A Conversation with Chuck Brodsky (continued)
PM: If you don't mind the personal nature of the question, maybe you'd tell us something about your family, either your current family or your nuclear one?
CB: Well, the family I grew up in lived in Philadelphia. My parents still do. My sisters have moved elsewhere.
PM: Are you from the city proper? I'm an old Bucks County boy myself.
CB: Oh. I'm from out in Marion Township, the western suburbs.
PM: And your folks are still around?
CB: Yeah, and in good health, and extremely supportive and into what I do. I couldn't have more supportive parents, I really couldn't.
PM: Wow. So were you a Schwenksville family growing up or Main Point people? [Schwenksville is the site of the Philly Folk Festival, and The Main Point was a legendary Bryn Mawr folk club. There's now one nearby called The Point, a very fine club also, check it out at www.atthepoint.com]
CB: I was a Main Point person. My folks didn't get into folk music until I actually started to tour, or do this seriously, and I sent them some of my songs on tape when I finally thought I was ready for anybody to hear them. And I sent them a compilation I'd made of some of my favorite songwriters. I have to admit I was pretty surprised that they took to it so deeply.
PM: What were their musical tastes, as you knew them, before that?
CB: I never really knew my dad to be into music at all. My mom, I suppose--oh, gosh, it's hard to even remember.
PM: Yeah, right. It's a lifetime ago, literally.
CB: I'm sure they were into people like Sinatra and--
PM: Yeah, the music of their day.
CB: But they really, really surprised the heck out of me when they took to folk music. And now they're fans of it independent of me. They go to see their favorites, Christine Lavin being one of them. And the King of Prussia series in the park.
PM: Oh, that's a good series. What's the gentleman's name who runs that?
CB: David Broida.
PM: Right, David Broida.
CB: They go regularly to that on their own. And any time I play in the area, they bring out the troops. It's great.
PM: So do you play the Tin Angel or The Point when you're there?
CB: Generally I play the Tin Angel, only because I've had a little bit of a hard time--I guess the guy at The Point changed his email address, and I lost touch. I'd sure love to get in contact with him, because my folks live five minutes from The Point. I worked at the Main Point when I was a teenager.
PM: Well, he's an old friend of the family, I'll get that for you. [Songwriters seeking a contact there can drop us a line.] So what about your current family?
CB: Well, I got married almost four years ago. And we split up about a little over a year ago.
PM: Oh, I'm sorry. I had no idea.
CB: That's okay. We parted on good terms.
PM: Good for you.
CB: So back to being single again.
PM: Yeah, right. Worse things have happened for a touring guy.
PM: So are there children from that marriage?
CB: No, thankfully. That would have complicated things.
PM: Yeah. That made it easier for me, too, when my marriage went south. I'm not only a Philly guy like yourself, but then went to Northern California the same way you did. In fact, when I looked through your press kit, the piece from the Pacific Sun was written my old buddy Mike Thomas, who was also a Philly area songwriter who went out to the West Coast.
CB: No kidding. A lot of us went out to the West Coast. I ran into so many people who were ex-Philadelphians who were musicians living out in Northern California, it was unbelievable.
PM: So it's not only a small world, but that was a popular route. How did you come, then, to eventually settle in Asheville?
CB: Well, David Wilcox invited me to open a show for him here, and it would have been, oh, God, let's say, '94, '95, somewhere in there. I've been here a little over seven years now. So it was about two years before I moved here. And I'd never been South at all. I'd never been south of the Mason Dixon Line in my life. Except for Texas, the Kerrville Folk Festival--I went to that from California, so I never really went through the southeast at all.
And I fell in love with Asheville. I had a few friends through the festivals at Kerrville living in Asheville already. The Billys were living here, Jimmy Landry, and David Lamotte. So when I came here I got together with some of my friends, and I came back to play a few more times over the next couple of years. I made sure I budgeted in a couple extra days in the area, and I just fell in love with it.
PM: It's a beautiful little town. And that's a really special group of people. Billy Jonas, I'm sure you agree, is a bit of a musical genius.
CB: Absolutely. In fact, I just bumped into him today downtown. Yeah, he's unreal. He's from another planet. continue