When your 6:00 interview finds you driving out to a grassy knoll surrounded by newly spring-leafed trees
and the sparkling water -
lapping softly, rhythmically,
surrounding you on three sides.
The sun, warm and golden, presiding over a friendly chat. A mellow soundtrack of guitar strings interwoven with the rich southern drawl of Tate Tuck's ballads as we snapped a few pictures after…
Those days your job doesn't feel like a job.
For those who don't yet know him, the 18 year old singer/songwriter/guitarist who calls the well known acreage of Tuck Farm home is making quite a name for himself on the regional music scene. His talent (and interest in music) unrealized until his mom, Katie, “made” him take guitar lessons at 9 years of age. It didn't take long, however, maybe just a few lessons, until he was hooked!
While Tate enjoyed his lessons, his long-held long-term plan was to become a large animal vet. A natural choice given his life on a rescue farm, and weekday job that involves working with cattle. But around age 14 the tides began to turn and eventually carried him to the decision that making a living as a performing artist was where his heart was truly at. He's been passionately pursuing that dream ever since.
Moments into a show it's so evident that this kid is going places. His comfortable command of the stage and warm inviting personality make you feel like you are at once sitting in on a front porch jam session and in the presence of an impressively well-trained musician with talent by the bucket-load. A rare combo indeed.
Continued from the e-journal...
In May of 2018, he was offered his first paying gig as part of a Bedford Chamber After Hours event. August found him hired for a set slot in Jodie Davis' show. Then in September of the same year he was launched into his career on the stage as a solo artist during Bedford's Finest Fare street fest.
A rite of passage you won't want to miss is Tate's headliner show at this year's 4th of July fireworks celebration held at Parkway Marina - an event he has helped out behind the scenes with nearly every year of his life. This time though, instead of working clean up crew, he'll be working the crowd.
In the coming months you'll find him all around southwestern Virginia (and neighboring states) with a full slate of shows for the season! Depending on the night, he may have with him various iterations of his band including: Jody Ensor (also a former teacher!) on guitar, drummer Brandon Thomas, bass players Hunter Barrett and Fred Pucci, with Cameron Hughes on keys.
His various teachers through the years instructed him in a wide range of styles and genres and you can hear that diverse influence reflected in his set lists today. Tate classifies his repertoire as “everything with a southern drawl”. While covers are a large part of the shows, he also performs original work and enjoys playing around with unexpected genre mash-ups. His personal favorite style du jour: rap - and I have to say, I was seriously impressed with his skillz!
This country boy with a strong handshake seems to have a solid, determined head on his shoulders. He chose to take this past January and February off for some healthy time to recharge, but is back to the moonlight musician life that he loves. As he looks to the future he says that no matter how things turn out, as long as he's still able to keep making music, he'll be happy! The gift of doing what he loves for a living is not something he takes for granted.
If you like having something predictable to remember, beginning in May he'll be behind the mic (and guitar) at Mitchell's Marina every other Friday night.
As for catching his music in-between shows, there is a single soooo close to being released out into the streaming world, with an EP to follow in the not-too-distant future.
Be sure to add catching this rising star at a local venue to your weekend live music wish list this summer!
This story was originally published in The Current: an e-journal for the community of Smith Mountain Lake featuring local artists, writers, photographers, and the people behind our small businesses. All wrapped in a feel-good dose of intentional lake living. If you'd like to receive these free weekly digests: