Q & A with Trace Bundy

A full-time, internationally touring musician, Trace Bundy grew up in Buena Vista and was named “Most Promising New talent” by Acoustic Guitar Magazine in 2008, as well as receiving third place for “Best Fingerstyle Guitarist.” Over the past 15 years, trace has performed in 28 countries and throughout the U.S., and has independently sold over 140,000 CDs. His YouTube videos have been collectively viewed over 40 million times.

CC: What drew you to the guitar as opposed to other instruments?

Trace Bundy: It was pretty random how I was first introduced to the guitar. When I was 10 years old, my older brother Greg convinced me to chip in for a cheap $10 acoustic guitar that we found at a yard sale. On the way home, we bought a guitar magazine and started to learn some Metallica songs. I wonder how my life would’ve ended up differently if that yard sale had a French horn for sale, instead of a guitar; my brother still pulls out his electric guitar from time to time and rocks out on the old heavy metal tunes. I owe Greg a lot of gratitude for convincing me to help buy that acoustic guitar years ago. It’s probably fair to say my dad Al was a big inspiration as well. I remember he told me once that I’ll never make any money sitting around playing that guitar all day. I’m stubborn and I had to prove him wrong!

CC: Could you tell us about your connection to Buena Vista?

TB: Our family packed up and moved out of Austin, Minnesota, when I finished 4th grade, and we landed in Buena Vista. So that’s where I spent my next eight years until I left for college. It was fun to grow up in such an incredible little mountain town.

CC: When was your first gig at Bongo Billy’s in BV? Did you ever play the Salida Cafe?

TB: I first started playing at Bongo Billy’s in BV in high school, alongside my best buddy Jonah Werner (who is also an internationally touring artist these days). We would set out a tip jar and be thrilled to make $40! Over the years, I’ve played concerts in BV and Salida dozens of times. I miss those days at Bongo Billy’s and the Salida Cafe. But it’s pretty awesome to get to play now at amazing venues like the Loft Orpheum Theater in BV and the Salida SteamPlant Theater.

CC: What is your connection to the Loft Orpheum Theater, and could you expand on the challenges and your hopes for that venue?

TB: I used to play shows at the old Orpheum Theater a few years back, and it was a sad day when it shut down. But I was quite excited when my friend Uriah Werner (BV native, and brother to Jonah Werner) bought the place and re-opened it as the Loft Orpheum Theater. He’s added bathrooms, built a balcony, and done other amazing renovations. It is now better than ever – I’m thrilled to return there soon!

CC: It appears you have at least three guitars on stage when you perform. Do you have a current favorite guitar and why?

TB: I have a few custom McPherson guitars. My McPherson MG-4.5 with Sitka Spruce top and Macassar Ebony back and sides is my favorite. The warm tone and crazy resonance of this guitar is unreal.

CC: Do you compose most of your own tunes?

TB: yes. I’ve composed all of my songs, with the exception of a few songs on my “Elephant King” album that I co-wrote with a couple other artists. I always love to write unique arrangements of cover songs, like songs by The Beatles, U2, Guns n’ Roses, etc. Those are always fun to play live in concert.

CC: How did you land the TEDx Talks gig in 2015?

TB: The TEDx folks contacted me back in 2015 and asked me to be a part of their event. I was quite thrilled about that – I love what they do. Here’s a video of my segment of that TEDx event: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfxG8Ic6S9I&list=PL6F97D27aeD1aaa4B

CC: What has been your most satisfying gig so far?

TB: Every December I close out my year of touring with a big show at the Boulder Theater. It’s always satisfying to look out into a crowd of 800 people and see the faces of friends and family and the many fans who have supported me over the years. But sometimes it’s the excepted moments on tour that can feel equally satisfying. I’ve played in 28 counties so far, and it always blows me away that people know my music on the other side of the planet. The first time I played in China, I had no idea how many people would come to my shows. at the first venue, I finished my sound check and went out into the lobby to see if anyone was there. I found over 300 people waiting to come in, and some people brought their 13 guitars and were sitting in circles playing my songs! It was pretty unreal.

CC: Do you have any musical influences you’d like to mention?

TB: I grew up listening to a lot of old folk music and classic rock. So bands like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd and Zeppelin were definitely influential to me. Guitarist Phil Keaggy was a big guitar influence of mine, and I still consider him probably the best in the world.But I often come back to David Wilcox, a singer/songwriter out of Asheville, North Carolina. He has been my musical hero since high school. His lyrics have been a soundtrack for my life, but he is also a phenomenal guitarist. It was watching one of his concerts that inspired me to write “Love Song.” I saw him use a capo to change tunings, and it dawned on me that I could write a song using multiple capos, and move them around during the song, etc.

CC: Your Pachelbel’s Canon video on YouTube was published in March 2006 and has had over 2.75 mil-lion views. Has YouTube become an essential component for upcoming musicians?

TB: Definitely. In the past, it was pretty necessary to sell your soul to a big record label in order to get your music heard. But with the advent of the internet, and particularly sites like YouTube, artists are able to get their music heard by people all over the world. Currently my YouTube videos have over 40 million views, which totally blows me away.

CC: raising two young boys, how do your world travels affect your domestic life?

TB: Before we had kids, my wife and I would travel together, and I remember we would be gone nearly 250 days a year on tour. It was so much fun exploring the world together. But once we had children, we really couldn’t keep up that pace, so I started going out on shorter trips, and touring much less frequently. It’s still a weird balance to find. I miss them so much when I am gone. and when I’m home, we get lots of quality time together.

CC: Thank you, Trace!