Local singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Courtney has fond memories of growing up in a house filled with music. His mother played the piano as his dad was singing next to her and his grandmother sang professionally. “She toured with the ‘Revivaltime Choir’ as a soloist in the ‘50s and ‘60s and was on CBS Radio,” said Courtney. “My grandmother and parents have been my biggest inspiration and encouragement.”
Courtney says he has been singing “since two years old I’m told.” He was born in Dallas, raised in Pampa, Texas, and came to the Bay Area in 1999. In addition to singing, the 26-year-old Courtney has played guitar for 16 years, and some basic piano.
Thinking back he says, “I guess I chose guitar because it always looked like so much fun on stage.” The first song he learned was “Hey Joe” by Jimmy Hendrix.
Courtney studied the guitar for eight years with his good friend Clavin Arnold. “He taught me practically everything I know.” After high school, Courtney studied classical guitar at San Jacinto South Campus with Jeremy Garcia and earned an associate’s degree in music.
Courtney performed on the Norman Frede Singer/Songwriter Stage at the 2013 SCENEfest. Currently, he hosts Open Mic night at Cock & Bull British Pub in Seabrook on Wednesday nights and is also is seen regularly in Kemah at Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack and Monkey Bar during the summer. The first time he was ever solo on stage was in the seventh grade in the school choir’s spring pop show. “I have always been comfortable onstage,” Courtney said.
“Whether it’s five people or 50, the audience defines how I feel on stage.”
Courtney would like his fans to know that he strives to put his own interpretation on everything he performs. “I play a very broad spectrum of covers, and I write my own songs as well.” The artists that have inspired his music have been the story tellers. “I play a lot of blues, and BB King is my favorite. My other inspirations would be John Mayer, James Taylor, and Amos Lee.”
“One of my most popular originals is ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Friends,’” said Courtney. “I’ve played it at the Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville. It’s special to me because it conveys a simple message that everyone can relate to.” His favorite cover to perform is “Come Together” by The Beatles. “I like it when people are kind of surprised to hear it done acoustically. It’s fun to play, and it’s also fun to see people kind of jam out.” Another one of Courtney’s favorite cover songs to play is “Turn Me On” by Norah Jones. “It’s very soulful, and I love the way it works acoustically.”
When not performing live, his personal interests include carpentry, swing dancing, and being outdoors.
“Music will always be my first priority,” he says. In fact, it has been through playing gigs and selling Adirondack furniture that is handmade in his shop that have put the recent graduate through massage therapy school. In addition to working on songs for his first album, Courtney also plans to build his massage therapy practice. His philosophy in life is “to be a blessing wherever I can.”
For more info on Bruce Courtney, he can be contacted at 713-854-8995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rhonda Meredith