Q&A with Pam Tillis
Editor’s note: In anticipation of her performance March 19 at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, country music star Pam Tillis took time off from her schedule for an interview with Rob Wyman of Rubber Soul Productions LLC, promoter of the concert.
RW:: As the daughter of Mel Tillis, you grew up around country stars and musicians. Looking back on your childhood, what encounters or experiences stand out?
PT: My first time on stage at the old Ryman stands out, I was 8. Meeting larger than life people like Dotty West, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Roger Miller giving us walkie-talkies when we were kids, going with Dad to the CMAs the year he won Entertainer of the Year … So many colorful, brilliant people in Nashville in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
RW: Your father has been battling some health issues recently. Can you give us an update? How is he doing?
PT: He went to the hospital in January of last year with colon issues and became septic on the way to the hospital. That’s really what set him back so bad. He is at home now in Florida and continuing to try to regain his strength. It has been a tough road, but his spirits are indomitable and his sense of humor is very much intact. We are all extremely grateful to the fans for all their support
RW: Your work has been recognized with a Grammy Award, County Music Awards and International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
PT: The awards are very pretty on my shelves, but just having a career that has lasted three-plus decades is my proudest accomplishment.
RW: Today’s country music looks and sounds a lot different than the country music of old. What are your thoughts on the current state of country music?
PT: There is some amazing talent out there. Of course it sounds different. The new generation has a different well of influences they draw from, but many of the kids are deeply respectful of the roots of country – they just want to do their own things. … I was the same way. I am just grateful that so many people still love ’90s country.
RW: When not touring or making music, what do you like to do for fun?
PT: I love to nest. I love antique stores and thrift stores and creating a pretty home environment. Home is really important to me as a remedy to all the miles we have to travel. I love to garden. I love to see movies with my sisters or old friends. … Reading, hanging out with my husband and two dogs. … Nothing exotic but deeply satisfying!
RW: You are obviously a music fan. Can you name an artist or band that you really enjoy, that may surprise most people?
PT: I love all types of music. I cruise around on iTunes a lot and just see what I can discover. … I have an app on my phone called Shazam and whenever I’m out somewhere and hear something I like, that I don’t recognize, I can find out what it is. Of the new crop of artists on the radio now, I love Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton. … They’re great. I love indie stuff, too, like Shovels and Rope and bluegrass and jazz and classical. Oh well, you get the idea.
RW: Where was the most unique place you’ve ever performed?
PT: Performing on the lawn at the White House was memorable. Playing at four in the morning for a festival of drunk Norwegians was interesting!
RW: What can people expect to hear at your show in Wittenberg on Sunday, March 19?
PT: A southern accent! No, seriously, my trio is me and two other extremely talented multi-instrumental women. People say they love the harmonies, the vocal blend, and people always seem to love the stories behind the songs on acoustic gigs like this. I like it to feel like you’re in my living room. I am looking forward to it and hope to see y’all there!
The concert is sponsored by Rubber Soul Productions LLC, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg and Wagner Oil.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Pam Tillis concert
WHEN: 4 p.m. March 19. Husband and wife duo Art and Stephanie Stevenson, of the Highwater band, will open the show. Doors open at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Auditorium, Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, 400 W. Grand Ave., Wittenberg.
COST: Tickets are available at Hanke’s Sentry Foods in Wittenberg or online at www.rubbersoulproductions.com. All seats are reserved and cost $37 in advance and $42 day of show. Doors to the school will open at 3 p.m.
FYI: Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School choral students will sell concessions. The Wittenberg Lions Club will sell 50/50 raffle tickets prior to the performance, and a winner will be drawn immediately before the concert.