Flux of 1960s influences Greg Trooper’s country blues

The scope of American music changed forever with the arrival of the Beatles in 1964, along with numerous other British acts. The decade also was a time of experimentation with musical styles, such as folk, country and blues. Along the way, these groundbreaking achievements in music influenced many young people over the airwaves. One such artist — Greg Trooper — will perform in the State College area.

On May 11, the Center for the Well Being in Lemont will host the singer-songwriter and New Jersey native for the Acoustic Brew’s final concert of the spring 2013 season.

Trooper, 57, grew up during the 1960s, a decade that spawned a whole new generation of musicians and musical styles.

“I was driven by the radio to start with, and it was a great, great time to be introduced to rock ’n’ roll music,” he said. “Not only was the radio filled with the British invasion, English guys playing American blues, but it was filled with a lot of soul music. So I’m just a product of a certain time I fell in love with: the evolution of American popular music.”

As Trooper became old enough to recognize what kind of music he liked, he got caught up in the singer-songwriters of the time.

“It was more acoustic-driven, lyric-based music,” he said. “I was introduced to country music, and it was kind of a mix of all that. Then (Bob) Dylan came along and introduced us to a whole different approach to songwriting. That really swept me up into the singer-songwriters. They were very roots-oriented; kind of blues and country-driven.”

Early in his career, Trooper toured with country-folk singer and songwriter John Prine, and collaborated with several other well-known artists, but today he performs mostly solo with his guitar and harmonica in smaller clubs. It’s during studio recordings that Trooper adds more musical elements.

“My records are really keyboard-influenced, a lot of B-3 organ, and guitar-and-rhythm-section-driven. The record that I’m in the middle of making now, which will come out at the end of this summer, there’s a lot more steel guitar on there, a little more country-influenced,” he said.

Although he does incorporate different styles of music into his sound, Trooper said he is more song-oriented and doesn’t try consciously to experiment with anything new.

“I kind of let the song drive that for the most part,” he said. “I set out to write the best song I can, and let the song kind of determine where I might go with it musically. I just try to write the best song I can that will connect with people, and then try to produce it in a way that will deliver that connection.”

Trooper’s sound is a mix of country, folk, and blues, a combination of styles that is quite common for many musicians in the music world. But he said he often finds people asking him what it is he plays.

“Sometimes I say it’s Americana, and sometimes I tell them it’s just country-blues,” he said. “But all of these things, when you think about it, are a large umbrella that covers a lot of styles.”

Throughout his career, Trooper has had some luck with artists who’ve recorded his songs, most notably Vince Gill, Steve Earle and Billy Bragg.

“That’s an overwhelmingly flattering thing to happen in my life,” he said. “What’s even more amazing about that and more flattering to me is that these guys are all songwriters. The last thing they need is my songs.”