Tell us about your tour vehicle.
Right now I have a relatively new Subaru Outback, but I recently retired my long-time touring vehicle, a 2009 Honda Fit that I put 220,000 on before it was hit while parked and I had to let it go. That car was so great for solo and duo touring. Great gas mileage. And true to its name, it fit way more in it than it seemed like it would allow from the outside. It didn’t break down much, it was a pretty great car. I’m way into drama-free touring.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
I tend to stock up on protein bars, meat sticks and nuts and fruit before I leave for tour, so very squirrel-type diet for me. Other than that, I’m a sucker for a good diner, and prefer breakfast foods over all else.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
In the early years, I used to break a lot of strings. At some point I switched string brands, and must have changed how I was playing a bit, cause I haven’t broken a string in years… can’t even remember the last one. Although, years ago, in New York, playing at The Bitter End, I broke 3 strings over the course of one 30 minute set, and closed with a 1 string version of “Jesse’s Girl”.
Where do you rehearse?
What is this rehearsal you speak of?
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Oh man, I don’t know that I can remember that. I do know that the first song I wrote was sophomore year of high school, and it was an assignment for Mr. Loomis’s English class. It had something to do with unity and I was listening to a lot of English Beat, Operation Ivy, that sort of thing. The lyrics, thankfully, have been lost to time.
Describe your first gig.
I used to go to this coffee shop called “Bittersweet” every day after high school. One day, after starting to teach myself guitar, with a little help from my dad, I was in Bittersweet and really wanted a sandwich, but I only had enough money for a cup of coffee. There was a guitar hanging on the wall, and the owner, Minta, said that if I played her a song, she would give me a free sandwich. So I grabbed the guitar off the wall and played the only song I knew, “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles. She gave me a sandwich, and offered me a gig on the following Friday. I consider that sandwich my first payment for playing music.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I was a journeyman electrician for almost 10 years. I guess that was my favorite job; I’m glad I learned the trade, I can still do it, and as far as jobs go, I mean, I didn’t have to wear a shirt most of the time and I could spit on the floor, that’s pretty good work if you can get it.
How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?
The rise of digital music, and consequently, streaming overtaking and essentially doing away with downloads has obviously had a huge effect on most musician’s ability to make money from their recorded music. Having started my career before the internet, I’ve definitely seen the landscape change multiple times, and the one thing I’ve learned for sure is that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I’ve been very lucky to be able to carve out a living amidst all the turmoil. I hope that people like me, in the middle, will be able to continue to exist, but all I can do is keep making music that I believe in, and if people keep listening and coming to shows, I’ll keep doing it. Also, I assume that in 5-10 years we will all take jet packs to gigs.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I don’t intend for this to mean that I knew it all when I started, but honestly, I can’t think of anything. I never wanted to be really famous, or a giant star, so I’ve never been all that disappointed or taken by great surprise as my career has moved along at its own pace. If someone is willing to pay money to listen to you say and sing things that you made up in your imagination, that’s pretty cool. I knew that this would involve work, and it has. But it’s not hard work. I’ve dug ditches in 110 degree direct sunlight. This is not that. This is fun, and as long as it keeps being fun, I’ll keep doing it.