If it hadn’t been for a knee injury, bassist Fisher Wilson might not have followed a path toward a career in music. While he healed he began to share his older brother’s affinity for old-time Appalachian music, and so he picked up the mandolin, banjo, guitar and ultimately the bass. “I had the music bug,” he says. “I wanted to learn everything I could.”
He describes being taken to a jazz club by his siblings when he was a little older. “It had a really profound effect on me,” he says of the experience. Wilson couldn’t march with the others in the high school band, but the director nurtured his interests by teaching him piano and encouraging him to keep playing bass.
Wilson’s love of music is apparent in the way he recounts his experience studying music at College of Charleston. He recalls the ethnomusicologist who headed the Latin American Music ensemble he played in at college, and how he took that perspective to heart, now approaching his work with an understanding that there is much more to music than its practice and performance. “Now I’m thinking more about, ‘What does it mean to the people who played it?’” Wilson has a keen interest in the African diaspora and how crucial it has been to American music, both in the early Appalachian music that birthed bluegrass and in the emergence of jazz around the turn of the 20th century.
“Charleston has a lot of roots in the creation of jazz,” he says. “People like Joe and Forte are really trying to make jazz the center stage in their venue.” Over the course of his career he has enjoyed touring with bands Canopy Hands and Cicala, but he describes playing in the Holy City with especial fondness. Says Wilson, “The gig life in Charleston is where it’s at.”
Fisher Wilson will be playing at Forte Jazz Lounge on Friday Sept. 4, Saturday Sept. 5, Thursday Sept. 24, Friday Sept. 25 and Saturday Sept. 26.