Rod Picott (www.rodpicott.com)recently played at Cheatham St Warehouse for the Jenni Finlay Promotions Anniversary Show. He may be unknown to a lot of the radio listening public, but he is one of the best Americana songwriters in the business. His last cd, “Welding Burns” is an Americana classic, and spent 10 straight weeks on the Americana charts. Rod is best known for his co-writes with Austin’s Slaid Cleaves, his childhood friend. They co-wrote “Broke Down”, among many other great songs. Rod grew up in Maine, and has relocated to Nashville. He recently answered 10 questions for me.
Who are your songwriting influences?
Early rock and roll…The Everly Brothers melodies were so graceful and fluid and Chuck Berry’s songs are so vivid lyrically. Later on I was hugely influenced by Springsteen’s Nebraska which you can hear in my last cd Welding Burn’s. I loved the mid era Tom Waits albums. Heart Attack and Vine is an amazing piece of work. I find bits and pieces that are inspiring everywhere. I just listened to The Carpenters greatest hits the other day. Those melodies are just killer. Yes, it’s pop fluff but it’s great pop fluff.
When and where was your first public performance?
Central Elementary School Summer Dance in South Berwick Maine. I had a garage band with Slaid Cleaves called The Magic Rats. The singer kept yelling at the kids because they were dancing slow to the fast songs. It was a god awful racket. I have a cassette tape of it that I’m going to release as a five disc box set someday.
What was the first record or cd you purchased with your own money?
Elton John- Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy. The last of his great albums. The next one was Rock of the Westies which was a shocking drop in awesomeness…
What was the first live concert you attended?
Springsteen ’78 Music Hall Boston MA. Not bad eh? I met Gary Tallent a few years ago and told him. He had the flu that night in ’78 and played the show sitting down. When I mentioned this to him he kindly remarked, “oh yeah…I remember..” Great guy…
Which venue would you most like to play that you haven’t yet/ and which is your favorite venue to play?
I would like to play The Ryman in Nashville. It’s just so beautiful with all that stained glass and it sounds amazing in there. My favorite ongoing venue to play is Ashland Coffee and Tea in Ashland VA.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given, and by whom?
I gave it to myself actually. Through the leaner years I had a lot of rejection. Even friends were saying, “Man you just aren’t very good” I just kept telling myself, “nobody knows how hard I’m willing to work….nobody else’s predictions have any validity because they don’t know how hard I’m willing to fight for this.” Also, someone once told me, “the world isn’t watching you..nobody really cares if you do this or not…” That’s very freeing.
Who are you listening to now?
What is your best story about life on the road?
There are too many…I once drove from Tuscon AR to Boston MA to play 3 songs. Amanda Shires and I had a long arduous European tour. We finished in Italy. The last day we had to catch a 5 am train to the airport so we didn’t sleep. We got to the airport and they could find our tickets in the system. They looked and looked. This is after 6 weeks on the road and no sleep. The woman finally looked up at me and said, “your flight is tomorrow.” Amanda said,”I’ll be right back…” She came back 5 minutes later with a plate of beautiful Italian cheeses and two bottles of wine. That is the best wine I’ve ever had..on a bus…back to where we left from at 5 am. No whine. Just wine.
What recordings are available to the public and where can they be purchased?
All six of the titles I’ve put out are available at www.rodpicott.com
When and where are you playing next?
In the round at The Bluebird Cafe August 23rd at 6pm