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Garrison Starr (with dandelions)

A Conversation with Garrison Starr (continued)

PM: You know, I'd heard your records and always liked them, but until I saw you at SXSW recently, I didn't really realize how great you were.

GS: Oh, thanks.

PM: I've really got to see somebody play. And that goes back to building that fan base thing, because it's not every artist who actually can get on the road and deliver. But you are one of those people who can.

GS: Yeah. Well, I appreciate you saying that. I mean, it's been interesting for me, because I really--on this record I really--I sat down with the label and told them--I was just like, "For me, it's really important to present this record as a package, the way it is, and get out there." Because that's the thing I think has been missing for me, like in releasing records and then going and touring, it's like--and I'm sure that a lot of other artists make this argument as well, but when you release a record, and then you have to go out and tour just solo acoustic, if somebody comes and sees you for the first time, well, that's what they think you and your record sound like. They think that you're an artist that tours with your acoustic guitar. Which, in the grand scheme of things, if you're good, does that really matter? Probably not.

But for me as an artist who just made a record that sounds a certain way, I would love to be able to go out and present it the way that it sounds. And that's the one thing that I've never been able to do consistently on any record, is go out and tour behind the record with a band for six months or a year, or consistently go out and really show people what it is I'm doing.

PM: Yeah. I mean, you're not a folksinger, you're a rocker.

GS: Yeah. And a lot of people don't understand that because they've never gotten to see me play with a full band.

PM: Right.

GS: I'm able to do that in the southeast, close to home I'm able to do it, based out of Nashville, and do it that way. But I'm not able to do that in New York City. I'm not able to do that on the East Coast, where you really have to spend money to keep people out, and keep renting vans and all that stuff. I will get there, I know I will. But it's challenging. I'm just fortunate now that I have a manager--or two managers, but the main person I work with is Matt. I'm just lucky now that I have a manager who understands where I need to go, and understands how we need to get there. But it's just going to be a process of getting there.

PM: And the other model I'm seeing all the time now from a handful of good artists is the satellite band thing. It's like, well, I have these four people in New York, I got these three people in Seattle...

GS: Yeah.

PM: Richard Julian is doing that, and David Mead is doing that, and this person, that person. It's really hard as hell to plug it all in, but over the years you pick up a couple here, pick up a couple there. That's another good way do it.

GS: You're right, if you can make that work, that's just another way to help out financially. And whereas I used not think so much about the finances of touring because I used to think, "Oh, well, whatever, what's $200 in the whole grand scheme of things?" But now I think, "Ooh, $200 is $200."

PM: Yeah.

GS: Now I start to look for opportunities to really cut corners. For instance, we're staying with this friend of mine that I just met whose mom and dad came to see me play in Athens, Georgia. And her mom became a huge fan. And it was like, "You should meet my daughter who lives in Florida." So she and her husband drove down to the Tallahassee show from Athens. They also had to do some business there. But they drove down, and their daughter drove over. And we became friends, and now she came over to New Orleans, and happens to have a friend who owns this condo, like right down the street from the French Quarter and that's where we're staying for two days, which totally helps us, and we don't have to pay for hotels for two days in New Orleans or anywhere else.

That's another beautiful thing about meeting people over the years, and making friends and playing shows, because people want to help you out. They want to support you. And that's kind of something that fascinates me about the road, and people, and how the world works, and really, when you put it out there to the universe that you need help, and you put out there--not to get new-age-y on you, but to put it out there to the universe what you want, and what you feel that you deserve, and where you need help, you find that you get that help.

PM: Yeah.

GS: You find that somebody is looking out for you up there, and you get that help. And those little things not only give you the ability to continue--or they give me the ability to continue to go on, but they also encourage me. They also show me that hey, there are people out there who care. There are people out there who care about my music, who care about me. But also, there's a world that's going on out there. There's a life of people doing their thing, and reaching out to other people, and living and loving. And there's bigger stuff going on than just Vanguard putting my account on hold, or how many records I sold in Spokane, Washington last week. Or how many people showed up to the gig last night. It puts thing in perspective.

There's a bigger picture out there. There's a bigger world out there than just the music business, and people's egos and finances, and people wanting to be in control of everything. It helps me to enjoy the moment more, and go, "Man, this is pretty cool." You know?

PM: I mean, who would have thought that James Taylor would have come up with the thing that summed it all up, "the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time."

GS: Yeah.

PM: [laughs] It's just never been said any better than that.

GS: Yeah.      continue

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