**NOTE** This episode was recorded in November 2019 and published on my other podcast, The Songwriters Podcast.

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with singer, songwriter, guitarists, storyteller, sailor and road warrior, Scott Kirby.

We talk about his long career as a musician, and where he goes for writing inspiration, and how a little bit of luck took him a long way.

More on Scott

Website: https://www.scottkirby.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scottkirbykeywest/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scottkirby.keywest

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, storyteller, sailor and road warrior are all words that aptly describe Scott Kirby. Writing songs for a new CD, performing 150 live shows a year throughout the US and Canada, and holding down the stage at his own club—Key West’s Smokin’ Tuna Saloon—keep the barnacles off this modern-day troubadour.

A creative lyricist and accomplished finger-style acoustic guitarist with an expressive voice, Kirby describes himself as a direct descendant of the ’70s singer/songwriter movement. His very first 45 was a Beatles record, and he came of musical age listening to James Taylor and other great songwriters of that era. He has never received any formal musical training but often credits Taylor with teaching him how to play the acoustic guitar. “If it weren’t for the hundreds of solitary hours in my room in Concord, New Hampshire, with a guitar and a James Taylor book, I never would have learned to play,” says Kirby. Speaking of New Hampshire and musical influences, let’s not forget fellow New Hampshire native Tom Rush who was taking the folk scene by storm in Kirby’s formative years. Coincidentally, Kirby connected with both of these artists in Key West 30 years later, which is a whole other story.

After a few years in high school bands and a stint in his early 20s as a bass guitarist with a group, Kirby drifted away from music and became immersed in a career in politics: managing campaigns, writing and producing radio and TV ads, and overseeing the office of a leader in the New Hampshire legislature. He was also guitarless for eight years! In 1988, however, after tiring of the political rat race and the length and severity of New England winters, he bought a new guitar, relentlessly practiced his chops, and planned his escape. Six months later Kirby was living in Key West and performing five nights a week on a balmy beach facing the Gulf of Mexico.

Kirby started writing songs after some inspirational late-night words from legendary songwriter Shel Silverstein and further encouragement from Peter Mayer, who had just joined the Coral Reefer Band. A year later he found himself recording his first CD, Too Damn Yankee, in Jimmy Buffett’s Shrimpboat Sound Studio with Peter and Jim Mayer and Roger Guth. “This was a very lucky break for me, but I was in a bit over my head,” says Kirby. “Peter, Jim and Roger were incredibly patient with me and it was a fantastic learning experience.”

Between 1993 and 2006, Kirby continued to write new material and recorded four more CDs with Key West producer/engineer Dan Simpson. In 2008 luck struck again when famed drummer/producer Russ Kunkel offered to produce Kirby’s Row Me Home CD at his studio in Los Angeles. “Next thing I know I’m cutting my songs in the Hollywood Hills with Russ, bassist Leland Sklar and guitarist Dean Parks and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world.”

Speaking of luck, Kirby’s wistful ballad “Lucky Enough” struck a chord with listeners on Sirius/XM Radio Margaritaville, which exposed his music to more markets around the country and led to his current touring schedule through 35 states each year. He continues to receive regular airplay on the station.

Kirby joined a group of friends in 2011 to open the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, a 200-seat bar and music venue in Key West where Kirby performs often in winter months. The Tuna is also host to the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. The festival is in its 20th year and has exploded into the largest event of its kind in the country, featuring more than 150 songwriters every year.

In 2013 Kirby released his seventh CD, Sol Searching, a collaboration with producer/engineer/musician Lew London. “Lew was great to work with as he’s so multi-talented,” says Kirby. “He performed for years with Steve Goodman and is such a fine songwriter in his own right that he really understands how to build a sound around acoustically based songs.”

Scott  Kirby’s latest CD, Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost, was recorded with and produced by Matt and Andy Thompson in their studio in Nashville and released in 2017.

When it comes to songwriting, Kirby respects authenticity and counts on everyday life and his coastal roots for much of his inspiration. “I don’t wake up every day thinking about writing the next commercial hit,” says Kirby. “Songwriting for me is about telling stories, expressing emotions, and commentary on things I may find funny or absurd.”

Over the years Kirby has shared the stage with some of his favorite artists: Carole King, Jimmy Buffett, Livingston Taylor, Tom Rush, Mac McAnally, Peter Mayer and others. When not on the road or performing in Key West, Kirby splits his time between Livingston, Montana, and the coast of New Hampshire where he can often be found sailing, a lifelong passion of this descendant of Newfoundland fishermen.

Yes, Scott Kirby is—as he readily admits—lucky enough.

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Key West local Nick Norman to talk about where he started, and where he is going.

We find out how he got started with music and how he is constantly working to “sharpen the sword” of his craft.

This is one of my favorite interviews so far because Nick is so easy to talk to and talks about his career as an open book. 

More on Nick Norman

Immediately recognizable, Nick is known for two distinctive gifts: his soulful voice and infectious smile. It’s hard to imagine that as a young boy he was told he would never be good enough to sing in the church’s youth ensemble in Columbia, South Carolina where he grew up. Today he is truly the man with a golden voice; a talented singer/songwriter who delights his audiences with soulful and inspirational performances. 

It was during his childhood when Nick first acquired his passion for music; his father played guitar, while his mother encouraged him to write. Attending Baptist church exposed him to the awe-inspiring power of the choir. “It was how I first learned that you can truly make people feel what you feel, by believing in what you are singing. They sang from their hearts and that is something I believe that cannot be faked.”

As a young man listening to South Carolina’s emerging musicians of the time, such as Edwin McCain and Hootie and the Blowfish, he was also drawing from the styles of legendary artists including Stevie Wonder and The Band. Inspired by an eclectic array of influences Nick created a sound all his own.

Branching out from his home state he performed on stages all over the southeast, eventually finding his way to the Southernmost City of Key West in 2006. As his solo acoustic shows were drawing crowds, Nick’s songwriting was steadily being fueled by the artistic vibe of the island blending with his native southern roots.  

In 2010,  Nick collaborated with longtime friends Jon Stone & Lee Brice resulting in the recording of his first studio album Hey Cheater. This heartfelt album gave fans a raw look into the personal hardships of Nick’s life by putting his heart on his sleeve in songs such as  “Libba Don’t Call” and “Varela St”. Quickly becoming a Key West anthem, “Good Whiskey” can be heard by local musicians throughout Key West on any given evening. 

He has performed his original music on stages across the country that include City Winery, The Filmore, Listening Room Nashville, Key West Theater, Rams Head, Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Melody Tent and Island Time Music Festival. He has opened for acts such as Lee Brice, Lee Ann Womack, Edwin McCain, The Wailers, and The Doobie Brothers and founded the highly sought after “Sunday Ramble” concert that features local Key West musicians.

Website: https://www.nicknormanmusic.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicknormanmusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicknormanmusic