Skaneateles resident John Buterbaugh never imagined becoming a musician, but at 19 years of age he is a singer/songwriter bringing his emotion laced music to the masses.
John started playing in 2006, since then he has written and composed more than 55 songs.
During an interview this week, John said his brother had found a guitar in his dorm room at Syracuse University and presented it to him on his 15th birthday. “The Guitar had no strings on it, and I just wanted to make it pretty, not necessarily play it,” he said with sincerity.
John doesn’t come from a musical family, although he states his Mother played the piano a “little bit”. He also, played some piano throughout elementary school, but says “I didn’t really care for it”. He recalls one family member who would see Broadway shows, then come over and play the songs for the family and sing them, “which was really amazing”, said John. “So, I probably get some of my interest from that experience,” he added.
After taking just three lessons with Dave Karam of Tully, NY John was hooked and says with confidence, “I learned very quickly”. In addition to his busy school schedule, John had regular lessons with three other teachers: Jim Van Arsdale of Auburn, Ken Harms and Pete Hawley of Skaneateles. John plays Bass in The St. James Episcopal Church band with Pete Hawley every Sunday. He also attends open mike nights at Joe’s Pasta Garage at 28 Jordan Street in Skaneateles.
“I had my first paid gig at Creekside Books and Coffee, on August 29th, 2009 that was really exciting for me,” he said.
John is looking to develop a strong relationship with Creekside, he says “I want to have one place to build a small fan base, and to perform my music on a regular basis”. John played two more shows at Creekside, back in May of this year.
Most of John’s music is available to listen or purchase online. “Basically, I want to get down chords and lyrics, it is not professionally recorded, but I want people to know what I am doing and get them into my unique style,” he said. Although, SubCat Music Studio in Skaneateles recorded John’s song “Resolution” earlier this year, up next he says his song “Quicksand is to be recorded in late July”.
“I write about once a week, mostly riffs and then I iron out the lyrics. It might take a month or so before it actually becomes a song,” he said.
“Lyrically (I am most proud of my song) “Type X” it’s my autobiography really. However, Resolution is the most recognized of my songs, where people seem to respond by dancing and singing along, which makes any musician feel proud”.
In late 2008, John created his own Record Company, Parkour Records where he gives guitar and bass lessons. He said, “I really started Parkour Records to make the Skaneatles music scene more accessible to young people who want to play and be heard. It’s more of a union really, for young musicians”
John’s music is raw and real. The music itself is emotional and the lyrics, although described as “minimalistic” by John, convey much to the listener.
“I write what I’m feeling. Everyone feels a specific emotion and can’t explain that in a concrete way, I try to connect and write music that is relatable, that is my job as a musician, to paint a picture with my music”.
“I don’t want to fit into any one genre of music, I just want to play John Buterbaugh right now”.
You can keep up with John at these websites:
Check out John’s Skaneateles Talk People Page.
Read other Up Close & Personal Stories from this Series.