North Texas Daily

The Making of a Musician

The Making of a Musician

June 14
13:08 2013

Photos by  Nicole Arnold/ Senior Staff Photographer

Renee Hansen/Senior Staff Writer

At 12 years old, Fort Worth native Brack Cantrell discovered his life’s calling. While his fellow sixth graders were curious about adolescence and still wore braces, Cantrell became obsessed with music, his eventual college degree.

But he didn’t need to walk across a stadium stage on May 11 to be told what he would do for the rest of his life. Cantrell figured that out the day he plucked the string of an old guitar in the sixth grade.

His days have revolved around music since middle school, getting busier with each passing year until this most recent capstone in life when, at 24, Cantrell was balancing the roles of a student, iTunes-accomplished solo artist, drummer for the power pop band Cozy Hawks and a teacher at the School of Rock.

But all this he says with a light-hearted laugh, his black rimmed glasses often shifting up slightly with every smile, reflecting his easy-going personality.

Cozy Hawks’ bassist, Robert Paine, said, “His music is him.”

His busy lifestyle mirrors his eclectic musical abilities. From guitar to drums to the piano, no instrument is off limits to Cantrell.

Cantrell kicked off his career early when he released his first of five albums on iTunes, each a variation entitled “Balance Problems.” The styles of music highlighted in each one are different, showing off Cantrell’s tendency to gravitate toward different sounds every few months, not only in his own music but in the songs of his iPod playlist, which recently has included Chubby Checker and Biblio.

Cantrell said his albums consist of various blends of music, and where one might be focused on more mellow sounds, another is a mix of the sounds of the ‘60s and psychedelic rock.

“You’ve got to have a toolbox you’re constantly adding to,” he said.

While Cantrell has found success as a solo artist, his ability to work in a group has not been hindered in the least if his bandmates have anything to say about it.

The trio has been together for almost two years, releasing their first album in 2012. Currently they are working toward releasing a second by the end of the summer.

While Cantrell said the three-piece band requires more diligent practice and hard work, it works for them.

“It’s all broad strokes, it’s really rocky and guitar-based stuff. You don’t need a lot of frills,” he said. “It works well with just three people.”

Even when it comes to songwriting, it is still a team effort.

Cantrell explained that Cozy Hawks is a venue more for lead guitar and singer Adam Bertholdi to write and play his own songs, but all three still get in on the action.

“It’s one of those things where I have an idea, or the barebones of it, and then we sprinkle on the bells and whistles in practice,” Bertholdi said. “Everybody adds their own thing.”

The Denton trio has yet to do any extensive touring, but as Cantrell said, they “feel at home” here. Dan’s Silverleaf is a favorite among the three, as well as the basement of J&J’s and playing low-key house shows.

Aside from playing the local scene, Cantrell fits into Denton with more than just his musical talents. The way he crosses over the various meanings of “an artist” is what sets him apart.

His love for music has not wavered since those middle school days, but recently his artist title has taken on a new component – collaging.

“I think art can draw a whole bunch of different reactions from people,” Cantrell said. “I think it’s fascinating.”

The musician was introduced to the art form through his girlfriend, Annavittoria Conner, 23, who began collaging in high school. She encouraged Cantrell to try it out and before they knew it, they were creating cheap and easy date nights consisting of “a glass of wine and collaging all night,” Conner said.

“He’s really inventive,” she said. “And he doesn’t really need you to explain something to him more than once before he picks it up.”

Thanks to her, Cantrell said collaging has had a large influence on his music more recenty.

“The mindset you get when you see things, react to them, and then compile them,” he said. “I can see a lot of similarities with how I make music and how I do this collaging thing.”

It seems Cantrell just can’t get away from the art scene, but he has his reasons.

“It’s fun and it’s just more creative energy to work with,” he said.

Another way he’s funneled that energy is into his work is by teaching music at the School of Rock in Frisco, a place that caters to kids but instructs people from all ages how to play various instruments.

Cantrell joined the team last summer, giving him his first steady paycheck. While he said it can be an exhausting job, it’s also very rewarding. Teaching students primarily between the ages of seven and 17, Cantrell loves to see the kids learn, especially those who really want to be there.

“The ones that are there and want to learn, we always have an immediate connection,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

While he had never taught kids in any capacity before coming to School of Rock, he makes it look very natural. His coworker, Bobby Lotfipour, said Cantrell is “a sweetheart,” engaging with the kids and that in return, they love him.

“Brack’s love for music definitely comes out through his teaching,” Lotfipour said. “He understands that quality teaching can truly come from a deep passion of desire.”

It’s that passion that has continued to light the way for Cantrell’s purpose in life, to create music.

And maybe one of those kids who walk through the doors of School of Rock is an unsuspecting sixth grader, curious to pluck the strings of an old guitar and waiting to ignite a spark – the kind of the spark that creates a lifelong musician.

About Author



Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad