By Nikki Hedrick
“For years I was blessed,” says guitarist and vocalist Lefty Collins. “I played five or six hundred shows at the House of Blues in Chicago at the various rooms there. I don’t get intimated anymore, because there is always someone better than you. You have to have your own voice, and if you focus on that you will always do better.”
In 2008, Collins moved from Chicago to Gadsden, Alabama, while feeling the pull of the beaches of Gulf Shores. In 2014, that pull proved too strong to ignore and he officially moved there.
“It’s been fun for me to see so many wonderful songwriters down in this area and be inspired, because they are everywhere,” Collins says of the Gulf Coast’s vibrant music scene.
“I wasn’t always a solo artist, and there is certainly, from my eyes, a lot more opportunities for a guitarist and solo artist than there is for a band (to perform). And I really enjoy the challenge.” Part of that challenge is Collins’ goal to always expand the covers he performs while writing new original songs.
“It’s a bit of a responsibility to play some cover music that people are familiar with, but I like to try to put my whole heart and soul into everything I do. So it has to be a song that moves me.”
Collins foremost goal during a performance is fun. “I’m not going to be a big rock star. The talent I do have was loaned to me by God, and he is going to ask me what I did with it when I stand before him. If I can help someone forget their problems or their pain for a song, a set or an evening, then I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
He’s a frequent performer at LuLu’s in Destin, a gig that came about because Collins is also a regular at LuLu’s sister location in Gulf Shores. It all started after Collins sat in with Albert Simpson. “I played a little with him, and the talent buyer happened to be in that day. I had sat in with Albert a couple years previous, and we all kind of laughed because he (the talent buyer) said, Wasn’t I supposed to book you a couple of years ago?
“It’s such a wonderful environment to play in,” Collins says of LuLu’s, “I really have come to enjoy and appreciate the family environment. When you have a young child that is dancing and enjoying your music, it really says a lot because kids don’t have any filters.”
Collins considers the music he performs to be “American music,” a mix of old school country, blues, folk and southern rock. “For me, American music has to stem from blues of country. I think there are a lot of similarities between real country music and blues. These are both storytelling vehicles. Albert King, the great bluesman, once said, A song should be a short story put to music. And that’s kind of what they are to me.”
Although Collins has released music previously, he’s about to step out and drop his first solo effort. “I feel like I am really evolving,” he says. “As an artist, I feel myself changing and evolving into something different.”
His goal is to record a seven or eight-song album this summer with a planned early fall release. “The songs are written, and I’m actually playing all of them live right now,” says Collins. “When I go into the studio, I like to go in and record live. I don’t like taking a lot of time for overdubs, I want these songs to be a representation of what someone would get if they saw me at a show.
“Live music needs all the support it can get,” he adds. “I love every venue that I get to play. I do think that places like Lulu’s especially are fantastic because (they are) exposing kids to live music. That’s the future. We have to get kids, teenagers and young people out.”
Collins sees music as a powerful vehicle during uncertain times and wants to share that with others. “Music saved my life to be really honest with you, and I don’t know where I would be without it. I’ve taken a lot more from that river of music than I will ever be able to replace.”
Discover more at myleftycollins.com.
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