The Acoustic Guitar starts to ring as Rick Lee strums away. The crowd grows silent not knowing what to expect, and then out of nowhere comes a voice of an angel. Introducing Ricky Free, and Piper Lou-Renee’.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Colorado, but my family moved to Kansas soon after. I was raised in Hutchinson, KS.
When did you start performing music?
I started singing at some of my mom’s events (she’s a Christian singer) around the age of eight or nine, but didn’t start seriously pursuing music and writing my own songs until I was about fourteen.
Which instruments do you play?
Ha! I play guitar, very badly. And I play basic chords on piano. I really just sing.
Describe your music interests and abilities.
I love easy listening music, the stuff you would hear in a Starbucks. I gravitate towards that sound. My music is kind of a mix of country, and folk.
What is some of your best musical memories?
The day of my first actual concert. It was a fundraising concert to raise money for a young girl that needed a liver transplant and I had been practicing with my good friend and guitarist for weeks on end. We had our final practice at my house the afternoon of the show. Now, I have twin eighteen year old brothers and they are absolutely crazy. My favorite memory was one of my brothers coming into the room we were practicing in and letting me know that he was going to bring rotten tomatoes to sell outside the venue in case the concert sucked. He said that way; we were guaranteed to make money! I still laugh about that.
What public events do you have coming up?
I’m currently in production for my new album that will be released either summer or fall of 2015, so I’m mostly focusing on that right now.
What would you say to beginners in the industry, who are nervous?
“Get up on that stage, after you’ve practiced your butt off, and give it your all.”
I’ve been there too! Heck, I still get nervous. Even if it’s the worst performance of your life, you’ll learn from it and know what not to do, and what needs to be changed for next time!
How do you balance your music with your family and friends?
My parents, one of my brothers and my little sister all live in Kansas, and my other brother lives in California, while I live in Georgia. So we don’t get to see each other very often, which is hard. We try to Skype as much as possible!
As for my friends, they’re pretty much all in the music business too, so they get it. We all work hard, and get some chill time every so often. Which is always much needed.
Should we be expecting anything new?
Ricky Free, and I have released a Christmas duet! It’s a really fun song that we recorded at Upstream Studios. I’m also in pre-production for my new album, with a tentative release scheduled for late summer/ early fall of 2015.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
Is your family musical?
They are! My dad plays guitar and can sing, and my mom, Ginger Millermon, has toured full time singing Christian music since I was about seven.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
“I usually laugh.”
Which is probably not the best thing mid song, but I end up shaking it off and complaining to Ricky about it later haha.
Who’s your biggest supporter?
I really don’t have one supporter that’s more prevalent than any others. So many people support me, it’s very humbling. My parents, my best friend back in Kansas- Courtney Blankenship– and of course, probably more than anyone since he’s around me every day, Ricky Free.
What’s your favorite song to perform and why?
I have a new song called Pitiful Boy, and it’s quickly becoming my favorite. Ricky and I rewrote it based off of a song I had written in 2012. It’s a ballad that I think is really honest and gritty and it resonates with people.
Tell us about your friend Ricky.
Ricky and I met in April of this year, at the studio. I was still living with my old record label at the time and it was this really raw deal. They were barely feeding me, and wouldn’t let me get a job. When I met Ricky, I hadn’t eaten in several days. It was a total God thing… A studio engineer wanted me to come to the studio and check out a band he was recording.
Ricky was the first person I met, and I think I fell in love with him a little from the moment he introduced himself. Haha! He found out about the record label situation I was in, and really just rescued me. He and his family took me in and I fell in love with all of them, really.
Ricky now produces all of my music, co-writes with me, writes all the guitar parts for my songs and plays with me live.
“He’s my best friend, confidant and soul mate.” 🙂
Aside from playing music with me, he also plays lead guitar for a band called The Armory. He remains the most talented guitar player I have ever heard, seen live, or had the privilege to work with.
Most impressively, he is also a solo artist, and is working on his debut Ep, that is going to blow people away. It will be released early 2015. His solo project is under his name, Ricky Free.
Can you tell us some of your writing strategies as a co-writing duo?
It kind of differs each time we write together! Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a song in my head, and we will write and rewrite ideas based on the ones I already have. Other times he will write a guitar part, and I will write my lyrics and melody around it. He always writes the guitar parts, but he also helps with my melodies and lyrics. No matter our writing style of the day, whenever I write with him,
“something fun always comes out if it!”
About Johnny Naylor:
Johnny Naylor is the founder and owner of 1st Shot Music and a feature writer for Jammerzine. His work can also be found on 1st Shot Music and Naylor’s Notes. You can also get his latest updates on his facebook page.