SHERIDAN — Stoll Vaughan describes his initial interest in music matter-of-factly, as if nothing else ever really caught his eye.
“Guitar seemed like something I could understand — it was easier than playing basketball,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan, who will pass through Sheridan as part of the Tour Bus Music Festival on July 27, has managed to stretch natural affinity into a career that has spanned nearly 20 years.
Born in Kentucky, Vaghan attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan for high school, which he said gave him the chance to make music his full-time focus.
After high school, Vaughan took a job working in a studio owned by John Mellencamp.
There, Mike Wanchic, who’s worked with Mellencamp for more than 40 years, told Vaughn that if he wanted to have a career in music, he would have to learn to write songs.
“That’s been my path ever since,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan modeled his songs after classic American singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, John Prine and Tom Waits.
“They taught me that you can take someone in so many different directions in three and a half minutes with just a guitar,” Vaughan said.
He worked with Wanchic to write two solo albums, “Hold on Thru Sleep and Dreams (2005)” and “Love Like a Mule (2006).”
On the strength of those early albums, Vaughan began touring extensively and played with acts like John Fogerty and John Mellencamp.
He put out his latest album after spending more than a decade working in film and television and running an artist development company.
During that stint, Vaughan had songs featured in shows like The Office, True Blood and Friday Night Lights; he also composed music for David Lynch’s documentary series, Interview Project.
But while his career was thriving, Vaughan wasn’t writing the kind of music he’d set out to write; he was writing songs but they weren’t his songs.
“I had lost a sense of what I would like to say. I was left feeling distant, and that distance made me look inward,” Vaughan said.
He channeled that introspection into “The Conversation” — which was released in 2018 — and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I’m either touring, in the studio or writing with people, that is kind of the way I’m operating right now,” Vaughan said.
In addition to his own songs, Vaughan has been co-writing and co-producing music for the Allman Betts Band, a project started by Devon Allman and Duane Betts, the sons of Allman Brothers co-founders Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts.
He plans on touring regularly with the Allman Betts Band after the group’s debut album is released at the end of this month.
Vaughan has managed to put together an impressive list of highlights over his nearly 20-year career, but he’s not ready to sit back and reflect yet.
“I don’t really think that way, in terms of highlights,” Vaughan said. “I just kind of keep on trudging.”