Clark Summit’s Jason Vo uses his thoughts and feelings to inspire new music.
“My main inspiration for music really came from my church. I attended Green Ridge Assembly of God’s youth services from age 12 and up,” Vo said. “I loved listening to people and the worship team play guitar and music. A lot of my friends were playing too, and I really wanted to play and be in a band.”
Vo is known for his percussive finger style and the major difference between his style and traditional finger picking he said is the addition of beats, sometimes constant, other times interspersed in the piece.
“Sometimes I just stumble onto new ideas by practicing or happy accidents. Sometimes I see or feel something and try to create a piece of music to encapsulate it,” said the 34-year-old guitarist, who recently performed at the Dietrich Theater’s Open Mic Night on Friday, June 26.
In his journey to become a full time musician, Vo said he has been extremely busy, but he’s always looking for and booking new gigs.
“God has been opening door after door for me musically. I am very blessed to experience this.”
Approximately five years ago, he was featured on WVIA’s Homegrown with George Graham and is slated to return for another appearance in September.
“I was thrilled to be accepted by George Graham after submitting a physical demo tape there. It was an honor and a privilege to be there, and I am looking forward to being there again.”
Later this year or early next year, Vo hopes to have his album “Impressions” ready to be released. He recorded his first CD, “Earthtones,” five years ago and describes it as a “mostly personal endeavor.” Selections from that CD can be heard free of charge on Reverbnation.
Erica Rogler, Dietrich Theater executive director, met guitarist Vo when he performed for the first time at the Dietrich’s open mic.
“We were so impressed with his playing we asked him to perform as a feature,” Rogler explained.
Vo said he plays all original, all the time.
“At least when I’m playing solo,” he said. “Occasionally I do a finger-style rendition of something, but that’s rare for me. I play in a few side projects where I play percussion or bass as well as guitar.”
One of the main goals he strives for is to transport the listener somewhere else while they listen to his music. Vo said a comment he hears is “the listener just ‘goes somewhere else’ in their mind, almost as if a picture book or a movie happens when they are listening.
“This is a great complement and I feel very blessed to receive a comment like this. I make it my goal every time I write a new piece. Each piece tells its own story,” he said.
One of his pieces, for example, is a Celtic piece titled “Up in the Highlands,” and another is called “Barnyard Bash.”
“One takes you to the highlands across the sea, the other takes you to a good old country farm,” noted Vo.
Among his favorite musicians are Michael Hedges. Thomas Leeb, Don Ross, Don Alder, Antoine Dufour, and Andy Mckee.
“They are all amazing,” Vo said.
He also likes a lot of electronica and some picks from that genre include Blackmill, J.U.S.T.I.C.E., Above and Beyond, Chicane, and his country music choices include Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Zack Brown Band, Garth Brooks, and Josh Turner. While growing up he was influenced by the Goo Goo Dolls and Jars of Clay.
His first guitar was a completely broken guitar that his father fixed and put back together.
“I wish I had that kind of skill,” he said. “He didn’t play the guitar though, so he gave it to my grandfather who strung it, tuned it, et cetera. He showed me how to keep it in tune and what not, showed me a few chords and so on to help get me started. I feel my gift comes from God, and there are just so many contributing factors to its growth and development. Of course practicing all the time doesn’t hurt either.”