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Garrison Starr

A Conversation with Garrison Starr

Puremusic: Where do I find you this morning?

Garrison Starr: I have a day off here in New Orleans.

PM: What's it looking like?

GS: Well, you know, it's pretty interesting. I haven't been down here since the hurricane. And I mean, in a way it feels the same, but in another way it's kind of surreal. When you drive around and see all the damage and destruction, it's really kind of fascinating, honestly. But a couple friends of mine are going to take me over to the Ninth Ward today and see what that's like. That should be pretty unbelievable.

PM: But there are parts of where you can drive around and it feels kind of like normal?

GS: Oh, yeah, totally. We played the House of Blues last night, in the French Quarter. I'm from Memphis, and there's a tension that exists in Memphis; it's kind of a cloud of tension that exists over that city which is really interesting. You can feel that in the French Quarter, definitely. But there are all sorts of people walking around still, and places of business are open. I mean, it definitely wasn't as packed as it has been. But you can tell that the city hasn't lost its heartbeat.

PM: Who were you playing with? Were you there by yourself?

GS: No. I'm doing some dates with Edwin McCain right now. I've been out with him for the last few days. And we are going to be out together for another few days, actually. We're going to do the rest of this run through Texas. So I think we're out with him for another five days. And then I go back to Nashville for two days, and then I do some headlining dates for about a week--up in the southeast. And then I take a couple weeks off in July. And then I think there are some more southeast dates.

PM: Are you solo, or do you have some version of the band with you?

GS: Well, on this run, actually, it's just me and a drummer. I can't really afford to take anybody else out, so I'm taking him out. And it's kind of cool because on a lot of the songs it's just electric and drums, and it's just a different way to play the songs. And it's fun for me because I get to rock out on electric. We just kind of go for it. I was worried in the beginning that you'd miss the bass, and you probably do, but we have a good time. And I think it definitely gets people's attention in some of these chatty crowds--like more than just me sitting up there with my acoustic guitar trying to fight that war. I get tired of that.

PM: Yeah, because even if somebody sings their ass off like you do, and you can sing loud as hell when you want to, getting over people's chatter is unbelievable sometimes.

GS: It's tough, yeah. And these opening gigs are pretty hard, because when people aren't there to see you, I mean, that's what you get. And Edwin has a fairly sizable college audience as well. And there are a lot of college kids that come to these shows, and the college kids are going to drink and talk. They're not there to listen to music. And that's fine, but that's just the way it is for that group. But when it's not your show, it can be pretty tough. People can be pretty unforgiving--though his crowds have been very great. There has not been a show where people have been like rude or unappreciative or unaccepting. It hasn't been that way. Everybody has been really supportive and nice. It's been great. And his crew is awesome. Edwin is a great guy, and his band and crew are sweet. So it's a great environment to be in, which is a blessing, a total blessing.

PM: And they're digging you because you're an easy breakdown on guitar, and you probably use their drums.

GS: Right.

PM: Yeah, so they're digging that. And besides, electric guitar and drums is all the rage these days, anyway?

GS: Is it?

PM: Sure, the White Stripes and all the spin-off versions thereof.

GS: Yeah, well, for me it's just another way to get out there and be able to play my music. And it's funny, I ran into one of my really good friends, and he also was my very first manager, Mark Roberts, he works for the House of Blues in New Orleans now. And we were talking last night about the music business and how much it's changed. How the business has sucked a lot of the heart out of music and art. And it's trying so hard to kill it, to beat it to death. And it's hard not to be cynical about that. It's really hard to keep loving it and keep finding the drive to do it.

PM: Yeah.

GS: I was watching a great documentary out right now that Rosanna Arquette did. I don't know if you've seen it. It's called All We Are Saying. It's on Showtime.

PM: Really? Rosanna Arquette is doing these cool documentaries now. Did you see the one she did called Searching For Debra Winger?

GS: No.

PM: That was about what happens to actresses when they get a little older, how disenfranchised and devalued they get.

GS: Wow.

PM: That was really interesting. So I'm into hearing what this one is about, All We Are Saying.

GS: Well, she talks to everybody from Radiohead to Steven Tyler, from David Crosby to Joni Mitchell, to Sting, to Annie Lennox. She even interviews the Black Eyed Peas, and a couple of other really current younger artists as well, like Gwen Stefani. But most of the subjects are very credible artists who have really interesting things to say about the business. Especially like David Crosby, what he had to say about the business was unbelievable. And then Joni Mitchell... Rosanna Arquette is an actress who loves music. So she was so interested, she's passionate about talking to these artists. She interviewed Patti Smith and Chrissy Hynde, getting their viewpoints about the way the business is and how it's changed, it was unbelievable.

And what I was going to say was about this interview with Joni Mitchell. What Joni Mitchell said is very interesting, and I completely resonated with it because I feel that way right now in my life--in my career. Joni was saying, "I just got to this point where you turn in record after record that you're excited about, and you go through the motions. You follow through with your ideas and with your inspirations, and you put them on paper, and you go through the process of letting your thoughts and passions unfold and writing these songs and making this art, and you turn it in, just to have it rejected over and over and over again." She said, "I'll get inspired, and the muse is there, I'll have an idea, but I just don't have the energy to flesh it out anymore, at least not right now in my life, because I know where that's going to go, and it's not going to go to a good place."

PM: Wow, she'd rather go paint a painting, hell with it.

GS: Right.      continue

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