How long have you been playing?
Started around age 25. I wanted to play and sing roots American music in the worst way possible, and gradually I attained that goal. Today I'm still playing and singing in the worst way possible.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Late 1968 at Los Altos High School, with my brother, then a teacher, who had to chaperone at a concert featuring two emergent SF bands. I had been overseas and basically missed out on everything that happened through 1967 and 1968. The show was so loud that all I could be sure of was that the second band was rock-and-roll-y and the first one had some Latin influence. It was Santana opening for Quicksilver Messenger Service.
What gear do you use?
Two steel-string flattops. An Oahu probably from the mid-30s, roughly the dimensions of a Gibson Nick Lucas, with ornate gold leaf on the lower bouts and an incredible voice, and a Kay K-37 probably from the mid-1950s, with an enormous 17 1/4-inch lower body and a booming voice to match. It's like the guitar equivalent of a 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air.
Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino in junior high to early high school years, then Ray Charles through late high school years, then Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, B.B. King, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Jimmy Reed. First through top 40 radio, then from paying attention to what the older and more tuned-in kids were listening to.
Are you in a band? Have you been in bands?
A few rag-tag bands in the past. Currently performing occasional local shows with friends assembled from a long-running weekly jam. Playing everything from Cole Porter to Robert Johnson, from Jesse Winchester to Bill Monroe from Carl Perkins to Big Bill Broonzy.
If you could jam with anyone, who would it be?
B.B. King, because he's a gentle soul who would be immensely encouraging, and who has a great deal of subtle knowledge to impart.
What's the biggest audience you ever performed to? What's the smallest?
Most memorable performances have been in jam sessions with superior yet very supportive musicians who helped open musical doors for me. Biggest audience maybe 150 people at a college in Maryland.
You're stuck on a desert island and only get to bring one album with you. What do you pick?
Any Gabby Pahinui album with "Hi'ilawe" on it. First heard this in the late 1970s. It just rolls over you and keeps you afloat like beautiful surf.
Byron Laursen hasn't uploaded any pics yet.
Byron Laursen hasn't uploaded any music yet. Sup with that.