Rob Baird (www.robbairdmusic.com) says growing up in Memphis, a city suffused with music, it was impossible not to pick up the guitar as a kid. And later, pilfering his sister’s record collection, Tom Petty and band’s “don’t bore us get to the chorus” approach to song structure, melded with Baird’s affinity for darker-themed lyrics of Texas writers like Chris Knight and other legends. On his debut Blue-Eyed Angels out August 31st (Carnival Recording Company), the 23 year-old brings those influences to bear, most notably on the title track, a tale about the emptiness of the world’s oldest profession, made lighter with a chorus that jingles. Baird has been touring the southeast and his current home of Texas for the last few years. He caught the ear of Carnival’s Frank Liddell (who helped bring Knight, Miranda Lambert, Bruce Robison and others to the public) and stepped into the studio with producer Scott Davis. “Could’ve Been My Baby,” a current hit on Texas radio and the first one he wrote for the album, could be the template for the rest of the record. “It’s hateful but happy, and dark in a major key,” says Baird.
Baird is touring Texas all summer, including dates in Dallas, Austin, Lubbock, San Antonio and will tour the southeast and beyond around the album release. He recently answered 10 questions for me.
Who are your songwriting influences?
I am strongly influenced by Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Tift Merrit, Kathleen Edwards, and Lyle Lovett. I really enjoy artists that have developed their own sound and continue to evolve over the course of their careers.
When and where was your first public performance?
My first public performance was at a venue in Fort Worth called the Aardvark. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and for the first time I realized I could definitely do this for a living.
What was the first record or cd you purchased with your own money?
I think it was The Wallflowers’ Bringing Down The Horse. To this day, it is still one of my favorite records.
What was the first live concert you attended?
I somehow talked my father into dropping my off at a David Alan Coe concert in my hometown of Memphis, TN when I was 12. It was definitely “cultural experience,” and I certainly saw a few things I have never seen before.
Which venue would you most like to play that you haven’t yet/ and which is your favorite venue to play?
I have been to some fantastic shows at the Paramount Theater here in Austin, and I would absolutely love to play that room. The sound, atmosphere, and overall vibe are incredible.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given, and by whom?
I’ve received a lot of great advice from a lot of great people, and I’ve tried to take it all to heart. But it seems that the best advice always comes from my father. He’s level headed and has my best interests and heart.
Who are you listening to now?
I just got the new Kathleen Edwards record Voyageur, as well the new Lincoln Durham record The Shovel VS. Howling Bones.
What is your best story about life on the road?
We had just wrapped up a show in Nashville, and had gone out to dinner with the guys. While we were waiting for a table, this lady at the bar next to me asked if we were in a band. When I turned around to answer her question, I immediately recognized her–it was Jesse Colter. She was as nice as nice could be, and talked to me and the guys for quite a while about her son (Shooter Jennings) and her wonderful husband (Waylon Jennings) that I love and admire dearly.
What recordings are available to the public and where can they be purchased?
We have our first record Blue Eyed Angels available for purchase on iTunes as well as two new tunes that were released in October of 2011. Our new record, I Swear its the Truth will be released May 22nd of this year.
When and where are you playing next?
We have two dates in this area coming up, March 3 at the River Road Icehouse, and March 14 at Peckerheads in Austin during SXSW. Then we’re headed to the Glass Cactus in Grapevine, Texas on March 15th and to Fort Worth to play the Magnolia Motor Lounge on the 16th.