Greg Dayton has become sort of a fixture in Hunter and Tannersville – organizing shows at the Catskill Mountain Foundation, playing in the Orpheum and Last Chance Cheese – and in spite of all that, he’s managed to record and release a solo album! Check out his music, then check out this interview, then buy your tickets for Common Ground on the Mountain in January. Fun fact: a portion of this interview was started a year ago! (that’s how busy the man is)
What was the first instrument you learned to play, and what was the first song you learned?
I started piano lessons when I was 7. I don’t remember any of the very first songs but after a couple years I remember my favorite song to play was a simplified version of The Entertainer by Joplin. My teacher didn’t know anything about rock so I switched to guitar when I was 12.
What do you like performing better, covers or originals?
I love doing both originals and covers, but my main focus now in terms of working on things is original music. I finished my first solo album, which I’ve been in the studio recording little by little since March 2015. Each tune completed is really satisfying.
Are gigs better in larger or smaller venues?
Gigs are best in places where the sound is good, which can be easier in smaller places. I love playing at the Orpheum and the Triad in New York which holds about 120 people.Tavern gigs like Last Chance are fun where it is more informal and there is a lot of direct contact with the audience while you are playing.
What does music mean to you?
Music is my way of connecting with myself and with others.
Do you think there’s a better way of connecting than music? Why do you choose music over something like poetry, or if you’re really going for connection, why not be a talk show host?
I didn’t say it was the necessarily best way to connect, but music is one vehicle of communicating feelings and situations people can relate to. You write songs so people can hear them and hopefully be moved. Everyone is drawn to different mediums as a way of expressing themselves. I have always been most drawn to and moved by certain kinds of music. It grounds me somehow.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Definitely finishing my debut solo album Lonesome Road.
How long did it take you to finish Lonesome Road, and what’s your favorite song from it?
The album took me over a year to record but the writing process for this album started about 4 years ago. My favorite song keeps shifting and they all occupy a different space for me, but my favorite ones to play with my band are “Coming to You” and “Slipping Away.” I just love the grooves. I also like “Open the Door” because it’s the newest on there.
What is your biggest inspiration?
On the guitar side of me it’s all the blues greats. On the songwriting side the list is also long but Dylan probably figures highest. His catalog is so immense.
What makes this Common Ground concert so special?
Having the legendary Aztec Two Step will be really special. Walt is amazing on that hammer dulcimer. I don’t even understand how he can tune it. I also love it when Louie works with Linda’s choir. All the musicians are so great and it’s such a unique experience every time we get them all together on the Orpheum stage. It’s always different and fresh.