The second sentence of Scotty Anderson’s online bio states that he’s still learning the guitar. That might be a hard sell to anyone who’s ever heard Anderson’s fingers fly effortlessly over the frets of his Telecaster, producing a sound that is both gracefully delicate and powerfully mastered. And yet the amazingly accomplished Jazz/Country/Rock guitarist stands by the assertion that he is still a student of his instrument.
“Just how demanding it is and how hard it is to maintain what you have,” Anderson says of his recent guitar enlightenments.
“What I’ve learned is inspiration comes sometimes when you don’t even want to do it. Scotty Anderson It might wake you up. It comes at peculiar times. Just the overall realization of how hard it is to maintain and keep growing is something that weighs on your mind.”
Anderson’s love of and curiosity about music began at an early age, fostered by a family whose musical interests were passed down through subsequent generations. In that environment, Anderson couldn’t help but learn.
“All my family played,” Anderson says. “My musical heroes were my family. You were surrounded with it; you would have been kind of odd if you didn’t play.”
By Anderson’s reckoning, he picked up a guitar for the first time when he was 5 (“I probably rode it as a hobby horse before that …”), and within a couple of years he began to seriously pursue learning to play. Inspired and encouraged by his father’s younger brother Dillard, who played professionally in Nashville, Anderson practiced diligently in order to impress his uncle.
“He was someone to use as a goal, maybe not be as good as but to measure up,” Anderson says.
“I’ve had plenty of chances to play with him. He’s like 68 years old and he’s probably my biggest musical influence.”
Surrounded by Country influences growing up — he was born in Amelia, but the family moved to Whitley City, Ky., early in his life — Anderson grew up revering the genre’s hot pickers, particularly Chet Atkins. At 19, Anderson had all the chops he needed to play area bars and give guitar lessons, which eventually led to a gig on the road doing clinics and trade shows for Yamaha and other guitar and amp manufacturers while maintaining a local live profile. When DJs supplanted live music, Anderson went on a brief hiatus from performing, ultimately expanding his repertoire from Country into Pop and Jazz and re-emerging with even more skills.
In all this time, Anderson had never felt the need to document his prowess in a studio. In fact, he didn’t release his first album, Triple Stop, until 2000.
“Well, I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of a lazy cuss,” he says with a laugh. “Ask my wife, she’ll tell you. You have every intention of doing something, and a day turns into two and a week and a month and a year and you haven’t done anything. But it seems to me that the music business is picking back up and I think there are good opportunities to play.”
With a moderate booking schedule and a couple more releases (2002’s Classic Scotty and the 2007 live DVD Working Without a Net), Anderson’s reputation as a guitarist’s guitarist has grown exponentially. He maintains a fairly busy schedule playing area clubs (Sundays at Hoohah’s, Mondays at John Phillips Restaurant & Bar in Crestview Hills Mall) on his own, in a duo with Tommy Miles, with the Scotty Anderson Band (which he wanted to name, among others, Dick Levitra and the Four Hour Men or the Turd in the Punchbowl Band) and classic Rock with Dr. Dan and the Stray Dogs. He also teaches guitar and he currently reps for Kustom amps.
In a further display of his versatility, Anderson will be paired with renowned Blues/Rock guitarist Danny Adler for this Friday’s Guitars on the Square show at the Redmoor in Mt. Lookout. Anderson has played with Adler on a few previous occasions and he’s looking forward to crossing guitars with his old pal again.
“I’ve done a couple of projects with Danny and he’s an inventive player, like a hybrid of Jimi Hendrix and several great Blues players. He just has a very unique style,” Anderson says. “Tim Brown organized this and he sees the fusion of our two styles, so we’re going to run with it. We never really sit down and rehearse anything, it’s just all seat-of-the-pants kind of jam. He’s a seasoned professional and fun to play with.”
As is typical of lazy cusses, Anderson doesn’t think too far ahead when it comes to contemplating his next moves. He really is happy doing exactly what he’s doing and going with the flow.
“I’m just a journeyman musician, still crazy after all these years,” he says. “It’s feast or famine. I’m actually busier than I might need to be. People have told me I have a face for radio and shouldn’t play out anymore. I ignore all that shit and do it anyway.”
SCOTTY ANDERSON (scottyandersonguitar.com) joins Danny Adler for an 8 p.m. show at The Redmoor Friday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.