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BB: What was that like for the engineer?
Chris: The engineer had a big challenge. It was Brad Young, of
Underground studios. He usually does hip-hop records, so heís not used to live stuff at all. He hadnít been briefed on what the project was, so when we walked in, these eight guys, and a lot of them are older jazz guys, and he literally looked at us like, whoa. I could see his heart drop a little bit, like, how the hell am I gonna do this? It was hard to blend eight instruments and make it sound right, and I think he did an amazing job.

BB: What about ďAll Time FavoriteĒ gave it the opening spot?
Chris: I thought it was the best blend of the two styles of music. Ultimately with this record you have a rock singer with a seven-piece Dixieland jazz band, so I felt that whatever song can capture a true blend of those two styles of music should be first. ďAll Time FavoriteĒ has the attitude of a rock singer, with the nostalgia of old time music. The weirdest thing about that song was what it was about. I used to eat in this restaurant called the Dixie Kitchen, near the Berklee School of Music, and itís since closed down, but it used to have this amazing pie there, called Peanut Butter Pie. And the whole place was styled New Orleans Style, and I wrote this song probably ten years after that place shut down. The song was really kind of a tribute to male insecurity, and think itís just funny that it was a full circle thing, where I hadnít really thought about that place or that pie in so long, but it all came out in one song.

BB: Tell me about ďDinner and a Dream.Ē
Chris: Itís one of those things when youíre in a long-term relationship and you realize sometimes the tiniest moments can be the most romantic. Suddenly romance is not wrapped around the big moments where you yell I love you from a rooftop. Sometimes itís more about just bringing your partner a cup of coffee, or little simple things. I wanted to try and define that style of relationship, where itís kind of late in a Boston winter, and itís just a simple romance.

BB: Whatís it been like doing the album live?
Chris: Weíve only done this album live twice. And it was incredible, to sing with horns in back of me. I was worried about making the record still be kind of a pop record, so people wouldnít be turned off, saying, you know, Iím not buying a jazz record. So I pulled the horns back a little bit, so you can still hear the songs, and still feel the chorus is a chorus and the verse is a verse. But live, when Iím singing with the horns right in back of me, the sound is almost crazily chaotic, and because of that itís really fun to sing live.


PLAYING OUT

BB: Do you prefer the studio or playing out?
Chris: I like both for different reasons. The studio is just where you get the best sound; itís when you hear a song actually come to life. I donít really know what the songís like Ďtil I get
the tape back and actually listen from home, almost as a listener or a buyer of music, rather than a writer. I think that always is a fun process, and itís scary too, but itís definitely fun hearing a song that you wrote in your bedroom looking out a window one day. You hear it become a real song, with real instrumentation to it, and a real vibe and stuff. But then playing that song live is just, thereís nothing like looking in peopleís eyes. And singing a song that moves them in some way, even if itís just got a happy beat and it makes them dance. My last job was working in a hotel basement as a wine inspector, a 6:30am shift every day, with no windows, and it was, like, very dismal job. So now playing live, I stop during every show and think, I canít believe this is my job now, and it just makes me so happy, so I was filled with this bizarre joy, itís almost like this insane joy thinking Iím so amazingly lucky to be able to do it.

BB: What do you think makes a good show?
Chris: I think spontaneity is crucial, and thatís also one of the nice things about this style of music. With a Dixieland band, itís like, we will never recreate that record live, note-for-note. And thatís what Iím used to doing. On tour, youíre meant to sell the record, so you have to play the record, and make it sound as close to the record as you can, thatís just how itís done. But with this style of music, because Dixieland jazz is based around chaotic horn parts, itís guaranteed spontaneity. Youíll never see the same show twice. I like that a lot about it. Iíll do my part the same way, but the Wolverine Jazz Band will always do it differently because itís all based on soloing and leads and feel.


THE BOSTON MUSIC SCENE

BB: What are some of your favorite places to play music in Boston? What do you think are some of the best clubs from a musicianís perspective?
Chris: Actually, right here is where I first started playing, the Common Ground in Allston, where weíre talking now. Mike, the owner here, actually offered me m
y first big-money gig, it was for $250 a night, and this is without a following or anything. Iíd been used to making 50 bucks a gig. And he said this is what I pay, so we came in and then built a following here, at this club.

BB: What are some others?
Chris: I used to love playing Billís Bar, just Ďcause Landsdowne Street was exciting. But I think my favorite club to play is Harperís Ferry. The booking agent there, Dan Millen, has a real hands-on attitude, so if he books an act there, he actually works to make the show happen. He goes out of his way to make sure that the artist is taken care of, and heís just a good guy. And Harperís is a little off-the-beaten-path, and thereís also some nice aspects to being off the beaten path, where you donít contend with as many parking issues and that kind of thing.

BB: How would you compare the Boston music scene to the other cities youíve played in? Whatís different about it here, and the fans?
Chris: Well, itís bigger. Thereíre only a couple of cities with more places to play, but Boston is definitely a music city, for sure.
BB: What cities have more places to play?
Chris: I think Minneapolis has the most places per capita to play, believe it or not. Itís so cold there, people need entertainment. When you open up the Arts page there, itís literally like 50 pages of clubs, and itís all cool, anything from polkaóand Iíve seen polka bands there who were amazingóto like, soul bands that were awesome. The lyrical singer-
songwriter thing in Boston is very respected, but in these other cities you look for a singer-songwriter room, and theyíre hard to find. Thereíre a lot of dingy rock bars, but a singer-songwriter club like, say, Passim, or the Lizard Lounge, you wonít find those in other towns, and I think thatís the nice thing about Boston.

BB: Do you see any difference in the music fans in these cities?
Chris: I think Bostonís the kind of town that, when it embraces something, it really embraces it. I mean, Iíve felt so much support here personally, and Iím always shocked when people come out to shows, and are still coming out nowadays, long after the hype is gone. Now itís really just about true fans. Thatís always amazing for me. The longevity and endurance of the fans here is what amazes me.


IN CLOSING

BB: If you could play onstage with anyone alive, who would it be?
Chris: Wow, thatís a great question. Iíd say Springsteen would be cool, as far as a living guy. That would be really neatÖ
BB: Second choice?
Chris: Simon and Garfunkel, or just Simon, heís fine with me. But honestly most of my true musical loves are gone from the earth. Charles Brown, heís a blues guy who I really really love, Sam Cookeís another one, that if I ever could have met itíd be amazing. But it might be difficult right now. (Laughs.) U2 I like a lot too.

BB: What do you hope to be doing in music in a few years?
Chris: I want to always make the business come after the art, thatís the biggest thing for me. Iím not thinking too far ahead, because if I start doing that, it becomes not spontaneous, and not creative. The thing I like about this record is that the idea was spontaneous, the process was spontaneous, and every note on it is creative. I felt like, thereís not a lot of rock records with Dixieland jazz on it. So I think that thatís my goal, is to always follow that creative spirit, never cave to the commercialism or the business side, just try and keep it interesting, and hope to God that Iím still writing inspired songs. Thatís the biggest fear for me, is to lose thatÖ skill, or gift or whatever it is. And I like the fact that I donít understand it yet, still, to say Iíve written hundreds of songs, but I still feel like it something that Iím honored to do still. I wanna keep that kind of feeling.

BB: What do you hope people will get out of your music?
Chris: A little escape, a little joy, a little connection, I guess. True emotion. I think the best songs are the ones that make you think yeah, Iíve been there, I know what this guy is saying. And Iíve been lucky enough to have that happen, where people use my songs as wedding songs, or funeral songs even, which is more amazing. I want to write songs that are relevant to peopleís lives, beyond just a catchy tune.

BB: What advice would you have for aspiring local musicians?
Chris: I think the one lesson I should have learned early on is that the business is really all based around the fans, itís never based around the business. You know, a lot of bands will send CDs to me and they say, can you recommend an agent, or we just need a manager, or we need a record label. The fact is that what you needóyour whole career this will not changeóis fans. And if you have that, than you dictate your own terms throughout your whole career. And donít sacrifice your art for anybody else, and I think thatís the key. I think that most fans have a big bullshit detector. Theyíll sense if youíre selling out, or if youíre compromising. So think of them first, before thinking of the record label or an agent or manager or whatever else.

BB: Thank you for talking to Boston Beats.
Chris: Sure! Thanks for having me. It was fun.

 

 

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To learn more about Chris Trapper,

please visit his website at http://www.christrapper.com/

 

*Pictures courtesy of http://www.christrapper.com/

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