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United by Music: Live From Nowhere Near You
Interview of CD Project Coordinator Kevin Moyer
By Kathy Brackley
(more articles from this author)
2004-04-13
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Live from Nowhere Near You is a compilation CD that features collaborations between street musicians and professional musicians, with members of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Pearl Jam, Spoon, Third Eye Blind, Presidents of the USA, The Robots, Five Fingers of Funk, Caloba, and Hungry Mob contributing.

The CD features 27 memorable tracks, from funk, hip-hop, rock, beat boxing, to jazz and R & B; Live From Nowhere Near You has something for everyone. The music is fantastic and some of my favorite tracks are those performed by street musicians. All of the proceeds from the CD are being donated to the charity "Inside Out," which provide programs for the homeless and street youth.

The concept for the CD started with musician Kevin Moyer, who recorded, coordinated and launched the project. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Kevin about the project, street musicians, and the idea behind, Live From Nowhere Near You.

[Kathy Brackley] What initially sparked the idea to do a benefit CD of street musicians collaborating with professional musicians?

Kevin Moyer I think that I was just looking for a way to express myself, and I became amazed by a street musician that I met one night as I was leaving a music venue after I had lost my friends. I sat down next to this grizzled old guy playing the blues and bummed a smoke. He was far better than the band that I had just over-paid to see, and all of these 'music fans' were just ignoring this incredible raw talent and walking past without even a glance. Also around the same time, I had been talking a lot with a homeless man whom my roommate and I would give our empty bottles to. His most prized possession was this beat up walkman that he always had turned on as loud as it would go. When I asked him about it, he told me that sometimes music was the only thing that got him through the day. I dubbed the benefit CD to a tape so that I can give it to him if I ever see him again.

[Kathy Brackley] With over 70 musicians and 27 tracks on this CD, the project seems like a daunting task to complete. Did you initially realize the scale of the project?

Kevin Moyer I had no idea how much time and effort it would take, but I don't regret one second of the time that I spent. Doing this project while also holding down a full time job meant spending a lot of my evenings meeting with professionals after their gigs and sleeping in the studio, not to mention many weekends downtown hanging out with street kids and meeting street musicians. One of the problems that I encountered early on was meeting these incredible musicians and wanting to record them for the CD, but being unable to find them later as many don't have a solid address or phone number. By the end of the project I had figured it out so that I could bring my portable recording equipment with me and meet and record them all in the same day.

[Kathy Brackley] How long did it take you to complete the entire project?

Kevin Moyer From the formation of the idea in my head to the album release, probably about three years, but once I knew that I was going to actually do it, I think that it took just under two years to finish. So many people wanted to get involved and we kept making new music, I think that the only reason we stopped is because we couldn't fit any more music on the CD.

[Kathy Brackley] Now that the CD has been recorded and released, were there any particular moments that stopped you in your tracks and really stuck with you?

Kevin Moyer Someone once told me, "You can't save the world but you can save the receipts". Each song, each musician, each layer of sound is like a receipt for me - a person I met, a story I heard, a specific memory from the making of the CD. Recording street musician Bad Boy Blue, high atop a downtown building with the flickering lights of the city behind him in the distance, is a vivid memory for me because it seemed so fitting. Another memorable time was when we recorded some street kids as they drummed on a shoe and played violin, gypsy Thai guitar, and mandolin as the wind and leaves whipped up the sidewalk around us.

[Kathy Brackley] The songs performed by street musicians are truly inspiring. In your opinion, what do you think the average person's perception of a street musician is?

Kevin Moyer I agree. I think that the average person doesn't pay much attention to them or wrongly thinks that they have no talent or skills. I was amazed by the skills of a lot of the street musicians that I met and recorded and hopefully that comes through on the CD.

[Kathy Brackley] Do you think this CD might change people's perception of street musicians?

Kevin Moyer I think so. I wanted to make an album where you couldn't tell who was a professional and who was not - which was very easy to do with the talented street musicians who ended up contributing. As I was recording and letting people listen to various tracks and takes, many were surprised to find out that some of their favorite songs or riffs were by street musicians. The way that we represented the musicians on the inside of the CD artwork was an additional effort to break down the perceived divide between professional and street musician. We listed the names of every musician and the contributions that they made in alphabetical order and without revealing who was a professional and who was not. Same thing with the inside musician picture collage - all musicians on the same level and mixed together with no priority over the other.

[Kathy Brackley] What did you initially hope to achieve with this CD?

Kevin Moyer Originally, I just wanted to have a way to express myself and help out at the same time. I wanted to give these street musicians a platform to be heard that they normally wouldn't be afforded. I also wanted to do something that hadn't been done before and make some good music.

[Kathy Brackley] After listening to this CD, what do you hope the listener is left with?

Kevin Moyer I hope that the listener walks away wanting to call a loved one or a lost friend. And to make people realize that these people whom they usually walk past and ignore are people too, often with the same problems and obstacles as they do. I hope that it will open some eyes so that people begin to take more notice of people whom they normally wouldn't - whether it be a street musician or other. Great things are all around us. You just have to take the time to see it.

[Kathy Brackley] How would you say this project affected you on a personal level?

Kevin Moyer One of the things that I couldn't shake was that every person I met on the street was someone's mother, father, child, former co-worker, lover, or friend. Any of us could find ourselves in the same situation someday at the drop of the almighty hammer. I would bet that practically everyone has someone who used to be in their life who is now homeless or down and out - It was definitely an eye opener.

[Kathy Brackley] And as a musician?

Kevin Moyer I just love music. Sometimes when I get home the stereo gets turned on way before the lights do. This project allowed me to jump into things and fully immerse myself in all aspects of it - kind of like a sink or swim situation. And knowing that the money was to go to charity, it gave me the added pressure and incentive. Another positive was that with the collaboration recording situation, I was continuously learning from the musicians who were there with me in the studio.

[Kathy Brackley] Are there any plans to do another volume in the future?

Kevin Moyer Yes, we will definitely do a Pacific NW Volume Two with the profits again going to a homeless and street youth charity. We have a few tracks left over still and have some great professional musicians who have stepped forward to volunteer their time and music. We're working on it now and I imagine that it will have a 2005 release. After Volume Two, I'd love to do one for New York, as there are some incredible street musicians and professionals out there.

------

You can purchase Live From Nowhere Near You through the Official website at: www.nowherenearyou.com and for more information on the charity "Outside In," visit www.outsidein.org.


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