WILLIAMSBURG — Tunes in Town is an occasional series that will catch up with some of the local musical talents that call Hampton Roads home.
Growing up in a musical household, Phil Poteat was bound to find his instrument. When a guitar was placed in his hand at 21, he was sold.
“There was a lot of music in my house growing up. I remember having cassette tape recordings from the early ’80s of us singing. My parents were both big in the church ministry for years. My mom was the choir director, so we always listened to Southern gospel songs that we’d sing together as a family just for fun,” Poteat said.
Poteat kept with the guitar and went the route of creating cover songs that were a bit different. Initially not invested in performing, he put in the effort to practice.
“When I started with the guitar, I wasn’t really sure how to move around on a stage. I used the guitar as an item for me to hide behind while I sang. When I started, I came home from work and practiced chords, strumming, different melodies. I used those first eight months to take learning guitar as if it were my second part-time job,” Poteat recalls.
Despite the pain of developing callouses, Poteat stuck with his guitar and has now found his way into the acoustic music scene in Hampton Roads. Music is a way for him to give back to people.
“Life just has a soundtrack. When you think about times of your life and life experiences, there’s almost always music that you were listening to at the time that’s connected to that. I don’t think there is anything else in life that is like that. Music connects so well to life that I feel like part of the reason why people love listening to music so much is because it reminds you of something,” Poteat said.
Now a worship leader at Waters Edge Church in Yorktown, Poteat shares his faith through music.
“I just enjoy connecting with a crowd. There’s just something about making a connection with a room and feeling like they are with you that is magical,” Poteat says.
Poteat mainly covers ’70s, ’80s and ’90s pop and rock at local restaurants and bars throughout Hampton Roads. A joy for Poteat is taking songs that would never be thought of as acoustic and setting those songs into acoustic arrangements.
“My favorite thing to do with cover music is to take a song that has no business being played on acoustic guitar and work up an arrangement of it. One of my favorites right now is my rendition of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. It’s not an acoustic song at all but I turned it into an acoustic ballad and it has a thoughtful vibe to it,” Poteat said.
Overall, Poteat is loving his musical journey. He remains grateful for the fact that music is what he does.
“Not everyone gets paid for their hobbies. I’m very fortunate and very lucky,” Poteat said.
For more information on Poteat and to find out where his next gigs are, visit philpoteat.com.