The Forlorn Strangers are playing the Blue Plate Special with host Red Hickey on October 27th at noon. This event is free to the public and will be held at the Knoxville Visitor Center. In the meantime, enjoy this Bullet Backstory from the Forlorn Strangers. They were gracious enough to answer our questions for this regular feature on the WDVX blog.
- Biggest musical influences? Generally: We draw a lot from American roots music of every stripe: bluegrass, old time, country, blues, jazz, gospel. There are hints of all of it in our writing and in our instrumentation. Specifically: -Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Their vocal harmonies and combination of “wooden music” and electric music has inspired a lot of what we do. -Fleetwood Mac. They have such an eclectic energy, and multiple songwriters rallying around their sound, which is our model as well. -The Band. The groove and the soul of the Band stirs us deeply. Their performances are so moving because all of the members unite around one another and give every last ounce of energy to the show.
- What made you all decide to pursue music as a career? We’re all multi-interested people. We love the arts in general in every form, but music is where our hearts come together and we feel like we’re able to express the full spectrum of our emotion. It’s also where we feel most connected to the people who are experiencing the art that we have to offer. An artist’s job is never to teach people anything, it’s always to use his or her ability to translate, inspire, and move people. Music is where we feel most alive in those sentiments. Music as a career path is a branch on a bigger tree of how we want to live our lives, which is as joyfully and responsibly as possible.
- What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? The nuts and bolts are obvious: practice, go to shows, expose yourself to as much music as possible, know your gear. But what we talk about often is don’t forget to experience the pure joy of it. There will be times when you have to put your head down and plow forward, but you must remember to stop and breathe and remember that music is fun, and it’s a language you use to express your heart to the rest of the world. Courage and skill are part of the equation, but people will know if you’re not having a good time. Always remember that kid inside you who just had his mind blown for the first time listening to a guitar solo, and couldn’t wait to get home from school and try to learn it. Or the kid inside you who was comforted in a time of sorrow by a folk song. Or that kid who made just the right mixtape or playlist to set the mood for a first date. Music is moving, it’s communication, and it’s a form of love.
- What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? Play WDVX Blue Plate Specials of course! Actually, our banjo/guitar player Ben’s dad was born in Knoxville, and his cousin still lives in town, and we love visiting with him and grilling out and listening to his crazy stories from the Knox County Sheriff’s Dept. We love walking around The Old City too (which is where we tend to play anyway!)
- If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? If you could work with any musician, living or deceased, who would it be and why? This is a difficult question because the list is so long! This may sound strange, but Sir George Martin who produced the Beatles falls into that category. When he passed earlier this year (and 2016 has taken so many great musical minds), it was truly the end of an era, because his influence and genius was behind so much of what the Beatles accomplished. He embellished and molded their sound and made them into a unified and culturally phenomenal voice.
- Anything else you would like to share? Favorite WDVX memory, etc? Actually we have a great first memory of a WDVX BPS. There was a snow and ice storm the night before that shut the downtown area down, and so they cancelled the performance aspect of the show but let us come in for an in-studio performance. The folks were so kind, fired up the coffee pot, made us comfortable, and we all stood around the ribbon mic and played like it was our living room again. It was warm and sweet, and it sounded and felt wonderful. And mercifully, no one slipped on the ice outside.