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INTERVIEW: Becky Buller

Movements in Bluegrass & Americana Music and how I classify us:

Powerful, original Bluegrass music.

Top 5 musical influences:

I have several more influences, of course, but being introduced to these five folks (or acts) really affected and inspired me.  In order of when they came into my life:

Stuart Duncan

Alison Krauss

Simon & Garfunkel

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

James Taylor

What do I want fans to take away from my music:

My hope is that folks will walk away from a Becky Buller Band show feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired.  I hope we’ve moved them, to laugh or cry, but always in a positive direction.  We aim to take their mind of their own troubles and the world off their shoulders for just a little while.

How’s the music scene in your locale? How widely do you tour?

My adopted hometown is Manchester, Tenn., which I’m certain many of your readers will recognize as the home of the Bonnaroo Music Festival.  We’re an hour south of Nashville and an hour north of Chattanooga, so we’re in a corridor of great music and performance opportunities.

The band and I tour internationally and would tour intergalacticly, if we had half a chance.  (We’re all sci-fi nerds.) Find our full schedule online at http://beckybuller.com.  We look forward to seeing you at a show very soon!

What is the best, or most memorable, concert you have been to and why?

Bob Dylan came to The Trap in Nashville in 2003.  I didn’t understand a word he sang all night except the line “like a rolling stone”, which was the encore.  He put the jacket of his white Manuel suit ON halfway through the show.  His stage presence, performance and his band were mesmerizing.  There’s a reason he’s a legend.

What do you like most about playing live?

Getting to play music with my friends for my friends.  And the immediacy of that reaction from the crowd.  We feed off of each other’s energy; the more positive and enthusiastic the response from the crowd, the better we’ll play.  I’m continually amazed I get to do this and I’m so grateful for the folks who come out to share music with us and for the incredible team of folks around me.

Song that stands out on latest record:

It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite track; so many exciting things happened on this record.

My band played and sang their hearts out on almost the entirety of this album; I would put them up against any of the top studio musicians out there…yes, they’re that good.  “Cair Paravel” (the album’s token instrumental, named for the golden castle by the sea in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia) really shows off my band the best.  Would you look at that bass break?!

Singing with Sam Bush (Rock God Of The Mandolin) on “The Rebel & The Rose”; writing “Calamity Jane” with Blue Highway’s Tim Stafford and singing it with Rhonda Vincent (The Queen Of Bluegrass); singing with Claire Lynch (“She Loved Sunflowers”) and Frank Solivan (“Bitter Springs To Big Trees”); singing with the Fairfield Four (“Written In The Back Of The Book”)!!!

Yeah.  I can’t pick just one…so sorry.  I love the whole thing!  Great big thanks to my producer, Stephen Mougin, for bringing all this together and making us all sound sooooo good in the studio.

How have I evolved as an artist over the last year, five years:

I think I’m beginning to get braver as an artist and band leader, more savvy and aware of what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to use them to the best advantage for myself and the group.

Gig, co-write, eat with anyone dead or alive:

I’d love, love, love to co-write with Darrell Scott.  (Getting to perform aforementioned co-write with him would be mighty fine, too.)

Only artist to-date who has won in both instrumental AND vocal categories at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards:

It thrills and terrifies me.  Being honored like that by my heroes…(I’ve got to get it through my head that they are also my peers now…16-year-old me is still in there hero-worshipping many of the greats in my industry) …is more than I ever dreamed possible.  I really just wanted to sing in my parents’ band!  Then one thing lead to another.  Now this!  Terrified…  It’s a daily struggle for me to say, “Yes, that happened and it was awesome!  Now, let’s go play some more fiddle and write and sing some more songs.  I’m my own worst enemy and harshest critic.  I don’t want to let folks (and myself) down and now the stakes are higher.  “I do believe, but help my unbelief.”

How do you find inspiration as a songwriter?

In anything and everything around me, from the books I read, sermons I’ve heard, to the quirky things our five-year-old daughter says.  When something catches my attention, I stop everything I’m doing and write the line on the list of song ideas I have going on my phone.  The more you tune your radar to listen for song ideas, the more you’ll hear.

Artist cut of my song vs me recording:

Speaking of honors:  There is no greater honor than when another artist hears a song of yours and likes it so much that he or she decides to record it and make it their own.

The life of a song is a fascinating thing, full of twist and turns.  It will always find its singer, but sometimes that takes days and sometimes it takes years.  Sometimes it’s another artist, and sometimes it’s the writer.  One song in this collection was almost cut by a hero of mine, but the artist really wanted to alter the song in a way that, I felt, cut out the very heart of the song.  It killed me to say no.  Fast forward a few years; I got to sing and release the song myself as a duet with another hero of mine.

I still actively pitch songs to other artists, but do hold back more now that I’m a more active artist in my own right.  With the increase in band leader duties, in addition to being the mom of a little kid, it’s become much harder to find time to write and co-write.  And I need that time more than ever!  Songwriting has always been my therapy.

What’s next for you and your band:

The Becky Buller Band is headed to the 2018 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown in Durango, CO, Apr. 20-21.  http://durangomeltdown.com

B^3 mando man, Nate Lee, and I have a rare duo gig at Bird Song Studio in Woodbury, TN, on May 19.  http://rtbirdsongstudio.com

The band is back out and about June 2 for the Graves Mountain Festival Of Music, Syria, VA, http://gravesmountain.com, and the big Dollywood Bluegrass & BBQ Festival in Pigeon Forge, TN, on June 4.  http://dollywood.com

Our entire tour schedule along with our music, t-shirts, cookbooks, posters and more, is online at:  http://beckybuller.com.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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