Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with Joe Fletcher

The Nor’easter Festival provided us with some great opportunities to chat with artists and one of the most enjoyable conversations we had all weekend was with Joe Fletcher. Along with his band, The Wrong Reasons, Fletcher played on Day 1 of the festival and it was safe to say that his music was the most heavily influenced by country music of the ’60s out of any band in the lineup.

It was also safe to say that Fletcher was the best storyteller on the Nor’easter stage over the course of the weekend. Some of our favorite songs from his set like “Drunk and Single” and “Womanizer Blues” have timeless themes, but still make you feel like you should be playing a card game and drinking whiskey in an 1800s style saloon.

We met up with Joe after his set and discussed drugs, sex, rock and roll and Rhode Island. Well maybe not the first two, but we all know how sexy Rhode Island is anyways. Read on for the full interview and also a video of Joe playing “Too Many Doors” with Dave and MorganEve of Brown Bird, courtesy of our friends at Kitchen Sessions.

Maimed & Tamed: One of our writers went to school down in Providence and wanted to ask– what is your favorite place to grab a drink in Providence?

Joe Fletcher: My favorite place to drink in Providence umm… I don’t know how long ago she was there, but there is this place called the E & O Tap. I like that place, it’s a cool little bar right around the corner from where I live. A friend of mine owns it and it’s a really nice place. There are lots of great bars in Providence, plenty to choose from, but that is probably the one I frequent most often.

M&T: You played your song “Drunk and Single” in your set this afternoon, so what are you drinking to get you to that single man’s mindset?

JF: I actually quit drinking a few years ago [M&T Note: Major props to Joe]. The reason I am able to maintain a healthy relationship today is because I am no longer drinking. That is a biographical song in a way, I would just forget that I had a girlfriend pretty much any time that I drank.

M&T: Now you’ve kicked the habit and you got a good song out of it too

JF: Yeah I did, I like that song a lot

M&T: We were down at the Newport Folk Festival this year and really enjoyed some of the local bands, we love Brown Bird and did a pre-festival interview with them–

JF: I was actually their guitar tech at the Folk Festival this year. When we played at the Monkey House we were on a one week tour with them and they also play on our newest record.

M&T: And you have also done some work in the past with other Rhode Island bands like Deer Tick and The Low Anthem, right?

JF: Oh yea we have played shows with both of them. Deer Tick has been real good to us, John McCauley sings on our new record too and Chris Ryan, their bass player, played with us. The last song we played today, “Too Many Doors,” John sings on that on the record and Chris plays bass. We’ve played a bunch of shows with them over the years and we just played a big one up in Portland, Maine not too long ago. They’re always trying to help us out, so I guess that makes them actual fans of the band.

The Low Anthem, I just had dinner with those guys not too long ago and they’ve always helped us out as well. We’ve opened for them a number of times, around Providence mainly. With Brown Bird, I’ve known Dave [Lamb] for like five years now and we’ve been playing shows together before MorganEve [Swain] was in the band. I actually knew them separately before they got together and started playing together.

Chris [Owens] and I, we do a lot of shows just the two of us in smaller places for some quieter shows and that’s what we did last week with Brown Bird. Three shows in Vermont and a couple in western Massachusetts. Dave joins us playing his drum about halfway through the set and MorganEve comes up and sings. They all come up and do “Too Many Doors” with us and we’ve had The Low Anthem do “Too Many Doors” in the past with us too. It’s a big sing-along song.

M&T: Do you think that playing in and around Providence is a good place for a band to break into the folk music scene? Of course Newport Folk Festival being nearby helps, but do you think it is a good place for young folk acts?

JF: I think it’s good for a few reasons, and one of the best is that geographically it is a great place. You can get to New York fairly easy, Boston is an hour away, Providence has its own vibrant music scene, Portland is three hours away, we got here [Burlington, Vermont] in four and a half. I have friends that play in bands in Denver and they have to drive like nine hours to Kansas City for the next big metropolitan area. We’ve got so many here that we are just constantly on the circuit.

I don’t know if it is the place for folk musically specifically, but The Low Anthem and Deer Tick definitely brought some attention to the town in that way. There is a lot of people doing that kind of stuff there now, so it’s got a little bit of a name for that kind of music now. It’s becoming less weird, like when I first started with the Wrong Reasons six years ago, back in the beginning it was like what are you doing play this kind of music living here? Now I get that question a lot less often.

M&T: Where are you guys headed next?

JF: We’re off until Friday, we just finished a long string of shows and then Chris and I are going down to Alabama. We have a two and a half week tour to Alabama and back and then we have some shows around that same Maine, New York, Providence circuit.

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011

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