Sounds Local: Performing solo rewarding, challenging for Scott Hall

  • Scott Hall will perform at The Root Cellar in Greenfield on Sunday. Contributed photo

  • Sheryl Hunter

For The Recorder
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

You may not instantly recognize his name, but if you follow local music you most definitely know who Scott Hall is. Hall, who lives in Sturbridge, is best known as the longtime keyboard player for the popular local country-rock band The Drunk Stuntmen.

In addition to his lengthy tenure recording and touring with the Stuntmen, he has played keyboards for a long list of notable Valley musicians, like the Lonesome Brothers, Matt Hebert, Thane Thompson and Mike Flood. Hall has also worked in the duo format, including Two Man Guy, an ongoing project he has with his ex-Stuntman bandmate F. Alex Johnson.

But what people might not be aware of is that Hall also writes and performs his own songs.

In 2008, he released the album, “Humor Me,” and is currently working on its follow up, “Scott Hall Tries Technology,” which he plans to have ready in early 2018.

You can experience Hall’s music for yourself when he plays The Root Cellar in Greenfield on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The show is being billed as “Scott Hall All Alone,” and please note that it is a special, early show — there is no cover charge.

Hall has found that working as a solo artist brings with it both rewards and challenges.

“I’m usually in a band. I’m a piano player by trade, and I like being in a band,” said Hall in a recent phone conversation. “With the Stuntmen, there were so many of us that, you could just do your portion of the work, but when you’re alone you have to set everything up, do all the trouble shooting, sing all the songs — it’s just you, but I’m glad I can do it.”

Was it difficult to get used to be being the only person on stage?

“Like a standup comedian, it can be intimidating, because if something is not going well, you have to stand up there with a straight face and just carry it through,” he said.

But Hall, who started playing piano when he was a child, added that his years of working with a dynamic live band like the Stuntmen was good training for those times when he needs to carry it through.

“Everybody in that band was great at being able to deal with situations going haywire,” Hall said. “They were a great bunch of improvisers, so I’ve got that experience behind me. While it can be tough at times, you just keep the focus on the songs.”

Inspired by his many musical friends, Hall started writing songs back in the late 1990s, but never recorded any of his compositions with the Drunk Stuntmen.

“When I got to the point where I had 10 songs I deemed worthy of recording, I wanted to do it, to have my own record,” he recalled. “But I also really wanted to do it, to go through the whole process with nobody else’s input on it and see what that would result in.”

Recording was something he knew nothing about before beginning work on the Stuntmen records, but he eventually went on to produce albums for Mike Flood and Miranda Brown.  

Now, he is totally immersed in working on the new album. He originally envisioned making an album that had more of an electronic sound, hence the title, “Scott Hall Tries Technology,” but it didn’t work out that way.

“About five years ago I wrote a jazz song and didn’t really know what to do with it. So, I recorded it so I’d have it,” he said. “Then, I wrote a country song and recorded that. And then, there was an electronic song, and suddenly I realized I had enough for an album.”

And while Steve Sanderson, the lead singer for the Drunk Stuntmen, nicknamed him ‘Soft Rock Scott,’ this will not be a soft rock album. The new album will be quite diverse.  

In addition to the aforementioned genres, the disc will feature adult contemporary and classic rock sounds.

“I’m of the generation that made the genre obsolete,” said Hall about the mixed bag of songs that will make up the new disc. “Just look at the great players here on the western Mass. scene — they can play different things and they don’t think ‘I’m only this’ or ‘I’m only that’ and I like that.”

Expect to hear these new songs, as well as selections from “Humor Me,” and “favorites from the history of the whole world narrowed down to the last five or six decades” when he takes the stage at the Root Cellar.

“I’m trying to do the best work I can,” Hall said. “Going out there and playing these songs is a big part of that.”

Hall Is looking forward to his first time playing at the Root Cellar, 10 Fiske Ave. in Greenfield, and especially likes the idea that it’s an early show. So even though it’s a Sunday night, don’t worry — the show will wrap up by 8 p.m. Hall will play three sets and alternate from piano to acoustic guitar. He promises a lively show.

“I try to put as much energy as one person can into it,” he said. “If they don’t like the songs and they don’t like the way I play, I understand that. But I don’t want them leaving thinking ‘Wow, I wish I would have seen something more high-energy.’ I can at least guarantee that, and then let’s see what you think about the music.”

This is a free show, but tips are encouraged.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com