How did you get into music? I've always been interested in music. Everybody's got a hobby or a passion. Mine's always been music. I'm a collector of music. I write about music, and I read about music. I started out playing piano when I was in, like, elementary school. (I) decided somewhere shortly thereafter that the guitar was a cooler instrument to try to figure out how to play. I took guitar lessons for a few years and . . . over the years, I just started writing on my own music.
Who are your influences? My first 45 was The McCoys "Hang On Sloopy" and I was, like, 3 years old. I remember getting Lynyrd Skynyrd's "What's Your Name" on 45 when it came out. I've always been interested in, you know, rock 'n' roll (and) Top 40 . . . because that's what my parents were listening to. My dad kind of switched over to country music when disco kind of took over in the late '70s. Then I was kind of subjected to more, you know, the Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson kind of music, and I fell in love with that as well. My dad took me to see Harry Chapin . . . before (Chapin) died. I listen to more roots-rock (or) alternative country, which you probably wouldn't hear on the radio. That's really informed my song writing. I love the sound of weeping pedal steel guitars in my music and that features prominently on my record.
Describe your songwriting process. I have a degree in English from Shippensburg University. I'm an avid reader as well. Bob Dylan is one of my earliest primary influences. I like my songs to convey an honesty and actually say something at times. A lot of my songs are story songs . . . because I'm a writer and reader and interested in the world around me. I can create characters and scenarios that are believable and hold the listener's attention. The title track of my album "Southern Bound" . . . it's one of those songs that's kind of an epic song. One of my songs called "Mr. Corian" is written from the perspective of a guitar player (who's) sitting with a dying patient. There's an emotional connection made there through the music. Then, there are more typical love-oriented thematics, but I tried to . . . write them in such as way that's it not as cliché.
Is it challenging to steer clear of clichés? Honestly, I think it's one of the biggest challenges because (I'm) an avid music fan. Sometimes, (my friends) sit around and look at each other as songwriters and we say, "You know, is there anything that hasn't been said yet?" It's a challenge I embrace and I enjoy.
Have you been in a lot of bands over the years? I was actually more your hide-in-the-basement kind of performer. I'd get together with friends and jam and stuff, but it wasn't until five or six years ago that I started actually playing out a little bit. I have a day job (and) will continue to, but at this point I at least have a regular schedule of appearances and a number of different people (who) I'm playing with. I'm sort of a late bloomer as far as being a public performer, but I'm enjoying it.
Who do you share the stage with or play on the CD with? My brother is a guy named Dan Conway. He's from York (and now) he actually lives down in the Washington, D.C., area. He has a degree in jazz performance as a bass player and he has played in a number of different bands. (The drummer he played with) won a Grammy with Bruce Hornsby and The Range. The keyboard player played with Tracy Chapman and Captain Beefheart. These are the guys I was able to get on the record. I probably had access to a lot of musicianship (and) a lot of production that maybe a lot of local musicians might struggle to get access to. It's been very fortuitous for me.
Where do you play? I played at Victor's (Italian Restaurant). I recently played . . . at Vito's (Pizza & Beer) in York. I played at McCleary's (Irish Pub) in Marietta. We're looking to schedule a series of gigs there as we move into the new year. I (played) at Stoudt's (Brewing Company). I (headlined) a local artist festival in Waynesboro . . . at a place called The Noisy Cricket.
Was that the first time you were in the studio? This was the first time I've professionally recorded anything. You know what's really interesting? Because of Pro-Tools and other technology that exists now for musicians to record, this has been a very mobile process. My brother has a very dedicated Macintosh computer system. He could visit York (and) we could set up in a guest bedroom in my house. We could send our basic tracks and things out to our buddies in (Los Angeles), New York and D.C. and they could record guitar tracks and things like that and then we could edit them. It certainly wasn't something we finished in a few months. It took a few years to get through the entire process of creating the record.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
Jud Conway performs with local musicians including Earl T. Funk of Rivertown Revival at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Lancaster Dispensing Company, 33 N. Market St. in Lancaster. Cover is $3. For details, visit www.dispensingco.com.
On the Web
For details about Jud Conway and the Lonesome Pines, visit www.judconway.com.
To listen to the interview, visit www.flipsidepa.com.
To read more meet-the-artist interviews, visit www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.