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Singer-songwriter Seth Glier hopes performances transform audience

Thursday, January 9, 2014
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Seth Glier says he tries to “create something magical in a live show, to change a person’s life. That’s really my ultimate goal.” He is set to perform at WAMC’s The Linda on Saturday.
Seth Glier says he tries to “create something magical in a live show, to change a person’s life. That’s really my ultimate goal.” He is set to perform at WAMC’s The Linda on Saturday.

Bruce Springsteen better watch out — Seth Glier is planning to steal the New Jersey rocker’s glory days.

Glier, a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, has been compared to Springsteen and another songwriter superstar, Billy Joel.

On Saturday, he’ll perform with singer Antje Duvekot at The Linda, WAMC’s performing arts studio in Albany.

“I really love the ’70s writers,” said Glier, whose name is pronounced “Gleer.” “I love Jackson Browne. I never really got into Springsteen or Billy Joel until the comparisons were made. I was always kind of playing piano like a guitar player; I was late to the game with the Billy Joel thing. I love him now, and I think Springsteen — I just want to take his career away from him. He’s not giving it up without a fight.”

Seth Glier and Antje Duvekot

WHERE: WAMC’s The Linda, 339 Central Ave., Albany

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

HOW MUCH: $15

MORE INFO: 465-5233, www.wamcarts.org

Bold words, but the 25-year-old Glier is a confident man. He averages more than 250 live performances annually, and has progressed from opening act to headliner. He’s played major folk festivals and shared the stage with artists such as James Taylor, Ani DiFranco and Emmylou Harris.

Glier’s second album, “The Next Right Thing,” was nominated for a 2011 Grammy in the “best engineered album, non-classical” category. Two of his songs were winners at the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Independent Music Awards.

Glier, who lives in South Hadley, Mass., likes his career path right now. But trajectory isn’t everything.

“For me, it’s very much a one day at a time kind of thing,” he said.

“The objective I have now is the same objective I had eight years ago when I was starting out, which is trying to create something magical in a live show, to change a person’s life. That’s really my ultimate goal.”

Glier will perform with Duvekot for about half of her set. She will also appear with Glier, lending her voice for a few numbers.

The performers know each other — Glier has played piano on Duvekot’s recordings.

Lyrical influences

And Duvekot loves her words, too. She’s been influenced lyrically by Joni Mitchell and has also paid attention to her other favorites, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen. Her latest studio album is the modern folk-oriented “New Siberia.”

Duvekot doesn’t stay in the studio. She has performed at the Newport and Philadelphia folk festivals and oversees the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland.

For Glier, the awards and accolades have been nice.

“But I never set out to get a Grammy nomination, that was never even on my list of wildest dreams,” he said. “It was something that just kind of happened and it’s great, but I think all those kinds of things can sometimes — when you look at your career as a whole — they can serve as a distraction to some of the really important things.”

He believes the important things are treating each day like a blank sheet of paper — waking up with nothing and starting the creative process.

“I think as a performer, the most important thing for me is that I’m serving my audience, that they leave after an hour-and-a-half show different than they walked in,” he said. “These are big expectations, because the rest is just kind of boring — like anything substandard, anything less than excellent.”

Revealing album

People may find out some personal truths about Glier in his third and latest album, “Things I Should Let You Know,” a mix of folk, blues, pop and soul.

“Joni Mitchell has this quote that I love; she says ‘You’re always writing about yourself, even when you think you’re writing about somebody else,’ ” Glier said. “I love that quote . . . I think the whole album, I basically sat down to write a concept, which is this notion of secrets, skeletons in the closet, things you want to pass down to people as you become older, as you find out who you are. I ended up writing very much about myself throughout the album, but I never set out to do that.”

Glier said he brings a lot of energy to his stage shows. But it will be a sparse stage.

“I don’t like to muck it up with a full band, it’s myself and a saxophone player [Joe Nerney] and we both sing and I try to get creative with rhythm where I’m strapping percussion instruments . . . to my foot to try to keep a pulse and a beat,” he said.

“I play guitar, it’s very much focused on the craftsmanship of the writing and at the same time I hope my show from start to finish takes you somewhere else. It takes transportation for transformation.”

He especially likes performing with Nerney, a 63-year-old blind musician he has known for the past 10 years.

“On stage, it’s really cool because we’re coming from two very different walks of life,” Glier said. “It’s not only from a generational standpoint, but also from the way we view the world — it’s vastly different and you feel that when we walk on stage.”

Learning about life

Glier has learned plenty about the performing life from Nerney.

“One of the big things is patience and another thing that I’ve learned from him that I think is probably lacking in folks from my generation is a sort of discipline,” he said. “One of my mentors is Livingston Taylor, and one of the things he said is, ‘To be prepared and never called is sad, but to be called and not prepared is a travesty.’

“That’s definitely one of the things that Joe has kind of instilled in me is this work ethic,” Glier added. “I’ve had two weeks off from tour and I’ve been playing more piano than I ever would on tour. It’s like training for a marathon, but I want Springsteen’s career and I’m going to work really, really hard at that.”

 
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