A young man sits alone on a bar stool with a microphone-stand in front of him, an acoustic guitar rests lovingly in his hands, and a harmonica holder is suspended from his neck. His coat and cowboy hat hang on a hook on the wall behind him, and his glass mason jar used to accept tips sits on the floor next to his guitar case. His gear certainly gives him the aura of a well-traveled troubadour, but his age suggests otherwise.

“Thank you all for coming out tonight, it’s really great to see some friendly faces,” TROY BRESLOW says to the small crowd of people at The Living Room tea and coffee shop in Williamsburg, VA. A fresh-faced, young man of 18 years, he has a tussle of brown hair setting on his head, dark-rimmed glasses, and is often seen in plaid or flannel button-down shirts. He gently turns a tuning peg as he strums the strings, finding just the right tone for the song he’s about to cut into. “Tonight I’m gonna play some covers and a few originals; feel free to sing along if you know the words.”

Breslow kicks off the show with a melancholy tune for the intimate audience, BOB DYLAN’s “Mississippi” from one of Troy’s favorite albums, Love and Theft. Members of the crowd sway gently to the song as they take bites of their food and sips of their hot beverages.

Troy has played The Living Room a handful of times since it opened in early 2013, and his tip jar was a gift from owner Joseph, who also accompanies Troy on the bongos from time to time. His sets typically include a number of classic folk and blues tunes from artists like Dylan, MUDDY WATERS, WOODY GUTHRIE, and more contemporary artists like JOHN MAYER or CONOR OBERST. He interjects his original work whenever the mood seems right.

After finishing up a few songs and taking a swig of water, Breslow plays a song of his own called “Thunder Down the Road,” a slow and melodious ballad that tackles unfulfilled love and the difficulty of moving on.

His most striking tune, however, might be the introspective and hopeful “Dry Land,” a drifter song about growing up, reflecting on past relationships and the places a person calls home, and trying to stay hopeful about the future.

Close your eyes and go to sleep young man / when you rise, you will be on dry land / breathe a bit with every step you take / keep in mind, it’s good to be afraid…” Breslow lets the words of his chorus rise up powerfully from his lungs, his eyes pinched shut and his fingers striking the strings of the guitar with an emphatic twang.

“If there is any song that is purely me, it is that one.” Breslow said after the show. “I went through many loves won and lost, many trials with friends - and with myself. It was through these trials that I realized I needed to learn to figure out whom I was and that sometimes it was okay to be alone in life.”

Troy, a Chesapeake Native, only just graduated from Tabb High School, but in a matter of moments of conversation one can sense that he is an old soul. In an era where many young artists are routinely strapped to fluffy and constructed pop tunes, it’s refreshing to hear thoughtful and inspired words from a teenager. His maturity can surely be credited to his upbringing and some of the emotional stability that performing with friends and family has provided. Although he was always a fan of music, it was in middle school when his attention to the art took a serious turn.

“I actively listened to music on my commute to school and back home again because it was an hour both ways,” Breslow said. Then his parents moved their privately owned business to Yorktown, VA next to a music store and his exposure to music expanded. “I started hanging out in the store more and more often where I’d just fiddle around with the electric drum set that was set up in the back for demo. My mother bought an electric Kurtzweill piano from that same store, and it sat in the back of our store for several years, where I learned to play it. Soon I started discovering how to play a bass guitar, and then I wound up fiddling with a regular guitar.”

At the age of 13, he picked up a book on BOB DYLAN that his mother had given him (which had sat untouched for months) and his self-proclaimed obsession with folk music began. His parents encouraged his emerging passion.

“If it weren’t for my parents I wouldn’t have musical ability,” he admitted. “My mom played guitar for me as a child and was always singing. My parents always had sing-a-long tapes going in the car. My dad always read me books with rhyming stories, and I suppose that was my first exposure to poetry.”

Troy dove deep into Dylan’s catalog, spending many nights pouring over lyrics and daydreaming about the American landscape. Troy was inspired to perform “Mr. Tambourine Man” at his 8th grade talent show and again in 10th grade where he won third place. He would go on to befriend many of Tabb High’s most talented musicians who inspired him to practice more frequently. He soon immersed himself in the culture of performing live music.

Since graduating high school, Troy has struggled with the challenges of self-promotion and finding time exclusively for performing at live venues. He has, however, been able to focus on honing his songwriting style. “My writing process tends to have a nature of its own a lot of times,” Breslow said with a wry smile. “When I write a song that has a lot to say, I never see it coming. Those are the real important songs. Some ideas remain in the back of my mind until they blow up.”

As he continues to develop and grow as an artist and person, Troy welcomes new challenges and is constantly looking to expand his musical universe. He carries himself with a certain confidence that a star-in-the-making would need, yet he doesn’t have the suggestion of arrogance that brings down so many aspiring talents. Things certainly are looking promising for his career and 2014 has already been a year of progress. He’s put hard-work into his debut EP, which is currently streaming on Soundcloud, and hopes to release it physically in the next few months. Until then, he’ll continue dissecting the lyrics of his inspirations and scribbling words in his multitude of notebooks, searching for gold in the vast musical frontier.

For more updates on TROY BRESLOW, be sure to “like” his Facebook page and check out his music on Soundcloud.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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