Musician Will Schmitt has teamed up with Iowa’s county conservation boards to present a series of free concerts throughout the state. Taking it’s name and inspiration from the Chautauqua festivals that dotted the rural American landscape for decades this Iowa native has decided to travel the state and bring music and inspiration to the people of Iowa. Check out the website, www.spiritofchautauqua.com for details on this ambitious project.
Join us July 9th at Narrows River Park in Council Bluffs and enjoy some free entertainment & free food as you take in the beauty of the Missouri River.
I got the chance to talk to Mr. Schmitt and learn a little about what inspired him to bring his Spirit of Chautauqua Tour to life.
How long have you been a working & touring musician?
I’ve been at this for 16 years, believe it or not! I got my start with a band I led in high school and by the time we graduated we had an album out and booked our first tour. We went on to play hundred of concerts around the country and release several albums. However, after a decade of playing loud music I figured it was time to soften my tone and I’ve been playing acoustic guitar based songs ever since.
Do you come from a musical background or family?
Photo by Christopher Briscoe
I do come from a musical family and my folks were very generous in offering me piano and violin lessons from a young age. As a teenager I found freedom through writing songs and picking out melodies on the guitar. It felt like the perfect form of artistic self expression and still does. Even though I often don’t know what notes I’m singing, I feel like those lessons early on contributed to my fascination with music and got me started on this path.
What are your musical inspirations?
I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Iowa based musicians such as Greg Brown and Dave Moore. I listened to their records growing up and my appreciation for what they do has increased with my years. They both lived around the world before returning to their Iowa roots and have made careers out of performing their reflective songs of natural beauty and human love. My songs touch on similar themes and after five years away, I have hopes to plant roots in a community somewhere in my home state.
What is your favorite song of all time (impossible I know!) and why does it move you?
My favorite song of all time is “Paradise” by John Prine. In this enchanting tale, he combines fond childhood memories with some of the harsh realities of the world we live in. In spite of the environmental destruction touched on by the song, there is a hopefulness that endures. There’s a lot of substance to his songs and he’s able to get a point across without being preachy. I admire that gift. You can hear my own take of this song here.
What kind of music can concert goers expect to hear at your performances?
My concerts are a family friendly affair and I weave familiar folk type songs with stories and songs of my own. Musically, my style is somewhere between Paul Simon and James Taylor.
For more information on Will Schmitt visit his website, www.williamborgschmitt.com. Make sure to check out the Video tab for some more of his amazing music.