‘Big fat hippy’ redefines local music scene

By Emily Hoover | ehoover@flagler.edu
Photo by Josh Weaver

Amy Hendrickson performs at Stogies, Rendezvous and Mi Casa Café. She gets airtime on Flagler College radio. She’s a celebrity in a town of struggling artists.

As a solo musician, she is an expressive lyricist. With her band, Amy Hendrickson & the Prime Directive, she is funky, experimental and a self-proclaimed “big fat hippy.”

“I try to be a little bit of everything,” she said. “I try to be soulful, because the lyrics mean everything. Content is very important.”

A Salt Lake City native, who has lived in St. Johns County since she was 5, Hendrickson says music has always been an important outlet.

Her father introduced her to metal and her mother, a banjo player, exposed her to bluegrass. She picked up a guitar at age 12 and pledged to never look back after writing her first song, “Strawberry Ice Cream.”

She joined with bassist Stephen Pigman, saxophone and keyboard player Corey Peterson and drummer Steve Hawkes about a year ago.

Hendrickson considers Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan as primary influences.

Despite entering a scene that is predominately male, Hendrickson doesn’t feel oppressed or threatened by male musicians. She describes her relationship with fellow local artists as “tight” and she often handles booking for them, or vice versa. She said she knows of at least 10 people to call if she needs help with something. If anything, she said, the audience is intimidating.

“I know that I’m a girl trying to jam with dudes, but I’ve learned to be benign,” she said. “It’s tricky because you ask yourself: ‘Are they watching me because of the way I’m dressed?’ You’ve got to watch it. You don’t want to be that kind of chick. If you’re outlandish, then they won’t get it.”

Because her music is politically charged and socially conscious, she stresses the importance of a female fan base.

“The woman is the one I want, because they are the ones my lyrics are geared towards,” Hendrickson said. “If women don’t like me, then it doesn’t work. Remember, we’re stronger together.”

Luckily, the men she plays with support her with everything, illustrating a team effort that is both professional and fun. She hopes that other bands will follow this model of camaraderie.

“It’s so easy [playing with the Prime Directive],” Hendrickson said. “It’s like breathing, like I was supposed to meet them.”

She relies on Flagler College for support. She commends the art department and media production; however, she asks for more involvement from the student body as a whole. Then, she said, St. Augustine can finally create and sustain a unique subculture.

“Flagler is a big part of the community, and they can’t punk out on us,” Hendrickson said. “[The magic] isn’t happening at the Thomas Kinkade [art store] or Scarlett O’Hara’s. Passion happens at house parties. These are the people I want. After all, Flagler is a school of the arts.”

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