Kevin Maul is portraying a professional guitar player on the stage at Capital Rep, and if you find him pretty believable in that role it’s because that’s what he does in real life.
For almost 30 years now, Maul, who grew up in Schenectady, South Glens Falls and “all over,” has been doing exactly what he wants — working as a professional musician. Now a resident of Malta, Maul is currently playing one of the band members in the Capital Rep production of “Hank Williams: Lost Highway,” which continues this week before concluding on Saturday. Maul plays a member of the Drifting Cowboys, the band that accompanied Williams during the height of his career in the 1950s.
An avid fan of Williams and country music, Maul has played with some of the biggest names in folk and pop music, including most recently Robin and Linda Williams and the Burns Sisters Band. His resume, however, also includes gigs with Vince Vaughn, the Everly Brothers and Mary Chapin Carpenter. When he’s done with his gig at Capital Rep, he’ll return to the local club scene with his band, No Outlet.
Q: Are you enjoying your gig at Capital Rep, and how is performing in the theater different than a concert performance?
A: I did do a little acting in high school, but all I really do in the play is play music and have some reaction to what’s going on. I don’t have any speaking lines. So it’s a lot like the way I usually perform, although there is the matter of blocking and timing, and being precise in a different way. But it’s going very well, and I can honestly say everyone in this production is really talented. We’re all interested in the subject matter and what they didn’t know they were willing to learn,. So that allowed me to stay very enthusiastic about the whole process.
Q: Are you a Hank Williams fan?
A: I’m a very big Hank Williams fan, and I’m somewhat knowledgeable about his music. So I really thought I could contribute something to this show, and that’s why I agreed to be a part of it. I know when you’re in the theater, there is some dramatic license, and not everyone coming to the show is going to be a huge fan of Hank Williams. But I think those that are huge Williams fans and do come to the show will be very pleased at how we remain faithful to the music.
Q: When did you become interested in music?
A: I played the trumpet in grade school and I messed around with an acoustic banjo, but I really didn’t take up the guitar again seriously until I was in my 20s. I’ve focused on the steel guitar and the dobro, and I would say I’m 90 percent self-taught. I was involved in media and journalism quite a while ago, but then I started playing music, and I’m happy to say that for 30 years now I’ve been able to pay the bills. I’ve managed to be a professional musician most of my adult life.
Q: What type of music do you play?
A: I do everything, but it’s mostly what I call American roots music. Any kind of Americana, blues, rockabilly, and singer/songwriter stuff I enjoy doing. I first got turned on to country music in the mid 1960s, and I’ve always had a lifelong interest in country music, especially the old stuff, covering from the 1920s up through the ’60s. I try to be versatile.
Q: Who are your favorite artists?
A: I have a bunch of people I really enjoy, but three or four that spring to mind are Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. I guess those are probably my top four.
Q: What are your plans when “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” comes to a close?
A: I’ll be playing with my band in Saratoga during the summer, and then maybe a little more freelancing. The Burns Sisters are based in Ithaca — so I’m sure I’ll be doing some more work with them. I also expect to go on the road again with Robin and Linda Williams.
I also wouldn’t mind having another play to do. I was quite interested in acting in high school but then I just went in another different. I’d like to say a few lines next time.