Back when I lived and worked in Pittsfield I made the acquaintance of a singer-songwriter-guitarist, Jim Whitman. He’s released several CDs over the years but it has been quite a bit of time since he and I have spoken. To be honest, when I discovered he would perform Aug. 10 at the Old Mill Pub, I reached out to chat.

 

Q: So, Jim, what have you been up to these last — when was the last time we talked, anyway?

Whitman: Back in 2003 when I did my “Twilight Motel” album.

Q: Wow, that doesn’t seem possible it was a decade ago! Have you got something new out now?

Whitman: No, I don’t. I’ve recorded some stuff but I don’t really have the funding to it right now … the possibility’s always there, though.

 

Q: You’re still out performing?

Whitman: Yeah, I’m still doing it and loving it.

 

Q: Tell me about the Old Mill Pub.

Whitman: Well, it’s right on the river in Skowhegan, the parking lot is right behind Key Appliances. It’s really an old place, it used to be a woolen mill in the latter part of the 19th century but it’s been a restaurant for a long time. In fact, it’s one of the first venues that I ever played at in the state of Maine. I started playing there in the mid ’80s and I’ve seen it change hands time and time again. But you walk in there and it has a really intimate and friendly atmosphere.

 

Q: Well, that sounds tailor-made for what you do.

Whitman: It is. You could envision it almost in the Old Greenwich Village back in the late ’50s-early ’60s.

 

Q: Are you still writing songs?

Whitman: I don’t do it as much as I used to, I think, early on the process was somewhat fresh — the songs came easily and I was writing all the time — but nowadays I’m lucky if I write a handful of songs a year. The ones I wrote before have stood up well. I just got a royalty check from BMI for international coverage in Kazakhstan.

Q: Oh, wow!

Whitman: Yeah, I know. I mean, I never put it on the computer so the way I figure it is that someone at a show bought a CD and apparently it would up out there.

Q: Now let’s talk a little more about the Old Mill Pub gig. What is a set of yours like nowadays? Is it like a career overview?

Whitman: Well, what I’ve found playing music out is that people want to hear what they know so I’ve had to cross the line and play cover tunes. I throw in some of mine but they really want to hear something they can sing along to, so I play classic stuff like Springsteen, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash … you know, it’s not so bad.

 

Q: How’s your wife, Sam?

Whitman: Oh, Sammy’s doing fine. She comes out and sings with me when she can — when her schedule permits — but she’s doing great.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Whitman: Just thank you for listening, because if they weren’t there, I wouldn’t be either. One of the gratifying things I see — and what makes me want to continue doing it — is people walking in stressed out from their lives or their jobs or whatever and they get served a meal, and you’re looking at them and you’re connecting with them — they’re hearing something that they really like — and you can almost see their stress level go down. You can see smiles and people humming along and singing and that is the most gratifying thing in the world. We absolutely love that aspect of it!

 

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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