Dietrich Strause – that’s a name to remember. He has established himself as one of the most popular greater Boston songwriters of recent years. In addition, he’s added some great brass arrangements (playing a damn fine trumpet) at some epic shows with friends in Camberville (Cambridge / Somerville). Dietrich’s songs have been compared to Shaker furniture — “simply made but so full of life they seem to vibrate.” An apt analogy. Furthermore, his songs are meant to last; they tell tales that cover a full range of emotions with an earnestly exquisite sense of time and place.
To learn more about Dietrich Strause, visit his website.
Here’s a video of Dietrich singing “Lemonade Springs.”
How and when did you get hooked on playing the guitar?
There were two music classes in my middle school. I can’t remember the name of the teacher who taught the recorder, but Mr. Hilliard was the guitar teacher. Thankfully I was placed in the guitar class. However I spent all of middle school complaining that my fingers were too short and stubby to be able to play the guitar. I hated it. But I was bit by the bug in my senior year of high school when I started listening to music that revolved around the guitar. I borrowed my uncle’s guitar and played it constantly. He then bought me a nice guitar of my own. On the drive to start college in the fall, I’m surprised I didn’t steer with my feet so I wouldn’t have to put it down.
Do you recall the first time you sat down to actually write a song? Did the muse come calling or was it a deliberate attempt? 😉
I do! I was sitting in the dorm lounge one of the first few weeks of college and playing guitar with my friend Alex. We decided to write a song together. We started it and never finished it. I guess the muse came calling, but we didn’t have the discipline to see it through.
Your new CD Little Stones to Break the Giant’s Heart has been received quite well by the music media and by music fans all over. It’s one of those albums that is as literate as it is musical. Do you receive a lot of inspiration from the written word? I’m thinking in particular of your take on To Kill a Mockingbird — “Jean Louise.” (Great song, by the way.)
Thank you! I like to read fiction. Mostly character based novels. One of my favorite books, right beside To Kill a Mockingbird, is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. What I love about character based novels is that the authors develop their characters by showing and not telling; through imagery and metaphor and not necessarily through plot. Those are the types of songs I find myself drawn to as well. And I guess finding the perfect melody to go with your lyrics is a way of showing what you mean and not just telling.
You grew up in the Lancaster, PA area. Were you exposed to a lot of acoustic music such as the kind you play? If not, how did you find this rather under the radar type music scene?
My father certainly exposed me to acoustic music growing up. We used to go to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is only an hour and a half from Lancaster. When we got out of range of the station that did the post-game recap, my dad would put on Johnny Cash live at Folsom Prison and a compilation record with The Seldom Scene and The Country Gentlemen. I must have listened to “25 Minutes To Go” ninety nine times. For whatever reason on the hundredth time it hit me that that is a sad, dark, and disturbing song! I loved it. I remember exactly where I was. I like to think of this as the moment I came into “song consciousness”.
Do you have any musical heroes? What’s your idea of the perfect song?
Dennis Brennan. He sings every note and word as though it is his dying breath. That takes a passion of heroic proportions. And I don’t know if a perfect song exists yet, but if I had to put money on it, I would bet Anais Mitchell is going to write it.
What are your goals for the immediate future?
I would love to continue to write songs I am proud of. I also want to get out and sing those songs and see the country and the world!