PM: Let's talk about guitar for a minute. I was really surprised to learn that you'd picked up some fingerpicking early from one of my favorite guitar players, John Miller.
LV: Yeah. He's great. I love him. He's so unknown, too.
PM: And so amazing.
LV: I'm glad you know about him. He's incredible. I learned so much from him in such a sort period of time, because he's such a good teacher. And he had scripted out all these amazing old country blues songs in tablature, and it was really easy to learn them. We would listen to old records, just in his apartment where he lives. He's got kind of a humble old apartment in Queen Anne Hill. And we'd talk about old music. I learned so much. It was great.
PM: We used to listen to his early Blue Goose records in rural PA in the '70s.
LV: Yeah, he's amazing, and so under-appreciated. Even in Seattle, a lot of people have no clue about him.
PM: We've even reviewed him in Puremusic, several of his records with Catwalk and different people. Are you still friends with him or in touch at all?
LV: We haven't been in touch. I've been touring so much, and I just haven't been interested in taking lessons. But I'm going to have two months at home before I go do a solo tour, and I'm kind of debating how I want to proceed with my guitar playing. I'm going to start writing my next record. I've already got a few songs, but I'm ready to really dive into that. And I always want to change my style in some way. You can hear more bossa nova influence and interesting time stuff on this new record, like triplets and stuff with the guitar playing.
PM: And different rhythms, yeah.
LV: I don't really know--I want to change, but I don't know how to change. So I might go take some more lessons with John.
PM: He does so many styles well. I mean, he moved on from the country blues to the Gershwin and the bossa nova, and so many things, yeah.
PM: On a related topic, then, what tuning are you in for "Fire Snakes"?
LV: All those songs are in regular tuning on this record because I got sick of retuning on stage.
PM: It's a pain.
LV: And I don't have guitar techs to help me with different guitars on stage, and tuning. So I just deliberately wrote the new record in all standard tuning. "Fire Snakes" is capo'd up the second fret.
PM: What guitars are you using, mainly?
LV: I tour with my Martin, it's a SmartWood edition dreadnought. It's a beautiful sounding guitar. I've used it on all five recordings. And also, a Silvertone electric, which I really like, too, and that's on the new record.
PM: Yeah, that's a great sounding guitar. I saw you on some film clip playing that, and it sounded really good.
LV: Yeah. And also, I love to record with this really crappy old nylon-string guitar that I stole from my dad.
PM: My very next question. What is that gut string? [laughs]
LV: I don't even know what that is. I should look at it. It's really old. And my brother refinished it really badly--
LV: --so it has like a really ugly kind of mottled surface. But it sounds so good.
PM: It really does. It's got a great sound for a badly finished instrument.
LV: Yeah, it does. We've recorded songs on Carbon Glacier and Year of Meteors with that guitar.
PM: Right. And on Carbon Glacier, too, you played some banjo-uke. I read that you used to teach the banjo and the guitar at one time. Do you still play the banjo much at all?
LV: We had a really fun jam session after the show last night at our friend's house in Denver, and I did play banjo for the first time in like a year. I just really put it away. I learned a lot from Danny, and I took lessons from this woman named Candy Goldman, who is a really great clawhammer banjo player in Seattle. But I just lost interest. And then last night I was playing, and I was like, "Why did I lose interest? It was so fun." But I just haven't been playing it.
PM: Right. continue
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