Artist of the Month for December 2002: Tim O'Brien
Name: Tim O'Brien
Hometown: Wheeling WV
At what age did you start playing guitar? 12
First guitar: Harmony Stella
Early Influences: Peter, Paul and Mary; The Beatles; Roger Miller
First gig: Janet Jepson's wedding. I was paid the sum total of pewter beer mug. I was 14.
Acoustic Guitars you own: Gibson J-50, circa 1959 - Martin OO-18, circa 1937
Favorite Guitar: I go back and forth between the two. I want to get a dreadnaught again,
maybe a 12 fret slotted peg head Martin
Your Style, and how you developed it: I play fingerstyle in the Travis style, and flatpick in a sort of Watson or Blake style. But really, the guitar is my second or third instrument anymore. When I was coming up, there were so many guitar players, I decided I should learn another instrument to make it easier to get a gig. That lead to the fiddle, the mandolin, and the bouzouki. Since I'm known
for playing mandolin mostly, I usually have a guitarist playing with me. I've had some of the best in bluegrass and acoustic music - Scott Nygaard, Jeff White, Bryan Sutton, David Grier, Jim Hurst, and lately John Doyle.
Practice Regimen: I put the guitar on a stand in my office and grab as I go by from time to
time. When I haven't been gigging for a while, I'll make a point of getting the instrument in my hands for at least 30 minutes a day for several days beforehand. That attitude gets a little more serious when I'm
about to make a recording. When that's looming, I practice the new material regularly for weeks ahead of time.
Favorite Artist(s): A few are Ry Cooder, Bill Monroe, Greg Brown, Duke Ellington.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
I think an artist has a responsibilty to do something honest and true, and to try to help things get better. At the very least, I want to be responsive to my audience. My own personal job seems to be to link the past to the present with the music. I've felt liberated in recent years by the realization that you can't be exactly like those that went before, but you also can't do anything startlngly new either. Swallow those two ideas, and you're free to just be yourself. My advise is do the best you can, and do it as clearly as possible.
Visit Tim's website at www.timobrien.net. You'll find a lot more information about Tim and plenty of soundclips for your enjoyment.