Three defining events helped put Michael Hopp on the path to becoming a singer-songwriter in the folk-rock mold.
In second grade, he discovered The Beatles after seeing an ad on TV for the compilation album 1.
In seventh grade, he got an electric guitar and started strumming — mostly with the instrument unplugged.
And around that same time, while perusing his grandfather’s music collection, he came across Bob Dylan.
“That opened up, made me switch to more acoustic music and (made me) want to start writing for myself,” he said.
Now 22, Hopp — who grew up in the Tri-Cities — plays under the name Badland Nomad.
He’ll perform April 24 in Richland, part of a MUX show that also features the Seattle indie band Cataldo.
The headliner is the Portland band Joseph, made up of a trio of sisters described by Daytrotter as “a force of nature that rarely comes around.”
The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or online at https://ti.to/mux/joseph.
Hopp attended Hanford High School in Richland, graduating in 2011.
He’s now a senior at Washington State University in Pullman, balancing music gigs with his school work. He’s studying history, with a minor in American Indian studies.
Hopp especially is fascinated with the Old West, and stories from the era long have stuck out to and stuck with him. “In my family, I’ve always been called an old soul. I loved watching black-and-white cowboy movies. They just piqued my interest — it was something I’ve always found fascinating,” he told the Herald in a phone interview.
Many of Hopp’s songs have historical allusions and inspiration. And he tries to tell tales in his tunes.
“I love to keep storytelling alive,” he said. “I like to make it worthwhile for the people who want to hear the words.”
In the evocative and lyrically taut Round and Round and Round, Hopp sings of alienation, of lost love.
“So I went to go find my lover/ Who said she would wait for me/ But I found her in the arms of another/ With her own new family.
So I ran to the shade of the forest/ That once used to grow so strong/ Only to find (it’s) been chopped up. Where did the world go wrong?”
Still, Hopp sings, the world “goes round and round and round.”
Another song, Thirst, is similarly haunting.
“How could you forgive me, when I could not forgive myself?/ For years I spent my life, just a book upon your shelf.
But now I’m a river rock and I’m bouncing on your bed/ And I’m smooth enough to be skipped, or tucked under your head.”
MUX is an all-ages venue at the Uptown Theatre that aims to build up the indie music scene in the Tri-City area.
Hopp said it’s an ideal place to play. “It’s what I’m excited about for MUX — it’s one of the few places in the Tri-Cities where people go just to hear music,” he said.
Although Hopp sometimes plays with a band, he said those who attend the MUX show should expect a more stripped down set from him.
“It will be a lot more personal, intimate songs — most of them written within the last year. It’s more intimate story telling. Something that is more lyrically driven,” he said.
And they should expect a good time, Hopp said. He’s looking forward to the show.
“It’s fun to play at home,” Hopp said. “It’s great coming back.”
Uptown Theatre is at 1300 Jadwin Ave.
More on MUX: www.mux.tc.