Gabe Dixon [Interview]

It was almost a decade ago when first discovered the magic of Gabe Dixon. I was dragged by my lovely wife to see a show that “she wanted to see this time”, which turned out to be Justin Nozuka, and was one we both thoroughly enjoyed. But while I found Justin very intriguing, and became a big fan afterwards….it was the middle act that blew my fragile mind. That middle act was The Gabe Dixon Band, featuring the man with the namesake smack dab in the middle of the trio. It was a magical experience, and I became a huge fan almost instantly. I can still be found swallowing down vodka tonics in my novelty GBD cup to this very day.

Directly after seeing Gabe perform live in that Portland club, I became entranced with his amazing songwriting skills and the brilliant career he had built for himself. And in the decade that followed, I became an even bigger fan of the work of Mr. Dixon, and have continued to follow his work fairly religiously. The Gabe Dixon Band has since disbanded (Fun fact: I caught the band’s drummer Jano Rix killing it with The Woods Brothers at Pickathon 2012, but that’s a whole other story), and Gabe has built an incredible solo career that is culminated in some very amazing accomplishments, which we shall discuss in the Q&A below.

We are so excited to finally have been able to get a few answers from one of the finest performers of the modern times. I simply cannot think of a better person to have featured on the site as our last interview of 2017! So with that, ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary musician, Mr. Gabe Dixon!

When did you first realize you had a talent for music? When did you realize you wanted to write and perform for a living?

Those were two different moments. When I was a kid, I started taking music lessons because my parents thought I should. Then, when I was about 11, I started trying to copy my favorites. Elton John was a huge inspiration for me at that age. He was one of the artists who made me want to write and perform for a living. As far as the talent thing, I was always told that I had a talent for music, but a few times in high school, my performances made people cry. That made me start to think that I might truly have a gift for music. And then, in college, when Eddie Kramer wanted to work with me and my band, I felt professional validation for the first time.

Can you recall the very first time you were on stage with the intention of entertaining an audience? What were you doing, and how did that go?

I played piano recitals starting at the age of 7, but I consider my first “real” performance to be when I was 12 at a summer camp talent show. I was so nervous because I had never sung and played at the same time in front of people. I sang “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, and the crowd just totally flipped out. Afterward, my fingers were bleeding from doing so many glissandos on the piano, and I felt higher than I’d ever been. And suddenly all of the girls wanted to talk to me. I’ll never forget that day.

And when did you truly have that “Aha!” moment, when you realized that you are indeed a working and living musician? That your entire livelihood was based around you creating magic in the form of music?

In my 20’s I went back and forth between paying my bills fully with music and working day jobs. After a certain point, I just decided to quit the day jobs and work extra hard at music, whether it was performing with my band or backing up other artists, or songwriting, I decided that I was talented enough and had the right experience to make a living at music. Even if I had to play on the street, I wasn’t going to take another day job. I felt like it was my responsibility to bring music into the world no matter the cost (or rewards). Before I knew it, I hadn’t worked a “real job” in 10 years.

I can still clearly remember seeing you perform at Berbati’s Pan in Portland almost a decade ago, then as The Gabe Dixon Band, and being blown away by your showmanship and talent. And you had been at it a for a long time prior to that, and are still consistently entertaining crowds on a regular basis to this day. So in all of your years as a performing artist, what would you say has been your most notable growth as far as stage performance is concern? What have you learned over the years that has helped you know what to do to entertain a crowd?

I’ve learned little things over time, like don’t put too many slow or fast songs together, don’t let there be too much dead space in between songs, etc. but mostly it’s about my being comfortable in my own skin. Since I was a kid, I’ve been kinda shy and introverted. Showmanship didn’t come naturally, but one thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s best to slough that stuff off when I go on stage. People don’t want to see some self-conscious person up there. They want to see the opposite. They want to see freedom. So, before I go onstage, I usually take a moment to get centered and say a little prayer to get my ego out of the way and let joy and love and good-times flow through me. I think it works. Also, most people want to sing and clap along, even if they don’t think they do, so I try to get the crowd involved in that way sometimes. It’s fun when we all make music together.

When you look back on the amazing career that you have had thus far in the world of music, what would you say is your proudest moment? Is there a singular event that you were a part of that sticks out in your mind as an event that can not be topped? Or maybe not a singular moment, but a collection of many?

I can’t help but think of playing keyboards with Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden. We performed a benefit for New York City firefighters after 9/11, and it was truly awesome and moving. I feel so lucky and grateful to have had that experience. And singing lead with Supertramp at a festival in France in front of 70,000 people was also a high point for sure. I also felt proud to sit in a movie theatre and hear myself singing a song I co-wrote, “Find My Way,” in the opening credits of The Proposal, which was the # 1 movie at the box office that weekend. But, to be honest, the most fulfilling thing is hearing people’s stories about how my music has helped or healed them somehow. When I hear those stories, I know I’m doing the right thing.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I have a new live EP called Live In Boston. It’s my first solo live record—just me playing piano and singing. I have also been releasing singles lately and will continue to do that for a bit. Maybe they will turn into an album at some point. I’m not sure yet. And the touring continues. Recently, I have been doing short weekend tours instead of the long marathon ones, so folks should keep checking the tour page of my website to see where I’m going to be.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My one year old son this morning. His cuteness knows no bounds.


About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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