Tony Furtado set to play Carbondale
CARBONDALE Tony Furtado put it like this. For some musicians, playing for a crowd is a solitary thing. Its about delivering heavy messages, not interacting with the audience. Its about being in a glass box, he said.But thats never been Furtados way.A banjo player since 11, a professional since 19, the 40-year-old singer-songwriter has been around music long enough to know just what hes talking about. Over the years, hes been involved in several bands, opened for the likes of Allison Krauss and Keith Richards and produced 13 albums. On Saturday, hell bring his acoustic blend of Americana, roots and folk to Carbondale. A few days ago, he seemed casual as he talked from his home in Portland, Ore. He touched on his past, his sound and what he called his strangely large collection of old chain gang songs. And he did have one strong message, too. What hes trying here to do is entertain.Theres nothing better, he said. I love playing live more than anything. Its just incredible.He described a recent show in Southern California, where it seemed the whole audience was right there with him, every beat.They were digging it, and I was digging it, and I was like, wow, Im doing it, he said, getting into the moment. I just love music.And while music has been his life for so much of his existence, it doesnt mean it was a natural step for him. He was born into a non-musical family in Pleasanton, Calif. Though he still doesnt fully know why, in sixth grade, he decided to do a class project on the banjo. He constructed a little one out of objects around the house and was soon begging his parents to get him a real one. They did, and he fell right into it. He started practicing for hours on end.Even though he didnt know it then, his fate was sealed. He would go on to study sculpture and would master the slide guitar, but it would be the banjo he would best known for. At 19 he would go to win the National Banjo Competition in Winfield, Kansas.If you look him up in Wikipedia, hes even referred to as a banjo prodigy, but Furtado didnt really mention it. Instead, he focused on the work.The creative process is like a drug. I just cant get enough of it, he said. The old tradition of a performer on stage, putting on a show, hopefully its not a lost art.For him, it certainly hasnt been. Soon after his banjo win, he got a job as a touring musician and received a recording contract. Since then, regardless of whether hes been living in Denver or Los Angeles or one of his many stops in-between, hes been a voracious performer. Around here, hes hit up venues such as Buffalo Valley Inn and the Belly Up in Aspen.While his music has been out there for so long, its not easy to describe. The few samples that sit on his Myspace page are twangy, yet modern, pining but kind of fun. With most, his smooth voice backed by a guitar or his signature banjo. The combination seems almost historical, yet not quite.Thats because, for him, being old school isnt the goal. Its more about being in the moment, connecting with people, giving them a good time. At his shows, he makes a point to draw the audience in and talks to them throughout his set. When its time to sell CDs, hes the one doing it.As he described all this, he stressed that music was never any big plan. Yet, its been what he gets to do, every day, for decades.Its what is me, he said, still sounding a bit in awe.Contact Stina Sieg: firstname.lastname@example.org
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