PANAMA CITY — Much of Anthony Peebles' original music comes from his life experiences and is inspired by his travels and reading. He sings songs of siblings and mystical places, and he sings about being an adopted child.
"A big factor of good songwriting is travel," he said in a conversation last Friday. "Going from here to California or Colorado is such a culture shift, or culture shock. You're like, holy crap, there's people that live a totally different life and it helps you to expand how you see the world. Even just navigating a new town, there's a sense of adventure that stimulates creativity."
He's done a lot of traveling in recent years, playing in places as far-flung as Nashville, Las Vegas, dates in Texas and Colorado. He's part of the First Note stable of singer-songwriters (FirstNotePlay.com), and recently released his original album "Different Faces." He regularly plays at Bricks & Barley on Thursdays and the Shipyard on Fridays.
Peebles, 27, brought his guitar to The News Herald last week to kick off our weekly Jam Sessions series. Each week at 3 p.m., we will present another local performer for a half-hour mini-concert in the newsroom, live on our Facebook page. (See the sidebar for details on this week's guest.)
"A lot of times, to be honest, I sit down with a cool riff that I hear in my head, and when that happens the music inspires lyrics," Peebles said. "I write to the melody. You're expressing a feeling on the instrument and you want to put a lyric that accompanies it. If not, they're going to clash."
He started playing music at a very early age, starting with a lap dulcimer his father built before Anthony was born.
"It just always kind of sat around the house," he said. "And we had these coon-skin caps that I would clip the tail off and tape it on my chin — we had musician friends of the family who had goatees. So I would tape it on my chin and play the dulcimer. I always wanted to do it for as long as I can remember."
School was difficult for Peebles because he wasn't interested in studies. He wanted to play music and read books (a favorite is "The Hobbit"). He started playing drums about age 13 and picked up a guitar at 16. He never considered any career except music, even though he felt like it was a more uncertain path than learning a trade.
"Coming up, I was around really good musicians," he said. "It's those kind of people that help shape you into a real musician."
Peebles and his wife, Krista, will soon be first-time parents. April 28 will mark their sixth anniversary, but they've been dating since age 15.
"You grow up together," he said. "We go through all the weird changes of being a teenager into the twenties ... you experience it together and it kind of puts you on the same playing field."
As for the prospect of being a dad: "I have a lot of peace, a good support network. A lot of great friends. It's kind like when you get married ... when you realize this is a for-real thing. But then it happens and it's great. It's scary for a little while but then you're like, oh, I can do this."