Brooklyn songwriter and dobro player Bret Mosley has been developing his percussive technique for years. He first made a splash in Charleston when he and N.Y.C. colleague Jerry Joseph toured through the Southeast behind their collaborative album Charge (recorded with Steve Drizos). These days, Mosley is on the road in the Carolinas more often than he’s home in Brooklyn.
“As soon as we hit the Lowcountry in 2008, I fell in love with the culture and the scene,” Mosley says. “I essentially started commuting from Brooklyn to South Carolina. It was very clear that it was where I needed to develop things.”
Mosley’s 2007 debut Light & Blood leaned toward the folkier side of Americana-rock, but his latest material has more of a blues-rock kick.
“My set doesn’t depend too much on the venue or the crowd. It depends more on where I am at that moment,” he says. “I still have the folky, coffeehouse-type stuff that was on a lot of my first release, but I’ve expanded a bit to taking a harder edge, and I feel more solid with some of the more funky stuff that I love to do.”
Mosley was born in Alpine, Texas, and he grew up out West. He first settled in New York City when he was working as a professional ballet dancer and musician. He switched from guitar and mandolin to dobro a few years ago after trying one out at a gig in Austin.
“It felt really comfortable right away, and I knew it was what I was meant to play,” Mosley says. “It immediately made sense to me.”
Mosley easily adapted his songwriting style to fit the instrument, emphasizing heavy grooves over mildly strummed chord progressions.
“I play a dobro in a way that it’s not usually played, so I think my playing style, my sound, and how I go at it define me more than being from Texas or being from New York,” says Mosley. “I’m not a true blues player or a master bluegrass player. I’ve often been described with comparisons from different ends of the spectrum. Someone once referred to me as, ‘Hank Williams Sr.-meets-the Ohio Players.’ That’s cool with me.”