Published on August 8th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann0
The Punch List with Songwriter/Bandleader Conor Donohue
Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, indie songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Conor Donohue responds to the list.
1. What is your favorite local hang and why?
“Probably the Elliotborough Mini Bar [at 18-A Percy Street]. Anna Faenza’s got an intimate spot over there with a great staff. I started playing at the Mini Bar in March through Nick Jenkins’ recommendation. Since the bar is so small and I don’t plug anything in, it’s fun trying to find a balance between not getting completely drowned out on the packed nights and not being too loud and overbearing on the nights that there are two people in the place.”
2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…
“When you get bombarded with shots after? Also, after you’re done playing, you’re excited for the next one because there’s something new you want to try.”
3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?
“In October, I saw Bill Carson, Johnny Gray, and Nathan Koci play at O’Hara & Flynn. Ron Wiltrout joined toward the end of the night, and they did Garage Cuban Band songs. I left to travel the following week, and the spontaneity, intimacy, and talent in that room stuck with me for weeks.”
4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.
“I’ve seen rain turn into snow then back to rain.”
5. What’s your theme song? And why?
“’Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’ by Paul Simon. Even in his happiest songs, he has this underlying melancholy that takes hold of you. My parents always played Simon & Garfunkel when I was growing up, but I started digging into Paul Simon’s solo work when I was about 22, after reading a great interview in this book Songwriter’s On Songwriting by Paul Zollo.”
6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?
“Can’t say I’ve found that yet.”
7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection? And why?
“Definitely Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs. I’m always digging deeper into that album, because there’s always more magic to find. Rain Dogs isn’t an easy album to get into. But typically, the best albums are the ones you have to work at to get into. I kept on getting drawn back to that record until I was in love with everything about it. He’s at his peak lyrically, the sounds, vibe, and instrumentation are completely unique, and Marc Ribot and Keef just kill it.”
8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck? How so?
“I peed next to Paul Scheer [Human Giant, The League] in a restaurant in my hometown on Long Island, N.Y. on Christmas Eve, 2011. I wasn’t necessarily star-struck, but I did take my time washing my hands so I could wait and tell him that I was a fan.”
9. What’s your poison?
“A good bump of cayenne pepper … helps clear the sinuses. Or Fernet Branca.”
10. In 10 years, I will be…
“Still writing songs.”
A young songsmith with an innocent-sounding delivery, a penchant for swingin’ rhythms, and curious amp guitar and keyboard tones, Conor Donohue recently rolled through his college years at the College of Charleston. He often performs around town with members of Faces for Radio and the Jazz Artists of Charleston.
In the spring of 2012, Donohue independently released a full-length studio album titled Sway. Recorded with assistance from producer Joel T. Hamilton (of Mechanical River, Boring Portals), and mixed with Josh Kaler (of Slow Runner, Olu Olu) at Hello Telescope studio, the guitar-driven tracks included guest performance by bassist William Moore, keyboardists Gerald Gregory and Nick Jenkins, guitarists Tyler Ross and Micah Nichols, sax player Simon Harding, and drummers Jack Burg, Stuart White, and Ron Wiltrout. Guest vocalists on Sway include Nicole Pontón, Elise Testone, and Lindsay Holler.
Donohue will perform solo at the Elliotborough Mini Bar on Tues. Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. He and his backing combo the Wet Bandits (with White on drums and Jenkins on bass) will share the stage with Post Cobra and Jean Jacket at the Tin Roof on Mon. Aug. 19 at 9 p.m.
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