Solo musician strives to make living playing music

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Cole Hinkle 18, is a solo musician from Lodi.

He works full time for a pool company and plays music in his off time.

Hinkle started playing the guitar when he was a child and has always had an appreciation for music.

“My family is pretty heavy in appreciating music and listening to it,” Hinkle said.

Though Hinkle is a solo musician, he’s played lead guitar in a few bands and is also a band member of K-Doh and the Doh-Nutz, a band formed here in Stockton.

Hinkle’s main inspiration for pursuing a music career was Sturgill Simpson, an American Grammy award singer-songwriter.

“Watching him and hearing his story on how five years ago he was working for a railroad company and then five years later he’s a grammy award winning artist,” said Hinkle. “Hearing that always inspired me and made me want to do it.”

The type of music Hinkle writes is heavily inspired by roots and country music and it combines the two genres.

“It gets lumped into country music a lot, but it’s quite a bit different than country,” Hinkle said. “It’s kind of how old country was in the sixties and what not, just a lot of old American roots music kind of combined. They call it Americana.”

Hinkle gets ideas for songs from sitting down and playing the guitar.

“Sometime you don’t feel like you write them (songs).” Hinkle said. “Words just pop in your head and the chord progression just kind of presents itself to you, and I think it’s a matter of going out and living life and having life experiences to write about.”

One of the challenges Hinkle faces as a musician is booking gigs. A lot of places prefer to have cover bands perform rather than artists that play original songs, making Hinkle have to do some covers just to get a gig.

Another challenge of Hinkle is song writing.

“I’d say the biggest struggle of being a solo artist is writing songs that you think are good enough to put out. You just hope and cross your fingers that people like it, because you could be real self critical and have a great song and never release it cause you’re too afraid of what people will think,” he said.

Being overly self critical when writing a story or a song could lead to writer’s block, which is something Hinkle also experiences. He finds that getting out helps clear his head of that block.

“I get outside, go walk around and settle down. The biggest mistake I made as a songwriter is you lock yourself in your room a lot and write,” said Hinkle

But what are you going to write about, your room? I’ve got to get myself to go outside and walk around and think about stuff.” said Hinkle. “But what are you going to write about, your room? I’ve got to get myself to go outside and walk around and think about stuff.”

Hinkle does gigs in places like Blackwater on Miracle Mile, some coffee shops in Lodi and music venues in Modesto.

“I like to keep it close to home but I’ll travel a little bit too.” Hinkle said. “I’m kind of working on Sacramento right now.”

In the spring, Hinkle released an EP titled “Fallen” that can be heard on iTunes and Spotify.

This EP focuses on life experiences and coming of age.

“It’s a darker album. It’s more about the struggles that you face when your coming of age.” said Hinkle. “When you’re growing up you’re trying to figure out what loves all about, you’re trying to figure out what lifes all about, and it’s about losing friends and friends that go down the wrong path in life.”

Hinkle is currently working on a full length album that he says will add more diversity in feelings and songs that are more fast.

He hopes to have the album out in about a year.