Hagar in any project, David Coverdale and Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Lynryd Skynyrd, and I could go on and on forever.
What led to you deciding to teach yourself to play? What would you say is the most challenging issues faced when doing that?
I started playing as a teenager before I could drive, so the desire to want to play is what led me because the drive was so deep at an early age. When first starting out, the ability to grasp the technical aspects of it on your own can be difficult, but I relied a lot on ear, heart, and soul. As the years went by I was able to pick up more on the theory aspect, and I learned so much from playing with older, more experienced musicians. I still firmly rely on playing by ear, heart, and soul.
What advice would you offer to others wishing to do the same?
Stick with it and make it become a habit. No matter how frustrated you may get. And realize you are not going to learn without practicing and experimenting with different styles and sounds. Do not let one particular influence direct your path.
What do you love most about being a musician?
Being able to relay the emotions through playing music and trying to relate those emotions to an audience or on a recording. The unity that music can bring to a group of people who know nothing about each other, but yet they still flow as one if it’s music that moves them.
How did you come to be represented by Potomac Records? Do you consider yourself lucky to have them in your corner so to speak?
I had been playing on the local scene in Virginia for many years and had put out recordings with several projects locally. I had met the President of Potomac Records, Mike Bailey, through a friend’s band who was signed with him. We started communicating and struck up a working relationship for which I am very grateful. I feel lucky that through Potomac and Mike Bailey, I have been given an avenue that I did not have until I started working with them to get my original music exposed at a higher level than I could do on my own. (Thank you, Mike)
Can you tell us a little about Roll With It and Devil’s Playground? What are the stories behind those?
Roll with It came from reflecting on certain situations in my life and what I could see in other people’s lives over a period of years. To me, it is about being faced with multiple life-changing challenges but still digging down deep to keep moving forward and rolling with the punches. Also, it’s about negative people who have the “misery loves company” mentality and try to lie and manipulate you down to their level.
Devil’s Playground came about after years on the music scene and seeing and experiencing the good and bad of the music business as well as the experience of being conned a time or two by people who want to exploit your talents for their own personal gain. Hence not becoming a part of the negative aspects of the music lifestyle and temptations that can come along with it.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m writing and recording new material to be released by Potomac Records. Also, I’ve been playing with my local band here in Virginia called Fuzzbox, along with my bandmate, Jimi Forrest, who recorded and produced Devil’s Playground, as well as played on the track. He is a man of many talents and a good friend. David Lumb plays drums for that project, and David Elmore is our bass player. My second project is an acoustic-oriented band called Long Shot. We play a wide variety of classic rock, blues, upbeat country, and some originals. My friends Dana Southern and Wes Arnold join me in this project. Both projects play out when we can, and we make a priority of doing charity events whenever there is the opportunity to help out someone in need.
Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
I would like to thank you, Tina, for the opportunity to share my story with you and others. I also would like to thank Mike Bailey of Potomac Records for opening a door that was not open before. I would like to thank Jimi Forrest for his talents in recording and producing Devil’s Playground, and Tom Kemp for recording and producing Roll with It, as well as playing bass on the track, and I look forward to hopefully working with them again on future releases. I would like to thank my beautiful wife, Amy Lynn Braswell, for her love and support and for creating the cover artwork for both singles, as well as being the best wife and mother to our two children that I have ever hoped for. I would also like to thank anyone who has ever been supportive and appreciative of my work over the years, particularly here in my home state of Virginia.