Meet Willoughby: Bristol native on tour with Caroline Rose

Bristol native Willoughby Morse has landed a plum gig.
A 2012 graduate of Mount Abraham Union High School who’s been playing in one band or another since middle school — most recently with the psych-pop band Madaila — Morse is at the moment touring and playing drums with sometime Burlington singer-songwriter Caroline Rose. Rose’s latest album, “Loner,” has put her music in the national spotlight, and now Morse along with her.
Rose has been selling out show after show on a national tour that has so far racked up more than 10,000 miles.
The way his parents tell it, Morse has been making a racket since he could sit up.
His dad, Jeff Morse, remembers Willoughby playing around with bongos when he was just a few months old.
“It really sums him up visually from the beginning. He couldn’t be happier,” he said.
“He would go around the house tapping on different objects, noticing the difference in sounds,” said his mom, Sheila Wolfe. “I knew then that something was different about him.”
Ironically, as a young child, Morse found loud noises disturbing.
“We once took him to a Jeh Kulu drumming circle and he couldn’t deal with how loud it was,” Wolfe said. “He couldn’t deal with loud noises unless he was making them,” she added with a laugh.
Morse took to music easily, his parents said, teaching himself the guitar at age 12 and mastering the drums faster than his Bristol teacher, Allen Bilson, could keep up. While at Mount Abe, he played drums for both the middle school and the high school bands — at the same time.
Morse connected with Caroline Rose through his record-label colleague and Madaila band mate Jer Coons, a Middlebury native and influential force in the Burlington music scene. Coons has long been a champion of Rose’s work.
“Willoughby’s loving it,” said dad of his son’s touring. “He lives and breathes music.”
He’s likely to find plenty of sustenance in the near future, then, as Caroline Rose makes her way across the country, then heads to Europe this summer.
Tour info is available at carolinerosemusic.com.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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