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My Messenger is the closest thing Reno has to Bright Eyes. If you’ve heard that band and like it, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of My Messenger’s onstage style, and you’re likely to get something out of it. It has a similar, stripped-down indie rock style, and it’s performed by one Josh Culpepper, 21, who goes by the alias “My Messenger.”
When this guy plays live, his emotions completely take over the stage. His voice is comparable to that of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah lead singer Alec Ounsworth, with a raspy, gurgling thing happening in the back of his throat when he gets pumped up. It’s actually quite moving, and the audience goes nuts for it.
Culpepper is an indie artist who plays with only a guitar and sometimes a harmonica.
Throwing in the harmonica midway through some of his tunes is something Culpepper should do more often.
“Harmonica gives my music more continuity,” he says.
He usually plays alone, wearing a pair of black Vans with a hole in the toe as he stomps his foot to the beat. However, it looks as though Culpepper might do a little less solo and a little more side-by-side in the future. He’s been thinking of bringing 21-year-old Steve Cabral in on guitar from time to time.
He’s often found at Walden’s Coffeehouse open mic. Since Culpepper is a newer addition to the local music scene, he’s yet to branch out and show the rest of the city what he’s made of.
Usually, Culpepper plays covers from Bright Eyes and other bands of the indie sort, but lately, he’s trying out more of his own creations on the audience. His sound is a little dark, but he manages to get it all out in a way that doesn’t induce the audience into an aftermath of emo funk.
Other than Bright Eyes, Culpepper seeks musical inspiration through Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith and Joseph Arthur.
This tall, long-haired musician stands out from the rest. He first comes off as shy, only to get up and let it all out in a way that completely contradicts that impression.
Culpepper says his music is centralized on lyrics and that it’s “all on accident.”
“Ten percent of the stuff I write becomes a song,” he says. “When I listen to music, I listen for the words more than I listen to the actual music.”