On a baseball team, you have your starters — and then you have “bench players.”
Guys good enough to be starters, yet so versatile that holding them back is the way to get the most, and the best, out of them. Randy Burton is a stellar bench player, as well as being a top-drawer starter.
One of my first experiences playing with fellow OBX musicians, after my arrival here, was when I joined forces with Chuck Larson and Randy. Given Chuck and I are limited to guitar, Randy was enlisted because he’s a multi-instrumentalist, that includes being a sterling guitarist and mandolin player. He brings energy to any situation he finds himself in and you can see, visually, his love for what he does as he’s doing it.
That’s why he’s in demand by discerning solo artists and groups looking to add a different flavor and why he’s welcomed at any of the open mics he regularly frequents.
Combine all that with the fact he’s a good dude, and a born entertainer.
He was kind enough to submit to my weekly third degree:
Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I bought property in the Outer Banks decades ago, built a house as a rental property. Since it is paid for, I now I live in that house in beautiful downtown Duck.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I would describe my music as Americana and my duo with Cristy Garey as Americana and Latin rock/pop.
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: Artists Keith Jarrett (jazz pianist), Stephen Stills, Steve Winwood, and jazz guitarists Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, and Pat Martino.
Q: What is it about music that touched you?
A: It takes me to a different frame of mind where I am in the “zone” like an athlete, a dancer or an actor.
Q: What was the first concert you attended? Did it inspire you to perform?
A: Probably a Beach Boys concert where I was captivated by the energy and excitement in the concert hall.
Q: Are you self-taught?
A: I took piano lessons at age 6, played clarinet in school band at about 10 and took guitar lessons for six months at age 11. Most of my skills, however, are self-taught because I was blessed with a good ear for music.
Q: How many different musical projects (duos, trios, bands) are you involved in?
A: I’m involved in 5 musical projects: My solo act, my duo with Cristy, and a duo in Richmond, Virginia, (The Hubcatz) and an occasional acoustic jam band in Richmond, Virginia, (The Come Hears). I also play with a trio in Raleigh called Down the Hatch with a former Outer Banks musician, Nancy Vaughn.
Q: What’s your favorite venue to play on the Outer Banks? To listen?
A: To play? Aqua and Sunset Grille, both on the sound in Duck. To listen is Trio in Kitty Hawk.
Q: What do you do in the off-season? Do you have a day job and if so, what is it?
A: Business development for several national print and online publishers, including a guide to National Parks, a West Coast lifestyle magazine, a science magazine, an industry website and a nonprofit.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: Not really…. it was the unique feeling I got when I listened to music, so I began to play.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be, and why?
A: It would probably be Jimi Hendrix, because he would make me stretch, experiment and push the boundaries.
Q: What one song have you heard that you wish you’d written?
A: I wish I had written George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Q: If you could choose a time period in which to perform music, what would it be and why?
A: My favorite time period to perform, if I could recreate it, would be in the late-’60s.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what are you listening to?
A: I listen to Americana roots type singers and bands, like Mandolin Orange, Railroad Earth, The Wood Brothers. Also Bon Iver, because my nephew produces and engineers their recordings.
Q: The music business can be tough. Did you ever consider quitting and doing something else?
A: I would never consider quitting performing music. It gives me incredible energy that I get from nothing else.
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
A: Because I know you’re trying to trick me, Lennon.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage and how old were you?
A: After a piano recital at age 6, I first performed in a talent show in 7th grade. I was about 12.
Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: It was been mostly negative things that have inspired my songs but I’m working on changing that.
Q: Your favorite album? Why?
A: “Disraeli Gears” by Cream is one of them.
Q: Your favorite song? Why?
A: “Strange Brew” by Cream is one of them, because of Eric Clapton’s guitar work and Ginger Baker’s drumming.
Q: How do folks find out where can you be heard this season?
A: Go to my Facebook music page: fb.me/rburtonguitar
Q: If you were me, what question should I be asking you?
A: I would ask: How would you describe the feeling you get when you perform?