By Casey Reeves, Northwoods News Digital Journalism Intern
Recently, I had the chance to speak with the Northwoods’ very own Scott Kirby.
Exploring his love of music since the age of 12, Kirby is now one of the most beloved musicians in the area.
Playing around 200 shows a year, Kirby is quite the busy man. There are dozens of songs he has learned and written over the years. When I asked if he had a favorite song to play, Kirby responded, “I just enjoy so much music, it’s hard to pick one out.” He is known for not only playing his original music, but also playing covers during his shows, so it’s no surprise that he finds choosing just one song to be difficult.
One of Kirby’s favorite things about being in the Northwoods is having the opportunity to play in so many different areas and venues. “There’s just something about the area in general that’s really special,” said Kirby. “In terms of cool memories, Project North the other year was really cool!” He talked about the community of Rhinelander, admiring how they worked together to put on an event that celebrated local music and businesses in the Northwoods. Kirby said he enjoys being able to play in a variety of local venues, from the Yacht Club in Minocqua to dive bars spread out around the Northwoods.
I also asked Kirby what audiences can expect from his shows. He shared that each performance is unique. “Maybe to my detriment, I rarely put together a setlist. I rely on the feelings and emotions of the crowd and the band.” Kirby plays songs from a variety of genres, “it’s never just country, never just jazz, I’m not just one genre.” He says to look forward to hearing everything from classic country tunes to smooth jazzy performances and, most of all, the honesty in his performance. “I try to do a good job of fitting that crowd [current performance].”
When it comes to other aspiring artists in the Northwoods, Kirby shares this advice: “You have to make sure you are dedicated and that you don’t stay ignorant; go out and teach yourself.”
He offers encouragement for those looking to learn, suggesting researching YouTube videos on different music skills and embracing the Northwoods and what it can teach you. “The Northwoods provides that opportunity to grow and develop, to become a more well-rounded artist or performer.”
I also found Kirby speaking of his musical insecurities as particularly inspiring. “I guess I’m just super self-critical. Even if there’s a song I love, if I think I did bad, I have a hard time playing it again.”
Being so open is a skill one can learn through sharing their art, and it is heartening for aspiring musicians to hear that even those considered to be big names can struggle with their confidence. Kirby also encourages artists to be grateful for the gifts of performing. Even if you don’t get big, performing in itself empowers you to have an enriched soul, being connected to a great music community and taking heart in the small moments of your career.
Casey Reeves is a college student with a few years of writing experience under their belt. Casey currently lives in Chicago, and has family in the Northwoods.