Bryce O’Brien is a 15-year old rising sophomore at Mount Hope High School, but you wouldn’t know that from listing to him play his guitar, something he has been doing for more than two-thirds of his life. “I began playing in kindergarden, taking lessons with my Dad,” he says. He comes from a musical family: younger sister Meg played the piano, and his older brother Burke does too (and has actually stuck with it.) Burke also plays harmonica and occasionally joins Bryce for a few songs in a set, typically covers of performers like John Mayer, Eric Clapton, and Jack Johnson—”coffee house stuff,” according to Bryce.
The family, which also includes mom Suzanne, dad Jonathan and youngest sister Lucy, moved to Bristol from Holliston, Massachusetts a couple of years ago, arriving just in time for Bryce to finish 7th grade at the Kickemuit Middle School. Now that he’s entering 10th grade, he’s very much at home in Bristol (Suzanne is from Portsmouth) and enjoying his time at Mount Hope. “Biology is my favorite subject,” he says. “And gym.”
Not surprisingly, he takes as many music classes as he can, is part of the high school’s guitar ensemble as well as the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Jazz Ensemble. He definitely wants to pursue music in college, and has thought about music school but is already clear that he needs something a little more well-rounded.
“I like running cross country and lacrosse, and now that Mount Hope has a sailing team I want to join that too,” he says. “Music will have to be a part of whatever I do, though. I want to continue playing as much as possible.”
Bryce plays at Custom House Coffee in Portsmouth just about every week, at their Sunday open mike event, and lately began playing at Angelina’s in Bristol on Sunday mornings. He has also played in various art galleries on ART nights, and recently performed at the Four Corners Festival and art show in Tiverton.
Gary Fish, the proprietor of Custom House Coffee, introduced him to a group putting together an upcoming benefit concert on South Shore Beach in Little Compton, where he’ll perform on the same bill as Barney Johnson, Colby and Keila, the Brush Your Teeth Band, the Fish & Chip Band, and Grace Morrison & RSO. It’s this Saturday, August 24, and Bryce will be kicking off a great night of music with a 45-minute set, beginning at 5 p.m.
The South Shore Beach Concert, to benefit Singing Out Against Hunger
WHERE: South Shore Beach, Little Compton
WHEN: 5-10 p.m., Saturday, August 24
MORE INFO: All donations go to the Little Compton Food Bank and the East Bay Community Action Program. Rain date is August 31st.