Dan Hood was 15 years old when he first picked up a guitar. His older brother, Scott, gave it to him.
“I took to it right away,” Hood said. “I started performing within a year.”
Hood, 38, now makes a living as a musician, both on his own and with several different bands. He also teaches guitar and composes his own music.
Even when he began performing in front of audiences as a student at Independence High School, Hood didn’t envision making music his career. As members of the youth group band at Forest Hill Church, A Few Young Fishermen, Hood and his bandmates performed every week. He cut his first record with them, but figured music would always be a side gig.
He graduated from Independence High School in 1995 and attended UNC Charlotte, intending to become a physical therapist but minoring in music. He continued playing on the side and planned to do so after he graduated.
It wasn’t until Hood’s UNCC guitar professor told him he should seriously consider making music his career that Hood considered pursuing it full-time. “He told me I had an affinity for the guitar that he hadn’t seen in a while,” Hood said.
Hood took a semester off that eventually “turned into a permanent vacation from school,” he said.
A church friend suggested he pursue music ministry, so Hood took a part-time job as the music director at the former Church of the Beloved in south Charlotte, where he worked for six years. While there, he began playing with a new band, Static. They played in clubs throughout the Queen City.
That is the balance Hood continues to strike with his music, working part-time in music ministry and playing with a band, although both the church and the band have changed. He is now the part-time music director and worship leader at Threshold Church. He plays with two bands: Gal Friday, a country band based in Charlotte, and The Blue Dogs, a Charleston-based college rock band.
Hood has also expanded his music instruction, giving lessons in guitar, mandolin and electric base. In addition, he freelances with other local musicians who need guitar accompaniment and vocals on their own recordings or at gigs.
“The travel and late nights are difficult,” Hood said. But he said he also appreciated the down time he has during the week and the summer with his wife of eight years, Anna Hood, 34.
“She is very supportive,” Hood said. “(She) has encouraged me to take gigs that I normally wouldn’t have taken and pushed me to get new experiences and diversify.”
As for hustling to line up as many sources of income as possible, Hood said, “You have to always keep yourself busy.”
Hood has recorded one full-length album with his band, A Few Young Fishermen, and three LPs on his own. He estimates he has sung backup and played instruments (guitar, bass, mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel, accordion and ukelele) for an additional 20-25 albums.
“My last one was 10 years ago,” Hood said. “I’m starting to get that itch again.”
He has composed music for film and television, including a local PBS documentary on bullying, and has composed songs about children’s toys, such as the Magical Firefly Mirror.
“I want to do more composing,” Hood said. “I also enjoy writing songs.”
What he most enjoys is performing. He sometimes plays several gigs in one day. His near-perfect pitch serves him well because he often doesn’t know the song before he joins the band in front of an audience.
“You have to be able to hear the intervals and know where the music is going based on the melody,” Hood said. “The more songs you play, you begin to understand how harmony works with melody. You guess a chord change before you hear it.”
Hood’s favorite part of making a career out of his music is “connecting with someone on a deeper level through music.”
Whether it’s “playing a particular song at church that affects people or playing well at a club and people really digging it, to me, that’s what it’s about,” he said.
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about lessons or to see Dan Hood’s schedule of upcoming gigs, visit www.danhoodmusic.com.