IBG Interview – 11 Questions With… Bill Abernathy

Bill Abernathy

An artist must often open up his life in his music. These stories can really connect with the fans. We recently sat down with singer-songwriter Bill Abernathy who has become a master storyteller in his songs. Enjoy the interview here:

Tell us about your music and if you have any philosophy on life and songwriting?

BA: Life brings many opportunities and changes to each of us on a daily basis. How we choose to adapt and adjust to each of these defines who we are both as a person and as an artist. Sharing these stories is not only good for the storyteller but also could have a positive impact on the listeners. As my music and songs are based on different experiences I’ve had throughout my life, sharing these thoughts through music is a great way for me to tell these stories and share the lessons I have learned over the years. Music also gives us a venue to say things that are challenging to say. Jim Croce has a line that says: “Even though the time was right all the words just came out wrong, so I have to say I love you in a song”. For many of us that rings true. It’s easier and possibly more effective for me to express thoughts and emotions through music. And yes, I am a Jim Croce fan.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

There have been many. I have had an Album that charted for over a full year, as well as a song that reached #1. My music has been played all over the globe. Those are easy highlights to see. The highlights that are really important to me are when a fan tells me that one of my songs has touched them in a real and personal way. I have been fortunate to have my music reach lots of people and have received many testimonials about the impact it has had on their lives. That is really why we do this. To reach out and make someone’s day a little better if we can.

Your single “Cry Wolf” is doing really well on the radio charts.  Congrats! Tell us about the song, and why do you think it’s connected with music fans?

BA: Thank you. “Cry Wolf” is a statement about how 3 elements of our lives are really a bit crazy these days. Politics, Religion, Prejudices and how we use social media to advertise our thoughts and beliefs. Like the boy who cried wolf, we discuss these subjects so often in social media, (without a lot of validation by the way) to a point where no one really listens anymore. The tune is not about pointing fingers, or calling anyone out on their views, but rather to make us stop and think about the thoughts and information we share and if these are correct and add any value. Hopefully folks will think… “Am I Crying Wolf” before they propagate information on their social networks.

Any plans for a new single?

BA: With the success of Cry Wolf, we will be releasing a new single from our Crossing Willow Creek album very soon. We put 11 tunes on the project and are hoping several can get a little love out there. Which one is a mystery, but stay tuned… lol

Tell us about your current album, “Crossing Willow Creek.”  What’s the concept behind the title?

BA: Years ago, I released an album names Changes. This album was a purely acoustic project. The song from that project that got the most attention, air play and awards is named “Willow Creek”. The song talks about how my love for music started when I was young. We lived in a big old house with a creek running behind it I call Willow Creek. Crossing Willow Creek is a statement about moving forward from my comfort zone of acoustic work, and into more produced voicings and treatments of my music. Each of the tunes on Crossing Willow Creek are reproduced from that original project. We had lots of fun reproducing those tunes, and I really like the way the project tuned out. So, it turns out that moving out of my comfort zone and embracing new thoughts is a good thing. Who knew??  Lol

Do you have any touring plans and where would you like to play most?

BA: I have some shows booked that I am excited about. I prefer to play in listening rooms where the intent of the evening is focused on the music and the artist. I think this gives me a better opportunity to make real contact with the audience and reach them in a much more personal way. These shows range from larger halls to living room concerts. All are fun, and I enjoy each equally.

Spotify has become such an important tool for musicians.  Do you think that they compensate artists fairly for the product that they are making money from?

BA: The music business is what it is today. Of course, all of us would like to be compensated fairly for our work. I think over time this will happen with fair compensation awarded to the artists. That time is not today, but the business is ever changing, and I expect this to occur in the near future. There are ways to be financially awarded for your work however is a pretty saturated customer base these days. Find your audience and connect with them in a personal way. The old adage of building your base one fan at a time is still effective today and will always be.

Are you satisfied with the way the industry is today, vs. how it was maybe 20 years ago when there were more record labels, more physical product, and less artists recording?  Or do you like the direction the business is headed?

BA: Great Question. The industry is adapting to the needs of their customers. Today we like being able to get access to music 24/7 and instantaneously. That is a great thing. The diversity and quality of music today is really outstanding. Everyone can listen to music, decide if they like it, and purchase it immediately anywhere. Of course, you can also stream music from the various services anytime anywhere. The customer has changed, and we need to adapt. I do like that interest in Vinyl is increasing, for the folks that really enjoy the higher quality audio, this is a great thing.

When do you think you’ll release a follow up record to this album, and what will it be like?

BA: Actually, we are starting to work on the next project now. I won’t project what it may sound like, but I know we will have fun writing and recording it.

You’re a huge Dan Fogelberg fan.  What is it about his music that you love so much, and what is your favorite song of his, above all others?  Favorite album of his?

BA: I remember in 1972 I heard Dan’s first album Home Free. I was fascinated with the diversity of the writing and the voicings as well. This continued throughout his life. He had his “hits” and they are great, but I find more solace in the tunes deeper in his albums. I have covered at least one Dan tune on each of my projects. There are so many great songs it’s really hard to pick one, but we chose to cover his tune Icarus Ascending on Crossing Willow Creek. That song has always been special to me. Dan’s double album Innocent Age is spectacular, though is impossible to pick a favorite.

If you had it to do over, is there anything in life that you would change?  If so, what would that be?

BA: Honestly, I’ve had a great life. A great family, great friends, a good career, and the opportunity to play music all the time. Oh, and I have guitars, lots of guitars. I don’t really do regrets because each thing I have experienced has taught me how to be who I am…wait is that a lyric? “Change always teaches us to be everything we’re destined to be”. A quote from my tune Changes.

Thanks for taking the time, Bill!

BA: Thank you for what you do helping us get our music out there for folks to hear.