Singing in the spotlight
Former UNH student has big plans
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 01:09
When Alex Preston started playing the violin at age five, he had no idea that, 15 years later, he would be performing for thousands at the Mix 104.1 MIXFest.
On Sept. 14, Preston took the stage in front of 50,000 people at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell in Boston, and opened for the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Gavin DeGraw and Of Monsters and Men.
The humble musician and UNH student from Mont Vernon, N.H. competed against hundreds of other musicians in Mix 104.1 / Regina Pizzeria’s 15 Seconds of Fame “Open For MixFest” competition and, according to the radio station’s website, “blew the judges away at the finalist showcase” with his performance of his song, “The Light Was Already Here.”
Preston performed his winning piece at MIXFest, as well as his song “Fairytale,” and was well received by the crowd. Gavin DeGraw, too, was impressed with Preston, and sought him out to congratulate him.
On his professional Facebook page, Preston describes his music as “dancing music,” but his songs seem to span several genres.
“My music is kind of like paint, and I play in the hopes that people will paint their own piece of art in their mind,” Preston said. “The songs mean something to me, but can mean something different to someone else.”
He’s written over 100 songs, and seeks inspiration from anything and everything.
“I bought a new notebook last week, and I’ve already filled 45 pages,” Preston said. “I write a lot of love songs.”
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that he accompanies himself on all of his tracks. After all, he does play nine instruments. After he fell in love with the violin at age five, he expanded his repertoire to include the guitar, banjo, ukulele, piano, bass, mandolin, harmonica and auxiliary percussion. The self-described “band nerd” perfected playing these instruments through various bands in high school and at UNH.
“MIXFest sparked a lot of interest in me,” Preston said.
Numerous labels and radio stations have approached the triple threat singer-writer-musician, but Preston is taking his time in deciding what to do.
“Don’t sign anything [without someone else looking it over],” Preston said. “That’s the best piece of advice I’ve gotten.”
It was actually because he didn’t know what he wanted to do that Preston moved to Nashville, Tenn., in September 2012, after completing his freshman year at UNH. He said that he was unsure, like many college students, as to what he wanted to do with his life. He hoped that he would find himself in the process of traveling the country.
“It was kind of a weird thing to do, but it worked out,” Preston said.
That it “worked out” is an understatement. Preston’s resume is a long list of accomplishments from his time in Nashville, as well as in Los Angeles. He’s worked with Disney Channel band Allstar Weekend, co-written songs with country singer Jo Dee Messina and rock band Framing Hanley, as well as with Aria Summer of Disney Channel fame. Preston’s song was used in the CD “Voices for Heroes,” a benefit for Sandy Hook that is being sold at FYE stores, and in the trailer for “Extra Innings.” He’s performed on BalconyTV, and placed first at the Berklee College of Music Bandslam, even snagging the Judge’s Personal Choice Award.
With these projects on his resume, as well as an upcoming American Idol callback and the launch of his song “The Light Was Already Here” on iTunes, Preston has a lot on his plate. Understandably, he has deferred school this semester, but Preston intends to return to UNH in the spring.
In the meantime, Preston is enjoying his newfound notoriety.
“I’m trying to ride this wave, with the buzz in Boston,” Preston said. “I can’t let this wave of attention pass, I have to utilize it. It’s definitely a good stepping- stone to what’s coming next.
And, with Alex Preston, who knows what will come next?