Photo credit: Rachel Moberg
How old were you when you started playing guitar?
I started playing guitar at age 14 on a borrowed nylon 6 string.
What was your first guitar? Did you buy it yourself? Do you still have it?
My first guitar was an Epiphone steel 6-string. I did buy it myself. I saved up and bought it at Charlie's Music in Boston. I do not own it anymore. I gave it to my father.
Did your parents or grandparents play any instruments? If so, what did they play? Did you ever get a chance to play with them?
My mother was a classical pianist who taught herself to play guitar. In order to earn money to buy a new piano, she gave lessons to the kids in our neighborhood - me included. Her tastes ranged from classical to jazz to singer/songwriter/folk and everything in between. My father plays a few chords on guitar and is an old school country music fan. Music was very much a part of my childhood and teenage years and yes, my mother and I played and sang together often. I was a military brat who moved a lot. Music was my haven.
What are the guitars that you play? Do you have a favorite? If so, why is it your favorite?
I have a Martin 000M parlor room acoustic, a Martin GPCPA Performing Artist Series acoustic/electric, a Yamaha F310 acoustic (which was my sister's), a Lucero nylon classical (which was my mother's), a Dean guitar/banjo, an Eastman mandolin and a 1994 American Fender Stratocaster. Since they all serve different purposes, whichever one I'm playing is my favorite.
Kim's Martin 000M.
Kim's Martin Performing Artists Series GPCPA.
Kim's Lucero classical guitar.
Kim's Dean six string banjo.
Kim's Eastman mandolin.
Kim's 1994 American Fender Stratocaster.
I forgot to add the Collings OM1 to my guitar list. That's my newest purchase and it sounds soooo sweet.
Kim's Collings OM1.
What strings do you use (brands and gauges)? How often do you change your strings?
For the Strat, I use Ernie Ball RPS Super Slinky Custom Gauge. I'm picky about how they sound and feel, so I change them pretty often.
Do you use a pick? If so, what brand and thickness?
I used to use Fender mediums, but now I use my index acrylic fingernail like a pick. To me it sounds a bit louder than just a finger strum, but less aggressive sounding than an actual pick.
Do you use any effect pedals? If so, what are your favorites?
Do you work on your own guitars or do you bring them to a guitar tech? Are there any guitar techs that you would like to recommend?
The only thing I do myself is change the strings! The rest I leave to the same luthier I've trusted my instruments to for the past 10 years. He is retired now so is not taking new customers.
Do you have a favorite guitar shop? What makes it a good shop?
I purchased a number of my instruments from The Music Emporium in Lexington, MA. Great customer service and you can literally play instruments all day with no pressure. I bought my Martin GPCPA - which is my workhorse - from Guitar Center.
The Music Emporium - Lexington, MA
At what age did you start writing songs?
How about if I answer that in a different way...I started writing songs in 2014.
What is your songwriting process? Is it the music or the lyrics that usually come to you first? Do you write old school on paper, or electronically?
I create on old school paper until it starts shaping into a piece I feel like will become a finished song. Then I move it to my laptop to finish. It's almost always music first. My guitar is kind of like a Ouija board in that my fingers find either a chord progression or a lick. Then I hum over the guitar. Lyrics are last and typically the hardest part for me. It often takes me a while to flush out what the song is about - what it is trying to be.
Who are the top three musicians or bands that have had a major influence on you?
Kim covering Sarah Jarosz's, House of Mercy.
If you could jam with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
What are your top three “desert island” albums?
Choosing just three is tough. I'd say Sgt. Pepper, James Taylor's Greatest Hits, and Blue Heron Suite.
What was the first concert you attended? What was the last concert you attended?
James Taylor was the first. He did a benefit concert and only half the venue was used. It was just him and his guitar and when he played "Fire and Rain', nobody breathed.
Kim and Heather Swanson performing James Taylor's, Carolina On My Mind.
The last concert I attended was Brandi Carlisle...a double header with my oldest daughter; Monday in Portland, ME and Tuesday in Portsmouth, NH.
Kim and her daughter, Portland, ME.
The Beatles or the Stones?
Oh definitely The Beatles.
Where and when was your first paid gig? How much did you make?
At The Mashpee Commons Farmers Market. I was paid $100.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
Headlining at the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, MA.
Photo credit: Matt Smith
What has been your worst gig so far and why? (You don’t have to name names).
It was a gig where there was a misunderstanding between the series sponsor and the town. The police told me I wasn't allowed to play plugged in, but I actually was permitted to because the sponsor had obtained all the proper permissions. It was resolved.
What are some of the venues you enjoy performing at the most? What things make the venue enjoyable for the performer (location, equipment, setup, organizers)?
I adore any listening room: coffee houses, house concerts, libraries, museums. These types of venues all involve a community to make the music happen and the workers and volunteers are wonderful.
Photo credit: Caroline Brodt
How do you work out your setlist?
It just depends on how I'm feeling when I'm creating the setlist.
Photo credit: Jake Jacobson
Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out in the music business?
The very best advice I got was from my producer who said "Don't let anyone dictate your art."
Photo credit: Rachel Moberg
Do you have any suggestions for a guitarist or songwriter who might be stuck in a musical rut?
Walk away for a bit. I've been reading Rick Rubin's book and his philosophy about art really resonates with me. Sometimes you can get too focused. When you allow
space, often times the muse or inspiration has room to make itself known.
"No matter what tools you use to create, the true instrument is you." - Rick Rubin
If you weren’t a singer-songwriter, what would you be doing for work?
Pursuing my passion for making music is the only thing I see myself doing.
Photo credit: Kara Ryan
Please list some of your upcoming shows, plug your music and provide links to your merchandise.
Website (for music, merch and shows): kimmobermusic.com
Photo credit: Rachel Moberg
Kim's latest album is a nine song suite that tells the Anishinaabe legend of the "The Seven Fires Prophecy." (Long ago, seven prophets visited the Anishinaabe people who were living a full and peaceful life on the northeastern coast of North America known to Indigenous People as Turtle Island. These prophets left the people with seven predictions for the future. Each prophecy was called a ‘fire’ and each fire referred to a particular period in time.)
"The Seven Fires Prophecy: Suite for Humanity" release date is August 11th, but you can purchase it now at Kim's online store.