When I connect with Josiah Finke it is immediate he hails from a musical family – much like the Partridge Family. However there is a small catch. They may not have ever seen them in action.
“We play ping-pong, have music and sing. There’s no TV,” says Josiah’s father Scott.
All the more time to practice the guitar for Josiah, who played the Honors Concert at Unchaga Hall last week. The concert, part of the Peace Liard Regional Arts, showcases much of the local talent chosen at the recent Festival of the Arts – some would call these performers the cream of the crop, while others see the youth simply as the future of the Dawson Creek arts scene.
Josiah Finke played the concert for the third year in the row. The 17-year-old from Farmington is already gaining a strong reputation as a writer, player and interpreter on the guitar.
He released his first album of original material late last year, while has played the Sweetwater Festival the last two years. He recently won first place in the DC Rising Star talent competition.
His song selection last week proved to be a tour de force for the young guitarist. “Phoenix Rising” by Calum Graham is a difficult tune to master. His Dad Scott let’s us know the lay of the land of the song.
“It calls for the instrument to be used in several unconventional ways. You just gotta see and hear to believe it.”
Seeing is believing. Josiah started his musical journey young, playing a harmonica that dwarfed the then six year old.
“I learned the basics from my Dad, chord work, guitar tabs. He taught me a flamenco scale. I got an instructional DVD and spent some time with that. It started with flamenco, then other classic finger styles, steel picking, and learning more and more genres and performance. I try to bring a bit of everything I have into them,” he says.
His guitar journey began when he was 11. He’s 17 now.
His Dad is more matter-of-fact.
“I’ve been playing for 40 years, he passed me a few years back now.”
From original compositions to interpretations of others tracks, Finke brings his own musical and playing style to the performance.
“I’m always writing a bit – the music and riffs,” Josiah said.
“For example, my song ‘Spring’ started as a bit that I then came back to about a year later.”
He is also interested in the producing and sound engineering side of things. Scott says technology has sure helped out in this regard.
“Now you can get a $100,000 studio rig for a few thousand dollars,” he said.
Josiah is big into charity work, including speaking at schools about guitar and drug use, as well as visiting hospitals with his axe.
Scott says Josiah got some of his stage legs and experience early on.
“We had an old-timer who was looking forward to hearing Josiah play harmonica and then we learned the man had slipped into a coma. Josiah played anyway and as he did, the man woke up and started clapping. We left him smiling.”
Finke plans on attending Peace River Bible Institute in Sexsmith after graduation this year.
“I will be learning to live life there a bit,” he said.
“I’d like to expand my guitar lessons, both teaching them and learning myself.”
His musical knowledge is obvious the minute one sees him picks up his guitar. However he’s got the knowledge to go with his chops. Not many people admire Paul McCartney’s guitar player Lawrence Juber for example.
The pride in his father’s eyes is unmistakable.
“You can hear the creativity flowing. It is a great thing to hear. His mother and I absolutely love listen to him practice. Music is in this home and it adds color and fabric to everyone’s lives,” he says.
“Music is quite simply the expression of joy or a symptom of it.”