Multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Tim Wechgelaer has a theory about why radio has remained so popular over the years, and now on the Internet and via satellite — variety.
“If you’re taking a long road trip in a car and you throw a CD in — once you’ve heard a CD once or twice, you know what’s coming next, there’s no surprise,” Wechgelaer said from a coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, the city he has called home for the past 15 years. “And I think that’s one of the magnetic things about radio, is that it keeps you interested because you don’t know what’s coming next.”
In many ways, this unpredictable nature has guided Wechgelaer’s musical career, ever since he first picked up an acoustic guitar in the early ’70s. It’s there in his many projects, from the Irish-rock hybrid of Big Medicine to his fiddling with Jim Gaudet and His Railroad Boys — although Wechgelaer quit that band last year).
Tim Wechgelaer with band
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: The Parting Glass, 40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs
More Info: 583-1916, www.partingglasspub.com
When he performs solo or in a duo setup, Wechgelaer can go even further. His gigs at Saratoga bars from Gaffney’s to The Parting Glass cover everything from traditional folk numbers to classic country from the likes of Johnny Cash, to classic rock and Irish songs. That’s what keeps it interesting for him and the musicians he plays with, not to mention his audiences.
“I’ve had people come up and say, ‘We really loved the diversity that you have; in one set of music you have lots of different things,’ ” Wechgelaer said. “And yeah, I think that’s a good thing. If somebody says, ‘Every song sounds the same,’ you know, that’s probably not a good thing — I wouldn’t take that as a compliment. I like to mix it up, and I think sometimes the audience likes that too.”
Wechgelaer will be mixing things up yet again when he performs at The Parting Glass on Friday night. Originally billed as a duo show with guitarist Larry Clyman, the lineup has expanded to feature a new, as-yet-unnamed band with bassist Chris Carey, guitarist Chris Kyle (both of indie rock group Railbird), drummer Mike LoMaestro and special guest vocalist Sherian Nolan.
At the moment, Wechgelaer is involved with at least five different musical projects, including this new band, Big Medicine, his solo work, and duos with Clyman and Carey.
“I have one calendar, that’s the secret,” he said with a laugh. “You can’t have it in more than one place. I have one written calendar; I handwrite everything, and that’s the only way I keep it together. I’m on track probably to do about 250 gigs this year, so it’s a lot of shuffling around.”
Although Wechgelaer has focused most of his music career on acoustic styles, he got his start with the British Invasion bands and ’60s rock ’n’ roll. A White Plains native, Wechgelaer began spending his summers in Stony Creek after high school, where he first came into contact with a fledgling Stony Creek Band and the upstate New York music scene.
“There was a great music scene there at the time, and I was exposed to the beginnings of the Stony Creek Band and some old time fiddlers that were in the area, and it all kind of came together there for me,” Wechgelaer said. “I got into the more folky, country, acoustic stuff when I started playing. I don’t know. I think, I just kind of gravitated towards those styles. I was always a [Bob] Dylan fan too, but I always — I think the instruments themselves kind of led me toward the music. . . . I started on acoustic guitar, and it didn’t sound like Jimmy Page — it’s an acoustic guitar.”
Around this time, Wechgelaer also picked up the fiddle, and briefly studied classical violin. Mandolin came soon after, and Wechgelaer was soon making the rounds in Saratoga and Lake George, playing the busy summer season. Eventually, he decided to move to Saratoga with his wife.
In 2005, Wechgelaer released his first, and to date only, solo album, “Rainbows.” In addition to four original songs, including the bluesy title track, Wechgelaer covers traditional country songs, Irish jigs and other classic covers — similar to what he does in his live sets.
Wechgelaer continues to perform music full time and do woodworking on the side. After four decades of performing, he feels the music scene in Saratoga has never been better.
“It seems like it gets better all the time — more venues to play, especially for acoustic music,” he said. “It’s a little bit harder for big bands, I think, but I think for acoustic music, I think there are more venues now than there ever were. And it’s growing; people expect to see live music in this area.”