Interview: Gabe Dixon discusses his Live in Boston album

Gabe Dixon Releases Live In Boston

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Gabe Dixon releases his new album, Live in Boston, on September 8, on BirnCORE. On the album, recorded at Berklee’s Red Room at Cafe 939 in September of 2016, Dixon delivers a blistering nine song solo set featuring some of his most popular songs, including “Crave,” “Flow Like Wine” and “All Will Be Well.”

We were fortunate to get Gabe to answer some of our questions about his career and the new release:

BIRN: What about this release, are you most looking forward to sharing with your fans?

GD: This is the first solo-piano live record I’ve released. When it’s just me and a piano, it’s a much more intimate experience, and the focus is squarely on the songs. I have been doing a lot of solo touring over the past couple of years, and I’m glad to be able to give fans a little peak into what that experience is like.

BIRN: You co-wrote several of the tracks with Dan Wilson (Semisonic/Pink/Adele/The Dixie Chicks). What is the dynamic like between you, when you write together?

GD: I think Dan Wilson is one of the best songwriters of our time. He is a great artist in his own right, but he also has a gift for finding the kernel of honesty and truth in what other artists are trying to say and helping to develop it. Sometimes I brought in an idea, sometimes he did, and sometimes we started from scratch. He is a joy to work with, and the songs we have written together are some of my and my fans’ favorites.

BIRN: What are your favorite and not-so-favorite aspects of touring?

GD: I’ve gotten good at traveling. I can kill time on long drives like nobody’s business, but the hardest part of touring is when it goes on for too long—when I lose touch with loved ones back home, and I start to miss my own bed and creature comforts. Late nights and early mornings aren’t fun either. When I don’t sleep enough, life gets rough. But that moment on stage when I’m not thinking, and I know that everything I do is in the flow and working, and fans are singing along and loving it, and people tell me after a show that my music has helped or healed them somehow. Those things makes the more difficult parts of touring worth it.

BIRN: What was it like playing live with Paul McCartney at The Concert for New York City?

GD: Playing with Paul was a dream come true. When I was a kid, his music was one of the reasons I decided to play music at all. I had spent 6-weeks in 2001 working with him on his Driving Rain album. Then 9/11 happened, and I, like everyone in the country, wanted to do something to help out after that tragic event. Paul organized a concert at Madison Square Garden to benefit the NYC firefighters and their families and asked me to play keyboards with him. Getting to make music with my musical hero as we helped the country come together and heal was more emotional and inspiring than I can put into words. I am so grateful to have gotten to be a part of it. Plus, I got to jam on “Let It Be” with Paul, Billy Joel, and Eric Clapton, I mean come on! That was ridiculously awesome.

BIRN: What inspired you to strike out on your own as a solo artist? How has your sound evolved, since you made the shift?

GD: My band members and I are still great friends, but it’s hard to keep a band together. We had a good run and awesome musical chemistry, but after a while, life gets complicated, and it’s hard to coordinate that many lives and schedules. I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child on the same day that one of my band members quit, and instead of trying to replace him, I decided that it was the right time to set out on my own. I was always the sole singer/songwriter in the band anyway, and I felt like after 10 years, it was time to explore other avenues. I have put out a couple of albums since then. The first one, One Spark, was kind of a pop-rock thing, recorded with some fantastic LA musicians, and the most recent one, Turns To Gold, recorded in Nashville, has a more Americana feel to it. No matter what kind of record I make though, the process always starts with me singing and playing the piano. That’s part of why I wanted to release this solo live record, because I think it puts the listener closer to the heart of the songs themselves.

BIRN: You’re a Nashville native. What was it like growing up there? What kind of music were you into? How has the scene changed in Nashville over the last few years?

GD: Nashville is a great town for a musician to grow up in. I started hanging out in recording studios and playing in bands around town when I was 12.  Most people probably think of Nashville as a country music town, but even when I was a kid, the music scene was pretty diverse. I remember seeing Bela Fleck and the Flecktones perform downtown when I was 8 years old. I blew my mind. I didn’t know musicians could be that good. I studied music and classical piano at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music from age 7 until 18. Edgar Meyer and Marc O’Connor both taught there and would sometimes give free performances in the concert hall. In high school, I used to hang out at a coffee shop where Jeff Coffin played jazz every Wednesday night. Now he is a member of the Dave Matthews Band. When I was 16, one of my favorite keyboard players, Reece Wynans, started playing every Monday night in a blues band at the Bluebird Cafe, right down the street from where I lived. I would sit 3 feet away from him and just watch and learn. Since that time, people have come to recognize Nashville as the rich musical environment that it is, which has caused more people from diverse musical backgrounds to make it their home. I think that’s a great thing for the city. And of course, the songwriting scene is second to none. If you think you’re a good songwriter or musician, Nashville will show you that you’re not! I know I’ve been knocked down a peg or two many times over the years! But that’s cool… It keeps my ego in check.

Get Gabe Dixon’s Live In Boston here.

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