This morning we’re excited to chat with Justus Ross, a musician from Piedmont, Missouri. Tell us who you are, Justus, what you do and where you’re located.
My name is Justus Ross and I am 15 years old. I live in Piedmont, Missouri and I like to try to play music every chance I get.
ACOUSTICULT: Man, there are definitely worse ways to spend your time! Tell us a little bit about your beginnings. Your origin story, so to speak. How did you get into music?
When I was very young (probably 3 or 4) I bought a Lightning McQueen guitar from Walmart and tried to pluck out a few songs. Just like any other child wanting to be a rock star I would thrash and bang the guitar on the ground.
ACOUSTICULT: It sounds like you had the right idea early on.
When I turned 6 I began taking lessons from an older fella that lived near me named O.D. Mitchell. He has now passed on, but he taught me the basics of blues music and bluegrass. I played for years with my family.
ACOUSTICULT: Tell us a little about playing in your family’s band. What was that like?
We traveled as The Ross Family Bluegrass Gospel Band for a good 3 years. My sister Charity played fiddle and sang, Alex Clayton played banjo and sang, my Mom played mandolin, my Dad played bass, and I played guitar & sang. We traveled playing churches and small bluegrass venues. We had a wonderful time meeting and making new friends in the bluegrass community! I recently joined the band Po’Anna. That band is Emalee Flatness, Maddie Dalton, Becca Ash, Alex Clayton, and myself. They are all some of my very best friends.
After years and years of teachers like Jake Workman and Rodley& Bobby Lewis, studying guys like Clay Hess, David Grier, & Kenny Smith, listening to solo after solo and lick after lick, I came to love music. It really has changed so many parts of my life for the better. Thanks to all for encouraging, supporting and pushing me and my dreams to be better than I was yesterday.
ACOUSTICULT: What are your favorite 5 albums, and do they influence your work? If so, in what ways?
Not in any order,
- “Rain” and “Just Another Story” both by Clay Hess.
- “No Escape” by ClayBank
- “I Am A Drifter” by Volume Five
- “Some Day” by Blue Highway
And many more. I always find myself listening to these albums every time I mow the lawn or drive down the road! These and many more albums were included in those hours and hours spent learning licks and styles to find the feeling I was looking for. I’m still working on that.
ACOUSTICULT: Which part of your music career do you enjoy the most – live performance, recording, writing, etc.?
Definitely live performances because you really just never know what’s gonna happen. But recording man, there’s just nothing like hearing something like that come together.
ACOUSTICULT: What are three musicians today do you think are underrated?
- Darrel Turnbull. Darrel’s mind with music is so solid. He knows some things! His picking is so clean and tasteful. He’s the most humble musician I have ever met. He’s always there for some wise advice and he’s a great friend of mine.
- Clay Hess. Clay can pull stuff out of the air like it’s nobody’s business! You just never know what to expect. He’s about as smooth and effortless as it gets. The power is there and his note placement will make you rethink every g-run you do. He gives his music moods and that’s something a lot of people miss. Tasteful! Tasteful! Tasteful! He’s changed the way I think about guitar and music in general. He’s a genius. It takes about 2 seconds of his playing and listening to the way he thinks musically to see that.
- Tim Crouch. Tim is just simply from another planet. I met him years ago in Mountain View, Arkansas. I had no clue who he was. He was just casually hanging out in a ball cap and t–shirt jamming with everyone. He has blown my mind every time I’ve heard him since. Very kind fella!
ACOUSTICULT: All three of these players are my favorites, and under-appreciated in my opinion. Tell us a little bit about your current rig – what does your “rig” consist of?
Hayes guitar, Elliot capo, Bluechip pick, Reunion Blues guitar case/Hiscox guitar case, Elixir medium gauge nanoweb strings. All the very, very best, in my opinion.
ACOUSTICULT: Tell us a little more about your Hayes. What are the specs on it?
This guitar impresses me every time I pick it up. It seems like every time I play it something new shows up and blows me away. It’s got the clarity and sustain of a violin, warmth and smoothness of a piano all while still giving that powerful boom everybody loves. It’s a hoss in every meaning of the word! It consists of an Adirondack/red spruce top and an absolutely beautiful mahogany back and sides. It also has stainless steel frets. Rick Hayes is an amazing master luthier!
ACOUSTICULT: If you were given $100,000 to spend on an album production, what would it look like?
That album would have to be sooooo perfect. It would have every one of my heroes on it. It would have to be something I would never want to stop listening to. A desert island type of album. It would have people like Dan Tyminski and Clay Hess, Allison Krauss. Just all of the legends obviously. Like I said “perfect.”
ACOUSTICULT: What is your favorite album or recording so far that you’ve made?
“With Love, Carolina” with Po’Anna. Super fun project to work on with a couple special guests. (Ron Block and Clay Hess)
ACOUSTICULT: Where did you record that? Tell us about the sessions, who mixed it, who mastered it, who played what on it?
Clay Hess at 7flat Records mixed and mastered it. Worked all of his magic there in Darrel Turnbull’s parent’s basement believe it or not. Ron Block played banjo on “I Don’t Know Why” which is just mind boggling still to think about. and Clay played banjo and bass on everything else. They both just “killed it” as you could imagine.
ACOUSTICULT: What are you currently working on?
Honestly, playing cleaner and putting more feeling into my playing will always be the grind. As far as projects nothing right now, but that should change soon!
ACOUSTICULT: I sure hope so man, your guitar playing sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to hear what you come up with next. Thanks for joining us for a chat, Justus!