Sioux Falls Business Story

Geoff Gunderson’s Paramount set will cover ‘whatever makes people smile’

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See Geoff Gunderson live Friday, June 9, at Paramount Cocktail Studio & Foods, next to Minervas in downtown Sioux Falls. But first, learn more about him and his music.

Tell us about your music.

I was inspired to start playing music when I was about 10 years old by my older brothers and was totally into the rock of the early ’70s, so my roots are definitely in classic rock, and I incorporate a lot of those tunes the best I can into an acoustic solo set. For example, I do a solo versions of “Hotel California,” “Pinball Wizard” and “Stairway to Heaven” that I have a lot of fun with. Toward the later ’70s I really got into progressive bands such as Yes and began to study classical guitar, and this has continued to be a passion of mine, and I love to play from my classical repertoire if I have the right audience! I’ve also sat in with local jazz bands and frequently play with a traditional big horn band called Kickin’ Brass. My favorite thing to play is whatever makes people smile, which often comes back to the old standards such as Jimmy Buffet or Van Morrison. I pride myself in being versatile, and in a typical evening I will go from blues to jazz to rock to classical to country and maybe even a little polka if I’m in the mood!

Who’s your musical inspiration?

My musical inspirations are too many to mention. I like pretty much any music, especially if it is positive and makes people smile. Right now, my biggest inspiration is my family. My kids and my grandkids have given me a much bigger perspective on life, and I know that this comes through in my guitar playing and singing. I’ve played and sung many songs for years and years, but I had no idea what they meant until I started experiencing life through the eyes of my kids and grandkids. Any songwriting I do these days is, without a doubt, inspired by my family.

What’s your car radio typically set to?

Probably KBAD 94.5 for good classic rock. I love to go for long bike rides on the trails and will often have a pair of headphones on listening to the Rev in the afternoon. I switch over the classical stations on public radio pretty frequently. Once in a while, I try to listen to the top 40 stations such as Hot 104.7 because I think it would be nice to be current and up to date on what’s happening, but I don’t usually make it very long. I joke that most of what I play is not from this century but from way back in the 1900s.

What kind of crowd do you typically see at your show?

I get all ages from very young to very old. I teach kids, and I love playing songs that they are familiar with and will perk up to, such as “I’m a Believer” from “Shrek,” but I’ve even whipped off a pretty good version of the ABC song or “You Are My Sunshine.” I find that college-age kids often are into the same ’70s music I grew up with, and the 50-plus crowd are my generation, so they are right at home with me.

What’s the best part about performing live music?

Well, if I could bottle the feeling I get when performing, I’d be a millionaire! I love music and the connection it makes to people from all walks of life. It’s so nice to look out and see people smiling and enjoying what I do. I’ve had the pleasure of playing for thousands of people, which is a great rush, but in a more intimate setting such as the Paramount, sometimes the connection is even more fun because it is so much more personal, and I can casually chat with someone in the audience between songs or even during songs!

For those joining you at Paramount, what kind of cocktail goes best with your show?

It’s got to be an Old-Fashioned.