Bill Anderson and his Invisible Band
Who we talked to: Anderson, 61
How did you get into music? Initially, I got into it because my father was a steel guitar player back in the '50s. Growing up, I just loved to play the guitar. I think I started when I was 14 or 15. I used to live in south Chicago, and I started playing in little taverns at that time. I was a little young. I used to go in and play with my uncle, who is a country player. I followed him around.
Who were your influences? Back then (in the) mid '60s and late '60s, it was The (Rolling) Stones and The Doors. Back then (I was influenced) by rock, and it slowly switched a little bit and (I) mixed it up with folk music and blues because I spent time down in Mississippi and New Orleans. That was where I got into more of the country side of (music). I just love music, even the new bands now like (3 Doors Down). Every time I go out to see a musician - and I know a lot of musicians in the area - I learn something from them.
Where else have you been? I started out playing mostly with bands in the south Chicago area, then . . . I was drafted and spent some time with Uncle Sam. Then, I went to New York. For 14 years in New York, I played with a band called (The White Wrabbit Band) and they (played) mostly classic rock and some originals. That broke up when I moved to Pennsylvania. I came here and started playing locally in Lancaster and in southern York County . . . down around the Glen Rock area. I picked up with some musicians down . . . in Baltimore.
What is your take on the York music scene? It's a great place for music. The other musicians (who) I know . . . get together quite often. I played with (B-Tropical), Analog 25 (and) John Russell and Lost At Sea. There (are) just so many around here (who) are so talented. We come see each other when we play. We help each other out.
Are you looking to form a band in this area? I kind of like doing the solo thing. I have a . . . drum machine that's named Ralph and (an inflatable) backup singer (Plan B). The three of us get along good because they don't argue with me and I don't have to pay them. They have it pretty easy because I do all the loading in and loading out. People kind of look at that when they walk in. A lot of times, I need a harmonizer and people would say, "Where's the band? I couldn't see it." So now, at least they can see something. It's just . . . a little bit of a gimmick.
Where do you play in the area? I have a good niche right now in some of the clubs. I play the Brickyard (Tavern), The Valley Tavern (and) White Rose (Bar & Grill). It's so much simpler showing up and doing gigs by myself. I don't do originals anymore. I did with the band. (People) do like originals . . . but they like classics like The Eagles and the Stones. I do everything from David Allan Coe to Hank Williams Jr. One set might have 34 years of music in it . . . and it kind of catches a little bit of everything. There's a really great music base (here). People who go out . . . know what they want to hear . . . and they join in. I encourage them to help out, sing along and get them up there singing with me and my backup singer Plan B. I enjoy it because when you're solo you have to fill in . . . all the empty spots. So (I) fill it in with a little comedy, some jokes and some visuals. It's been working out really well.
Do you have any idea of how many songs you have in your repertoire? A lot of it goes back to the '60s and on. I would say there are 300 plus (songs) that I can easily remember and other ones that I have in a book . . . that I can go back and look at.
Are you planning to put out an album? I'll go with other bands to a studio and do some tracks for them. But I really like what I'm doing right now. There's no pressure. I just have a lot of fun doing it. I love to see people's faces, especially at the smaller bars. You get to know the people. You can joke with them.
Has anyone ever given you some advice that you've kept in the back of your mind all of these years? The best advice . . . is don't take it too serious and don't take yourself too serious. Sometimes, the best nights are the nights you don't expect to do well. If you put pressure one yourself . . . it stifles you from enjoying yourself. People can see that. If you're having fun, they'll have fun.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
Bill Anderson will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 29 at The Valley Tavern, 1 Cherry St. in Seven Valleys. For details, visit www.thevalleytavern.com.
On the Web
For details about Bill Anderson, visit www.myspace.com/billandersonandhisinvisibleband.
To listen to the interview, visit www.flipsidepa.com.
To read more meet-the-artist interviews, visit www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.