Josh Cunningham

Artist of the Month | September 2010

 

Josh uses Ultrapure Mini systems in his acoustic guitars, Twin Spot internal pickups in his ukuleles and Pure Archtop pickups in his archtop guitars. Recently he has used a Bigshot in a stomp box with great success. He also likes the Pure XLR preamp for both acoustic guitar and ukulele.

As a 13 year old, Josh Cunningham saw the movie “back to the future” and his life was forever changed. Seeing Michael J Fox (aka Marty McFly) play johnny b goode at the high school prom proved to be a defining moment for him. Former aspirations of a career in journalism, nursing or economics were discarded and his course was now set – he MUST be a guitar player. Finding an old guitar in a closet in his family home, he spent the next few months of his life teaching himself johnny b goode and other chuck berry classics, as well as the theme song to the TV show “cheers” and the soundtrack to the movie “crossroads.” Less than a year later he auditioned for a gig in a local blues/rock coverband and soon found himself performing several nights a week in establishments that he was legally too young to even enter. He followed his musical dreams, which upon reaching ‘legal age’ led him to Broome , Western Australia where He met sisters Donna and Vikki Simspon with whom he formed the acoustic trio “The Waifs.” 18 years and many multi platinum selling, ARIA award winning albums later, all three members of The Waifs have left their homeland of Australia and are currently living in the USA .

Cunninghams’ style is hard to pigeonhole. Having cut his teeth on learning classic solos to Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Beatles and Clapton tunes, he gravitated towards acoustic singer/songwriter artists such as Paul Simon, Michelle Shocked, James Taylor and Bob Dylan (who The Waifs would ultimately end up opening for years later). “I always had a passion to be the ‘lead guitar guy’ but when I discovered songwriting, I found something so much more powerful. My focus shifted and I became completely obsessed with lyrics and melodies – simple stories that connect with and move people. I still play lead guitar but I see my guitar skills (above and beyond simple strumming) purely as a means to make my songs more interesting rather than being an end in itself.” The Waifs have long been known for their organic, rootsy and melodic brand of acoustic music, of which Joshs’ guitar and ukulele playing and songwriting has always been a distinctive element. “The longer I have been doing this, the more simple it seems to me. My goal is to create music that is unpretentious and genuine. I have no desire for over producing things or even striving for the ‘perfect’ recording. To me, music is all about sharing a story and capturing a moment.” The ‘stories’ that the Waifs songs are, have typically been heartfelt and simple, drawing on the shared experiences of an 18 year long tour, however musically and spiritually, Cunninghams’ personal journey has spawned a passion for gospel and spiritual music. He has two such albums in the works, which will be completed by the end of 2010, and with another Waifs album also planned for early 2011, the journey continues.

Along the way, Josh developed an interest in instrument making. This ‘interest’ evolved into a passion and in turn into an obsession. All the instruments he currently plays are his own creations – flatop acoustic guitars, archtop guitars, electric guitars and ukuleles. “I love to make things with my own hands and one of the great things about K&K is that they are also very hands on and down to earth folk. The music and the instruments I have always appreciated and tried to create, are perfectly complemented by K&K products. The sound of these pickups and preamps is organic, genuine and true to life and it is no surprise that the people who make them are as well.”

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