Originally from Virginia, Stamper arrived in San Diego circa 2013, quickly immersing himself in the local music community. A prolific tunesmith, Stamper’s music is steeped in Americana, varying between banjo and guitar accompaniment, originals and covers, which might range from folk standards to a recast version of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”
The past two years have been hectic for Stamper, with performances in Europe, a book; “European Music Tour,” chronicling said adventures and the release of his latest of 14 albums to date, 2017.
Stamper got an early start in music. While he has been performing professionally since 1999, he started writing songs at the age of 4. “It was a harmonica song called "Lunch Box," he recalled. While today he is known for his banjo prowess, guitar was the gateway to his music career. “I have always been soothed by songs. Guitar was a natural accompaniment for songs that I would write,” Stamper remarked.
“I knew I wanted to write songs because I had a lot anxiety as a kid. I wanted to help others feel less alone in their struggle through songs, like all the singers I have ever listened to have done for me,” he said.
He notes that his focus on original music in his live sets has lessened in recent years. ““I'm playing a lot more covers these days than I used to,” Stamper said. “Back in the early 2000s I could play all original music because I was making good money from the album sales etc., so I only used to do more obscure covers by bands like Neutral Milk Hotel or The Handsome Family. When I moved to San Diego in 2013, I quickly realized I needed to play more covers if I was going to make any money. I now play about 50 percent originals, 20 percent public domain songs and 30 percent covers.”
He cites Pink Floyd’s "Wish You Were Here" and The Beatles "Norwegian Wood" as current crowd pleasers. “I'm really learning a lot lately about picking the right songs for the right crowd and setting. If I know what mood a crowd needs at a particular time and place and I have an original song that would fulfill that need, then the original song will grab their attention,” he explained.
“For example, Farmers' Markets are usually early in the day with a lot of babies and toddlers around, so upbeat banjo music works great, such as my song "Hearts and Dreams.” However, if I'm playing at some ultra-hip bar at night, the banjo stuff may not go over so well. That's when I break out my guitar and play some original modern rock-ish songs. But there are definitely times when the only trick that will work is a good cover song.”
Stamper acknowledges being a full time musician can be tough, but he wouldn’t live his life any other way. “I've been a lawn mower, a baby sitter, a waiter, an automotive tire technician, a teacher to the mentally disabled, a mosquito control man and a video-grapher,” he mused.
“Music is the only thing that still keeps my attention. It's what gets me out of bed every day, it’s the only profession that excites me,” he continued. “I believe I've been given a gift of music and when I honor the gift, it fulfills me and provides joy like no other profession I know.”
Fast Heart Mart
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24.
Where: Harney Sushi, 3964 Harney St.