Solo musician Derek Papa is a nostalgic fellow. “I would like to see those stage guitar holders come back,” he says, “the ones that don’t require a strap, they just suspend in midair. They were big in the ’80s and allowed you to walk up and shred on multiple guitars during one song.” On stage, he is seen with two guitars that “[I am] very attached to. My Fender Telecaster, made in 1999, never lets me down. I bought it new, so I know every bit of its wear and tear. My acoustic is a 1964 Gibson J-50, which I’ve had since 2001. It has a haunting low end to it. I would save both from a burning building.”
Nostalgia permeates the songs on his recently released CD from Arno Records, I Will Get to You, which includes (along with guitar and Papa’s vocals) banjos, a Rhodes piano, harmonica, and lap-steel guitar, creating a quirky, laid-back, folksy atmosphere.
But he goes by his own name — not a stagy alter ego, which is popular among musicians these days. When asked why that is, Papa says, “I guess it’s like a chance to try on a different pair of shoes that you don’t normally wear.”
Papa hosts a weekly event Thursdays at the Whistle Stop dubbed “Zzzz: The Sound of Quiet Punx.” On his MySpace blog, he states, “Zzzz is a free monthly evening designed for ‘less agro’ or ‘more pensive’ artists and music lovers to come and see fragile local music come to life at [your] favorite bar.”
WORST JOBS YOU’VE HAD
“This is an example of a great job but bad task: when I was 14, I helped my neighbor’s landscaping business in the summers. It was a great job. I would do a lot of weeding and brush-clearing. However, one day [my neighbor] accidentally had me weed out a poison ivy vine.… And scooping ice cream. I didn’t like being forced to weigh it. Everyone should get too much ice cream.”
“The knocking down of the San Diego Hotel.”
BEST THING DONE WHEN DRUNK
“Wandering around town is always fun.”
WHAT IS IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1. John Cale, Paris 1919. “I think this one will sound extra nice in the fall.”
2. Neil Young, On the Beach.
3. Woody Guthrie, Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child.
4. Jimmie Rodgers, My Time Ain’t Long.
“Best — my first band played on the edge of a half pipe in Utah for a snowboarding contest. We weren’t exactly the kind of music that made you want to bust a backside 720, but it was incredible playing on a mountaintop. Worst — I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was somewhere in P.B. Some guy started setting up his drums during our set. Not cool, bro.”
“The blizzard of ’78, Ipswich, Massachusetts.”
FAVORITE SAN DIEGO HANGOUTS
“There are a few. I like watching the mountain lion at the zoo. The cactus gardens. Torrey Pines.”
BEST LOCAL BAR
“Hamilton’s Tavern is a great place to go when the sun won’t leave you alone. Mondays are the best, when Sam is pouring.”
“Boredom is the root of all evil — the despairing refusal to be oneself.” — Kierkegaard
BEST ADVICE GIVEN
“To play the pentatonic blues scale.”
WORST NAGGING DREAM
“I haven’t been good about keeping a dream journal, but once I dreamt I was hiking and arrived at Broken Arrow Ranch.”