A Conversation with Amy Rigby
Puremusic: So you're just back from the UK. How did it go over there?
Amy Rigby: Good, good. I was actually in Ireland.
PM: Oh, now I'm doubly jealous.
AR: And so, yeah, that was my first time over there. It was kind of a whole new experience.
PM: Now, I know that you played the town where my people come from, Dundalk. You played a place called the Spirit Store.
AR: Great club.
PM: Oh, really?
AR: Yes, it's very cool. Dundalk is sort of a small city, or I guess you'd call it a large town probably. It's an hour from Dublin, and quite historic, as so much of Ireland is. The club's right on the water, and it's a pub downstairs, and then the upstairs is just a really nice listening room that this guy runs. He's just really into a lot of singer songwriters. And it's got a great little sound system. This is really a nice--I mean, they had like Gail Davies playing there a week or two ago.
PM: She does well over there, doesn't she?
AR: Yeah. And I'm trying to think who elsehe had this other American guy I'm sure you would know... Anyhow, like a lot of gigs over there, it's much more personal as far as the relationship between the artist and the promoter of the show. Like the promoter sets up accommodations for you, sometimes they'll give you a ride.
AR: It's just much less like business and much more a sort of cultural enrichment kind of thing.
PM: And so it's probably not unlikely that the club owners have a closer connection with your music than the average U.S. club owner does with the performer of the evening.
AR: Yeah, in some cases. And sometimes they'll have another job that they do also.
AR: So they do the promoting just as a labor of love, and because it's something that they want to bring to the town. And a lot of times they're people who have lived in these towns all their lives, or they just want to bring something there that they love and that they think other people should know about.
PM: And how's the turnout in these towns? You go into a singer songwriter club, any given town, what can one expect?
AR: See, that one to me seemed kind of slim. I think we had about 25 people. But then they told me about other people who had nobody show up, so they just called the gig on account of nobody. So it's all so relative, isn't it? I mean, 25 maybe doesn't seem like much, but at a place like that, as far as they were concerned, I did all right.
PM: Yeah. And God knows that can happen easily enough in Nashville.
AR: Oh, that's for sure.
PM: I know David Olney's famous quote is: "If I just want to spend some time by myself, I'll book a gig in Nashville."
AR: So true.
PM: So, the new record is just amazing. The more I listen to it, the better I like it.
AR: Oh, thanks.
PM: How's the response on it so far?
AR: It's been great. It's the first record I've had where I'm just getting reports where people say, "I heard this song, I heard that song"--they're being played out on the radio, and in stores. And I just keep getting emails from people saying, "I heard 'Don't Ever Change,'" or like, "I heard your song. I was driving my car!" And so I'm really excited about that, because it feels like there's much more happening sooner than usual.
PM: Can you tell if some songs are jumping out there faster than others? Is there a single, per se?
AR: There's not a single right off the bat. We decided to hold off on a single and just send the album out and see which tracks the people picked up on. But I think "Don't Ever Change" is the song that--it has an effect on people.
PM: Oh, it's a remarkable song.
AR: My last gig was in Belfast, and these people came from Glasgow to Belfast--which, I mean, it's not really that far, but it is like they came from one country--
PM: Right, they came from a different country, for Pete's sake...
AR: --just because they heard that song on the radio in Scotland. So, in that way, I think there's that song, for instance. And people like "Are We Ever Going to Have Sex Again?"--that gets a good response.
PM: That rings true.
AR: Yeah, [laughs] that rings true. And then some like the title song, "Til The Wheels Fall Off." That's a good, you know, rockin' track that people like to play. I think "The Deal" is another one, and "Breakup Boots," people have been playing those.
PM: So it seems that Signature, your new label, is doing a pretty bang--up job on the radio.
AR: Yes, definitely doing a good job.
PM: To me, it's a fascinating occurrence that a pop person like yourself has become allied with very a respected folk label. I like that they're doing it, and also that you're doing it. What's the story behind that deal?
AR: I guess I'm trying to branch out and find an audience. I think nowadays pop is almost a dirty word. It almost means you're doomed to not sell any records, unless you're a teenager.
PM: Because there is no grownup pop, per se.
AR: Right. There's no channel for it. There's nowhere for it to go. There are no clubs for you to play at. There's no network. Whereas with the whole folk, singer songwriter world, there's just an intense network of performers and venues and fans, so there are avenues to pursue.
PM: Yeah. It's not that it's that big, but it is there, it's established.
AR: It exists, yeah. So, for people like me--where pop is the basis for the songwriting, but the lyrics and songs will hopefully stand up without all the arrangements, and they'll ring true--the folk world is one of the few places that's viable for playing live music right now. continue