You might know Ian Leith as the Friendly Tap’s trusty BoozeDay Tuesday host, but he’s on a mission to do more than just play good music. This Berwynite is passionate about the local music scene and hopes to bring attention to the incredible music offerings of the FoOakParkwny area.
How did you get started in music? I began playing seriously at 13, but there were always guitars in my home. My mother sang mariachi music, and she would play a little Spanish guitar that I still play to this day. As I got older I would sneak into my brother's room to play his electric guitar and amp. He stopped getting mad at me when he heard me playing songs he liked by Aerosmith and Zep. I played metal with some friends but always made time to practice my acoustic fingerpicking chops.
I play guitar, bass and can keep a couple beats on drums, but give me a minute with any instrument, and I’ll give you baa baa black sheep at least.
Who are your influences? Daily minutiae of life like dreams, movies, books, family history, loss, fortune, sacred geometry, the serenity of balance. Oh, MUSICAL influences. I try not to mimic, but I find myself admiring and trying not to steal from artists like Paul Simon, Jose Gonzales, Norah Jones, Mike Patton, Tool, Rush, Police, Nick Drake, Josh Kauffman, Patrick Kevil, David Byrne, Danny Elfman… I better stop; this could go on.
How do you describe your style? My style….hmm my style. I lived in LA for a few years attempting to be a composer for film and TV, so I was always trying to write completely different songs to fit any scenario. I range from classical to rockabilly to folky to instrumental melancholia. I would say that finger-style guitar is a dominant attribute to my playing style, but I’m on an endless quest of possibilities with that formula.
What is your favorite part of performing? When you play the exact right song for the exact right moment. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it’s magic.
What is something surprising about you? People might be surprised to learn that I am half-Scottish and half-Mexican. Or that I was almost an eagle scout.
A Fan's Two-Cents: I picked up Ian's CD a few days after Friendly Folk Fest 4, and on a rainy afternoon, I slid the disc into my car player. For this writer-at-heart, the driving & listening experience was nothing more than poetic, as the sounds of light hail echoed that finger-style guitar Leith refers to in his interview. His instrumental selection, "Au Contrair," seemed to be backed up by the windshield tings, creating a marriage of melodies that kept me riding with a smile. But it was "Brandice," that sweet and catchy "Brandice," that found the repeat button three times over; it's the kind of song for which you want to know the lyrics. So, when Leith posted his video for this tune, well, it got a lot of hits from this fan. And now I've got the words down pat, and they sing in my head throughout the day.
"Brandice, you're a brave little girl/someday you're gonna see the world/ and capture awesome things on cameras/ to fill a million picture frames."
I strongly encourage every Friendly supporter to come out to Boozeday Tuesday to see Ian in his element, he never disappoints! -GHM