One day, Tripp Powell decided to take a chance.
He walked into a bank and got a $7,000 loan. He admits now that at the time he wasn't really sure what he was doing. All he knew was that he was following his talent and a dream of becoming a professional musician.
Well, professional musicians make albums.
That's what the 24-year-old Thomson native did with his new-found wealth.
With scant musical training, Tripp Powell taught himself how to play a half-dozen instruments and has put out two CDs of his music.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
"I bought a couple of digital recorders and some high quality microphones," he said. "And I updated my computer for mixing stuff down."
He spent the next eight months just learning how to use his new equipment. But after getting over the learning curve, he began work on his first album, Superglue Nightmare, which he recorded anywhere he could, including a church and a girlfriend's rental home.
"I mixed it. I mastered it as well," he said. "I did a lot of reading and studying on it, because there's a lot more to it than just playing it."
It took him a year to get the album sounding like he wanted it.
Powell - whose father is Claude Powell, principal of Thomson Middle School - is quick to point out that he has a lot of influences.
"Usually I tell people it's like folk rock," he said. "There's a good bit in there like Bob Dylan and the Counting Crows."
Not surprisingly, Powell got into music at a young age. "When I was about 4, I got these kiddy Fisher-Price instruments," he said. "I would pass them out to my family members at family gatherings and make them play something. I picked them up and was able to play simple melodies on them."
His early interest in music turned into a longtime passion, and it would be easy to call Powell a musical prodigy - he's accumulated a grand total of only four months of music lessons. He took a month of keyboard lessons at age 6 and three months of guitar at age 13. At Georgia Southern University - where he attended for about year - he taught himself to play the drums.
The Rev. Brent Turner, Powell's only guitar teacher, had never heard anyone like him.
"I taught him three basic chords," he said. "He came back next week; he had those three chords down pat."
And it didn't take long for Turner to turn Powell loose.
"Within three months he had learned all I had taught him," he said. "He knows as much as I do. There are some kids that have a God given gift, and he has that. He has a better ear than I could ever have."
Turner will actually be conducting the wedding ceremony this June for Powell and his fiancee, Katherine.
The result of Powell's short stint of musical instruction is a proficiency with guitar, piano, bass, drums, a little harmonica and the tin flute. In fact, on his album he played all the instruments himself - credited under the name Wishbone Disaster.
After having 1,000 copies of his debut album made, he did what any other self-respecting musician would do.
He made another one.
His second album - entitled The Jacob Squadron was recently completed at a proper recording studio in Atlanta. Both are available for purchase at his Web site, www.wishbonecatastrophe.com. He currently lives in Thomson, conducting guitar and drum lessons.
Powell isn't quite sure how to account for all of his natural ability.
"It's just a God given blessing," he said. "I just have a natural understanding of musical theory."
He's just glad to be along for the ride.
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