Singer/guitarist Pat Guadagno recently released his new album, 1964, a stirring homage to some of the artists who helped him discover and keep his passion.
Pat Guadagno’s long career has made him a folk legend, both in culture and musical style, known for his rousing and spot-on performance style and his unique interpretations of other artists’ work. Part of the musical fabric of the historic Jersey Shore, Guadagno is well-recognized internationally by guitar magazines for his almost supernatural and mistake-free guitar technique.
His music was featured in Showtime’s award-winning Californication and films like Warrior Road. The musical director on METV’s Big Variety Show has released six albums wherein he collaborated with jazz legend John Tropea and Grammy award winner Keb Mo’, headlined festivals from Toronto, Canada to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and performed Our National Anthem at Major League football and baseball stadiums across the US.
Tattoo.com caught up with Pat Guadagno to discover more about his unique interpretations and his recording process.
What inspired your album ‘1964?’
Innocence, adventure, romance, and puberty converged at a tumultuous time when nothing made sense. The music of that period provided a universal salve that didn’t need to make sense.
Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the album.
I made a conscious effort to enjoy the process with the same ears I first enjoyed the songs. We listened differently back then and saw things with eyes closed that could never be captured in the video age.
How did you get started in music?
When my balsa wood pinewood derby car crashed, just before the annual Pack Meeting, I called on my neighborhood drummer and sax player and we introduced Rock ‘n Roll to an unsuspecting audience of Cub Scouts. I heard applause for the first time and got hooked.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
When I heard Jose’ Feliciano and Richie Havens perform their versions of other artists’ work, I recognized it as a vital, acceptable art form. A personal, lifelong struggle continues to make this a respected form of creativity.
How do you keep your sound fresh, and avoid falling into the trap of imitating either yourself or others?
When performing other artists’ music, it is a constant struggle to ‘trust your stuff’ and not imitate. When a songwriter trusts you with their work there is a little added pressure not to stray too far. I try not to ‘change’ songs gratuitously, and deliver them with the same passion the writer felt when he/she wrote it.
Are there any special recording techniques you use in the studio?
I use a Shure Beta 58 for vocals, which baffles studio engineers who have thousand-dollar mics at their disposal. It has been a part of my live performances for so long that it’s become a comfortable instrument for me, and it always delivers.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
Shortly after giving up on the dream of playing shortstop for the NY Yankees, I heard ‘Freedom just another word for nothing left to lose’ which inspired me to give up the dream of becoming a songwriter.
What can you share about your creative process?
My creative process involves finding words I love and putting them to chords I’m comfortable fingering, with a reverent nod to their original form. I admire and respect the art and wisdom of the songwriter and try and deliver their work in my voice.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
Jason Isbell, Laney Wilson, The Mavericks.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
I used to refer to my club gigs as ‘painting houses’ and my theater shows as ‘painting pictures.’ I’ll be ‘Painting Pictures’ at Bell Works in Holmdel NJ on September 10, paying tribute to Hank Williams on what would be his 100th Birthday. And The Vogel in Red Bank on November 4th The Heart of Saturday Night – the Music of Tom Waits. Then it’s off to Key West for the winter.