A Few Minutes With: Livingston Taylor
Livingston Taylor began singing in coffee houses at a young age and has been delivering his music to audiences for over half a century.
The singer, songwriter and professor at Berklee College of Music comes from a musical family that includes his well known recording artist brother James, and his sister Kate who, like Livingston, began her career playing coffee houses in the late 1960’s.
He will be bringing his music to the Dogwood Center’s Main Stage Saturday night in what promises to be an intriguing evening of old standards and original material spanning a lengthy musical career.
When N3 called for an interview he answered the phone with, “Livingston”. And after introductions were properly made we proceeded...
N3- Have time for a few questions?
LT- This is a great time. A perfect time.
N3- You’ve been playing and performing now for just over 50 years. What’s the most significant change you’ve seen in your music?
LT- The quality of colors that I have on my palette. The options of things to play and do and places to go have expanded drastically. A result of 50 plus years of studying all kinds of music. It just gives me a freedom and flexibility that I never had. It’s very exciting.
N3- Tell me a little bit about the title of your latest recording ‘Safe Home.’ Listening to it it’s an interesting mix of your own work and some older tunes. You’ve always dabbled in jazz and some of the show classics and this has a bit of both. How did it come about?
LT- What happened is I have a very dear friend Shelly Berg who is a piano player extraordinaire and he and I play together. One day I said to him "Shelly, Norman and David Chesky have asked me to do a record would you come and play with me? “
Songs that you hear are songs he and I know together, they’re ones we loved to play and that’s how that came about. It was a fun record to make.
N3- You do a lot of touring and always have. What are the challenges in maintaining that type of schedule and since you haven’t stopped, what is it you find compelling about it?
LT- Certainly what I love about it is being in motion. Being in motion and traveling comes to the theme of the title Safe Home. Safe Home to me is when I’m in front of my audience. It’s where I’m comfortable. It’s where I love to be, seeing my audience again. I love being in their presence. The funny thing is with travel is wherever I take that guitar whatever stage I find myself on that’s safe home to me
N3- You tour, you teach music at Berklee in Boston, you write music, you go to the studio and do music. What’s left after that? What else is there you might have a passion for?
LT- Well, I love reading physics and seeing how things work. And I fly airplanes. Love flying airplanes.
N3- So you fly planes?
LT- Yes, not only do I fly airplanes but apparently I hate money so much that I own one.
N3- I’ve heard those can turn into a bit of a money pit.
LT- Oh yes. I enjoy it but, again, it’s all part of being in motion, I really like being ‘on my way’
N3- You’ve made regular visits to Ann Arbor venues and other places in that part of the state since way back. Are you familiar with our area at all?
LT- Holland is out by you guys is it not?
N3- A bit south and west but in our region.
LT- I’ve been many times to that part of Michigan. It is always difficult to describe to my East and West Coast snobby friends not only just how beautiful the state of Michigan is, but how it is filled with stunningly competent human beings as well. They get the image of a closed auto factory outside of Detroit and think they know Michigan, and they’re so wrong, it’s really such a wonderful state
N3- What should people expect when they come to see you. You’re a storyteller and...
LT- I am a storyteller however my songs and my delivery of my own or other people's songs are what I would call enthusiastically accurate and allow the beauty of the melody and words to tell the story. I don’t need to add to it personally. I’ve chosen things to tell beautiful stories and I’ve delivered them as clearly as I humanly can and I think what surprises my audience so much is that it feels so remarkably comfortable and clear and safe to be listening to Livingston Taylor.
N3 – You teach stage performance. What would you tell a young person who might have aspirations to perform?
LT-- The most important element in stage performance is to watch your creativity land. It’s not enough to put it out you need to put it out and watch it land on people. You need to monitor how it lands. What it looks like and feels like when it lands.
N3- We’re pleased you’ll be making a stop up our way.
LT- I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being back in that part of Michigan, particularly in late March when the sun starts coming back.
N3- Yes, you’re definitely familiar with our area.
Livingston Taylor will be performing this Saturday at the Dogwood Main Stage.
Seating is reserved and tickets can be purchased by calling 231.924.8885 or by visiting the box office and are also available at the NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont
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