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Thursday
July 18th, 2019

troy grahamELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The basement at Liberal Memorial Library will continue to rock this week thanks to the summer reading program. 

Troy Graham will be performing at the library starting at 1 p.m. Thursday and said he is excited to be performing in Liberal. Graham said music has been a big part of his life starting from a young age. 

“I started singing in the church choir when I was about 4 years old but I didn't start playing folk music professionally until I was about 16. I've been doing it full time since I was about 19, so it's been about 15 years I've been doing this professionally. But music's been a big part of my whole life,” Graham said. “My dad was a single father and he always had giant stacks of records sitting around, so I would thumb through everything and play through them all. I got a taste of a lot of different styles and genres of music and the folk writing and folk music singer-songwriters were what made the most sense to me.”

The variety of records in that collection, Graham said, heavily inspired the music he plays today. 

“My personal favorites included 'The Times, They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan, Dan Fogelberg's greatest hits album, that one had 'Leader of the Band' and a lot of other big songs,” Graham recalled. “I was also definitely into the more rock n' roll stuff he had like The Who and Pink Floyd and groups like that. His music collection was so wide and diverse I could sit down, listen to four albums, and it would be four completely different types of music and go from Earth, Wind and Fire to Wishbone Ash to Don McClean to Glenn Miller. That diversity definitely helped me be creative with a lot of different types of music – I've played heavy metal and rock, I've played folk music, I've been in a lot of different bands, but now that I'm in my mid-30s, the only way I've found I can play music full time is by being a solo folk singer.”

Eventually, all of that led to his first professional gigs, Graham added. 

“I went to a songwriter's workshop in my hometown of Marquette, Mich. when I was 16 and I played a few songs for a few different professionals and they told me to keep with music and I had the right licks and lyrics and everything, there was just some polishing that was needed,” Graham said. “When I was 16 was when I played my first paid gig as a solo act and once I realized I could make money doing what I loved, I kept with it and started listening to more of the songsmiths of the time. What I really tried to do back then was find people I could play with and who I could harmonize with because I always loved listening to songs with a lot of harmonies like Crosby, Stills & Nash and those groups, the way they pulled off those four-part harmonies was incredible.”

Graham also talked about his favorite things about performing in libraries. 

“I really like libraries because I also have three poetry books published and being a poet, I think the usage of libraries is important because libraries are one of the most important resources anywhere,” Graham said. “First off, they're always very community-based and a lot of libraries have a lot of different activities for people and there are so many different types of resources there for people to use besides just books. And there are hundreds of thousands of hours worth of information and knowledge in just that type of finite space – you can't fine everything on Google. I use my hometown library a handful of times every week and I love playing at libraries because I want people to be able to come to a place where you can gain new knowledge and wisdom that's right at your fingertips. And after seeing my concert at the library, maybe seeing everything that's available at that library will help someone become a new regular because they realize how cool it is.”

Overall, Graham said, he is excited to be performing in Liberal. 

“There's going to be a lot of silly songs for the little ones and they'll be really fun,” Graham said. “I've also got some space-themed songs to go along with this year's summer reading theme, and I'll also have some all ages-appropriate songs for everyone to enjoy. It's going to be a really family-friendly show and I hope a lot of people come out and I'll play the best I can. The people in there in SW Kansas were just angelic and were so nice and welcoming and so hospitable in every way. The audiences I had there were also really attentive and I'm excited for my first Liberal Memorial Library audience, I'm sure they'll be awesome. I actually had a concert up in Omaha, Neb. last year before coming to Kansas and the people of Kansas really just stole my heart and there's just so much beauty that's there throughout the state.”

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