Indie Artist Spotlight: Bryan Anthony

Six String Theories: You have two of my favorite songs on this album, They Can’t Take That Away and How Deep is the Ocean. What was your personal spin on these songs?

Anthony: We took a dark and moody interpretation of the Gershwins, They Can’t Take That Away from Me. I’m especially proud of that one. I’ve never heard it done that way before—not that it hasn’t, but not that I’m familiar with. The few months before these sessions were a tumultuous time in my life, and I was doing my best to channel the different emotions I was feeling into all of these songs. But that one was especially therapeutic. Irving Berlin’s How Deep Is The Ocean, has long been a favorite of mine after hearing Sinatra do it with Nelson Riddle on his 1960 release Nice n’ Easy. Gary’s arrangement has a “never ending” style to it that you can hear after I finish the singing.He keeps playing after I finish singing to emphasize that the love goes on and on and never really ends although we had to fade it out at some point.

Six String Theories: How do you memorize so many lyrics? Do you ever forget lyrics?

Anthony: That’s a good question that I ask myself sometimes. It’s funny how I sometimes can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I can recall thousands of lyrics. I guess some folks are better equipped with some parts of the brain than other parts. Yes, I do forget lyrics on occasion. Once I was onstage with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and I was singing a song I had sung many times before, but when it was time for me to come in at the top of the song, I couldn’t remember the first line to save my life. That was a bad feeling. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often.

Six String Theories: How do you take jazz standards and make them relevant for today’s listeners?

Anthony: I think that being true to the music is the best way to find an audience for it. You’re not going to get someone to like this music who doesn’t appreciate the music at its core. I think there is a void to fill for this music. I know that there is an audience out there that seems willing to buy up acts like Michael Buble and harry Connick, Jr., but there is enough room for another purveyor of this music. I think the emotional investment in the melodies and lyrics are the key to these songs. If I can relate to these songs, I know others can also relate to them. As with classical music, you don’t have to be 300 years old to appreciate the sentiments in the arias and art songs. The aspects of love and human emotion are the bridge between generations.

Six String Theories: Do you think jazz is a dying art?

Anthony: I think jazz is an certainly an art. From its inception, jazz has been an underground culture; not only the music, but also the lifestyle. Like all art, some are more accepted in the mainstream forum than others. I think jazz is one of those art forms that is more cerebral and deep than most people care to comprehend. But that is what makes the music great. On one level, it can be very deep with harmonic complexities and meter, but at the same time, it can also be enjoyed on a level that makes it accessible to the masses.

Six String Theories: Do you find that European audiences are more receptive to jazz than American audiences?

Anthony: I think European audiences are more receptive to avant-garde jazz than American audiences. There are many avant-garde European jazz musicians as well. In Europe, pushing jazz to new extremes is something that comes naturally. The European players don’t have to keep the flame burning for the traditional jazz that came out of America. They can push it into new directions as they see fit to really carve out their own niche, and there certainly seems to be more of an audience for it over there than here on our shores.

Six String Theories: When we talked, you said you were having a hard time finding gigs. Why is that?

Anthony: In this business, when people are unaware of you, it is very difficult to get in the door. There are a lot of mediocre singers out there that people have to deal with everyday and I think that gives talent bookers a hard exterior that is difficult to get past. What is very frustrating for me is dealing with restaurant managers for club dates who don’t have a clue about music. Unfortunately, they seem to hold the key to musicians’ livelihoods and if they don’t like your style of music, it’s hard to get a decent gig. It doesn’t matter that you have been studying music for years both in school and on the road. All that matters is their opinion of you.

Six String Theories: Tell me about your most satisfying live performance?

Anthony: I guess I would have to say it was a few months back when we played at the Hobby Center in Houston. I had my family and friends in the audience and we debuted the songs from A Night Like This. I am very excited about this record and I know that all the hard work that everyone put into it will pay off.

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Peace & Blessings