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nine questions with: Pete Huttlinger Interview

Pete Huttlinger

 

Early life, early musical influences, your roots as a fingerstylist, etc?

My mom played the piano and I would go to sleep underneath it most nights.
Then when I was 9, my sister married a guy from Virginia. He and his brothers all
played old time music. Of course at the time I didn't have a clue what old time music was. 
I was living in the San Francisco bay area of California so old time music was very foreign to me. But I
was fascinated by the banjo and after a couple of years of bugging my mom, she finally relented and
split the cost of a $99 banjo from a sears catalog. When I was 13 or 14 I started playing guitar. Finger
picking came naturally to me - coming from the banjo - so I gravitated towards Chet Atkins, Merle Travis
and many of the pop artists of the time who played acoustic guitar. You're known for impeccable technique, which we can assume comes from years of dedication and
practice. Of 'guitar skill', how much would you estimate can be attributed to learned skill- by way of
practice- versus innate talent that some people are just fortunately born with?
I've often wondered that very question. I have always assumed that my "gift" was that I had a bigger
desire to play than other folks. So I ALWAYS played. But I do suppose there is an element of innate
talent involved. But I hold firmly the belief that anyone can learn to play. You've had some health issues recently. Mind giving an update on that? I was born with a congenital heart defect. It's a very rare thing - maybe 100-200 people in the world
have this condition. I had open heart surgery when I was 13 years old and that surgery kept me going
for many years. Recently I went into congestive heart failure. It got bad. My kidneys and liver were
shutting down and I was life-flighted from Nashville to Houston, TX where I had a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) installed. The VAD is a pump which is installed in the heart and then a wire comes out of
your belly and it runs to a battery pack which you carry around with you 24/7. It's not so bad - it looks
like a fanny pack. After 4 months I was finally ready to come home and I'm now feeling better than I
have in the past year and a half. Five Albums. What are they? Jenna Reid - Laughing Girl The Beatles - Abbey Road The Bothy Band - The Bothy Band 1975 The First Album Dire Straits - On Every Street Joao Gilberto - Live in Montreux You did an album recently (2009) titled “Fingerpicking Wonder- The Music of Stevie Wonder” . I'd have
to say if there was one contemporary artist who is most often mentioned by other musicians as an
influence, it's Stevie. What led you that project? Did arranging his pieces for guitar give you any deeper
insight into his music?
What led me to the project was the title. I thought it was a funny play on words. When something makes me laugh, I'm hooked. I definitely gained new and deeper insight into Stevie's
music throughout the course of the project. There's so much to learn still... If you could have a jam session with any artist, past or present, who would it be? J.S. Bach. Imagine spending an hour with him - that would be too cool. So, you dig flyfishing... Mind doing a fly gear rundown? What's your preferred quarry? Favorite fly's?
Ever do any saltwater flyfishing? (Editors Note: This one's for you, pop)
Well flyfishing is like guitar playing in many ways. Mostly in the gear acquisition way. So I've got lots of
rods and reels. I've got an old H. L. Leonard bamboo rod and Hardy reels and Sage rods and Powell
rods. Way more gear than I need, especially for my level of fishing. (Sound familiar guitar players...?)
I have flyfished in salt water on Martha's Vineyard. Caught some very nice Stripers and man, did they
taste great! Do you have any musical goals left to accomplish? I'm currently re-learning how to play guitar after my time in Houston where I spent 3 full months without
playing at all - I lost most everything I could do on the guitar. I'm happy to say that it's coming back
nicely. I'm hoping I'll come back as a different player somehow. We'll see... Any shoutouts, tour dates or anything else you'd like to mention? Well I've taken all of this year off except for an occasional date and next year is still on hold until I
know just how well my heart is doing. So I'll be buried in my studio in the mean time.
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