Chris Edwards is a name you might not recognize. He is one of those songwriter guys though that you should know. I had the opportunity to catch him acoustic a couple months back at Billy's Ice as part of the Radiofree Texas spotlight artist. The Radiofree Texas guys and gals do a weekly artist showcase that they broadcast out to anyone who listens in. These spotlights happen every Tuesday night. At 8pm if I am not mistaken. What struck me about Chris that night was his songwriting and the fact that he reminded me of one of my favorite's Steve Earle. I am looking forward to this Tuesday the 23rd when Chris returns to Riley's Tavern (the outskirts of New Braunfels) for a show. I know, I know it's Tuesday but I don't rest when there are good shows to be seen. Chris was gracious enough to do this interview with me. I look forward to more shows from this guy soon.
Tell the people a little bit about you: I’m Chris Edwards. I’m a Scorpio (for those of you who determine a person’s worth and social desirability from that sorta thing) and I’m from East Texas. I enjoy nature, a cold beer here and there, a good book, a good meal, and all the other usual stuff.
As I am listening to your music, I was thinking how I would describe it. It comes across to me as thinking man's music. How would you describe your music?
Thanks for the super-sweet comment! I’m not one for cramming my music into genre boxes because there’s a lot of different things that influence it, musically, but insofar as my lyrics go, I try to spend the most time on the them. I would like to be remembered as an honest, sincere and soulful songwriter and singer. A lot of people think my music is dark and depressing, but I try to leave a little light in every song. I guess you could describe my music as “sincere, soulful country/folk,” if you had to, I’d hope.
What goals do you have for 2013?
I hope 2013 brings some new ears to the noise I’ve been making. I’m working on a new record, The Drifter’s Prayer, which has been pushed-back a bit due to circumstances beyond my control. I’m getting back to work on it soon and hope to have it done by the summer. I really want to get some real promotional muscle behind this one. I also want to start trying to get other artists to cover some of these songs I’ve got laying around.
Eventually, I want to do basic guitar/vocal or piano/vocal demos of about 50 of my older tunes for pitching purposes. Other than that, I’d really like to put another band together and start playing out more regularly. Recently, I had an accident that left me unable to play guitar for about a month. I had to cancel a month’s worth of gigs, yet it felt like so much longer. I really feel at my most lost when I can’t get on that stage and share some songs. Of course, another goal, and one I try to make a point of every year, is to just keep writing and keep playing. As a long-term goal, I would really like to get involved in producing some records. I've developed a knack for thinking in terms of arrangements, over the years, from playing different types of music and with different bands and musicians. Sometimes, even when I'm writing a song, whether I'm writing on the guitar, piano or just belting out a melody accapella, I'll start thinking of how the tune could sound with different production aspects, from the instrumentation down to the reverb and what-not. I'd love to be able to help some bands and artists bring their work more to life someday. Now I'm not too adept at some styles of music, mind you, but I'm confident I can put together a fairly kick-ass country, rock or blues record.
Where can people see you at next?
Right now I’m getting back to gigging regularly after a month-plus absence from it. I’ve got a bunch of shows on the books in the northeast and southeast areas of the state. I’ve got one Hill Country gig around the corner, though (Riley’s Tavern, April 23rd).
Planning a Nashville run for the summer, too, and hopefully when the album’s done and out I’ll be able to get out more. For anyone interested in catching a show, I update my Reverb Nation page (http://www.reverbnation.com/chrisedwards) regularly and there’s also Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ChrisEdwardsMusic ) which will broadcast my appearances and various goings-on to your newsfeed when you “like” the page.
Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
It’d be a colossal cop-out to give the standard “my songs come from life” answer, so I’ll try and flesh this out a bit. I do a lot of writing, and not just with my lyrics, but with poetry, essays and the occasional short story. I used to work as a journalist, and in some ways, a certain aspect of my songwriting is a continuation of that: just documenting people and events and using poetic license to fill-in certain details. I’ve learned, as a writer, to always have my antennas up and ready to receive whatever might cross my path
as potential material—be it the odd, or interesting, turn-of-phrase or the story that just beckons to be put into lyrics. These bits and pieces can come from anywhere: from sitting in a bar to overhearing something at the grocery store. Hell, there’s one song on my last record (“Let Love Lead Us” from 2011’s The Winter Garden) that had its initial idea sprung from a rerun of “Beverly Hills, 90210” which I fell asleep in front of. I woke up from that brief siesta with the idea light-bulb beaming bright above my dome. Generally, I don’t watch TV or any recent films, but the rare occasion I do, I get ideas for songs. Another song of mine (“Without a Word”) came from an idea I got while watching a TV show. As far as technique goes, I’m also a big reader, and many of my influences as a lyricist are literary writers like William Faulkner and Carson McCullers.
What made you want to do this?
By this I mean get up on that stage and play songs. After I’d played covers and a few primitive originals in bars around Nacogdoches, I found that I had a knack for playing and singing, but also that people really dug my energy and stage presence. I’d played music prior to that, just not on guitar. I’d played drums and a little piano and had made noise with the guitar; just not very structured, musical noises.
I used to suck back then, musically, but playing with tons of great musicians and studying great songs by just learning to listen helped out a ton with my craft. Anyhuevos, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment when I thought to myself, “Man, I can really do this,” but there had to be some point where I realized I really wanted to play music for people. Wish I could remember it. The more I got into the idea of crafting songs and studying the way great songs were written and what made them work, I realized just how much power music has and I think that, more than anything, has been a big factor in making me want to take my music out to the people. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’d like to think I have something to add to the ongoing conversation that all artists contribute to.
That being said, I really can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. There’s nothing better than sharing a stage with great musicians, great friends or just going at it solo and playing something that I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into. I love playing great songs that other folks wrote, too, but I love that feeling when I play something of mine and it gets a good response. I’ve played in all kinds of different bands, and I love playing the sideman, whether it’s holding it down on bass or sitting-in on some harp and harmony, but at the end of the day, playing guitar and singing gives me the greatest personal reward. I’ve gone through pretty bad stretches of storm-and-stress where it’s been hard to leave the house, but that fondness for music and connecting with people through that gift has usually been the thing to pull me out of those states.
There’s been times when there hasn’t been much money to come out of a show, or I’ve had to lug PA gear for a block or so, and countless instances of wrong directions and barely making it out to some honky-tonk in the middle-of-nowhere on time, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
If there was a song you wish you could have written, what would it be? Why?
I’m not sure there is any one song that I wish I would’ve written, but there are so many lines in songs that are pure genius that I wish would’ve dripped off my pen. “Out here in the city, it feels like things are closing in./The sunset’s just my lightbulb burning out,”
from Ryan Adams’ “Oh My Sweet Carolina” is one such line, and so is just about every line in Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live is to Fly.” Come to think of it, that song just might be the one song I wish I could have written. Hell, I’ve got a tattoo of it, so why not?
Who do you listen to when you aren't playing music? I don’t seek out a lot of music. Mostly what I listen to that’s not produced by friends of mine is music from long-gone artists. Kasey Chambers, Ryan Adams and Alice in Chains are probably the most recent and frequent artists I listen to that aren’t Texas artists, but there’s so much great music in our scene that I feel like I don’t really have to pay attention to what’s going on in the national music scene to keep my ears sated. People like Mike Ethan Messick, James Pardo, Matt Harlan, etc. provide all the great music and inspiration I need to go on.
If you could open for any one artist dead or alive, who would it be?
Save the hardest one for last, why don’tcha! Well, I’ve made no secret of two of my biggest influences, which are Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams, both deceased, and it would be for one of those guys without a doubt. Let me toss a coin and see which one it’ll be *tosses quarter: heads=Townes, tails=Hank*. Well, it came up heads, so Townes it is. I’d have to remember not to gamble with him after the show, though!