How did you first get into Bob Dylan?
I first learned about Bob Dylan when a guitar teacher taught me “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” A year later I actually listened to Bob when I found my mother’s record collection in the basement. She had Nashville Skyline and Greatest Hits, Volume 1.
How has he influenced your music?
I strongly believe that by listening to and learning songs by Bob at a young age I was subconsciously influenced to start writing songs. When I was 15 and 16 I started writing songs that were profoundly influenced by Bob. Many of them are on my latest record Fixin’ to Die. I started playing the harp on the rack when I was 16. This was 1986 I think. Not to many people were doing this then. As I started performing at coffee shops and open mics I did notice many songwriters influenced by Bob and that’s when I shifted my focus to learning the Delta blues and I was heavily influenced by Bob’s best friend from the Greenwich Village days, John Hammond.
How many times have you seen him play live? What were those shows like?
I’ve probably seen Bob about 10 times. I always find his shows very inspirational. I think many would disagree with me but I love how Bob reworks his songs live. It’s nearly impossible to tell what he is playing until he starts singing. I like that. He never panders or sells out.
Did it take you awhile to get into Bob Dylan, given his strange singing style?
I don’t find anything “strange” about his singing style at all. I think he is a tremendous singer. Bob is always perfectly on pitch and a very expressive and captivating singer. I think he is one of the greatest singers of all time.
What’s the closest you’ve ever gotten to him?
One time we had a Friday night show sold out at the House of Blues in Dallas. Bob had played the Wednesday and Thursday. They approached us to see if they could do an early show before our show. Of course we said yes. I was bummed out though because I wanted Bob to sign my Gibson j45 but you couldn’t get near the guy. Damn.
Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan quote or lyric?
“Everybody must get stoned.”
What are some of your favorite songs or albums, and why?
Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan… shoot, I can’t pick. The list is long. Just off the top of my head I love “Girl from the North Country” and “Idiot Wind.” I think Freewheelin’ is the perfect record. A perfect mix of love songs, poignant social and political songs, generational anthems, and laugh out loud comedic songs. It’s very personal and profound. That record lets you know who Dylan is.
What do you admire about Bob Dylan?
I love Bob like a musical father. I honestly feel like no one has been inspired by him like I have. I guess I’m a psycho fan. He didn’t die, he didn’t sell out, he didn’t pander, he has done it all right. He’s never made a cheesy record. There’s no artist that’s had such a long prolific career and had such an impact on music and society as Bob Dylan. And at the same time, it’s clear to see that from the start and to this very day it’s always been about the music and only the music.