Session Date: 10/17/2017
Session Location: Cloverlick Banjo Shop - Fort Collins, CO
1. Hey Muskrat! (0:10)
2. The Continuing Saga of the Classic Heartbreak (2:41)
3. Breakin' Down (6:57)
4. Spruce Tree Boogie (10:32)
Meet Mark "Rooster" Austin (a.k.a. Pappy Longlegs). Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Rooster was raised in a family business and was proud of the simple living his parents provided. Inspired by this, he felt he had to live a story of his own, so he picked up his van with his dog Rosemary and the road became home for as long as it could. When he passed through Fort Collins, CO, he became smitten by its charm, so now he calls it home. That was seven years ago!
Rooster grew up listening to punk rock, old blues, and drew a lot of influence from the music featured in skateboard videos. "I had Black Sabbath - 'Paranoid' on tape and Primus - 'Brown Album' bootlegged, and listened almost exclusively to those on repeat for a couple of my early years. I think all those years with 'Ironman" and 'Puddin' Taine' (along with others) are responsible for why I'm so compelled to write characters and stories so often." He played in metal and funk bands all through college, however, american folk music runs deep in the family. His mom learned songs from her aunt as a child and would sing them to Rooster as an adolescent, forever filling his heart with song.
Rooster began playing music at an early age. His grandmother had a classical guitar at her hair salon that he would play every time he visited as a child. Being a lefty, he had to play it upside down until he got a pawnshop lefty of his own. "I'd write theme songs for characters i'd drawn all through my youth and started playing in bands soon after". When he left Florida, he got a banjo as a going away present and thus began his life as a banjo player.
As a "lefty in a right handed world", Rooster took to instrument modification out of necessity. He built an electric guitar of his own and fell in love with the craft. After studying under Edward Dick (Victor Guitars in Denver), Rooster began a formal apprenticeship with Michael Bashkin (Bashkin Guitars in Ft. Collins) for a few years and developed his lutherie chops. He was about to move to Wisconsin, when he met Jeff Kramer, the founder of Cloverlick Banjo Shop. Jeff decided to pass on the legacy to Rooster, so he could move the shop to his home in Fort Collins, CO, where is now lives, cozily in the Butterfly Alley. "I am now in the midst of my life's work as a luthier and songster."
Rooster says "Fort Collins and the Front Range has some phenomenal music that comes through on a regular basis. The people here support music and celebrate in it." He is certain that is you give it everything you've got, and are open to the influences around you, the people will respond. The community will nourish you when you're home, bid you luck when you leave, and provide a warm welcome when you get back.
I asked Rooster for some fun stories from the stage or from the road. He replied "I was playing banjo and caught a doobie mid solo... that was pretty rad, I suppose. I fed a swamp full of gators a bucket of fried chicken. I've been ransacked by the Mexican border patrol for beard oil. I've laughed, I've cried, I've swam, I've spent so much time on the road with dear friends and have a hand to shake most places I go. Music encompasses everything in my life, and every opportunity I have to share it means the world to me."
Currently, Rooster is close to finishing a new record as Pappy Longlegs called 'AppleButter', which will be released in 2018. He had some amazing musicians that were excited to be involved and he did a two week long multi-exposure polaroid photo project with Cory Marshall Spangler that is going to be the artwork for the album. Additionally, he will have a few more video projects to be released in connection with the record. He's planning some touring for the summer and fall, and will be gearing up for an album release show with everyone on the record!
"Cloverlick Banjo Shop had an outstanding first year, and will be doing a big fat 2nd annual grand opening party on Earth Day 2018 with all the bells and whistles. We will continue to engage with the lovely music and farming community of Fort Collins so stay tuned for private events and performances. We just spent two weeks with a film crew directed by Lauren Coughlin from Atlanta making a documentary about me and the community around the banjo shop and our first year. The time we spent together was powerful and emotional, so I cannot wait to see what comes of it. Expect it's release late in 2018 or early 2019. This year, we have become international, will be launching a few choice stores, and will continue the fine work that we care so deeply about.
Be sure to check out the Cloverlick Banjo Shop website for details!