Luke Mitchell
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Luke Mitchell

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, United States | INDIE

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"Hilton Head Senior Holds CD release party"

It’s not often that rock musicians
have the forethought to
offer a reporter freshly baked
chocolate chip cookies and Perrier
on ice for an interview.
But it’s also not often that a 17-
year-old books time in a recording
studio — Elevated Basement
Studios in Savannah — to record
his first CD, which has already
received attention from local
press.
But it’s clear from the moment
Luke Mitchell opened the doors
to his Hilton Head Island home — also home to a 10-year-old
sister who’s already making
playlists for her own band and
parents who graciously turned
the back room of the house into
a makeshift recording studio
— that there’s something different
about this Hilton Head
Island High School senior.
Mitchell’s sound, for one, is
removed from the black-fingernail
goth-rock or sappy pop ballads
that many people his age
are listening to.
“Today’s music is cliche. It’s
business-driven. It’s unimaginative,”
said Mitchell, who lists
among his influences artists
like Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin,
Neil Young and Tom Petty.
Over the past few years,
Mitchell has either fronted,
formed or participated in six
bands — including the cover
band New Kids on the Rock
with Kieran Daly of Lowcountry
Boil in 2002. Last summer,
Mitchell attended the Berklee
School of Music, which helped
sharpen his skills. These days
he plays guitar, bass, mandolin,
piano, drums and theremin (the
signature instrument on the
Beach Boys’ track “Good Vibrations”).
“I’m always learning,” Mitchell
says. “I’ve become a jack of
all trades. If you take away all of
the instruments out of the equation,
I just write songs. That’s
the best instrument ever.”
Mitchell wrote all of the music
on his new disc, “Inside and
Out,” and recorded tracks with
longtime studio guitarist Jack
Sherman, who has performed
on albums by Bob Dylan, John
Hiatt and the Red Hot Chili
Peppers, among others.
“I was telling Jack what I
thought I should play and he
said, ‘Shhhh ... let me focus,’ ”
Mitchell says, laughing. “Then,
he played everything beautifully.
It was like fate with him.”
Sherman said when the two
got together, it didn’t sound like
“a 17-year-old and a 52-year-old
playing. We were just two guys
playing rock ‘n’ roll.”
To Sherman, Mitchell is a
unique breed of young musicians,
who cling to the purity
of music that was once considered
rebellious. True rock ‘n’
roll isn’t something that can be
found in a classroom, he says;
it’s what happens when the guitar
is your constant companion
and the lyrics reflect real life,
Sherman says. And he thinks
Mitchell fits the bill.
“Rock n’ roll was once definitely
an alternative lifestyle.
Now, it seems like another
vocation,” Sherman says. “I
don’t see that in Luke so much.
He has almost an encyclopedic
passion for it.”

14 I THE GUIDE I MUSIC I FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008
- The Guide/Heather Hoefer


"Ready to Rock"

These days, it’s easier than ever for unknown rock musicians
to make a record. Low-cost digital recording
equipment now allows budding artists without label
backing to make semi-professional recordings and distribute
them directly online. Seventeen-year-old Hilton
Head native, Luke Mitchell, has taken advantage of this for the
past few years.
A prolific tunesmith and multi-instrumentalist who can hold his
own on guitar, keyboards and percussion, Mitchell (a senior at
Hilton Head Island High) says he’s been into music for as long as
he can remember.
“I started playing drums when I was about three,” he recalls. “That
was real fun for my parents. (laughs) I started guitar at around13, and with that came the bass. Plus, I’ve always kind of messed
around on piano.”
Mitchell, who some may recognize as the front man and rhythm
guitarist of local quartet, The Great Escape, lists classic and
alternative rock icons Lou Reed, Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth and
Wilco as key influences. He began writing his own material a little
more than two years ago after finding inspiration in a series of
concert films and “rock-umentaries,” such as Martin Scorsese’s epic Bob Dylan profile on PBS, Led Zeppelin’s double-DVD retrospective
and Pink Floyd’s psychedelic 1972 feature, Live at
Pompeii.
“I wanted to make people feel the same way about my music as
I feel about those artists,” said Mitchell.
After well-received local gigs with band mates Kevin Early
(bass), Marco Frey (drums) and Yannie Reynecke (lead guitar),
Mitchell felt ready to move beyond home-recording on a PowerMac,
and attempt a serious record in a real studio with more
experienced musicians. He settled on producer/engineer Kevin
Rose’s Elevated Basement Studios, a cozy, yet state-of-the-art
Savannah facility favored by Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and budding
amateurs alike.
“Right at the top of their client list was Gregg Allman, and I
thought, well, with clients like that, they probably won’t even
respond to my e-mail! But they did,” Mitchell said.
Rose is effusive in his praise for Mitchell. “Luke presented me
with a mix of home demos and live tracks, and my first impression
was, ‘Wow!’ My second was how much I was looking forward
to working with him,” he said.
Rose assembled a small group of pros to flesh out the tunes
(along with some of Mitchell’s own band mates), and dove into
the project. The 13-song album is now nearing completion, and
a tentative local date has been set for the CD’s release: March 15,
2008, at Monkey Business.
Rough mixes of the album posit Mitchell as an almost preternaturally
savvy tunesmith with a strong working knowledge of rock conventions.
Rose says that shared vocabulary helped them collaborate easily (he
estimates they will have spent no more than 20 days on the album).
“Luke’s an encyclopedia of classic rock and pop artists—from
Neil Young to Tom Petty, to Hendrix and The Beatles. Plus, he
works hard to understand what makes them tick,” said Rose.
Echoes of modern-day retro-rock fetishists like The Wallflowers,
Lenny Kravitz and Ben Lee abound on this album, along with
playing and inflections reminiscent of fellow home-recording
drummer/guitarist/singer Jonny Polonsky and the funky grooves
of another one of Mitchell’s favorite bands, The Red Hot Chili
Peppers.
That last touchstone is notable, given the inclusion of guitarist
Jack Sherman on the sessions, who, in addition to working with
major roots-rockers like John Hiatt, Peter Case and Charlie Sexton,
was actually in the Chili Peppers and played on their debut
LP. Rose coaxed Sherman out of semi-retirement to play on this
album, much to Mitchell’s surprise and delight.
“This CD is a lot better than I expected,” Mitchell said, “mostly
because of Jack. His solos are definitely better than any I could
do! It’s humbled me to watch everyone come in prepared to do
an awesome job.”
His first album barely finished, Mitchell’s already eager to begin
work on his next, and hopes to start a follow-up with Rose by
March, before leaving home for Appalachian State University.
“I have three more album’s worth of songs ready to go,” he
said.
Rose looks forward to continuing this partnership, and notes that
it’s “virtually unheard of” to find a young musician with as keen
and developed an artistic vision.
“He never fails to surprise me,” the producer said with a chuckle.
“I hate to mention his age as a qualifier, ’cause in many ways,
Luke is like a seasoned veteran, but one with a fresh approach.
He has a more open mind than most folks who’ve been at this
for decades.”
Rose is wary of speculating on just how far this debut CD might
go, but says that in the end, it will stand as an impressive document
of a very talented songwriter and musician.
“As far as commercial success, that’s in the wizard’s hand. But, in
a perfect world, I think people who hear this record will connect
with it even after Luke has a long career in music,” said Rose.
“He’ll never have to make excuses for ‘the first record I did back
when I was 17,’ which, quite frankly, a lot of folks must. This is a
good album, no matter who he is or how old he was when it was
made.” - Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine


"High Expectations"

“High Expectations,” the first album from long-time island musician
Luke Mitchell, is aptly titled, as his years spent rocking Hilton Head have ensured that the bar be set pretty high for the debut recording from this 17-year-old. Those seeking a straight-forward rock album, with influences up and down the dial, will consider their high expectations met. Along 14 tracks of foot-stomping rock, they’ll also find a few other surprises. The first will come right away, when the opening track, “In Flight Final” warms up with a lush vocal harmony, establishing a smooth sound that segues perfectly into “Our Love.” And just when you’re feeling mellowed out, along comes the head-bobbing rocker “Caroline.” The energy flits between soulful ballads, (among them “The Wild” a country-tinged anthem) and energetic rock tunes (put “Don’t Tell Me” on in the car and you have an instant road trip). You’d be surprised that someone so young can come up with such infectious
rock songs that seem so much like the classics of the past. In fact, it is that old-school feel that infuses this album with such a
surprisingly mature sound. This is not the music of your typical teenager. This is the music of someone with a real appreciation for rock’s roots, with touches of blues and country sprinkled here and there. Mitchell had some big names on his side for this impressive debut. Recording was done in Savannah’s Elevated Basement Studios, which includes clients such as Gregg Allman on their resume. Helping Mitchell out in the studio was guitarist Jack Sherman, who has played for George Clinton, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan and many more. “High Expectations” will be available at the CD Release Party, which will be held at Stages in Park Plaza (formerly Monkey Business) on March 15. For more information on the release party, visit myspace.com/stageshiltonhead. To order High Expectations, visit lukemitchellmusic.com - Hilton Head Monthly


"Luke Mitchell raises the Musical Bar"

Hilton Head Island native Luke Mitchell makes music that is much older than his 18 years on this earth might indicate. This spring Mitchell released his debut album High Expectations- a 14-track road trip into a realm of straight-forward, driving rock reminiscent of Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson, but without falling into the trap of being derivative. Not yet holding a high school diploma, Luke, who sings and plays guitar, has managed to do what some musicians never fully accomplish- Discover an original voice and style that suit him perfectly. Eschewing the sounds of electronica, , pop and post punk (whose influences have so heavily shaped the bands that are likely popular with his peers at the moment), Luke offers a mature, analog rock sound that is both honest and musically intriguing, while still tinged with teenage innocence. From the shredding riffs of “Leave Me How you Found Me” to the grimy slow jam “Murder,” and “G.I. Joe”- an anti-war song that manages to be thought provoking without being preachy or heavy handed - Mitchell displays an impressive range. High Expectations is surely just the first step in what wi;; be a long and fruitful career for the youngster. - The South Magazine


Discography

High Expectations- 14 track album recorded in Savannah, GA.
Leave Me How You Found Me (single)

Photos

Bio

Luke Mitchell is a native of Hilton Head Island, SC. At 20 years old, he has come into his own as a songwriter and leader of some successful local bands. After opening for the likes of The Marshall Tucker Band, Junior Brown, John Brannen, Patrick Davis and Angie Aparo. Mitchell is ready for a life full of music and creativity. His new album, Titled "Row Boat Row", will be released on May 27th, 2011, at CD release parties scattered throughout Hilton Head Island, Charleston, Florida and Georgia. Luke has also been hosting some great new bands at his new recording studio, Row Boat Row studios. There are already two bands signed to his small indie label including two up and coming artist/bands Barry Burgess and The Steppin' Stones. Stay tuned for more news on Luke Mitchell!