Willie Sterba's Music in Clubs and Coffeehouses
So, you want to know what kind of music do I play in clubs and coffeehouses? Well, read this excerpt of an interview with noted author and house-builder, Chuck Wilson. It was published not so long ago in a galaxy pretty far away:
What style of music do you play?
I'd say the style is folk-rock. Most of my gigs are solo and I play acoustic guitar.
What have you got?
It's a Gibson J-50. Got new in '64. Very sweet guitar.
What other guitars do you have?
Hey, Chuck, I thought this was going to be about music.
Oh, yea, sorry. What kind of music do you play?
I do a lot of my own songs. It's music with a good beat, it has soul in the lyric, and has great melodies. I'll do a mix of other tunes that I think audiences will enjoy.
You do stuff in churches. Is your club-coffeehouse gig 'preachy'?
Nope. I never do material in these settings that will make someone uncomfortable.
I have no agenda to push.
Ok, I do want to encourage people to be kind to others, have hope, have the courage to follow their dreams. But what spiritual path a person follows, or does not follow, is their own business.
Who do you sound like?
Me. Go and listen to song samples and you'll get an idea.
Take two. Who do you sound like?
Ok, um. This is a hard one.
Push yourself. I know you can do it.
Well, maybe a bit like James Taylor, but my voice is rounder. His guitar kills, my playing is good, but more rhythm with licks. Maybe a bit like Frank Sanatra, but with an acoustic guitar and with a voice like mine, and different phrasing, and different kinds of songs ...
Never mind, never mind.
You know how much we hate that question.
It's a hard knock life, Willie.
OK, who are your influences?
Boy, the early days would be Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gordon Lightfoot. Paul Simon then, and Paul Simon now - his writing just lays me down. He is so good. Mark Knopfler has wonderful songs, and I love the way he takes risks with new grooves. Bob Dylan then and now - his new Modern Times is sweet-chickens. Springsteen's We Shall Overcome is such good times. Carla Bruni so sweet and simple, Jack Johnson's profound simplicity, Neil Young's grooves and tenacity, k d lang's casual strength, Manu Chao's grooves, Yoyo Ma's superior talent and heart, Sting's groove and personal story, all things by Muppets, U2 for their courage and groove, Bob Marley who stood for and stood out, Niccolo Fabi for melody and changes, Paolo Conte for a smart walk in the park taking risks, and Raffi who never looked or played down to children. They all influence me. Everyone does.
What is your primary objective when you play in clubs?
Those are pretty big words, Chuck.
Don't let the flannel fool you. I have a good brain, really.
I'm there to entertain the people. I want them to enjoy themselves. That's why I'll put in some of my children's songs that work well with adults. It makes it fun and doesn't make them feel foolish. I once spoke to someone who went to Clown College ...
There's a picture ...
Really. And the main thing they learned is that you're there to entertain. That's what I try to do with my gigs. Give them a good time and try to leave my ego out of it, at least as much as I can.
And last question, what is your favorite color?
Say goodnight, Chuck.
Good night . . .
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