After touring the world with the likes of John Legend, Milwaukee native Shonn Hinton achieved his dream of playing Summerfest (opening for Jason Derulo) last summer with his band, Shonn Honton & Shotgun. 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (88.9fm) caught up with the band.
When did you start playing music?
I started at the age of three. I beat on the arms of my mother’s couch and the lampshades. I got on their ever-loving nerves until they got tired and just bought me a drum set one day. It was on, since that moment in my life.
Even before knowing I could play professionally, I just enjoyed doing it. I remember watching the Grammys at a very young age and I got a chance to see this young urban group called The Boys. I’m like, “If these kids can do it, I can totally do it.” They had to be like 8 and up, the oldest was maybe 13. I thought, “I’m gonna do that one day.”
I got tired of sharing the drums with my cousin, so I learned how to play the guitar. Guitar was an instrument I knew no one else in my family, as far as the cousins were concerned, had the patience and determination to learn to do. I stayed with it and it became another love in the interim of me being a musician. I was blessed to grow in the process as being a musician. I suffered for being a guitar player. Playing since I was twelve.
My mom had a strict curfew for us at night. We had to be in bed my 8 p.m. to get up and go to school the next day. I would close the door to my bedroom and play my guitar with the TV on listening to the radio, trying to mimic everything I heard. I suffered for my instrument because my mom knew what I was doing and I got a whopping every time without fail. My mom says now, “It paid off.”
Did anyone inspire you musically, growing up?
Yes. Eddie Van Halen. My mom is a musician too, and an avid music lover. She’s a pianist. She still has the same albums. I was the nerdy kid that would pull the sleeve out of the albums and see who are the people playing, who produced the album, and looking at the lyrics.
Saturday mornings were the time when every African-American mom would clean up in the house, the whole entire Saturday. My mom had fun with it; she had a hairbrush and the lyrics to each song and would sing it. My mom was young; I think she was sixteen or seventeen when she had me. When I was old enough to walk and talk and understand the concept of simple things around the house, she was still young and acted young. What nineteen or twenty year old do you know would sing in the mirror with a hairbrush?
I looked at a j-card and saw the name “Eddie van Halen” and would hear him play and think, “Oh my god. Guitar could sound like this?”
I used to go to this music store called Dick’s Music. I would buy a pedal every month. My allowance was five bucks; I’d save up and go to Dick’s. The first pedal I bought was a chorus pedal; the second pedal I bought was a distortion pedal and from there, my love for guitar playing just evolved.
I started listening to cats like Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray… the rabbit hole just widened as I fell through.
Read the full interview with 88Nine.
This story is from our partner 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.