Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview with John Shipe

Who: John Shipe
What: Featured Performer
Where: The First National Bar* - map
When: Thursday, May 28, 2009, 10:00 pm
How Much: Free

*note - The First National Bar is open to 21+

Every Thursday night, the First National Bar hosts an open mic night. The weekly event is hosted by "Downtown"Dan Hillebrant, local celebrity. (inside joke) Anyway, this Thursday, John Shipe, who lives in Yellowstone, makes his debut Pocatello performance at the open mic.

In his own words:

SE Idaho is new territory for me. But it feels familiar in that it's rural and spacious (and only a bit different from Northern Idaho which is practically a second home for me).

I find that people who live in rural and spacious areas respond to live music with a more personal, relaxed attention span. There's less evaluating and judging whether the music is hip and edgy. Instead, there's more an honest appeal - one-listener-at-a-time feeling. I like audiences to hear the words and respond the stories I tell with my singing voice. Idaho audiences have always done that with me. Even the kids who listen to metal and rap tend to give my solo-acoustic act a fair listen.

Being from the Northwest (Eugene, Oregon with presence in Portland) and having been in bands most of my career, I have a blend of Indie Rock and American Jam Band with a hint of 90's Grunge that was impossible to avoid in the shadow of Seattle. But now that I'm solo acoustic, it has all been adapted to a Singer/Songwriter setting.

It's mellow enough for coffehouses and sit-down settings, but with an undercurrent of intensity that makes me unafraid to perform on big stages, which I have done often. Plus, I'll sometimes rock out, all by myself hitting the guitar pretty hard and singing at the top of my lungs.

I used to have a band called The Renegade Saints, which toured non-stop in these Mountain States. People still come up to me, recognizing me from that band, amazed that I'm still doing it. And of course, they request old favorites. (I still play them - decade old songs.) The Saints once opened for Bob Dylan. And some other famous bands like Hootie & Blowfish & Blind Melon.

Recently, I opened for Taj Mahal & Keb Mo. It was huge audience at an outdoor theatre. It felt good. I was playing new material, and the audience was with me the whole way. Later on, I found at that the ticket holders were expecting the famous and wonderful Susan Tedesci to open. The word got out that I did NOT disappoint them. That gave me a lot of fuel to keep going forward with this chapter of my career.

The show on Thursday at 1st National Bar is an unkown for me. Never been there before. I'm scheduled to go on at 10:00 pm. (Other acts haven't been posted yet.) It's acoustic showcase night, so I have an hour to show my stuff. Weekday shows at bars are usually fairly low key. But I'm ready for anything.

If an audience looks like they're itching for something kind of rowdy, I always do my best to raise the rocking energy as best as one man with an acoustic guitar can do.

Most of my material is original, but I have a few covers for people who insist on them. I'm not the kind of singer/songwriter who gets angry at an audience that makes requests. If I don't know how to play the song they're clamoring for, I'll at least pull out a song from my batch that has the same energy.

I have about 9 CD's out in a dozen years. I'm told that the best one is my latest: "Yellow House," which emphasizes semi-acoustic dimensions. It has received more airplay than others. But I also like "John Shipe & The Blue Rebekahs," my last electric album with a full band. It's unusual, and very much a team effort.

I bring my CD's to shows, but they're also available online at CD Baby and iTunes:

Since the rise of the internet, the music industry has been leveled. A local act looks just as good as a world famous act on the web. And the music is just as good most of time. It has made a career in the arts less of a gamble on "getting discovered." There's more of a direct relationship between the work you put into it, and the income you can generate. So, if you're passionate about it, and hard-working, the endeavor is worth it.

Also, recording albums and shooting videos is getting cheaper and cheaper. Recently, my wife and a friend helped me make a pretty darn good video for "Yellow House." It's going up on the web soon. In the old days, there was only MTV. A video cost tens of thousands of dollars to make, and you had to get a record deal to be on MTV, which was damn near impossible.

Meanwhile, I've got web profiles all over the place (including a lot footage on You Tube):

My main website appears pretty antiquated, so I'm building a new one. But living here in Yellowstone Park for the summer kind of puts a damper on the use of technology. (It's good for me, 'cause you can't spend your whole life in cyberspace. You've got to get away and settle down every once in a while.)

John Shipe, Involushun Records & Management
(Currently in Yellowstone Park)

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