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A Dirty Dozen with BETH BOMBARA – August 2023

| 7 August 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Virginia Harold

According to a recent press release: “This St. Louis-based musician produced this album with her partner Kit Hamon and on her last album Evergreen, Beth Bombara’s It All Goes Up is for this moment what Kathleen Edwards’ Back To Me was for the early 2000s. It’s all there – the songwriting first and foremost with a voice that connects on a raw, emotional level alongside production led by Bombara’s undeniable musicality, retaining the intimacy of being wholly conceived by the artist herself. After studying music in college, she began playing in other people’s bands. It speaks to the depth of her musicianship that she played guitar and percussion in one band, bass in another project, and keys in yet another. So, just in case you weren’t aware – Bombara has talent and ears way beyond those of your average singer-songwriter.” We get Beth 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?

I went on a bit of an exploratory journey on this record. The genres jump around a bit. Someone referred to one of the songs as my metal song… it’s not really metal, but it does get a bit heavy. I intentionally tried to take advantage of instrumental space in this album, which was a new thing for me. I wanted the music to communicate meaning beyond the lyrics. I don’t think it’s that hidden really, but the final sounds on the last song of the album is a gentle reminder of our basic humanity.

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

I never had a lightbulb moment in regards to being a musician. It was more something that happened very naturally. I would hear melodies in my head as a kid, and although I had formal training on piano, would start to just pick up other instruments and teach myself how to play them: guitar, trombone, drums… it was a natural curiosity, something I didn’t think too hard about. Then I started finding other musicians to play with. Since I was a teenager, there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t been in a band. I can’t envision my life without playing music in some capacity and consider myself lucky to pursue it as a career.

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

I had a cassette tape of Combat Rock by the Clash early on, and that sort of formed my early rock and roll ethos. I started a punk band and before I knew it, we were driving all over playing shows. Some years later, I first heard “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco. That opened up my world to new sounds and led me to lean deeper into the broad genre referred to as “Americana.” Discovering songwriters like Gillian Welch really brought me deeper into the craft of songwriting.

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

Bonnie Raitt. She’s an incredible musician and songwriter, and I’d love to hear some stories from her long career.

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

I love being outdoors in nature – hiking, biking. When I’m at home, I enjoy spending time in my garden. Planting vegetables, picking flowers. Even a mundane task like weeding helps me unwind and can be very centering.

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?

I usually feel too close to my songs to describe them accurately. But I feel like it’s a blender full of rock, country, and folk, with a little sprinkle of the 70’s. I get comparisons to Natalie Merchant a lot, which I don’t really understand… maybe it’s my voice?

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?

Kit cooks, Mike brings the drinks, and usually no one cracks out the acoustic guitars because we’re listening to vinyl records!

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

Patrick Stewart, when I met him speaking at the AMA UK Music awards. Did you know his wife is a musician?

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?

For me, the best parts are collaboration with other musicians – live and in the studio, as well as connecting with an audience live. If I couldn’t play music, I’d love to work at a National Park – Yellowstone or Glacier.

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?

No one has ever asked me about my Italian heritage. I’m tired of answering questions about what my music sounds like.

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?

I used to struggle with anxiety and stage fright, so if I could, I’d go back and tell myself there’s nothing to worry about and that everything will turn out just fine 🙂 It’s not gone completely, but it’s much more manageable.

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?

Believe it or not, I didn’t grow up around much country music. That being said, I’d have to say Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn. When I started digging into the rich history of classic country music, Loretta’s story captivated me, especially as a woman working in the music industry. To hear her sing her stories so beautifully in a way that connected with so many people… well, that would be an incredible thing to witness in the studio.






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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