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Interview with Eric Selby
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I am the youngest of 5 sons. My older brothers played instruments. When I came of age to join them, they needed a drummer. So at a very young age, I took up the drums, but learned other instruments from them (i.e. keys, guitar, etc.). I’ve been in bands since then and professionally since I was 18. I played in progressive/alternative bands for many years and then started performing in the genre blues, funk, and New Orleans groove. I had the opportunity to play with many iconic musicians and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Through all of the rhythm section years, I continued to play guitar and write music, really, to entertain myself. Thankfully, I keep honing my craft and continue to do so today.
Wow, what would I be doing if not in music?...well, in addition to being a musician, I am in the advertising and marketing field so I’m sure it would be something in marketing and public relations. I love promoting individuals or organizations to help support them into success.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I know it must sound like a busman’s holiday, but when not playing music, I enjoy going to listen to live music. I really like to check out different genres whether it be blues, singer/songwriter, reggae, jazz fusion, Americana, bluegrass…I just love it all. The many different styles that I’m into totally and absolutely influence my creativity. Although I like to think there is a certain “sound” to my music, I also believe that there are different feels to each song. It’s not intentional but just by virtue of checking out and enjoying all genres of music, I am influenced to go in different directions musically.
How long have you been making music?
I want to be careful not to date myself so I’ll just say since I was 9-years-old. 😊
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based out of the Washington, D.C. region, which we call the DMV. That acronym represents D.C./Maryland/Virginia. Being based out of this area has influenced my music significantly. I love this area because in less than a couple hour’s drive, you can either be in the city, the country, the mountains or the beach. This area is chock-full of amazing music. It’s got a killer blues scene, an amazing Americana and bluegrass scene and is the start-up of some incredible punk bands. With that said, you can’t even mention D.C. without honoring it’s amazing heritage of Go-Go music. All of these musical scenes, and many more, in the DMV have influenced me in one way or another.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I had the good fortune of opening for The Doobie Brothers along with my good friend and amazing slide guitar player, Billy Thompson at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego, CA. Being able to open for such a legendary band in front of so many folks really was quite an experience.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I have been so blessed to perform at some amazing venues and festivals so it’s hard to pick one that is most memorable. I have had the pleasure of playing NPR’s Mountain Stage-WV, B.B. King Blues Club-NY, House of Blues-IL, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay-CA, 9:30 Club-DC, Blues Alley-DC, House of Blues-FL, Washington Folk Festival-DC, New York State Blues Festival-NY, Lisner Auditorium-DC, San Diego Blues Festival-CA, The Music Center at Strathmore-MD and The Kennedy Center-DC, just to name a few. They are all so special to me in different ways. Where would I want to play?...how about Red Rocks or Carnegie Hall (lol)! It reminds of the old joke: Q-Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? A-Practice, practice, practice.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’m just spitballing here and the lineup would change all of the time but what about The Beatles, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Molly Tuttle, Dawes, Phoebe Bridgers, This Is The Kit, Prefab Sprout, Billy Strings and Allison Russell (who I had the honor of being on a record with about a year ago). I assure you that my list would alter from day-to-day. I am musically fickle, in the good sense, I suppose.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I can think of two things that apply to both. First, I would recommend that they make and spend as much time as possible learning your chosen instrument and working your craft on that chosen instrument or instruments. No one can take away the achievements you make on your instrument if you put in the time and baby steps are perfectly fine. Don’t get frustrated as they are still steps. Basically, just practice. Secondly, do not box yourself into what you think would be an accepted genre or popular to please anyone else. Be you with your music and, in turn, your honesty, rawness, heart and soul will shine through. Regardless of the genre you play and even if you are creating a new genre on your own, your sincerity will draw folks into enjoying your music and embracing you as an artist. Do you hear all of that, young Eric?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
On my new record, Dang Fool, I think the song “Horseshoes & Hand Grenades” means the most for a couple different reasons. First, it kind of wrote itself with the chords just coming out of nowhere. They were simple and they worked. Lyrically, I wanted to communicate the idea of not relying on other people and taking charge of your own destiny because folks throw promises, commitments and love around like “Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.” Secondly, it is a song that reminds me of my dear friend, Don Chapman, who, not only was an amazing person but is playing acoustic guitar with me on this song along with playing electric guitar and singing background vocals. Don, unfortunately, passed away at the end of November ’22 after we had completed tracking for the record and every time I hear that song, I think about the laughing and fun we had tracking that song along with my good friend and talented producer, Marco Delmar.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I enjoy playing “Patiently” from my first record, Do, Baby. and my song “Another Page” from my second record, Where You Born At?, gets requested quite a bit. I am so blessed that “Another Page” receives great airplay and, although it was released way back in November ’21, even in January ’23, it is still on Roots and Music Report’s Top 50 Contemporary Folk Singles.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I think life inspires me to write music. Happiness, heartache, pleasure, pain…emotions and feelings that life dishes out provide the backdrop for the writing process. Like so many of us, I am a very busy guy with my own music, advertising and marketing, family, performing and recording that demand so much of my time. So, I try to set time aside like a weekend morning with a big ‘ole cup of coffee and a guitar. Sometimes, I just end up noodling around and nothing comes to fruition but, sometimes, a new song emerges and those are the special times when the creative juices are flowing and the process is hitting on all cylinders. It is a great feeling to create a new song that didn’t exist just a few hours or even a few minutes before.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I really don’t have a thematic message running across my music. I do hope that the overall feeling of me and, in turn, the listener is simply being real and honest.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have decided that this new record, Dang Fool, will be the third and final record of a, for lack of a better word, trilogy of music that conveys the emotions during a period of time within my life. Sounds heavy, huh? It’s not, I promise you. I am just looking forward to having this record released for folks to hear, get the record to radio stations and take some time to regroup, recharge, write more and see where the next musical adventure takes me. I’m down for the ride and I hope you all come along!
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Thank you so much for the chance to connect with you and for the opportunity to share my socials! You can check up on my goings on at:
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/EricSelbyMusic