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A Dirty Dozen with JONATHAN PAULL GERTLER – September 2021

| 16 September 2021 | Reply

Photo Credit: Chessin Gertler

According to a recent press release: “Boston-based Americana-folk rock singer/songwriter/guitarist Jonathan Paull Gertler is set to release his new album, No Fear, on September 10, 2021 via Rock Ridge Music. Co-produced by Gertler with his trusted collaborator Jon Chase at Chase Studios in Methuen, Massachusetts, No Fear further benefits from the intuitive collaborative nature of regular Gertler cohorts Sal DiFusco and John Paul on guitars, Joe Santerre on bass, and Jon Chase on percussion — not to mention the occasional, poignant cello accents from Catherine Bent and Bobby Chase, background vocals by Jon and Corinne Chase, and piano courtesy of Doug Johnson.” We get Jonathan Paull to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1.Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Always hoping someone listens a second time! Hidden gems of classic (public domain) poetry that fuel both the cynic and romantic in me. And, as always, modified progressions from songs (mine and others) with rhythmic and tonal variation. And amazing and tasteful playing in the background and upfront from the great Berklee professors that have always been part of my efforts.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Well… music is a love and passion, but I have had a professional life that is elsewhere  So, as one of my Berklee friends said to me, I have so much of the best of both worlds. I love what my full time job(s) are – at the intersection of medicine and innovation (started off life and worked for 20 years in academic vascular surgery), but I get to write and play because I can’t help it and have the complete freedom to do so (time being the only limitation). And fortunately I don’t need much sleep, though seven hours straight when it does happen is pretty good, I must say. I have loved music from the moment my mother played me my first full Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. And when my older sister put on her first vinyl. And when The Beatles played Ed Sullivan, I was really little and remember it but had no idea why I was supposed to be excited. Okay, I just dated myself horribly.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

My taste is eclectic – I loved Dead concerts, thought Ike and Tina Turner were a folk act when I went to see them at the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park (boy, was I surprised, but loved it). I got into Hendrix early, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt and Karla Bonoff in college, and I remember Dexter Gordon, towering over a crowd at the Village Vanguard, offering out his sax in exchange for the applause he was getting. And every Monday night when in medical school (and not on call), I went to see the Grove Street Stompers – a Dixieland band in a dive in Greenwich Village that had, shall we say, a slightly dissipated cast of band members, most of whom were advertising guys in real life. It all is an influence.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I think Karla Bonoff is just a phenomenal and unpretentious songwriter. There’s a Carl Hiaasen novel about a guy who is my vintage who falls in love with a younger woman and says – and I paraphrase – that her only fault is that she had no idea who Karla Bonoff was.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Being in the studio and playing music is how I unwind. And I tour “selectively.” How’s that for a euphemism?

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Heartfelt, optimistic, acoustically driven, and lyric/story-centric. My friends are so nice — they’ve never said anything mean to me — and the reviewer thing is just starting.  So come back with this second question soon. I fear hugely that I will have loads of answers.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Uh… band? It’s me  And I love to cook. And get the drinks in. And play/write after everyone in my family has gone to bed, though two of my three sons are great musicians and up for the occasional Thanksgiving jam with guitar, piano, and upright bass in the jazzier side of life. And I shuck the oysters. Five times a week.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I just don’t do the whole starstruck thing as I think many – especially those who work hard at really important stuff rather than entertainment – are the ones worthy of our deepest respect. But in recent years, I have to say I saw Jonathan Edwards give an outdoor concert in my beach town at a vineyard three years ago that knocked my socks off. Still has the clearest, most expressive voice I have heard in ages, and he’s an outstanding musician. And engaging. And I love his sensibilities.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part of my musical life is that I am able to do it out of love and nothing else. And I have my dream job(s) and music.  I’m so, so lucky. I know that.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I think songs are written to be embraced and interpreted by the listener in his or her own terms. Not the “story” behind it. But I would always welcome questions about my value system.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Well my music career, such as it is, is just starting, and all else is going fine. I could always have done some things earlier and others later, and I really wish I had become a really accomplished jazz guitarist for my own sake, but I just have zero in the complaint category.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I just love the first side of The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East. And I was a kid, but I would have loved to be able to play with them. And it was a very intense time that has had good and bad fall-out for decades since. But I am still somehow from there.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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