Country, folk, and Southern singer-songwriter Jason Salzer is interviewed about his influences, advice he’s been given, favorite places to perform, and much more.
What first got you into music?
I’ve been a fan of music for as long as I can remember. I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 10 years old, and some of my fondest childhood memories are of writing songs and performing. I grew up listening to the radio, back in the day when if you wanted to hear your favorite song and didn’t own the album, you had to patiently wait for it be played over the airwaves. My uncle was also an influence on my early music. He was a singer/songwriter and I thought that was the coolest thing. I would see him on stage making music and it showed me that it was possible.
Who are some of your influences?
I have a wide variety of musical influences. As I mentioned, I was influenced by my uncle early on. He was always someone I could look to for guidance and seek advice from. He helped me better understand the art of songwriting. I really do love all genres of music. In fact, I grew up listening to rock and roll, Motown, hip-hop, country, Prince, Beastie Boys, Son Volt, James Taylor and countless others. I was a sponge as a kid. Music was my escape was always a focal point when my friends and I were hanging out.
What draws you to your preferred genre?
I’ve typically tried to write songs that reflected the project or band I was working with at the time. I’ve played in rock and roll bands, country duos, southern rock bands, college party bands, etc. When I was in the sixth grade, I wrote a rap song that I entered into a contest for the Just Say No campaign, somehow won the contest, and my buddy and I got to skip school and go to Nashville to perform it. It was awesome. Nowadays, I am in a laid back, Americana chill mode with my acoustic guitar, singing songs about life, love and the inspiration I find living in the coastal low-country.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve been given is to be patient. But, unfortunately for me, I’ve never been able to heed that advice.
I wanted to share some of my new material, so I talked my way on to the Savannah Songwriter Series stage, which at the time was at the old Johnny Harris restaurant
How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?
When I moved here from Nashville, where I “chased the dream” for over a decade, I didn’t think a whole lot about playing music in Savannah. However, I did continue to write songs because that is just what I do. I wanted to share some of my new material, so I talked my way on to the Savannah Songwriter Series stage, which at the time was at the old Johnny Harris restaurant. I made some friends there who encouraged me to continue to play out, and I quickly realized the abundance of opportunities in Savannah to play music. I began to play out maybe once a month, which turned into two or three times a month, which turned into once a week, which eventually became playing multiple times a week at some of the coolest spots in Savannah. The people who book the venues are really great and I appreciate every opportunity I get to share my music.
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Do you have a personal favorite song that you’ve written and why?
As a songwriter, the song you are currently writing is usually the favorite. It is new, exciting and you are still trying to get to know it. My songs are like my children. Each one is my baby and it is really difficult to choose a favorite. For me, it really depends on the vibe and the mood I’m in, and my favorite song is usually a reflection of that.
Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with?
Savannah is home to many talented artists with a wide variety of sounds. There are many to choose from. He doesn’t know this, as I’ve only chatted with him a few times, but I’d really like to get together with Jason Bible and record an album in his Silver Buffalo Sound recording studio. Some great sounding songs have been created there. I’d like to take an old-school approach and make a record that sounds like 1963, with a stripped down production and emphasis on the story-telling aspect of the song, sort of like a Cowboy Jack Clement and Johnny Cash collaboration at Sun Studios in Memphis. Jason, if you read this, let’s do this!
Having so many great restaurants, bars, theaters and events in Savannah that support live music is critical
What are some of your favorite local places to play?
This is a tough question because I really enjoy sharing my music just about any place that will have me. I play several places around town consistently and wouldn’t want to leave any place out, but I really enjoy playing Plant Riverside District, the Tybee Post Theater, and many others. I will say there is one spot that I absolutely love to play and that is Fish Tales in Richmond Hill. They host live music on Thursdays during the warm months. They have a dedicated stage under a huge tiki hut, all set against the backdrop of the Ogeechee River and Fort McAllister Marina. It is a blast. What really makes it special though are the people who come out and really appreciate the music. I was so inspired that I wrote a song called Tiki Bar that I play exclusively at Fish Tales. It’s a hit!
Your thoughts on the state of the Savannah music scene …
The Savannah music scene has all of the elements needed to be successful; talented artists, people who love live music, and venues that support both. I really enjoy seeing some of the collaborations that artists put together like the John Prine shows, led by Matt Eckstine, or the Neil Young show led by Eric Britt. Savannah has some amazing instrumentalists like Jared Hall, Igor Fiksman, and many others who share their talents with other artists to help make them sound great. From what I can tell, the local music scene is very much a team effort with artists and performers working together. Sheena Verrett works hard to move forward the music scene. Chuck Courtenay has become a friend who offered some great insight early on. Chuck not only performs but books some venues as well, and it is that type of community that strengthens the local music scene. Having so many great restaurants, bars, theaters and events in Savannah that support live music is critical.
What’s next for you?
I’m not really sure what is next for me, but then again, I thrive on that type of mysterious unknown. I will definitely continue to write songs and hopefully collaborate with others (which I haven’t done as much as I’d like), continue to keep a full booking schedule, maybe even become known as the John Prine of the low-country?! My goal is at some point to definitely get in the studio and record. I’d love to do that. One thing is for sure, Lord willing, I will be sharing my music with folks as long as I’m blessed with the opportunity.