This week’s blog will be a little different than past ones, since I had the pleasure of speaking with and interviewing the inspiring artist, Langhorne Slim. He’s playing a sold out show right here in Lexington at The Burl on Saturday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day!!!) at 9pm.
Langhorne Slim’s charismatic yet laid-back personality have as much depth as his soul-bearing lyrics, and this was easy to tell from the moment I picked up the phone for the interview. This is an artist who not only bleeds pure talent, but is a pure soul as well.
His unique name, Langhorne Slim, (aka Sean Scolnick), was inspired by his hometown of Langhorne, Pennsylvania. He “used to write various band names when I was sitting and feeling a little day-dreamy when I was a kid in school,” Slim said. “When I left Pennsylvania at 18, I didn’t have a band and started playing solo, and was, and still am a lover of old blues and folk music. Kind of as a nod to a lot of the stuff that I was listening to, where guys and gals would take the name of the places they were from and sometimes put ‘slim’ on the end. I just thought that was a cool move, and so I integrated it into what I was doing, and didn’t necessarily think that’s how it would be all these years, but the name just sort stuck and here I am years later with the same name.”
Structure isn’t really Slim’s thing. I asked if he creates his set lists to fit the venue (he does not). “I think in all the years of being on tour, maybe it’s 15 or so, I think we’ve had about two or three set lists which were never followed, and therefore I don’t write set lists. If anything, I write down a bunch of songs that I’ve written over the years so that I have some guide in case I get lost in my brain up there, I can glance down” he chuckled. “If I put out a new record like I just have, I wanna play a bunch of those songs and then I kind of just feel out what the heck is going on, and it’s sort of like a boxing match of love, or a roller coaster ride or something.”
Being spontaneous is something Slim holds dear to his heart. “If there’s no element of spontaneity, it can become rigid, and my worst fear, formulaic, where just like ‘this is my job’. Though there are challenges to anything that anybody does, I never want that sense of freedom or joy or risk-taking taken out of it, because then, I just don’t feel like it would be as fun” said Slim. “I think performing when I was a little kid was just considered misbehaving and I would get sent to the principle’s office, and thankfully now, hopefully people will come and see me and applaud…I mean, most of the time” he laughed.
He then proceeded to turn the tables and become philosophical. “Now here’s a question for you. There’s a worm—I’m outside of a hotel—there’s a worm on the cement, and I just picked it up and put it in the grass because I can’t bear to see the worm squiggle on the cement like that. Do you think I should do that, or that I should not interfere with the wildness?”
He then added, “I feel like we’ve interfered with the wild anyway by building this hotel here, and therefore, the worm is at a disadvantage, and helping it out is okay.”
His free thinking and down to earth nature led us to a conversation about humanity in general. “If I play a concert that children are allowed to be at, it’s usually the children that are dancing and singing freely and often the adults that have a harder time breaking out of that shell, which is fascinating because I think we’re all born, not necessarily to be singers and dancers, but to sing and dance, and I don’t think any of us don’t have that desire.”
When asked about playing for smaller audiences, lots of artists will comment on the idea that it gives them more of a connection to their audiences, but Slim went even deeper with his answer. “I find that when the thing I don’t have any words for happens, it exists on like more of a spiritual dimension or plane. It can happen in front of thousands of people, and it can happen in front of twenty five people, and it can’t happen sometimes in front of whatever amount of people. It’s just an elevated energy that it feels like there’s truly a connection and a feeling of…I don’t know, love is the right word maybe? It’s a broad term. It’s more of an ancient thing that people have been doing probably since people existed and there was anything to bang on or to strum on. I’ve kind of lived for that connection with an audience.”
As Slim said himself, “I ain’t no cookie cutter man.”
His well-wishes for all of you were just like he is: thought-provoking and kind. “I say hello, I look forward to coming back [to Lexington] after a few years, and I’ve got a new record that’s called Lost At Last Volume I that I’m very proud of, and hopefully people can get that wherever they get their music.”
He then added, “Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the division and the fear and all that. Human kindness and compassion are not hippie ideals, they are ancient, and they are things that we can practice today, and we can all use a little bit more sweetness in the world.”
There ya have it, folks. With his unique, vintage folk sound, this talented artist is sure to bring an electric energy to the room that cannot be found anywhere else. Be sure to give this playlist that’s made up entirely of my personal favorite Langhorne Slim songs, a listen.
Take it easy,