United by Music: Live From Nowhere Near You
Interview of CD Project Coordinator Kevin Moyer
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
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
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
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
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.