This is The Unstarving Musician . I’m your host Robonzo. This podcast features conversations with indie music artists and industry professionals, and me, all intended to help independent music artists better understand the marketing, business and creative processes that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.
Welcome to another episode. Thank you for sticking me in your earbuds or on your speaker today. I really appreciate it. It is windy as frack here in Panama today. It’s beautiful, but it’s windy; we are in the windy season, the dry season, as they call it. I didn’t mention this in the last episode, but we just moved, we being my wife and I. We just moved. We’re not far from where we were, not far at all. We upgraded the otherwise awesome view we already had. And arguably more important, I improved my studio space for doing this, talking to you and uh recording drums and vocals and guitar and that kind of stuff. And guest space too. So next house concert, when those things can happen, I got a little more space for that kind of deal. Life’s good. And frankly, I feel a little guilty sometimes. I won’t even tell you how good it is, in case yours is not quite as much. But if it’s not, I hope it is, your life, gets super good super soon.
Hey, by the way, if you have feedback or comments or questions about the podcast, please go to UnstarvingMusician.com, and just scroll to the bottom of the page and send me a message from right there. You can write or message me hands free right there from UnstarvingMusician.com. Bottom of the page. I’d love to hear from you.
So my guest Johnny Gilmore is a bass player that has reached virtuosity status, virtuoso status. He honed his chops and stage craft in part as a street performer in his hometown of Boston. He’s living the LA life now. He has a great EP out as of October 2020, which is when we spoke for this interview. I can’t believe it. I’ve had so many episodes in the pipeline. They’re going that far back. It’s kind of crazy. It’s called, the EP is called When You Come Home. It’s really good. I encourage you to check it out, which you can do at JohnnieGilmore.com. And we talk about how that happened (the EP), how it came together amidst this stupid pandemic that we’re still in, as I record this January 19 of 2021.
Hey, would you like to help me help other independent musicians and indie music fans find this podcast you can do so by subscribing on your favorite podcast or audio service. It really does help. And if you love this podcast, if you love this episode, please consider supporting it by joining the Unstarving Musician community. You can do so by visiting on UnstarvingMusician.com. It’s free to sign up. As part of the community you will receive occasional emails from me with tips and insights for your music journey. And it’s not just me giving you tips and insights based only on my years of experience as a gigging musician, but also stuff I’m learning from the now hundreds of songwriters, musicians and industry professionals that I speak with as part of this podcast. And I’ll also fill you in on the latest and upcoming episodes of the podcast. It’s all free. You can unsubscribe at any time. And if you’d like to become a producer sponsor of the show, you can do so by visiting and UnstarvingMusician.com/crowdsponsor, for more info about exclusive producer sponsored content and perks that I am putting together. You know if you want to up your support game. So Johnnie was brought to my attention by Zoe Sonnenberg, who was featured in Episode 180 of the podcast. At the time of our conversation, like I mentioned, October 2020, the pandemic was nearing its peak crisis status in the LA area where Johnnie now lives. We talked about this and how it’s changed his career and life. He he did just released that awesome EP When You Come Home, which you can check out at JohnnieGilmore.com.
That’s a great website, by the way. And since we’re talking about websites, I need to tell you about some news from Bandzoogle, the all-in-one website platform for musicians and bands that I’m always ranting and raving about. So they have added integration with Printful print on demand drop shipping services, so now it’s easier for musicians to create and sell merchandise directly to their fans from their website, commission free using Bandzoogle. I’ll mention this again at the end of the episode but what what are you waiting for? Go to Bandzoogle.com and use the promo code Robonzo to get 15% off the first year of any subscription. And the promo code again is Robonzo, R O B O N Z O.
Johnny shares his recent experience in going from performing live to taking requests on Instagram to pay the rent, which he’s having fun with. And actually, this is where Zoe Sonnenberg’s mom heard him play After The Gold Rush, and connected him with Zoe. And so he dropped me a note and said, Hey, this guy’s really good. You might want to have him on your podcast. He’s really good. It’s, it’s pretty cool. Wait until you hear his music. Fun to talk to too. He also lost both of his grandparents on his mother’s side at the time we spoke. Now we of course, discuss the oddity of dealing with loss during this time of the pandemic. When You Come Home was recorded, like in April May of 2020, and was intended to be a full length record he thought he was going to be recording in the fall. But as life changed, so did Johnnie’s plans for this collection of songs, which is to our benefit, because we get to hear it in this recent release of his, so all right here, here he is. Please enjoy this conversation with me and…
Johnnie Gilmore. That’s easy enough. I can pronounce that right I bet.
Johnnie Gilmore 6:06
That’s right. Yeah.
So you know, I didn’t even put together until this afternoon that we are mutually acquainted with Zoe. Actually, it was this morning with Zoe Sonnenberg.
Johnnie Gilmore 6:19
Absolutely the greatest promoter of all time.
How do you guys know one another, um,
Johnnie Gilmore 6:25
It’s a funny story. So during since the virus hit, and you know, all my gigs got canceled, like any musician. I’ve been taking requests on Instagram, in exchange for tips. And it’s actually been really fun. You know, I’ve had to learn a lot of music that I probably should have known anyway, all along. And some of these arrangements have actually worked well enough that I’ve kept them in my repertoire. So I was like, I’m getting some repertoire out of this too, which is fun. But somebody requested a Neil Young song called After The Gold Rush.
Yeah, I know it.
Johnnie Gilmore 7:00
It’s beautiful tune. And her mom apparently found it on a hash tag or something and send it to her. And then she hit me up, just to say, Hey, you know, I love the music. Keep doing what you’re doing. And so we’ve just been in touch on social media ever since.
And that’s cool. Well, yeah, she is. She’s actually on the podcast today. So her she’s featured on the podcast today. So it’s ironic that we’re talking.
Johnnie Gilmore 7:28
I noticed that well, I actually, I was doing a little background, a little prep for this last night. And I saw it went live last night, and I sent it to her and I was like, yo, like, you didn’t tell me you were gonna be on this.
I’m not, she didn’t know till this morning. Are you? She’s probably she probably first found out when you told her so. So yeah.
Johnnie Gilmore 7:51
She’s very cool about it. It’s like, Oh, I didn’t know it was up yet. or something, you know, to thae effect of, Oh, you know, whatever. ho hum. Like, yeah. Yeah, she’s a rock star. Big fan.
Yeah, she’s great. She sent me a couple of good interviews. And so I just also found out this morning that she isn’t with Sacs Co anymore. I’m like, Oh man. But she, I found her. I had her email. And so she got in touch. And so and then then she’s like, I see you’re interviewing a friend of mine. And then then I went back and looked at your original email, and like, Oh, there she is in your email. So. So that’s cool. So are you in LA?
Johnnie Gilmore 8:27
Yeah, I grew up in Boston, but I live in LA now.
And how is LA these days?
Johnnie Gilmore 8:32
Um, well, it was on fire a lot recently.
Johnnie Gilmore 8:37
Not as on fire anymore as it was, which is very nice.
Yes, that’s good.
Johnnie Gilmore 8:42
And we had a lot of earthquakes last couple days, which is not, not terrifying for this East Coast boy. But the good news is that I think most of the scene is still here. I think most people are still toughing it out. So I don’t, you know, I know a couple of people like, I used to play with a drummer who was from France. And I think a few weeks ago or a month ago, he just moved back to France. He’s like, you know, they they have it under control out there a lot better than we do. And like, it’s so expensive to live here anyway, like, I can move back home like I’m going back to France, peace. But I think most people are staying I think the scene will be in a decent position to bounce back as long as venues open again, as long as like, depending on, how much damage there is in the industry itself remains to be seen. [Sure.] Whether it’s still very nice. I think most people are still here. Food is still pretty good.
That’s good. You, you have that. So from what I’ve heard of you, you’re incredibly versatile. So it makes me curious as to the kind of gigs that you were doing there locally. I know you’ve done a, it looks like you’ve done a wide range of things including touring, but what kind of things do you pick up locally there?
Johnnie Gilmore 9:56
Uh, yeah, whatever pays the rent, and that’s the honest answer. And you know, I get people have asked me a lot like, how I would characterize my music or like what kind of styles I usually play things like that. And honestly, I mean, I really subscribe to the Louis Armstrong idea that the only two kinds of music are good and bad. And everything else is, you know, I think really having a good lineup and having good people to play with is the thing that makes the music really work. I don’t know if, because I know you play too, if that’s been your experience.
Um, you know, I’ve had the luxury of playing on a very part time basis. And, and actually, it’s just this year that I recorded my first original composition and so I’m going through the motions of learning how to release something and I’m working on a video and someone’s already asked me to do an album based on what they heard and, but all my playing, I was a gigging drummer. So I had usually had a couple of bands I was working with regularly, and then I was subbing for people. So
Johnnie Gilmore 10:55
Yeah, that’s the same kind of racket basically.
Yeah. And a lot of covers for me. Was has that been the case when you’re playing locally?
Johnnie Gilmore 11:01
Sure. Yeah. I used to have a residency in Korea Town at a place called Lock and Key every second and fourth Tuesday night, and I hope very much that we will continue to have this residency when when the virus has passed us. But that was kind of like a, it was really fun. I mean, it wasn’t, it was a cover gig, but it wasn’t like a karaoke night or something. Like we could do our own versions of the songs and just like, you know, improvise, and people would come sit in and, you know, we played like a lot of fun stuff you played like standards. We played Stevie Wonder. We played like Allen Stone. I mean, just kind of whatever we felt like doing. And it was just a blast. It was like we were getting paid to hang out. Some of that. I play regularly with an indie neo soul band called It’s Butter. We have a great time. they’re awesome. And then I do my solo stuff. Whenever I play with So Far Sounds I used to play at Universal City Walk. Before all this is before COVID, obviously, I toured with my solo show, I toured with as a sideman with a couple of different bands. And then, you know, the fill ins and the one offs and like the hey, you know, my friend’s friend’s drummer said that they’ve worked with you, and they need a bass player for a gig or whatever, you know.
Yeah. Well, while you’re, you really are so talented I, as as we started talking, and I realized that you’ve done or are doing you some of the same things that I have done. And, and I don’t play at your level I always, you know, I kind of joke in my writing that, you know, I’m an intermediate drummer at best, but largely a beginner in many regards, you know, depending on what we’re looking at, right? But I was just sitting here imagining god how does a guy like this, you know, get found, and I know, you know, I know a lot of it is just hard work, persistence, who-luck, those kind of things. And I know that you’re working towards that. So and I’m, I’m really hopeful it happens for you. Let’s talk about your latest album. Your EP right? I can call it an EP.
Johnnie Gilmore 12:59
EP is a good word. Yeah, by the way, you’re too kind. Thank you for the kind words.
Oh, dude, you’re amazing. So so When You Come, it came out October 2nd?
Johnnie Gilmore 13:10
When You Come Home, Yeah, October 2nd.
Johnnie Gilmore 13:12
Sorry about that. How’d I miss that.
Johnnie Gilmore 13:14
None of our brains work right after all this quarantining.
Yeah. And I’m kind of you know, I was trying to catch up on your, your work. You sat in my inbox for a while, and thank you for kind of pinging me back and I’m trying to go through I’m, I’m really lucky with the podcast lately, in that a lot of people are coming my way. And, you know, some of them I ask, you know, let them know I, I have a lot in the pipeline already. And some aren’t necessarily good right now, but they might be later. I’ll tell people that, but I listened to your stuff. I was like, Okay, I haven’t done anything other than maybe I’m forgetting Ari’s last name. I know, she knows who you are. Maybe you know who she is. It’s eluding me but female bass player, and she’s quite the virtuoso as well and has done
Johnnie Gilmore 13:56
Oh, Ari Cap.
Thank you. Yeah.
Johnnie Gilmore 13:59
Yeah man, she’s awesome.
Yeah, yeah, I think you know, her, her interesting thing right now is that she’s an online teacher, and she just really loves love’s loves that, you know, but when I listened to you, and the more I listened to you, I was like, Oh, this is kind of like, what Ari does in a way. And when you were talking about the characterization of your music, and then I’ll shut up and let you talk about your record, but I was thinking, you know, this is if I was going to describe you to somebody, in the short time been listening, I’d say, this is kind of like, almost like classical guitar, but he’s playing an electric bass in it. And then I’ve since noticed that you play just a wide range of stuff like the Insta covers, I was calling to myself, the Instagram covers and your original music, so it’s great. So yeah, tell me about. I’d love to know about the process of putting together the songs and recording of When You Come Home, and I’d love to hear a little comparison as a follow up to Salt Of The Earth, which you did in 2018, right?
Johnnie Gilmore 14:54
2018, Yes, sir.
Okay, so the mic is yours.
Johnnie Gilmore 14:57
Okay, great. Um, so you know, I’d actually had a plan. My plan for 2020, I had my first like, true national tour as a solo artist was booked for April and May. So we all know how that turned out. Just in time for me to book all the airfare and like, get my lodging together and everything. And then like, it was like a week before I was supposed to fly out, it all got canceled. It was a real bummer. [Yeah] I was gonna do that in the in the spring and then record in the fall. And so I had a couple of songs ready already that I thought, you know, could be like, maybe half of an album or like a little more than half of like another record. And then the virus came and everything shut down. And, you know, part of it is just that like, Okay, well, let’s flip it. Maybe I’ll record now and maybe tour in the fall. You know, obviously, that timeline didn’t work either. Yeah. Yeah. But it was, it was partly just about that, like, I have all this free time, I’m not gonna sit here like a bump on a log, I’m gonna do something. And then, you know, the worst, the news got in the worse this year has kind of been panning out, the more I started to really feel like there’s a place for music to fill this giant gaping hole that this stupid virus has left in our lives. Sure. And you know, I’ve obviously lost gigs and money and, you know, things that are dear to me personally from the virus. My mother’s parents also both died from the virus back in May. And just like,
Johnnie Gilmore 16:31
Yeah, the feeling of like, I still haven’t seen my mom since then. Because she’s back in Boston. And, you know, I was long expecting to play at the funeral when, whenever that did happen, and they were a very advanced age. So it wasn’t a surprise when they got sick that they, you know, we’re in a very bad state, but the virus was very cruel to them. But I always expected I would actually play at the funerals, like having to pre record a video and like send it in from LA, just like, it’s so unsatisfying, there’s no closure. And so I just felt like there’s really a place for music to come in and try to fill that gap to try to give us like some entertainment, some escapism, but also just the sense of, you know, we’re all in this together, we all feel this thing happening to us. And it’s kind of a cool equalizer in that sort of sense. And so I wanted to make a record to do that, something that’s like my sort of pee into the outside world. All the people in places that I’ve missed and a little bit of catharsis for us all going through, you know, this massive shitstorm swirling around us.
Yeah. Well, I gathered that it was personal to the degree that you were relating it to what’s going on. So that’s very nice. And thanks for sharing that about your family. And I’m sorry, you know, to hear that. And yeah, it’s so hard, such a weird time to try and deal with loss, as so many of us know. And so you worked with RMI records on this one, which was not what you did on the first one, right?
Johnnie Gilmore 18:08
They’re both RMI.
Okay, and how did you find yourself hooked up with those guys?
Johnnie Gilmore 18:13
Um, so I went to Wesleyan for College. And Noah Baerman was a wonderful piano player who founded the label. He was my mentor there, I studied with him for the better part of four years. [Okay.] And I actually sent him the, like, kind of rough mixes of Salt Of The Earth back in 2018, just to say, Hey, like, what do you think about this? Like, is this a good record? Is this cohesive? and he shot back with a couple of notes like, this is a little kind of Easter egg thing for people that listen, but Swamp House used to have a bunch of overdubs on it, it was like kind of million layers based sort of thing. He’s like, that’s a little weird, like you should, it should just be all solo, that would be a lot more cohesive, and like, okay. And then he had a note about the mixing something. And then he also said, if you want to really focus on my label, I’d be down to release it for you. And I’m like, Oh, yes, that’d be that’d be perfect. And then, you know, our mutual friend Dave Copperman, does like that album art, album designed for them, so he did my cover for that. And this record, he painted that [That’s nice.] of me, which is beautiful. And he did such a such a bang up job, not just because, you know, his pure skills, which are impressive enough. But I sent this to him and I’m like, Listen, you know, this is like a Corona catharsis record and all that but like, I did my whole spiel. But it’s like, I don’t want the cover to be like, sad bass man locked up inside who hasn’t seen the sun in six months. Like, I still like my life. I liked it more last year. It was more fun, but like, I’m still really lucky to have a place and be alive and to make music for my living. And also like, I do see the sun like I don’t want it to be like locked in the attic or something. [Yeah.] So he came up with this beautiful idea of like the abstract space with the sunlight streaming in and everything and it’s just a knockout.
That’s cool. Thanks for describing it, and I, it gives me something and listeners to you know, look at differently. It’s pretty it’s a pretty striking cover. I first saw it on Bandcamp. And and the landing page for the album, I think it’s one of the links that you provided me, it kind of covers a good bit of the page on my laptop. Right? So I guess it depends on how you’re viewing it. But it’s pretty striking. I like it, he did a nice job. And that’s cool that you had him to work with you on both records. How, um, I haven’t gotten to listen to either of them many times. But I definitely, you know, feel felt a difference in my initial run throughs. How? I mean, maybe it’s just the times we’re in, but is there anything else that drove you in what might be considered, at least in your own head, a new direction? I mean, kind of seems that way to me, you’re in a new direction, somewhat. So it was is there something else outside of what you just described?
Johnnie Gilmore 21:10
Yeah, well, Salt Of The Earth was basically like a demo. I mean, that’s kind of how I looked at it is like, I just want to make something that can like be on Spotify, something I can share with people and be like, I exist here I am, you know. [Yeah.] So you know, there isn’t really a lot that links those 11 tunes, other than just these are the 11 best songs I have right now. It’s fine. I mean, I think that record holds up for having been like, 22 when I made it like, Okay, well, I wasn’t bad for 22. But uh, [Not at all.] like, I mixed that one myself, because I didn’t, you know, have the funds to pay an engineer to do like a really good job with it. And I think it sounds fine. You know, someone else could have done a better job, but it’s okay. But with this one, it’s just a lot more mature, like part of it is I’ve gotten better. So I think I played this one better than the last one. I think the songs are better. I think as a songwriter, I’ve matured a lot from from the Salt Of The Earth days, I actually invested in a proper mix, so the sound is way better on this one than it was in the last one. And then, you know, there’s actually a kind of overarching thematic guide with this record, which I think makes it feel a lot more personal makes it hit home a lot harder. And it’s more focused, which I like to there isn’t any extra stuff in there that doesn’t needs, not that, I think there was with Salt Of The Earth necessarily, but it’s a very sprawling record. [Yeah.] You know, this one I think is an easy like, sit down and listen all the way through. For people who still do that, I think it’s really doable?
Yes, definitely. It is something you can kind of listen through even the first time and find interest from song to song, and probably I’m sure the EP aspect of it, you know, the shorter the lesser songs can help a little bit with that in some cases. Yeah, you mentioned that you mixed the first one yourself as well. That’s why I was thinking that RMI was something new for you. But you did a great job. And yeah, I definitely noticed. Oh, I know what I wouldn’t ask. You mentioned the theme, thematic aspect of this one. Did that? Was that something you planned? And I’m asking for personal reasons. Because as I think about trying to do an EP, at you know, having just recorded the first thing I’ve ever recorded, that was my own. And I already have my thoughts for a second piece. And I’m like, is this gonna sound so different from the other one, and as you talk about being thematic? I wonder, well, for me, could that just sort of happen when the songs are done, and I can, as a lyricist. I was listening to a friends record the other day, who spent a lot of time playing folk, but she, I found out I’m going to talk to her again. I talked to her a couple years ago I think now, but she’s a bass player, and a fiddle player. And she’s a singer. But she was playing folk, she told me because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do. But now she’s playing rock. And so I’m listening to this, but for her as a songwriter. And I attribute it to the fact that she was playing folk so much and writing those types of songs, that she’s a storyteller. And so, yes, I’m telling a story in my song, but I’m a little bit, I really, probably my primary love is rock music. And so I kind of come from this era where the story has a lot, a lot of interpretation that can be put into it. So they’re just glimpses into the story. So for me, I see being thematic as challenging. I don’t know how necessary it is, but how does it work for you?
Johnnie Gilmore 24:38
Yeah, well, it was kind of a mixture of planned and unplanned. I mean, at first, I recorded this back in like, April or May. So there was still a lot of 2020 left to get through that we didn’t know was coming. And actually the tunes that I put on this were you know, things I was going to put on, you know, the full length record that I was theoreticall going to record in the fall anyway. But they just they made sense to me because they were about people in places that I was missing in quarantine. Vineyard Roads, I just I knew when I wrote that it was a traveling song. And I couldn’t think of a title to save my life. So I just posted a little clip on Instagram and said, Hey, people, if anybody has a title, I’d be deeply in your debt. And somebody I found from my Boston busking days suggested that, and I just love the title like to think of driving around Martha’s Vineyard, it just kind of reminds me of home now when I play it. So there’s that. Wishing Well I wrote about a girl that I realized after a few days was friendzoning me. And we are still very good friends. Yeah. So I miss her. She’s a very cool cat. Cabin Fever, self explanatory. You know that one, that’s the song that really came together in lockdown. That’s like the newest of the new stuff. And it just it sounds to me like a, you know, caged animal, like rattling the cage door, like wanting to get out. When You Wish Upon A Star, I mean, I love that song. And I’ve been playing it since I was in college. But it’s never hit harder than now, I’ve never wanted the spirit of that song to be more true than I do now. And then When You Come Home was about another friend who moved to New York City from LA. So it just like these all felt like songs about the outside world, about people that are not here in this studio apartment with me. And so it just felt appropriate. And then, as things got worse and worse, it really took on like an extra significance, like you know, this is we’re not going to be in lockdown for a month or two. And we’re not going to lose a few people to this virus, we’re going to be locked down for a year, and we’re going to lose a lot of people to this thing, and a lot of people are going to be hurting. So it was always the idea to make, you know, a record sort of about like wanting to cathartically break quarantine, but the significance of it took on some extra layers. Once you know we’re in like the mixing stage and doing the cover art and like the world is just burning all around us. Yeah. So it was a bit of, a bit of, you know, circumstances collaborating with the concept. And then partly like, yeah, there was a vision going into it.
Yeah. And I guess it’s just the the outcome of your emotions that you’ve been going through, which is nice. I think that’s a, it sounds seems like from what I know about writing songs, that that is a great thing to rely on, for sure.
Johnnie Gilmore 27:37
So you mentioned busk, your busking days. Excuse me. I caught in your bio that you did some street performing. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, you’re perfect for that. Right. Or we’re I don’t know if you still are just internally, but I spoke with the street performer. For the first time in the last couple of months. He we met because I was doing an article for Forbes.com on collaboration apps. And he is using one called Trackd. And he really likes recording, but he travels constantly. And he released a bunch of stuff he recorded using the app, by and large, on Spotify recently. And he’s really good. He’s, uh, he calls himself a blues fusionist and master looper. And, but I saw that you were doing that. Do you still do it? And do you have any reflections on your past experience with it that you might, wouldn’t mind sharing?
Johnnie Gilmore 28:34
Oh, it was crazy. It was the hardest game show business really, I really believe that. I was still playing at Universal Citywalk out here when the virus came, which is it kind of isn’t isn’t but it’s like the five star hotel version of busking up there, like it’s private property so they can book you ahead of time and like, schedule in advance. And there’s security everywhere. I mean, the first time I was up there, it felt like, you know, an episode of 24 or something, like the bomb sniffing dogs and like, there’s like three different breeds of like uniform security and like law enforcement up there. There’s all kinds of stuff. Cameras everywhere. So when they were they were like setting me up, like, here’s your spot, here’s where you play and they’re like, by the way, there’s a camera right there? There is a camera right there? There is a camera right there. If anybody takes your money, they will be on the ground in like a minute and we’ll have it all back for you like so. Totally different.
Where was this?
Johnnie Gilmore 29:33
Universal Citywalk. [Okay] Universal Studios, Hollywood. Okay, so it also tipped way better than like real busking. Like, cause every like, what is it ticket to Universal Studios, Hollywood cost? Like, you know, 100 bucks? There’s, I mean, you know, who can afford to do that? These people have money, you know, and they’re okay with just like throwing it at the musicians. [Yeah.] So it was a performance program and I made connections out there I met like famous people playing up there. I met Thunder Cat at City Walk, and that like the whole backing band for Rascal Flatts, I used to play right outside of a kind of sushi place. And I noticed there was like a table of these four dudes, and they were watching and I’m like, hey, okay, cool. And one of them comes over and gives me a tip. And he says, you know, like, there’s kind of, it’s always funny how sometimes people like the most common conversation I think you have as a street performer is the oh do you play? And they’ll say Oh, I used to play like when I was in college, but you know, nothing like this and haven’t touched it years, like, whatever. And then it’s like, okay, you give me your money. In exchange, you get to live vicariously through me for a few minutes. That’s cool, you know. But this guy comes over and he’s like, God, I love your like, your chord voicings, and you’ve got all these fourths and nineths in it and it’s like your textures are so like. He sounded way too educated about music just be like some guy that you play as a hobbyist. Yeah. And I’m like, so you must play, you clearly know what you’re talking about. And he’s like, Oh, yeah, that’s we’re the entire Rascal Flatts right over there. I was like what? There’s been a couple of those where it’s like, Oh, nevermind, like my dynamic of like I’m the musician and you’re the hobbyist is like totally flipped, like, you’re this like super all world pro, you know. So and it was a great program, just in general, I had a lot of fun playing up there. But…
That’s really cool.
Johnnie Gilmore 31:24
But street performing is like the best, like skin thickening exercise you can have, because, you know, I’ve had days out there where like I was in. I was busking in Copley Square in Boston a few years ago. And I got a tip from a woman who was a bass player, so that’s perfect. But she said that she’d suffered a concussion about 10 months prior. And listening to me was the first time she’d been able to listen to music without getting a headache. [Oh, wow.] And yeah, right. like, Okay, I’m gonna be thinking about this for, you know, the rest of my life. I was on Newbury Street out there a while ago, and some dude was like, super into the music. He’s like dancing, having a great time, he flips me a big tip, like a 50 or something. And he’s just on the spot. He’s like, how would you like to tour India, like, you can come to my place and stay in my house with my guests. And I’ll set up on gigs and clinics for you. And I was like, You know what, here’s my business card, hit me up, let’s do that. And, you know, he never got back to me. But like, you just have those moments where people are total strangers who have somewhere they’re trying to go, and they stop on sidewalk and listen to you play and flip you a tip. And like, I’ve made lifelong friends. And, you know, really dear, like collaborators. I’ve even dated a woman I met busking once, like, there’s been some really crazy, like, awesome stuff that’s happened. And then I’ve had my days where, like, when I first got to LA, I didn’t really know anybody. So I was mostly busking to make my living. And then the more my network grew, the less I had to do that, which is very nice. But I was on the Third Street promenade in Santa Monica playing in front of the Apple Store. And a homeless woman smashed a laptop in front of the store. And she started yelling a really obscene phrase over and over again, stripped naked, and started peeing on what was left of the laptop.
Oh, my goodness.
Johnnie Gilmore 33:25
And it’s and people were like, gathered around with their phones. I mean, there was a really like, there was a Freudian psychoanalysis bit in there about like, the lack of empathy, that people are just like, oh my god, I gotta get a video of this, you know, this woman is in obvious distress and society has failed her. But anyway, I was like, I don’t want any part of this. I don’t want to be in these videos. I want to be here right now. Well, uh, you know, I had this was back in Boston, but I was in the subway. And it was it was the Downtown Crossing subway station, which is not like the cleanest subway station, you know. I mean, not that any of them are, but it’s a you know, kind of a sketchy neighborhood? I probably shouldn’t have been there. But there’s a lot of foot traffic. [Yeah] I was I was busking and an NBTA police officer said, Hey, listen, you shouldn’t leave the money out like that. You could get robbed. And I said, Well, I appreciate your concern, but that’s kind of how busking works. Like, I have to leave money out. People won’t type me, so I’m good. Thanks, though. And he said, Well, okay, if you do get robbed, I will not protect you and he just walked off.
Johnnie Gilmore 34:37
I know. Right? Like, isn’t that your job?
I warned you.
Johnnie Gilmore 34:41
I mean, you don’t have to like stand up post or anything but I see are you really like, play like some heady grudge with me right now.
Johnnie Gilmore 34:51
So yeah, I I got rained on I got snowed on I got colds, I you know, there’s a lot of ups and a lot of downs with that gig. And you just keep going. So crazy, crazy experiences, but it’s been a blast. And it was the right place for me to be at that time, I wasn’t confident enough and didn’t have enough repertoire to be like booking shows and making records and like kind of really doing the thing.
Johnnie Gilmore 35:15
So that was kind of like the training wheels, I guess.
That’s good to know. Yeah, it’s really interesting. All right, let’s wrap up on what you think. Or maybe, you know, I’m saying I started with what you think because everything seems so up in the air at the moment, but maybe it’s not really. What what what are your plans in the coming months or into next year?
Johnnie Gilmore 35:35
Yeah, it is really up in the air isn’t it?
Feels that way for me.
Johnnie Gilmore 35:39
Yeah, I’ve been keeping a close eye on So Far Sounds and Broadway. Because to me, those feel like the, you know, like the crowd sizes are relatively smaller, social distancing should be easier. There’s also like, at least theoretically, a lot of money behind those two like sides of the music industry. And you’re not talking about like, crowds of many, many 1000s of people. And you’re only talking about like a handful of artists in each city or whatever. So I’ve always felt like the sooner those come back, the sooner everything else can stand to come back. And they keep especially with Broadway, they keep pushing the deadline back further and further. Like at first it was we’re going to be shut down until June. And then they were shut down until September. And then it was January now it’s like next September. And so and So Far Sound just laid off a bunch of city directors. So you know, that’s not coming back anytime soon. So I really don’t know. Certainly still be taking requests on Instagram. I’ve been doing some live stream shows from my apartment, which have been fun. not as fun as having people in the room. But it’s been enough to scratch the itch. I will be voting on November 3, we all should be or sooner. Or sooner. Yeah. You know, I think the gameplan for now is just to hang tight, as long as possible. And just hope that this, this nightmare is passed us as soon as we can. As soon as we can get it passed us.
Yeah. Well, I hope that Instagram continues to be kind to you. And I love your music. I hope. Yeah, I hope this helps a few more people find you and appreciate you and maybe a little add a little bit of the who-luck to your life and someone else comes around. And more than that. I hope that we stay connected. You’ll definitely hear from me, again, because we’ll have this coming out in some weeks ahead. So yeah, thanks again for spending time with me, man. I really appreciate it Johnnie.
Johnnie Gilmore 37:36
I appreciate you man. Thanks for having me on. And congrats on the EP coming up. I look forward to hearing it.
Well thank you. I’ll share that share the song. I have no idea like when I’ll get the whole thing done. But you know, it’s a it’s a learning process for me. So thank you.
Johnnie Gilmore 37:49
For us all indeed.
All right. Cheers, man.
Johnnie Gilmore 37:51
Alright, be well.
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