Wed., Nov. 16th • 7:30 p.m.
Veranda Ballroom of Press 102
102 S. 2nd St.
$10 • www.gregtrooper.com
When he speaks, it is slow, as he contemplates each word before enunciating it. He is a humble man, wanting only to make a connection with those for whom he performs. His husky singing voice, like that of Bob Dylan’s, is quintessential for his folk-infused blues. Listening to Greg Trooper’s solo pieces is like warming oneself near a campfire, admiring the star-speckled sky, every so often turning to observe the storyteller strumming his guitar.
He apprehends the spotlight just as much as his tunes pleasantly perfect the role of background music. Like the iconic Dylan, Trooper’s musical tales of love, woe and hope are worth inclusion in life’s soundtrack. “They Call Me Hank” and “When My Tears Break Through” are the ideal accompaniments to road trips through the desert or when sitting alone at a bar. “I’m So French” is a humorous love song for a couple’s impromptu dance in the living room, and “Hannah’s Dreams” is for pensive, self-reflective evenings.
The seasoned artist began his career as a young man taking guitar lessons. Enthralled from the very beginning, he knew music was his calling by the time he turned 24. “I think I took it seriously when I went to New York in 1980,” he remembers. “That’s when I decided that’s what I would do.”
Eleven albums later—with songs covered by the likes of Vince Gill, Steve Earle and Billy Bragg—Trooper continues to make music between the cities he’s lived in since leaving New Jersey. From New York to Austin, Nashville to Kansas, no matter his residence, his creative process is an effective routine, enabling him to enrich his art.
“I like to set aside time during the day to work on writing,” he says. “I like to work in the mornings, and I do know that it doesn’t just ‘land.’ I used to think when I was younger that it was all about inspiration, but as I’ve worked at it, I’ve realized you have to drag it out of you sometimes by putting paper, computer or guitar in your hand to start looking for melodies and ideas.”
Trooper’s a renowned songwriter who’s become his biggest critic. Through the years of being a folk artist, he’s become a skilled storyteller and understands the importance of self-editing.
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten better because I work harder at it,” he says simply. “When I was younger, I was just letting out whatever I could come up with, and I thought it was great—but it really wasn’t. [laughs] I pay more attention. I edit more than I used to.”
Trooper stays disciplined and focused for one reason only: to make that ever important connection with listeners. “As I write things, whether it’s from personal experience or [as] a third person story, I hope that the audience is in some way relating to it,” he notes. “What happens sometimes, and it’s quite flattering, is [people say] they feel like I know something about them. It’s as if I know them—which, of course, I don’t—but it just confirms that I’ve connected somehow through the thread of humanity with our common feelings.”
The biggest accomplishment for the singer/songwriter thus far is tracking his performance career as a veteran. It’s a fulfillment he says he never dreamed he would achieve.
“At times you ride on a high when there’s gigs, and record and publishing deals,” he admits. “You feel like nothing can go wrong; then all of a sudden everything dries up for a while. You struggle through those times, but what gets you through is that you’re always able to create. I feel like as long as I can write a song, I can move forward.”
Like the masters of guitar and pen that came before him, Trooper’s music is becoming as precious as a family heirloom, one worthy of being passed down to generations to come. Offering the tales of a great storyteller (especially when they’re in the company of enchanting instrumentals) is a gift word and music aficionados hold dear.
“I don’t want to sound pretentious,” he begins, “but I think it is art, and, hopefully, it leaves a lasting impression on some people. One thing about music, art and writing, is that it lasts beyond your days, and hopefully my music will last beyond mine.”