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It's not often that rock musicians have the forethought to offer a reporter freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and Perrier on ice for an interview.
But it's also not often that a 17-year-old books time in a recording studio -- Elevated Basement Studios in Savannah -- to record his first CD, which has already received attention from local press.
But it's clear from the moment Luke Mitchell opened the doors to his Hilton Head Island home -- also home to a 10-year-old sister who's already making playlists for her own band and parents who graciously turned the back room of the house into a makeshift recording studio -- that there's something different about this Hilton Head Island High School senior.
Mitchell's sound, for one, is removed from the black-fingernail goth-rock or sappy pop ballads that many people his age are listening to.
"Today's music is cliche. It's business-driven. It's unimaginative," said Mitchell, who lists among his influences artists like Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Tom Petty.
Over the past few years, Mitchell has either fronted, formed or participated in six bands -- including the cover band New Kids on the Rock with Kieran Daly of Lowcountry Boil in 2002. Last summer, Mitchell attended the Berklee School of Music, which helped sharpen his skills. These days he plays guitar, bass, mandolin, piano, drums and theremin (the signature instrument on the Beach Boys' track "Good Vibrations").
"I'm always learning," Mitchell says. "I've become a jack of all trades. If you take away all of the instruments out of the equation, I just write songs. That's the best instrument ever."
Mitchell wrote all of the music on his new disc, "Inside and Out," and recorded tracks with longtime studio guitarist Jack Sherman, who has performed on albums by Bob Dylan, John Hiatt and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.
"I was telling Jack what I thought I should play and he said, 'Shhhh ... let me focus,' " Mitchell says, laughing. "Then, he played everything beautifully. It was like fate with him."
Sherman said when the two got together, it didn't sound like "a 17-year-old and a 52-year-old playing. We were just two guys playing rock 'n' roll."
To Sherman, Mitchell is a unique breed of young musicians, who cling to the purity of music that was once considered rebellious. True rock 'n' roll isn't something that can be found in a classroom, he says; it's what happens when the guitar is your constant companion and the lyrics reflect real life, Sherman says. And he thinks Mitchell fits the bill.
"Rock n' roll was once definitely an alternative lifestyle. Now, it seems like another vocation," Sherman says. "I don't see that in Luke so much. He has almost an encyclopedic passion for it."