SPCS Records: How did you get started in music?
CB: I got started when I was 12 or 13 and living in small-town Colorado, singing with cassette tapes in my room. I tested my vocal range with different kinds of songs, sometimes to the dismay of my family members who were trying to do other things in the house. (laughs)
I started to develop a taste for music at that time, and I had just finished 2 years of piano lessons. I started to become interested, passionate, and hopeful that I could become a writer and performer one day. I wrote songs and started singing and playing for anyone who would listen—family, neighbors, friends... eventually talent shows, coffeehouses, church functions, youth nights, etc. I tried to involve everyone. My brother was in my band for a while, I enlisted the boy three houses down the street as a drummer who banged on trash cans and upside down buckets, and in those early days we just played for our parents in the living room.
By the time I was 16 I had taken up guitar and was recording songs at home with multiple parts. I mixed them and edited a little bit, and found a friend who would transfer the result to CD form so I could distribute them at shows. I performed a lot around western Colorado, even including a trip to Grand Junction an hour up the road to play for 700 people (opening for a well-known ska band, Five Iron Frenzy, from Denver). That event was a story in itself. I had been their fan for a few years at that point, and I was calling the promoter about tickets for the show. I had seen online that the opening acts for the tour were not going to be present at that show, and there were three of them, which left a big hole in the set. With less than a week before the gig, I called and asked who would be opening. The answer came bluntly and honestly—they were still looking for local acts. I immediately responded, "I am a musician/singer/songwriter and I have a band. Would you consider me to play?" Coincidentally, my dad was driving through that city the next morning and could deliver my demo to the promoter for review. The promoter called me on Wednesday and said that he had consulted others, and my band was unanimously selected for the job. I was ecstatic!
When I moved to South Carolina for college the next year, I continued writing, forming bands, recording, playing out... almost always doing it alongside school, and then various jobs after I graduated. I would say that my musicianship reached a sort of peak in the fall of 2008, when I more or less stopped working for a few months and was playing a lot of shows in the Charleston area. I had a tight three-piece band that was willing to get up and play all the time, and we made decent money gigging around at a lot of menuvenues in town. The scene in Charleston at that time was very conducive to live music (and still is). I can't talk about the scene there now without mentioning Awendaw Green, a property in the woods that a local dentist bought and turned into a hub of live music, featuring live shows of Charleston area bands every Wednesday night, that take place in front of a barn. The creation of that place, which was that same year, has been the thread that has sewn the local scene together and has definitely benefitted me personally; through my performing there, I have been able to meet local venue owners who in turn, caught onto me and booked me at their venues.
It has been a long road, but one that has been with joy.
SPCS Records: What lessons have you learned during your time spent pursuing music?
CB: I have learned to never get down, if I can help it. Because there are always opportunities. The great thing about being a singer/songwriter is that you can be 80 or 8. You can be any race or gender or anything. If you feel like your time is gone or wasted, just lift up your head and re-invent yourself based what you are now... you can still have a future, you can still work and do what you do.
You can't really fail, because you always have more chances if it's what you truly love to do. That's probably my most important lesson in music that I can share.
SPCS Records: What is your favorite gig ever and why?
CB: Favorite gig ever? All of them! (laughs) Well, one that sticks out in my memory would probably be the final show of my last band Campfield in 2009. We had four or five guest musicians that joined us for various songs (violin, lead guitar, percussion...), and just jammed for a few hours until we were too tired to continue and it was late at night.
Another favorite was a university era show in 2005 with my band Hi Lonesome. We also had three or four guests at that show (sax, bongos, lead guitar) and had tons of friends from the school who came, and we just had a great time onstage together playing our stuff. I guess I would say that I love the shows that have a lot of variety in the set, where the audience just never knows what to expect next, because you are always expressing your music in new variations or interpretations.
SPCS Records: Chris, thank you for your time today.
CB: Well, thank you for the time and the interview, and I wish you and SPCS Records well. Later!
Christopher Baur's latest endeavors can be seen and heard here.