Musician Brian Sullivan’s Advice: “Learn a Few Chords and the World Opens Up to You”

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Brian Anderson at Art Walk on Union in Cabarrus County.
Brian Sullivan at Art Walk on Union in Cabarrus County. Photo by Jon Strayhorn.
By Page Leggett

When Brian Sullivan was in grad school, he became enamored with community music and folk music.

He still is. ASC recently awarded the musician a $2,000 Artist Support Grant to help fund what he calls “group ukulele experiences.” The grant allows him to “explore a side of music-teaching and -making in a way (he) hadn’t been able to before.”

He used the funding to buy 20 ukuleles and presentation equipment for community jam sessions, which he’s hosted at churches, breweries and community centers from Matthews to Concord.

“There will be people there who play very well and people who have never played before,” he said.

It’s all about the joy of making music.

Sullivan earned a Ph.D. in music education from the University of Illinois and taught high school band in New Smyrna Beach, Florida before coming to Charlotte. He and his wife moved here five years ago for her job as an oboe professor at UNC Charlotte.

He’s engaged in the local music scene – he’s worked with Arts +, participated in ASC Connect with Culture Days, is a former board member of the Charlotte Folk Society and plays mandolin in a band called Piedmont Temperance Movement. Their album, “Bury Your Hatchet,” is available on Band Camp and Spotify. They call their sound “folk-ish.”

A “good doorway instrument” is how Sullivan describes the uke – but he adds that it doesn’t have to lead anywhere else.

“You can learn a few chords, and the world opens up to you,” he said. “It’s quite easy to play in a rudimentary way that’s very fulfilling. The sky’s the limit as far as technique, but it’s a good way to start.”