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Rolling in the Real World: Jeff Foster by Jay Dunbar

Jeffrey Dean Foster, Winston-Salem native son and indie music scene veteran, has been mining for his own heart and voice of gold for over two decades. I had the opportunity to talk with him in January about the long road to being true to yourself and making American music in the digital age.

Q. I recently moved to Winston and have been strangely attracted to Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. What are your thoughts on that album and this town?

A. Well, they have both been with me for most of my life. Neil's record does seem kind of chiseled from stone, like it was always here. Not like a pop record that was manufactured, it seems like it was cast from a mold that was quickly broken. That said, "Cinnamon Girl" is about as perfect a pop song as there is. You had those perfect little blasts and then you had the almost infinite explorations of "Down By The River" and "Cowgirl In The Sand". It was the genesis of Neil's guitar sound and Crazy Horse's communal playing style.

I would imagine that at some point everyone thinks that "this is nowhere". Whatever hometown/small town your in can't possibly be all there is to it. So you get out, get to the big city and realize that you feel twice as alone. I was born in WS , lived in NYC for awhile and think that WS is just fine. Better than fine. Home is where you hang your hat ( or hang your head!)

Q. You've been playing out for over twenty years and in that time I'm sure you've wised up on a lot of things. Any advice you'd give to the bourgeoning rockers?

A. The further I go the less I seem to know. The "biz" is changing right before our eyes with making records and selling records in the traditional way almost making no sense. Don't get into it for any reason other than the sound of the music giving you chills when it's just right. Few people ever make a "living" doing it and there isn't enough money on earth the equal the feeling you get when you do get it right. Try to figure out what and who you are. It's impossible not to have heroes and it's hard not to judge yourself against them. Be very diligent about finding your own voice and appreciate it when you find it. Don't hide it, turn it up.

Q. What's on your plate for 2008?

A. Still trying to find my voice. Hopefully making the follow up to Million Star Hotel. There are lots of new songs laying around and many orphans from the past years that need a good home too. Playing more shows, solo acoustic and with The Birds of Prey. Sara Bell is a long time friend. She is in my band The Birds of Prey and now she's asked me to help out in her band Regina Hexaphone. Looking forward to that. Trying to make enough money to keep things rolling in the real world. I'm a house painter by trade. Living life with my wonderful wife and daughter.

Visit Jeffrey's website for some samples from his most recent release, Million Star Hotel.


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