RICHARD Perso is a musical mentor at just 21 years of age.
It makes the Yackandandah singer/songwriter laugh but few would argue against his credentials.
The schoolboy who wagged class to busk in Wodonga’s High Street is back in town after recording his second album in New York and touring Canada.
Tonight, Perso and Triple-J featured artist Eliza Hull will take to the stage at Art Space Wodonga in the first of three gigs aimed at emerging artists.
Perso gave the bordermail.com.au a sneak peek performance. Click play to watch the young talent with an old voice (iPhone app users tap 'Video').
The pair will be joined by aspiring Border musicians in Barnawartha’s Jessica Gay and Jingellic’s Mollie Waters.
Last year The Vibe series attracted 300 people to four gigs. Organisers are expecting a sell-out of about 100 tonight.
Perso picked up a guitar at 12 but his parents had to push him to sing.
“It was like one of those nerve-racking things but they pushed me and I’m glad they did,” he said.
“Over time it has become more natural, a little like the guitar.
“When I first picked it up it was very foreign, my fingers hurt, but then it became what I did out of school and now it is really just a part of who I am.”
Perso’s musical influences range from John Williamson to Led Zeppelin, with a deep, sometimes gravelly voice mature beyond his years.
“I guess I’m a real stew of different influences,” he said.
“I was inspired by John Williamson, of all people, and mum used to listen to a lot of James Taylor, so there was always that singer/songwriter influence.
“I guess it is now a blend of acoustic folk and increasingly a bit of a rock thing.”
Perso said open mic nights and busking did wonders for his confidence.
“I’d skip classes to go busking in High Street so that I could get enough money to go to the movies in Albury,” he said.
“But I’m not going to go there in the mentoring, I wouldn’t advocate that as a life choice. But I guess it shows how passionate I was about my music.”
Tonight’s performance starts with an open mic about 6pm. Tickets cost $6.50 and are available from The Cube box office on (02) 6022 9311, online or at the door.