I have always felt a special kind of gratitude towards those who took their time to share their wisdom and experience with me. Especially artists… Especially musicians… AJ Gaither OMB (One Man Band) was kind enough to share some of his story with Keen Kord Guitar and I listened with great admiration. Not only because his music is a mix of whisky-drenched nights smelling of stale smoke, but also because it makes you want to taste more of it and stew there a little longer. See for yourself:
When did you first pick up a guitar? What was it and at what point did you realize you wanted to keep your hands on it as much as you could.
When I was maybe 11 or 12 I watched my Uncle Charles restring his old Hondo electric Les Paul clone. He let me hold it and tried to show me a few chords. I remember that as the first time I ever held a guitar. When I was 13 my Mom got me a bottom of the barrel, but brand new Peavey with a tiny amp for Christmas. I was pretty discouraged about how it felt and sounded, the action was terrible and I knew nothing about that at the time, and figured I just could not play it. I dabbled with guitar, and was a huge fan of music my entire life but I did not really get the fire to play like I do now til I started building my own stuff. That’s at the core for me, build it then play it. My sound, my songs, they comes from the junk instruments.
Who were your influencers? Your music channels raw, almost primal energy that goes straight into the ear’s heart. Is that something you developed or did someone who you listened to channeled similar energy?
My parents played a lot of southern rock, my grand parents listen to classic country and took me to church where they sang gospel with no music or instruments. As a teenager I loved Nirvana, Mudhoney, and other gritty alt rock bands. As I got older and began researching bands I liked and dug deeper into the roots of it all I found Leadbelly, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Carl Perkins and all that stuff. I’m just that all ran through the filter of my life and experiences.
I know this may be personal but we all have days when we just want to say “f*ck it” and quit playing, quit learning, quit trying to chase our dream. When you have those days, can you give a tip for the kids on how to overcome it?
I really, really, really regret not sticking with playing guitar as a youth. I have had to work twice as hard as many of my peers to catch up to their skill levels due to not really learning to play till my late 20’s. Even these days I hit rough patches, when I get stale and tired of my own songs, I play about 100 gigs a year. Or I just get frustrated with playing in general. Best advice I can give is it’s ok to step away and take a break, but never give up. Cause you will regret it. And play just for the doing of it, the rest will follow.
Your instruments are self-made if I am not mistaken and it just proves that it’s all in the hands and heart. Do you have an dream guitar that you would wish to own or maybe play for an evening or two?
I built my guitars and foot-drum rig. And I continue to build CBG’s (Cigar Box Guitars) for other people. CBG’s are all very individual, they all have their own sound. I love my four-string black punch box, while I have built prettier and better sounding guitars, none that felt so right in my hand. I have plans to add resonator guitars, full electric guitars tomy line-up, and continue honing my acoustics in future builds, but my first beat up old four string. That’s mt dream guitar, and I get to play it any time I want.
What can fans expect from A.J. Gaither in the following 2016?
I am working on a new album, as well as experimenting with new sounds and styles for upcoming live shows. I am in the very early stages of planning European tour for October 2016. And of course I will be driving all over the US doing shows,and building lots of instruments!
This one I will probably ask everyone I meet who show interest in the Blues: Please tell me – what is the Blues? To me it’s a cane that will always hold me from falling when the entire world is on my shoulders
I heard this the other day “When you’re happy you enjoy the music, when you’re sad you understand the lyrics”. That kinda sums up blues and roots music in general for me. It’s celebration and remorse all rolled into one, cause that’s what life is.
In my world, music comes from individual and has that individuality in it. I extend great appreciation to AJ Gaither for sharing his influence with me and urge all to go and follow the man’s every step on his road to glory.