Quick Q and A with Peyton Tochterman

Peyton Tochterman’s roots run deep in the musical landscape of his home state of Virginia. He’s had a pretty diverse collection of jobs but it’s now time for him to concentrate on his music and to spread his music beyond the state line.  Peyton has been befriended by Ellis Paul and his management team and has been given that opportunity to sing before dozens of new fans.  Peyton’s someone to watch.  I wouldn’t kid you.

 For more information about Peyton, go to his website.

Peyton will be opening for Ellis Paul at the me&thee on Friday, October 5.

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 I loved reading your biography.  It seems as though you have packed several lifetimes into one and you’ve only just begun!  But do let us know what you remember about the night that Ellis Paul found you in a bar in Charlottesville.  

 I don’t remember much actually because we sat there after my show and had a tremendous amount to drink and talked songs.  In all seriousness, it was a night like any other.  I was playing a gig in a bar.  I’ve been doing that for a long time.  Some people were listening.  Some people were eating and drinking.   The wait staff was working.  And I was playing.  Ellis came up at the set break, introduced himself, said he liked my songs and then went back and sat down.  Then I kept playing songs.  The night wasn’t really any different than any other of my gigs at that time.  The next year was different.  But the night was like any other. 

One of your former jobs was as a sports journalist?  Which sports?  And do you still follow sports?

I wrote for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. covering minor league baseball and sailboat racing.  I’ve played sports my whole life and I love them.  All of them.  Even shotput.    

 We need to know about Kenny G’s piano falling your head.  Were you a mover or were you an innocent bystander?  And how are you here to talk about it?

 There was nothing innocent about it.  I deserved to have a nine-foot Steinway fall on my head.  And Bystander!!! The only thing I was standing by was that damn coyote.  He stepped out of the way at the last second and WHAMMMM!!!!!!  All I remember was hearing this BEEP BEEP in my head.  It was strange.  Just over and over again.  BEEP BEEP.     BEEP BEEP.

 In doing research about you, it looks like you were part of a band circa 2008 or so.  Were you a touring band or were you a local favorite?

We toured.  A little.  We played the main stages at Floyd Festival and Rhythm and Roots Reunion.  These are pretty big festivals down our way so we were making a splash.  And locally, we were the second favorite. 

Please tell us about your experience recording monks in China.  How did that job come about?

It wasn’t a job.  I was invited to China by sculptor Robert Bricker.  Each year for the previous ten years Robert invited ten or so people a year to go on an “art journey” with him.  And by doing so he had developed relationships with Chinese and Tibetans in country who would take him to places not many other tour groups or travelers would get to go.  I mean, the far western part of the country into the mountains and to monasteries where Westerners had never been, and maybe haven’t been since. 

 Anyway, the Chinese government tested a nuclear bomb just before we went and the US Government released a travel warning to all US citizens that strongly urged against travel to China.  Everyone on our trip cancelled.  But Robert and I still went.  I recorded and played music while I was there. 

 Your story about your trip going to Afghanistan on a U.S. diplomacy mission is fascinating   I understand that Ellis was originally scheduled for this trip but couldn’t make it so you stepped in and went instead.  What an amazing opportunity!  It’s one thing to play before the troops; I’m sure that they appreciated your time and talent but tell us about playing before Afghan audiences.

I hope this doesn’t seem short, or a cop out.  But I can’t describe it in this format.  I have two pieced being published in the hard copy November issue of THE UTNE READER that will tell you all about it.  If you are interested, pick it up in November.  It will do much more justice than my short answer here. 

 (Note: here’s an earlier piece about Peyton’s trip to Afghanistan.)

 As part of your trip, you met many Afghan people and got to play music with them.  It seems as though this experience may have been a life-changing event for you.  Do you have any thoughts to share about your visit, the arts, and the future.

Everything is life changing.  All the time.  Again, read The UTNE piece.  As far as the arts:  In my mind, they are the foundation of all societies. Music is a universal language.  We need to do everything in our power to bring the arts to the forefront of our culture.  It used to be up there in the front of the line.  But it’s slipping away.   I want the arts once again to define my society.  Real Reading.  Real Writing.  Real Sculpture. Real Music.  Real Painting.  What do you want to DEFINE us?  Obviously I write songs so I love songwriting.  But I’m talking about all the arts. I can’t draw for shit, but I understand the importance of painting.   And the future?  I have no idea about the future.  I hope mankind continues to explore outer space and that one day we will be able to all travel freely throughout our galaxies.  And to other galaxies.   For no other reason than to find out where KOLOB is, and what is really on it. 

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