Every musician gets their start somewhere. And, for Alex Hall, that start involved playing shows for $75 at Pueblos Mexican restaurant in Gainesville.
“I did that every Monday until I graduated high school,” Hall said. “I had to play for three hours. I only knew how to play 10 songs, so I’d replay 10 songs every hour.”
Today, the 26-year-old country musician is gearing up for his debut extended play record, “Six Strings” with Monument Records, a joint venture with Sony.
The record — which will be released on all major music platforms Feb. 5 — features guitar and vocals from Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, John Osborne of Brothers Osborne, Tenille Townes, Kassi Ashton and Brad Tursi of the band Old Dominion.
Hall said the idea to create the record came about during the pandemic, which halted plans for touring. He said Katie McCartney, who runs the record label in Nashville, approached him about making a “stripped-down, guitar-focused project.”
The idea then shifted into finding musicians to play the guitar or sing with Hall on the record.
Eventually, Hall said they came up with a plan for six songs with six features all focused on the guitar.
“Without six strings, there’s no guitar, there’s no music, there’s nothing,” he said. “That was the idea for the title.”
With most songs intended for the radio, Hall said people expect a wide range of instruments. However, that isn’t the case with “Six Strings.”
Hall describes his record sounding like “you’re in a room with a live band.”
“I picked these features on every song very purposefully, and I wanted their artistic touch on guitar or vocals to be heard in those songs too,” Hall said. “It’s not just me showing off my artistic style, it’s also them showing off theirs.”
Because of the pandemic, Hall recorded with three artists in person and the other three remotely. Hall said he found himself particularly impressed and inspired by Paisley, Osborne and Gill, all of whom collaborated in separate studios.
“I learned so much of the professionalism that they have,” Hall added.
As someone just getting his feet on the ground in his career, Hall said he felt grateful to share his record with established country music stars.
One day, Hall aims to pay their kindness forward.
“Hopefully, if I have the pleasure of being as big as they are, I’ll look back and do the same for someone in my place,” Hall said.
An extension of himself
Hall received his first guitar at 5 years old, but the artist said he didn’t dive into his passion for music until the sixth grade.
With the pressure of a few peers and the encouragement of his choir director at Chestatee Middle School, Hall joined his school’s chorus and got his first taste of performing.
“I was just terribly shy,” he said. “I didn’t want to sing in front of people.”
After he sang his first solo of “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins for a chorus concert at Lakewood Baptist Church, Hall said something sparked in him.
He later took a poetry class as an elective in school. Despite thriving as a songwriter today, Hall said at first, he hated the prospect of creating poems. But wIth a little push from his teacher, he eventually found his rhythm.
“If it would not have been for my teachers at Chestatee Middle School and through high school, I don’t know if I would’ve ever started to play music, to be honest,” Hall said.
From the summer after middle school and throughout high school, Hall found himself playing at different venues around Gainesville, including Pueblos and The Monkey Barrel. Before he knew it, Hall said he started performing at places six to seven nights a week throughout the Southeast.
After moving to Nashville and signing with Monument Records, he opened for Tanya Tucker on her “While I’m Living Tour” in 2019. He has also performed at festivals across the country, including Country to Country, Shaky Boots, Trailblazer and Hometown Rising.
Hall explained his relationship with the guitar as a time of peace and meditation for him. The musician said, growing up, he would wake up before school to practice his instrument, and sometimes fall asleep with his guitar in his bed.
“It was this obsession that just came over me,” he said. “I don’t know if it was something I decided to do. I think it was something I almost needed to do. I know that sounds crazy. It just clicked.”
With his record, “Six Strings,” Hall said each song is personal, especially “Runs in the Family,” featuring Kassi Ashton.
“I was going through stuff with my family, and so was she,” he said. “Every word of the song is very personal, and it’s about both her and I.”
Through “Six Strings,” Hall said he’s giving people a glimpse into his life as a guitar player, songwriter, producer and artist.
“I think that if you listen to all six of these songs you truly will get a touch of who I am as a person and as an artist,” he said. “I hope people listen to it and enjoy it, and wherever touring comes back they’ll want to come hear the songs live.”