“On some back road to Mississippi” is where I had the most recent conversation with Grayson Capps.

Somewhere in the middle of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the end of the world, Capps shared another comforting dose of wisdom and humor for my Music Matters column in the Pensacola News Journal.

My subject was “inspiration.” His gift in return was pure Grayson Capps.

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-Full interview with Grayson Capps-

GC: If I go…I’m on some back road in Mississippi right now, so if I fade out, I’ll call you back or just see how it goes.

MS: No worries. How was your Thanksgiving?

GC: It was good. It was low key and good and that was about it. Harmless.

MS: I’ve got to ask you; did you play at all? Because, you always play; I cannot imagine you not having that guitar with you at that table.

GC: (laughs) No, no. We can’t eat and preach at the same time. Or you can, I guess.

MS: Who have been the most inspirational people in your career?

GC: As far as people I know or just in general?

MS: I guess, in general. The most powerful, or not powerful as in status, but on an emotional level.

GC: Well, my dad has always been very supportive of everything and also introduced me to stuff that continues to inspire me. He’s like a vessel through which inspiration comes. I don’t know, I keep…there’s great players like Doc Watson who I’m always in awe of; humble and precise his is. Clean, just like honest music. But then there’s still people like Woody Guthrie who inspire me just because of the simplicity of three chords and the truth and how powerful they continue to be. John Prine songs will outlive Britney Spears songs. There’s a guy named Fred Stokes. Early on…I’m making this too thought out. When I was a kid, there was guy named Fred Stokes, used to come around the house and I just remember that “Doom, Dicky, Doom, Dicky” sound of the guitar, you know the old Martin guitar with a low voice and just that, hitting that low string and strummin’ it. Beautiful, that sound. My inspirations weren’t  like Yngwie Malmsteem. More like Hank Williams induced (laughs)

MS: What music do you listen to now?

GC: Man, I listen to all kinds of stuff. I just got finished listening to Peter Gabriel’s “So”. The one with all the hits on it. Forgot how damn good that is.

MS: “Big Time”

GC: Yeah, “Big Time” and “Red Rain”, “Sledgehammer” stuff like that. But you know, I go from that to, I’ve got a compilation of roots of the blues compilations from the early 1900’s. I actually pulled CDs right out to tell you what’s going on. Then I’ve got “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.” Where Open G slide tuning came from. Then I’ve got Leon Redbone’s Christmas record. Then Merle Haggard’s Greatest Hits. That kind of gives you an idea of how far in the (static breaks the line) I am. Got Bob Dylan’s new CD right here and Rolling Stones, “Let It Bleed”, “Beggar’s Banquet”, re-mastered Stones stuff. That’s typically how I grew up, one minute I’m listening to Tom T. Hall and next minute I’m listening to Eartha Kitt, you know.

MS: Do you ever listen to your own music?

GC: I listen to it when I’m making it. You talking about CD’s?

MS: Yes.

GC: I listen to it so intensely and so much in the process of making it that I hardly ever listen to it after that. Because making it, you’re going through minutiae; “Is it mastered right? Too much treble?” And then when you’re recording it, you practice so much and then want to get the best possible version you can get at that moment down, but it messes me up because I like to keep them alive so I don’t listen to that stuff too much because live they’re different now than they…I can’t try to do recording over and over again, they bore me to death.

MS: Not only do you play a lot of shows, but you play a lot of shows for socially conscious groups and organizations. Was there a point in your life when you decided to use your music as that type of vehicle to help others?

GC: No. I came into music kind of backwards; I did exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Musically because I wasn’t making a living at it most of my life, I was doing landscaping. I would work and then on the weekends (phone crumbles and Capps voice cuts in and out) You still there?

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MS: I’m still here, Grayson. Just a little crackle and a little hiss.

GC: Music to me is more an education and less entertainment. I’m not like a dance…not going to do all the dance or anything like that. I like it when people dance to music, but mostly, I want people to listen and I think music is for healing and spiritual growth for everybody concerned and that’s seems to be the biggest motivation for me.

MS: Is there any piece of art, or a movie, or a book, or any music that stood out in your mind for this year 2012?

GC: There’s a movie that’s called “The Band’s Visit” (extended silence. No crackle or hiss. Just silence) and It’s a foreign film and that’s was one of my favorite movies. Although I just saw…just came out…aw man, it’s like this children’s film. Since I have kids, I saw a film called “Brave” early on and that was an awesome film.

MS: With the young lady, the bow and arrow…

GC: Yeah, that was inspirational and then I just saw another one called “Rise of the Guardians” which was Jack Frost, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman all pool together against Nightmare.

MS: That sounds awesome.

GC: It’s cool man. Nightmare is coming over the land spreading fear and dark thoughts and then…anyway, it’s a brilliant movie.

MS: This time last year, I asked you what you were looking forward to in 2012 and you replied to see if the Mayans were correct.

GC: Yeah. Well I am. We’re doing an End of the World party at Pirate’s Cove, so I’m already prepared. We’re also doing “We Survived the End of the World” at Callahan’s that Sunday.

MS: Well, we’re almost through, but if-I’m pretty sure we will. I’m hoping we do-if we make it through, what are you looking forward to this Christmas, New Years, and 2013?

GC: Whether it’s true or not, I’d like to think it’s true, but I don’t think the end of the world is coming, but I think we’re in the middle of a transition of. According to a lot of stuff I’ve read, we’re on the verge of one of the most peaceful times that man has ever experienced on the planet and I’m looking forward to the truth and simplicity being the high life over confusion and too much useless information. Mostly I’m looking forward to my daughter visiting for Christmas.

MS: Awesome. Grayson, I have one last question for you; is there anything you want the fans and readers to know about you or your concert next week at Vinyl Music Hall?

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GC: It’s going to be me and Corky. Last time we were there, it was more raucous with the band so I would come to experience the songs for how they were originally. Not as entertainment, but as an experience. Shared experience.

– Michael L. Smith

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