Arts and Entertainment

Arlington's Willsie plays to his own tune

Arlington musician Aaron Willsie appreciates the folk genre for allowing him to convey messages in his music. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington musician Aaron Willsie appreciates the folk genre for allowing him to convey messages in his music.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — After years of helping other people make their music, Aaron Willsie is striking out on his own.

While the Arlington musician had toured across the country as a member of an assortment of bands, hopscotching from New York to Denver in venues such as the House of Blues, he's spent the past four months alternating between his hometown and the wilds of Oregon as a solo artist.

"Winter's a tough time for a musician, so I've actually been doing decent, considering," Willsie said. "It can be hard to break into the scene, especially as a folk musician, where people can think you're a dime a dozen. That's why I'm trying to do something a bit different."

While Willsie already released an album's worth of songs last year, that are available to listen to online for free, by going to his Facebook page at or his Soundcloud at, he hopes to release his first and second albums as both CDs and iTunes in the late spring or early summer, with the second album featuring more of what he described as an "electro-folk" feel.

"I want to do music with a message, but in a way that gets people moving and feeling," Willsie said. "I've played R&B, country and progressive metal, but it wasn't until I did worship songs that I fully realized the impact that music can have on people."

Music made an impression on Willsie himself at a young age. He recalls getting into music at the age of 7, then "getting into it seriously" at the age of 13.

"My dad was a drummer, so for a while, I thought I'd go that route," said Willsie, as he strummed his guitar.

Much of the rest of Willsie's upbringing was far more complicated and troubled, enough to leave him with PTSD, but it also left him convinced that he needed to take advantage of the time and opportunities that he has.

"I want to leave my own daughter with a good legacy," said Willsie, who will be performing at the Mirkwood & Shire Cafe on Division Street starting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8. "I want to be doing something worthwhile."

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