Thursday, July 12, 2012
Caroline Aiken is a musician’s musician: In addition to touring for more than four decades, the Georgian constantly appears at songwriting workshops and clinics where she focuses on helping young artists realize they don’t have to give away their music for free to be heard.
“I help them reassess their value and ask to be paid for [it] when they’re out in public playing a house concert, club or festival,” she says. “There are so many aspects I teach, but the main one is to value what you’re doing.”
Throughout the years, Aiken has taken many young musicians under her wing including, most famously, the Indigo Girls. She also garnered the compliment of compliments from EMI Music’s Bruce Burch: “Aiken is one of the reasons music will always survive.”
“There’s the idea in the music business that we’re a dime a dozen,” she says. “I try to change that and really give the ones coming up the idea that they are creating something of value. They may not conquer the world but they can make a nice living for themselves.”
As someone who started out in the late ’60s playing open mics and street corners, she knows what it’s like to give music away. But Aiken also knows how to make a living: She tours relentlessly; currently, she’s in the midst of a four-month tour, which includes a stop tonight at Wow at the Windmill, the space above Lugano’s Swiss Bistro at the Barnyard. The spot – the brainchild of promoter Kiki Wow – is the temporary replacement venue for what was Plaza Linda.
Aiken has the game to be a household name: On “Popcorn Sonata” her piano ability rivals Joni Mitchell’s and “Helium Balloons” proves she’s just as skillful on a 12-string guitar. Her versatile voice works with the blues, jazz, folk and any other genre. But she doesn’t bemoan the fact that she hasn’t made it big – she says the most rewarding part about her career is simply being able to make a living at it for so long, which is precisely what she teaches. She never takes any of it for granted.
“It’s great to see old friends and beautiful places and meet new people,” Aiken says. “It’s a real dream come true.”
CAROLINE AIKEN performs at 7pm Thursday, July 12, at Wow at the Windmill, The Barnyard (above Lugano’s Swiss Bistro), Carmel Rancho Lane, Carmel. $10. 235-7662.