Music Industry Essentials : Andrew McKnight Talks About Favorite Places to Play
[This transcript is excerpted from the Songwriters’ TeleSummit.]
Katie: Andrew, from your perspective you mentioned Ashville and Taos and I’m just curious where your favorite cities are to play? Or, not cities, but locations geographically?
Andrew: Interestingly enough, I don’t play the cities as much as I play the smaller towns because, frankly, I find there’s less competition for people’s attention. I tend to do better when I’m not stacked against five other singer songwriter shows in the same neighborhood. Maybe people will come because in our press release we take full advantage of what somebody said about me at a show one time that I was kind of a combination of, what is it, Robert Frost, William Lee, Steve Moon, and Jeff Foxworthy.
Andrew: Well sometimes when people see that they say, “Well that sounds interesting. Let’s go see that cat. What could possibly happen?” So I find, for me that the smaller markets are a better audience because, frankly, it’s easier to get thirty or fifty or a hundred people out to a show. I love West Virginia. I love east Tennessee. The Johnson City area. I do love to get up to New England. It’s a terribly difficult market to crack if you’re not a top tier songwriter because a lot of them are based up there and when an audience is really saturated with a kind of thing too it’s that much harder. So I personally prefer to travel the places that are a little off of the beaten path. I put together a tour last winter. I was playing at Uncle Calvin’s in Dallas and I had a show in Austin and maybe Houston too and then I had like four or five days off before I had to be in Pensacola and I was like “What am I going to do on the Gulf Coast for five days?” And my wife and I have a two year old daughter and it kills me to be away from home any longer than I have to and while I’m gone I want to be working. So I basically contacted a lot of the Unitarian churches along I-10 and essentially offered up a free concert. Put me up for the night, take care of me, make sure I’m fed, and not getting bugged out in the parking lot. And it was a really, really wonderful tour because those are some pretty underserved areas and some of those folks have really suffered a lot since Katrina. They’ve been pretty beaten down about it and it was nice to be able to be there and just be with them and to hear their stories. Part of my thing is I’m really into the wonderful regional distinctions about the country too. The less it is about me the more I like it. I really like to go to a place and put a finger on the pulse of it. To read the local paper or whatever like that and bring a little of that to the show to say, “You know, I’ve been here and this is what I’ve been experiencing here in your town and it’s really cool to see it through your eyes kind of thing. As well as bringing them stories from all the other places that I go.