Musician Trevor Green has always felt connected to ancient music. He sees performing live as a ceremony.
“I’ve always approached music through this sacred place,” Green said. “I enjoy meditation, and that’s pretty much what it comes to every night when I play.”
The world-folk musician will perform with some friends at The Mint in Hailey on Friday, May 20. The show is for those 21 and older. Tickets cost $25-$40. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Green creates an eerie atmosphere with his didgeridoo, one of the oldest instruments on the planet.
“It’s a pretty mysterious instrument,” Green said. “It’s quite satisfying that something so simple can be so powerful. It’s just a hollow, termite-eaten, piece of brown wood.”
Green said he started out as a guitar player. “[Guitar] really just worked for me, and I understood it without any schooling,” he said. “The guitar has always been the first piece in the puzzle.”
Onstage, he plays a plethora of stringed instruments, including the banjo, 12-string guitar and lap-slide.
“I’ve always been a collector of instruments,” Green said. “World instrumentation was always very attractive to me.”
As he sings, he even provides thundering rhythm, drumming with his feet.
“I pretty much like to play anything that makes noise,” Green said. “I found I could make enough sound around the song.”
Growing up, he said, his parents played a lot of great music in the house: Neil Young, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and Pink Floyd. His dad took him to his first Grateful Dead show—the original jam band.
“It changed my life,” Green said. “I remember the atmosphere. It was so much more than just music. That was really when I started to grasp the concepts of what I was going to explore down the road ... it was just an energy.”
Green got the chance to collaborate with one of his idols, music legend David Byrne, for the film “This Must Be the Place.”
“That was definitely a highlight in my musical journey,” Green said. “He’s always been such a magical character for me just to see how he approaches his craft. He doesn’t have this fear about how he showcases his art. It’s just very spontaneous. He’s an artist, a true artist.”
Byrne used Green’s cover of the movie’s title track, a strung-out, pagan version.
“The powerhouse I have musically is probably tapping into darker spaces,” Green said. “They’re more moody and more introspective. There’s a mystical realm in there way more than the major happy modes, which don’t give you as much explorative space.”
However, Green’s biggest influence is solo guitarist Michael Hedges.
“I could just see him channeling this energy and it moving through his whole being and blasting it out through his creativity,” Green said. “It’s not about the notes. ... It’s about being almost mindless.”
Improvisation plays a big role in his live shows. Even though he might play similar songs through the years, they are never exactly the same. With the set list ranging from mellow folk to upbeat tribal, he responds to the crowd’s energy.
“If the room is really attentive and quiet, it would lend itself to more sensitive material,” Green said. “But if people are more rowdy, I’d probably enjoy the more high-energy stuff.”
He never sits down to write a song. Usually, something washes over him, humming as he walks down a trail.
“I never force anything,” Green said. “I just let everything be what it is. I let it just move through when it wants to ... It feels really natural.”
He has always considered himself more of a live artist than a recording musician.
“The live shows carry an energy that the records don’t,” Green said. “It’s a little bit more magical in the live room.”
He used to try to carve out songs differently in the studio.
“Early on, I probably took it too seriously to a default,” Green said. “I’ve learned how to lighten up with my music through the years.”
Now, he just tries to capture the energy of his live show, like lightning in a bottle.
At The Mint, a handful of great local musicians will join him onstage, including Jason Vontver on drums, Brad Hershey on standup bass and Chip Booth on banjo, mandolin and electric guitar. Green’s old touring buddy Trevor Lloyd will join on viola.
Over the years, Green has oscillated between performing solo and with a band.
“The pros in being a solo artist is the freedom, the versatility,” he said. “It can also be a pretty vulnerable space sitting onstage solo.”
Playing solo, he got to play in venues he wouldn’t have been able to with a full band. When in a band, you have to juggle personalities, he said.
“It’s very similar to a marriage where you can find trigger points,” Green said. “If you don’t communicate well, it can implode quickly.”
With a band, his sonic landscape opens up.
“You get to really explore,” Green said. “It’s like a conversation. There’s a lot more listening going on, which I enjoy quite a bit—hearing somebody’s phrase and responding to it.”
He originally played the Sawtooth Valley Gathering in Stanley 15 years ago. After visiting off and on since, he moved to the Wood River Valley five years ago from Southern California.
“I just love quiet, beautiful spaces,” Green said. “It’s been magical having my children here and watching them grow in a unique way.”
When he found out he was having his first son, he was scared, he said. With a friend, he had to go sit in the water, his place for quiet contemplation. He figured his music career was over, a 9-5 job looming on the horizon.
“All that indoctrination I had grown up with was pretty much settling in,” Green said.
His friend told him, “This is not the end of it, this is the beginning. It’s gonna be a big blessing for you. It’s going to help you.”
He realized he needed to teach his kids by example. He needed to show them he “followed his heart.”
Back then, he thought the measure of success was headlining a world tour.
“I’ve realized these days it’s more about the subtleties and not so much what the industry has driven it to be a music career,” Green said. “I would like to see more balance with it—more collaboration, more freedom, more fun.” ￼