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INSIGHTS: Igor Fiksman

Pedal steel guitars, an all-star Western Swing band, and much more

Photo by Valentin Sivyakov

Igor Fiksman is a talented pedal steel guitar player who’s been a member of several Savannah bands over the years. Fiksman is most recognized as part of Damon and the Shitkickers, but he also plays with Lyn Avenue when scheduling permits. Here, he talks about getting his start in the Savannah music scene, who he’s collaborated with over the years, and much more.

1. Who are some of your musical influences?

I’m influenced by a huge variety of music. Obviously old country greats like Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Faron Young. Amazing steel players from those years – Don Helms, Buddy Charlton, Ralph Mooney, Tom Brumley to name a few. But I’m a fan of every genre of music, any day my record rotation may include Ramones, Judas Priest, The Pogues, John Prine, Sergio Mendez, Sam Cooke, sometimes Tchaikovsky, Circle Jerks, Louis Armstrong and Elvis will all make an appearance within 20 minutes on my playlist.

2. How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I got started in Savannah Music scene working a door at a bar and trying to catch every single live band show that happened. Wasn’t hard in those days. I was graciously accepted by Savannah punk community shortly thereafter and was playing in my first Savannah band within a year.

3. Do you play any other instrument?

I play pedal steel guitar, traditional guitar, bass and some piano. I’m better at some than at others.

4. Have you been a member of any other Savannah or regional band?

Since moving here I was a member of Tank 18, Pinball Sex Machine, Mugshots, Whiskey Dick, Turkey Callers. Currently I play full time with Damon and the Shitkickers and Lyn Avenue when schedule permits.

5. How did you link up with Damon & the Shitkickers?

I was invited to sit in one time by the original drummer, because the lead guitar player was out of town. I set up my pedal steel, Damon called the key of the first song, and I’ve been with his band ever since – about 11 years now.

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6. What are some of your favorite Savannah and regional venues to perform in?

Jinx in Savannah is definitely our home base, I hang out there even when I’m not playing. New Victory North venue is showing some promise to become a major player here. Tipsy McSways in Brunswick is a really fun gig. They are all fun as long as people are listening.

7. Have you ever wanted to collaborate with any other Savannah artist or musician but never had the chance to?

I’ve been discussing the idea of forming an all-star Western Swing band with members of multiple Savannah country, jazz and bluegrass bands with Ricardo Ochoa for years. Somehow we are all just too busy to make it happen. Perhaps 2020 will be the year.

8. Do you write any original music, if so, ever thought bout putting your own band together or going solo?

I have written a few albums before, and currently have regular writing sessions with Damon and Anders. I have no ambition to have my own solo career. Having fronted a band reluctantly in the past, I am absolutely certain that my musical place is as a sideman. I prefer to use my musical skills to enhance other peoples artistic expression, not be the primary voice. That is where I have the most to offer.

9. What are your thoughts on the current state of the Savannah music scene?

Savannah music scene is the best it’s ever been. The amount of talented people playing music here is astonishing. I am humbled to be a part of such an amazing variety of great performers we get to call neighbors.

10. Do you have any upcoming projects, interests, or events you’d like to mention?

New Lyn Avenue EP “Sophisticated” that I had a pleasure to play on was just fully funded and we expect to see it out very soon. And Damon and the Shitkickers sophomore album is 80% written, we are hoping to get it recorded and released some time in 2020.

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