On Monday, September 13th I have the great honor of opening for Sam Amidon at CafÃ© Du Nord. Sam’s a folk singer from Vermont who reinvents old Appalachian folk songs into modern masterpieces. So I’m being a bit grandiose, but everything I hear about the guy is nothing but goodness! I caught up with Sam to ask him about music, touring, and how to make it as a non-starving but rather a decently-nourished musician. Read on for Wu Tang references and one of the best answers to our what-if-you-woke-up-a-millionaire question. Also, come to our show!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I prefer playing basketball to listening to music.
Why old Appalachian songs?
Because they are ancient and mysterious!
How does your choice of music respond to modern living?
That’s not too important to me… I mean it is important that the songs have that deep quality of having been passed around, but the important thing is more that they are “passed around” than that they are “passed down.”
What’s the best thing about living in Vermont (and do you still live there)?
I currently am mostly itinerant but living in New York City and spending some time in London too… but I miss Vermont and go back whenever I can. It’s mountains are the correct size.
How has touring been so far? What are the best/worst aspects of touring?
I like wandering, and touring is a form of wandering. It can be a very boring form of wandering though, so you have to think about how you are going to make it less boring. It helps to go to strange places, or get there in strange ways.
What tips do you have for aspiring musicians who are trying to make music their primary income?
I would say, keep your costs low, and focus more on whether your musical experiences are fun than worrying about whether it is full time or not. I used to be totally committed to doing music full time, and then I realized that was actually restricting me a lot because it meant I could only take jobs that paid money. So a few years ago I got a job as a typist, transcribing TV interviews, and that was incredibly freeing actually, and allowed me to worry a lot less about the money side of music, which then ironically led to me playing more music, and more different kinds of music. And on top of that I got to go transcribe these crazy interviews all day. It was amazing!
What do you refuse to spend money on?
What is your favorite free thing to do?
Play my fiddle.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?
What does a typical day look like for you?
No such thin, I’m afraid… but it usually includes a long slow walk.
What should people be reading/listening to?
Early Evelyn Waugh, Sonny Rollins’ Way Out West, Mary Margaret O’hara’s Miss America, Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, Sam Bartlett’s Stuntology, RZA’s the Wu Tang Manual.