Interview with Scotty Bayer

Words by Shelton Hull

Scotty Bayer’s Christmas present to himself was a new speaker, which he first deployed while playing at Bold City Brewery Downtown on Friday night, the 12th of January. He’d been double-booked at the original location on Rosselle Street in Riverside, so they sent him over to Bay Street for a couple hours. I happened to be there already, having work-week wind-down beers with the great Gary Sass (whom you may sometimes see dressed as Andrew Jackson as he leads walking tours of Downtown) and a rotating cast of creators, several of whom are guitarists themselves. Bayer’s presence proved salubrious, for sure.

It was my first time seeing him perform in about a year, and I was impressed to see how much he’d raised his game, in terms of both performance and presentation. I’ve known Bayer for about 15 years, long before he began to really pursue his trade in earnest. Back then, he was just one of the many talented young people in the audience at our friends’ shows around town, but he was one of the tallest and, thus, easier to spot. Now he’s the one on stage, and it suits him.

More people are seeing him now, in fact, than ever before because the man is all over the place. He’ll be playing the Cinco de Maibock Festival at the Grace Note on May 5, the Ocala Oddities Market on May 17, Bold City Brewery Riverside on May 31 and the Green Turtle in Fernandina on June 8, in addition to a dozen or so other venues he plays regularly with more coming almost weekly.

The singer-songwriter scene in this city is dense with talent and diverse with perspectives, so there’s plenty of room for young players who, extending the sports metaphor, want to get their reps in, and Bayer’s been seizing that opportunity. He spoke with “Folio” recently via email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Folio: How long have you been playing music? 

Bayer: I’ve been playing ever since I was a little kid. My dad is a musician and played in a band when I was growing up …. There was always music playing around the house. Lots of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and other classics. I remember really liking it as a kid. I started learning to play the ukulele when I was in third grade but wasn’t very good and got really frustrated at first, but I kept at it and got better eventually.

As I got older and my hands got big enough (probably around late elementary school/early middle school), my dad started teaching me how to play guitar and picked it up fairly quickly. I didn’t really get into singing ’til about six or seven years ago. I’ve always played bass, guitar or drums in local bands doing original stuff. Mostly punk, metal, hardcore and heavy rock bands. Although I did do some backup vocals, I just wasn’t really in the spotlight then and didn’t really have a desire to be. About six or seven years ago I saw Soundgarden live and was just blown away watching Chris Cornell sing like he did and was really inspired to want to be more of a singer/frontman but didn’t really have a band, so I just picked up the acoustic guitar and started writing songs and learning covers. I spent a lot of time working on my voice, learning songs and writing some and started really enjoying doing it. 

Folio: How has your career progressed since those early days?
Bayer: It’s been a journey. A very humbling yet rewarding process doing the solo acoustic thing around town. At first I wasn’t very well received at lots of the places I played at because what I did was a little too niche. I played mostly ’90s grunge covers and a lot of B-side Chris Cornell solo stuff, and a lot of people didn’t connect with the music at first. As I’ve been expanding my repertoire, I’ve been finding a good middle ground with playing a lot of the ’90s and early 2000s alternative rock, mixed with some classics from the ’70s and ’80s that I grew up listening to, and have been experiencing much more success with that. It’s just a totally different playing field when you’re used to playing original music, but I’ve learned a lot just from getting out there and doing it. Feels like my hard work and what I’ve learned from my past experiences, good and bad, are starting to pay off now. 

Folio: How many songs do you have in your current repertoire? And do you have recordings available?

Bayer: Probably about 40 or 50 now, but I’ve been making a point to learn at least one or two new songs a week, so it’s constantly growing. 

I have lots of recordings on my SoundCloud. Mostly live but have been recording and getting videos of songs on my live performances that I’ve been posting more of on my Instagram and Facebook. If you want to keep up with where I’m playing next and see some clips of my live performances, those are the best places to find that.

Folio: Who are some of your favorite local artists? 

Bayer: I always enjoy going up to the jam night at the Southern Grill on Monday and Wednesday night. I enjoy jamming with Shane Platten, Brandon Howell and John Parkerurban. There’s lots to list here, but some of my favorites are Shaun and Kristen doing their acoustic duo thing. Elise Berlin has an incredible voice and is an amazing musician. Megan MacKenzie has a very powerful emotional voice and writes some great songs. Leroy Copeland writes some cool songs, does some great covers, and I always enjoy watching his full-band, multi-camera videos that he does of him playing every instrument and ripping some great solos on the guitar. Oh, and Tori Nance is crazy talented, writes some really awesome stuff and puts on a great show. My dad and his friend Natalie have an acoustic duo thing they do called Tom and Natalie that’s really good. They play really well together and do some great harmonies.

 

Folio: Anything else you’d like to add?

Bayer: I’d like to give a special thanks to Will Frazier and the Miller family at Bold City Brewery. I owe a lot of my success to them for consistently booking me and providing me with a place to perform and get more experience playing live giving me the opportunity to try out new songs. 

 

For more information on Bayer and upcoming dates, visit facebook.com/scottybayer.

 

 

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