(Submitted)
Artist: Brian Thomas Jackson

When did you get into music? I kind of started playing guitar when I was going into my 10th-grade year. I just started singing and messing around a little bit, not really taking it too seriously. Then, I wrote a few songs senior year, and I played for different people and got good feedback. I really got serious when I graduated. It's been going pretty good right now. It's weird because (no one) in my family has a music background. I taught myself guitar and haven't had vocal lessons yet.

Who are your influences? There's always been people I've wanted to be like. I grew up listening to Bon Jovi. He's always been a huge influence for me just because how successful he's been. (Ryan Cabrera) is my biggest influence ever. I've been following him (since) a year before he . . . got famous. Something about his music inspires me a lot. I actually got the chance to meet him at the Chameleon Club a couple weeks ago.

What did you talk to him about? I got to go back stage and do a meet-and-greet. I actually gave him one of my CDs. I told him when I play a set . . . I play one of his songs that he . . . never recorded. He said, "just keep doing what you're doing. Don't let anybody try to bring you down. Don't let anything stand in your way if you really want to accomplish your dream."

Where do you like to play locally? I've been actually really busy. I've played all of the most popular places around York. I'm trying to kind of get out of the York scene because I feel that it's more of a band scene, like for entertainment and not . . . for acoustic artists. I've been booking a lot of shows in New Jersey and New York and the Philadelphia area and Allentown, just trying to get out of my region.

Like any other local acts? I only really know one acoustic guy from York, and his name is Ryan Peters. He moved to Tennessee to pursue his career about two years ago. When he comes back to town, he sells out, like, a huge crowd. He's got a good sound.

What are your thoughts on the York music scene? I think York is an area (that has) a big bar scene. I don't know if they really help artists out. It's more of an entertainment area for bands and especially cover bands. People go out and want to follow these bands.

What songs to you cover? I do "Slide" from the Goo Goo Dolls. I actually do the theme song from ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), an acoustic version. Sometimes when I play, I start out with four or five songs, and it's hard to get people into it. Then I play (a cover), and everybody's back into it. They get hyped and sing along. It's a cool song because not everyone has heard it in that kind of way.

What inspires the songs you write? So many people ask me, "what do you write your songs about?" It's not really sappy love songs. I honestly don't even know where I get the material from. I kind of just sit down and write. I don't really pick a topic. It's just kind of what comes to mind. It usually turns out pretty good. I don't really try to write songs based on my experiences. I like to write songs other people can also relate to.

What was recording your first CD like? It was awesome. I've never, ever been to a studio. I went up (to After 7 Recording Studio in Mechanicsburg) and recorded a seven-song CD. It was a fun process. My engineer guy was saying all this terminology that I had no clue about and now, I know that stuff. It was a learning experience. I started recording in February last year, and I finished right before the end of May. I would go up and do three hours maybe, like, two times a week. I want to record my next album with a full band. I've already started my second CD. I'm probably about three (or) four songs into it.

- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF