News Column

Plugged in with Jonathan Laird

July 4, 2013


July 04--The moment Jonathan Laird picked up a guitar and plucked one string, he knew.

The self-described "token science nerd" and "electronics geek" just wanted to get his musician friend's amp working. He did not plan on changing his life in the process.

"I plucked a string to see if it would sound. When I heard it and felt it, it just felt right," Laird said. "It was the first time I had ever touched a guitar, but I knew this was what I had to do."

The 33-year-old Huntsville singer-songwriter will celebrate his 18th year as an aspiring musician today. On Friday, Laird will perform at Simp McGhee's at 6:30 p.m.

Audiences will hear a combination of cover songs and originals with modern pop and adult contemporary influences.

"It's a slice of happiness that meshes parts of Paul Simon, John Mayer, George Benson and Jason Mraz," said Laird, a full-time artist who teaches lessons and works as a supporting session musician.

What is your background in music?

Well, my mother said I could carry pitches before I could articulate words. Now, I don't remember this, so it is all hearsay. My ear for harmonies developed at church. I grew up in a church where there were tightly knit and developed harmonies. There I honed my ear to be able to hear how the sounds working in conjunction with each other.

When did you start writing?

About a year and a half after I started playing the guitar. I figured anybody, given enough time, can learn how to play something someone else has already wrote. As an artist, I knew I had something different to offer. I had my own voice. I don't want to try to be a version of another singer already on the radio. I want to be the best version of myself.

What inspires your songs?

Life. It seems like whenever you turn on the radio you can predict how it will end. It is always someone's interpretation or misinterpretation of love. I want to write lyrics true to me. I just finished writing 40 songs in 40 days. I started with a mind map, like a blueprint, put a goal in the center and surrounded the word with other words that tied into that idea. It's all interrelated.

Do you have a favorite lyric or song?

The bridge from "The Hourglass." I'd love to see the factory where minutes, hours, days and weeks were fashioned from the first until the last. Where grains of sand became the glass through with the sands and time must pass and future turns to present then to past.

How has your style developed these past 18 years?

I am a child of the '90s. I grew up listening to classic and alternative rock like Nirvana and whatever was playing on the radio. Over time I've become more into Chick Corea's piano lines and the blues runs of Miles Davis. Each of those artists have influenced in some part my style as I've grown as a player.

What was your first concert?

I was too young to remember, but my parents took me to John Denver.

What musicians are on your iPod?

I'm really impressed by Indie musicians. It is a market for great talent. I really like Ryan Shaw, a soul vocalist who is like a contemporary hybrid of Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson. I also like Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz. There are Nashville musicians with a John Mayer vibe.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

That's difficult. I would have to go with "After the Rain has Fallen" by Sting.

To find out more about Laird, visit

Catherine Godbey can be reached at 256-340-2441 or


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