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Interview: Folksinger Richard Shindell on his influences and his love of Cedar Rapids’ CSPS Hall


Richard Shindell

CSPS Hall — Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

Richard Shindell returns to Cedar Rapids for a mid-week show at CSPS. — photo by Alejandro Baccarat

It may be the name of his latest record, but Richard Shindell is anything but Careless when it comes to making music.

Songwriter, guitarist and folksinger Shindell returns to CSPS Hall on Wednesday night for a concert presented by Legion Arts. Tickets are still available — $18 in advance and $22 at the door — for the concert, which begins at 7 p.m. Shindell will be joined by Marc Shulman on electric guitar.

A good portion of the concert will feature songs from Careless. But longtime fans will be treated to music from across his career.

“I always try to do a mix of songs from all of my records,” Shindell said. “So there might be five or six songs from that record out of a total of maybe 16 songs.”

Those 16 songs will reflect a wide array of musical interests.

“I listen to a lot of music, and I don’t primarily listen to singer-songwriters, my genre,” he said.

He does listen to rock and what he calls Celtic pop and British Isles pop (including Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson) as well as prog rock and legends like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.

“It’s a weird combination of various influences,” he said.

He identifies one other influence on both his songs and his approach to recording.

“There’s a little bit of Beatles there. Not as good,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m very much a fan of just the way the Beatles recorded their songs. I mean, their songs are wonderful, but also the way they recorded their songs is wonderful. And of course, we’ve all been inspired by that, and nobody will ever get anywhere near that. But they sort of set the bar for a certain way of hearing pop songs and a certain sense of how to work a studio when you set about to record a pop song.”

He brought some of those ideas to Careless.

“I think on this record I spent more time kind of messing around in the studio and trying to get sounds and try things and play different instruments.”

But at CSPS, Shindell won’t have a full band or the ability to craft soundscape with various recording techniques. That doesn’t concern him at all.

“It’s going to sound different. There’s no getting around it,” he said. “However, luckily, when I write songs, I write a complete arrangement for the guitar with basslines and internal melodies and even percussion built into the way I play it as a solo artist. So it’s not difficult for me to play the songs and to come up with something that sounds like it has some integrity. But of course I don’t have all of those instruments with me. But I can always fall back on that original guitar arrangement.”

Shindell is pleased to be coming back to town to share his music.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to Cedar Rapids. I love CSPS. I was just there with Dar Williams not long ago, and it’s one of my favorite places to play. So I’m just really looking forward to it.”


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