Nashville by way of Florida singer-songwriter Parker Willingham pens songs that are experience driven, focusing on down to earth themes like relationships and small-town life. Songs of those nature can be found on his latest release, You Get Me Every Time. The twelve-track recording, produced by Kate Hart, is filled with originals and co-writes and features “One Kiss At A Time,” “Flipside,” and the title track. Recently, Willingham kindly took the time to chat via email about his roots, the album, and more.
You were planning on a baseball career; what happened to turn your attention to music? And was music something that was there the whole time you were playing sports or something new?
I’d always enjoyed singing. When I was in high school, though, sports (baseball primarily) were my concentration. I never really thought about making music a career. I used to sing in the locker room and on the school bus to and from games; all of my friends used to tell me, ‘STOP SINGING!’ It really wasn’t until my sister signed me up for a singing competition at a local festival that I put baseball aside and picked up the guitar with any kind of seriousness (well, as serious as I can be). I sang in a few competitions and out in public, and that experience turned a new leaf for me—which led to new gigs and opportunities. I get a rush outta playing on stage.
You enjoy a variety of music from Styx to Skynyrd and Brooks and the Eagles. What eventually made you gravitate toward Country and who do you consider your influences artistically?
I’m a country music ‘fan;’ but creatively, I’ve always gravitated more toward blues and rock music. (I dig the rhythm.) I think all three genres tend to go hand in hand. My musical influences range in styles from Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, along with George Strait and Garth Brooks.
Did you write all the songs on the album? If so, where do you draw from and if not, what drew you to record the songs?
I wrote more than half of the tunes on the new album (YOU GET ME EVERY TIME). The song ideas came from real life experiences, feelings and the place where I grew up. There are a few cuts on the project that I did not write; I was drawn to those tracks because I really liked the lyrics. I resonated with the storylines and the people who wrote them.
Throughout its eight-year history, The Festy Experience has worked hard to produce a diverse festival experience that illustrates its core values: a family-friendly atmosphere, a love of craft food & beer, appreciation for the outdoors, and of course, stellar music. This year The Festy Experience will be held October 5-8 in the Blue Ridge Bowl at Infinity Downs Farm in Arrington, Virginia. The lineup comprises a carefully curated blend of national and local roots music acts including Ani DiFranco, Phoebe Hunt, and Elephant Revival, whose member Charlie Rose kindly took some time to answer a few questions via email about The Festy, the importance of giving back, and more.
This is the Festy’s 8th year. How many years have you been involved and what makes the Festy special such that it has you returning? If this is your first time performing, what made you want to be a part of it?
This is Elephant Revival’s third year playing Festy. We love to be a part of music gatherings and celebrations. The Festy is a great opportunity to come together with fans and friends in other bands and make a joyful noise!
Being that performing is what you do, do you also like to catch live music? Is there anyone, in particular, whom you are excited to see or are planning on seeing for the first time at Festy?
Haha, I don't care much for music myself ;) (just kidding). I'm really excited to see Phoebe Hunt and her amazing band! Also, Della Mae is a must see. And any and all Stringdusters will get my ears to perk up!