Tony Furtado plays in Vail February 6 |

Tony Furtado plays in Vail February 6

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

When you’re a kid, picking on a banjo might make you a target for getting picked on by other kids, but after winning awards for his banjo playing, releasing several critically acclaimed albums and playing with legends like Keith Richards and Alison Krauss, Tony Furtado probably doesn’t care if the banjo isn’t the coolest instrument in the world.

He has found his voice and success doing one of the only things he really loves.

Before kicking off a small tour with the Mother Truckers tonight at the Samana Lounge in Vail, Furtado took some time to answer questions about his career, inspirations and future.

Tony Furtado: I had to do a report on a musical instrument in sixth grade. You had to do a report and you had to make the instrument, so I, for some reason, chose to make a little banjo out of a pie tin and some other household items. I wasn’t really exposed to banjos because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, but I had seen them on TV a couple times and then after I read the history about it and everything I became intrigued and got a banjo, a real banjo, for my 12th birthday and just kind of devoured it for years.

TF: Some songs that I do I have a hard time playing solo because I need that thump and crash behind me to make the song work. Some songs need to be really rock and some songs need to be caressed.

TF: All the above. I have a hard time just writing about one thing all the time. I definitely enjoy reading a lot, like reading a lot of historical stuff, for some reason I’m some what of a history buff. Sometimes something I’ll read about influences a song I’m writing, or some event might.

TF: Sometimes the difficulty in it, though, is what’s exciting about it. If you feel good and strong about a song, sometimes the exciting part is not knowing how the audience is going to react. The scary part for me is the fact that I’m terrible about remembering words. I usually will just fumble through words the first 10 or 20 times as soon as we’re on stage, but usually if I’m playing it with (a) strong band and I feel good about it, and its rocking, than I don’t have any qualms. It’s not really, ‘oh boy, what are they going to think about this,’ because you’ve gotta feel stronger about your music than that.

TF: One of my favorite tours that I actually didn’t play with them, but I toured with them for about a month was Greg Allman And Friends. I opened up for him, I was just solo and he had this smoking band with Robben Ford and Willie Weeks. God that was just so much fun playing before every one of his shows and then getting to hear the band play and hanging out with those guys.

TF: Well, from my group, I’ve got a power trio that I’m going out with. It’s, like I said, that guy Tom Brechtlein, and the bass player is a guy named Eric Thorin … we’re just going to be having a blast, just sort of sorting through music and stretching things out, see what works, taking requests, sure.

TF: Right now I’m writing songs for the next thing. I’m going to record another album this year at some point. I’m not trying to let myself be pressured about it, you know, I’m just kind of writing some songs, maybe some instrumentals, and see what happens.

TF: The live show. You know, I enjoy playing live so much that I just want people to have gone away from the shows having been entertained and having a great time. That’s it, you know. Because if you enjoyed what you heard then the music was good, and if you had a good time then the experience was great.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or

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