KEENE, NH – After nearly 50 years of exhibiting a musical style that’s purely his own, Pat Metheny is still aiming to grasp his craft. He’s still looking for new riffs to play around with on his guitar and he’s still looking for new avenues to expand his creative horizons.
This mentality toward any artistic endeavor is something to be respected and admired – and something to strive for – by any person who has dedicated at least part of their life to a specific medium. Metheny’s album “Dream Box,” which came out back in June, is the latest chapter in Metheny’s jazz odyssey and he’s currently on tour in support of it. This expedition he’s on will be making a stop at the Colonial Theatre in Keene on September 15 with the show starting at 8 p.m. Ticket info is below.
Metheny and I had a talk ahead of the gig about his upbringing, the effect both The Beatles and Miles Davis have had on his career, what fuels his creative drive these days and how his new album will be conveyed during his live performances.
Rob Duguay: You come from a musical family with both your father Dave and your maternal grandfather Delmar being trumpet players, your mother Lois being a vocalist and your brother Mike playing various instruments including the flugelhorn, the trumpet and the EWI. How would you describe your upbringing in this environment? Did you practically grow up with an instrument in your hand?
Pat Metheny: There was certainly a lot of music around growing up, and yet because of the era and the nature of the town I grew up in being kind of rural back then, I wasn’t really aware of how the family trumpet thing was any different from all the guitars and banjos at the barbershop that the guys would pull down between customers. It just seemed like music was part of what everyone did back then.
RD: It’s been said that you began wanting to play guitar when you were a teenager in the mid-60s when you saw The Beatles perform on television. How much did that band have an effect on you as a musician when you first started learning how to play?
PM: That was the point where I, like a million other kids around the country, went a bit left from it all. Around then, the electric guitar went from being just an instrument to becoming an almost iconic symbol of everything that was about to happen in the culture and as a nine-year-old kid, I was affected by that. I didn’t really differentiate The Beatles or rock from anything else on a musical level though. I always liked everything, and that is still pretty much true. Quite shortly after that, my brother brought home a Miles Davis record and that was when it all got very serious for me.
RD: I can definitely see how an artist like Miles Davis has had a substantial effect on your approach to music. You’ve taught music at the University of Miami and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, so how do you approach teaching versus when you’re performing? Have you ever found yourself making any major adjustments when it comes to teaching a class or being one-on-one with a student?
PM: It is difficult for me to do anything less than full out, and teaching was like that too. I haven’t really taught for many years because even the guys I taught way back then I still think about today and what I should have known to say then that I didn’t quite know how to express. When I do have the chance to do a master class or something like that I always find I get more out of it than anyone.
RD: OK, I totally get that. You’ve released a prolific amount of albums along with collaborating with so many different musicians, so at this point in your career what fuels your creative drive? What keeps you wanting to make new music and perform on a regular basis?
PM: Basically when I heard that first Miles record, I just wanted to understand. That is still it for me, I just want to try to understand music. That is an infinite and endlessly fascinating way to go through life. There are not enough hours in a day for me to pursue that lifelong aspiration.
RD: This tour that you’re on, which includes a stop at the Colonial Theatre, is in support of your latest album “Dream Box,” so what can people expect from these shows when it comes to how the album will be represented on stage?
PM: Most of my life has been spent being a bandleader and putting together musicians who can get to whatever it was I was working on at the time, but along the way I have also released what is now about 10 different kinds of “solo” records. The concert and tour will really reflect all of them in different ways. While the tour is represented by the recent release, which is a set of tunes with just me, the concert goes pretty deep into all the different ways I have played solo over the years. It is quite an expansive and challenging evening for me with a lot of variety and different approaches.
- More on the web: THE COLONIAL THEATRE – Inspiring audiences since 1924
- The Colonial Theatre is located at 95 Main St. in Keene (about an hour’s drive West of downtown Manchester)
- Tickets $45-$75: Pat Metheny Dream Box Tour – THE COLONIAL THEATRE