American teens spend summer holidays in a variety of ways before the hectic pace of school again claims their attention. One young man from Alabama has used his past two summers off to invest in his musical career, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fifteen-year-old Edward Hartline is already quite an accomplished musician. Self-taught on guitar and piano, he has been writing songs since he was eleven. As a member of his high school band, he has played xylophone, bass drum, cymbals, and tenors on the drum line. He also plays trumpet and tympani.
Edward’s musical influences range from Don McLean, The Monkees, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to more recent artists such as Bobby Long, Marcus Foster and Sam Bradley. His original songs show his love for the blues with a leaning towards folk, while his lyrics seem to come from one much more experienced in life. More than one listener has identified him as an ‘old soul’.
In June 2009, the then-thirteen-year-old uploaded a cover of Bobby Long’s ‘Who Have You Been Loving?’ to YouTube. It almost immediately caught the ATO recording artist’s attention, and he posted the link on Twitter. Within 72 hours, Long’s fans viewed Edward’s video over 1000 times, leaving many positive comments for the young guitarist. He made a few more video covers, and was encouraged by other professional musicians to share his own music. He recorded songs on his home computer and posted them on MySpace, where fans of his covers quickly found they enjoyed his original music. That December, a challenge was launched on Twitter to double his MySpace plays in three weeks; it was accomplished in six days. The fans were rewarded with the release of a demo six-song EP. Airplay on internet radio stations soon followed and two of Edward’s songs charted to #2 before he even entered high school.
Edward honed his performance skills in coffee shops and restaurants, landing the position of artist-in-residence for a local Starbucks’ in the summer of 2010. He spent every Friday night in June and July playing Blues on the Boulevard, entertaining customers and gaining fans. He continued to play when he returned home those nights, performing another hour or two on UStream.tv to fans from all over the world and in every time zone. A fan club was formed, fan pages arose on Facebook, and the idea of a tour to meet and play for them live was born.
In spring of 2011, Edward recorded his debut CD, Candy for Bread Map, at Jeff Pike Studios in Atlanta. Before the CD was released, the first single, ‘You’re to Blame’, went to #1 in only six weeks of rotation on FearlessRadio.com, an internet station based in Chicago. This song also has been featured on ‘I’m In a Band: The Best of Unsigned Artists’ on UCLARadio.
The CD release party was held in early June, and shortly thereafter Edward, his mom/manager, and his tour manager headed to his first show on the road, in Ashland, VA. Days soon became a blur of highways, venues, hotel rooms, friends’ sofas, and fast food as they ‘lived the dream’. Down time involved sleep, hot showers and the constant search for an internet connection; a ‘from the road’ blog and photos kept fans and family apprised of tour news. Fans and old friends attended each performance, some driving in from other states just to see him play, making him feel welcome in every city. Seven states, ten shows and over 4000 miles later, Edward’s summer ‘vacation’ only made him eager for more.
Another highlight came when his song, ‘Waffles at One’, was used on the soundtrack of a 48 Hour Film Project entry, ‘Samsara’. Edward enjoyed getting to walk his first red carpet when he attended the film festival in August, and said it was “an overwhelming experience” to hear his music in a film playing in a classic movie palace.
Even though school and marching band once again take precedence, Edward performs his own music as time allows. He opened the Birmingham Arts and Music Festival in September as one of almost 200 artists in 21 venues throughout the city. It was his first festival, and unlikely to be his last. One attendee posted on the BAAMFest Facebook page, calling Edward’s hour-long set “Fantastic!”, and the venue owner invited him for a return engagement on the spot. He also played for the Montgomery Parrothead Club’s Annual Luau to benefit The Wounded Warrior Project, helping raise $4000 for the charity.
Edward knows his time in school is limited and valuable, and though he’d love to get back on the road as often as possible, graduation and college are never far from his mind. For now there are weekend music jams with friends and the occasional girl to date, but though it all adds up to more than the life of a typical teen, that’s fine with Edward. It’s clear that no matter what road he takes, there’s a song to be found along it somewhere.
Follow Edward (@EdwardHartline) on Twitter, listen to his music and get the latest news on the social sites below:
www.baamfest.comBirmingham Arts and Music Festival
www.whatissamsara.com48 Hour Film Festival Richmond entry, ‘Samsara’