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21 – Vote For Derek // Derek Wells, 2016 ACM Session Guitarist of the Year

Just eight hours after Labor Day Jason and Brandon caught up with Nashville’s hottest session guitarist, Derek Wells. Derek was born in Nashville, Arkansas and he lives in Nashville, Tennessee. So it’s safe to say Derek is from Nashville. The music industry is all Derek has known since birth. Both parents have very successful careers in the industry and Derek shares what it was like growing up on Keith Whitley’s and Dolly Parton’s bus. Derek really got serious about playing music at a very surprising age and he never went back to journalism school. Let’s just say this, Derek had a very real understanding what he was up against coming from Music City. He dove in head first in his parents basement and learned everything that he could because he felt the talent bar was set in Nashville, and if he was going to be a musician he had to work harder. He waited tables and practiced until landing his first pro gig with Josh Turner. Through time, more gigs, and some road lessons, he made the shift to playing sessions. Derek has recorded on some of the biggest projects of 2016. Artists like Maren Morris, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, Drake White, Granger Smith, Jennifer Nettles, and Dan + Shay to name a few. You even get to hear some of what to look forward to from big artists that Derek worked on. Does Derek have it all figured out? By his own accord, no! “I’m just trying to prove I belong.” Listen to a man full of humility trying to figure it out just like the rest of us. The guides get a back seat view through the life of one of the biggest session players of today. They talk about anxiety and even the fear of failure in the studio. How do you even get plugged in to the session scene of Nashville? What’s the difference between a road guy and a session guy? Listen to some of Derek’s stories while working with today’s biggest music acts, his favorite past projects he’s worked on, his favorite gear, and even his advice for session players and songwriters. Derek is up for Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year Award for 2016. If you’re a CMA member we implore you to…VOTE FOR DEREK!!!



Derek peppered us with advice! Soak it in:

Derek on where the bar is on talent… “You have to move here (Nashville). You come from wherever and you have to get slapped in the face here to get better.”

“Ya don’t get better by being the best one in the band.”

“The amazing thing about Nashville is you’ll be in a room full of the best musicians on the planet, and every one of ’em is terrified of being found out at any moment.”

“The only way to get better at sessions is to play sessions. You have to take those lumps.”

On choosing a career in music, “Ask yourself some hard questions about what you like about creating music and decide if thats even what you want to do.”

On imitating other players… “You do a thing that is yours…people will call you for doing your thing.”

Final advice… “Try to find what it is about music that makes you the happiest.”

You can follow all things Derek on Instagram and Twitter.

Brandon Harrington // SMI Co-Host, A&R, Music Director, Video Editing
Jason Kurkimilis // SMI Co-Host, Lead Audio Production & Engineering
Christian Barker // Executive Producer

Special thanks goes out to In the Wake of Fiction and
War Poets for supplying the music for this episode.

And much love as always to our episode sponsor, Fat Bottom Brewing.
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