Cachagua Playboys founding member Jay Burriss has the time to live art to the fullest.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Jay Burriss never expected that he’d be looking for odd jobs – this week he’ll be a shuttle driver at the AT&T Pro Am – when he turned 57 years old.
“I guess I’m an unemployed artist,” he says with a deep breath.
After more than a decade working for a printing company Burriss was let go nearly two years ago and has been on a job hunt ever since.
“I spent my savings and now I’m regurgitating old job skills,” he says.
Burriss spent years with the Cachagua Playboys, which he founded, and Jonah and the Whalewatchers, both performing and working the sound.
“Those are job skills,” he says. “Being [a working musician] these days is brutal. I know a lot of talented musicians who struggle to make a living. It seems like a community can only support so many, though there still seems to be a lot going on around town.”
Since his layoff, Burriss has gotten back onto the songwriting saddle, which he’s always had a knack for – “Down to the River,” which he calls a “a skinny-dip epic,” continues to get airplay on KPIG.
The Americana tune, which sounds like it belongs to summertime campfires, has the backbone of Steve Earle and the heart of John Denver. Its simple, acoustic folk guitar composition is an invitation for audiences to join in.
Even unemployed, Burriss may be busier now than when working a day job. In addition to getting back into songwriting and playing Northeastern Brazilian forro music on accordion with the Sambahemians, he’s been busting out highly detailed visual art at a high velocity. Most recently, he finished an intricate fractal paradise in tempera and ink entitled “Shootout at the GasMart.”
“The art motivates itself,” Burriss says.
Burriss has used recent setbacks as inspiration for his recently penned “The Loneliest Man in the World.”
“Book of Roses,” another new tune, began with the idea of ascribing a tarot card to each of the women Burriss has loved over the years: “There’s a queen and an empress and a goddess and temptress and daughter and a priestess,” he sings.
Burriss enjoys incorporating special guests and participatory plays into his acts to help drive engagement. Saturday at the London Bridge, he’ll lead a Darkside of the Moon singalong.
Burriss was inspired after finding the Darkside under the visor of a friend’s newly purchased car. He loaded the CD onto his computer and started learning the songs. There will also be a surprise female guest singer appearing to unload the window-shattering vocals of “Great Gig in the Sky.”
“It’ll be fun because everyone kind of knows those songs and howls along with them,” Burriss says. “Those are my strengths: learning songs and writing songs. I keep myself in a creative space as much as I can.”
JAY BURRISS performs at 9pm Saturday, Feb. 9, at London Bridge Pub, 256 Figueroa St., Monterey. Free. 372-0581, www.jayabu.com