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Monica Rizzio

Singer-Songwriter Q&A

How old were you when you started playing guitar?

I started at 20 when I was attending college in Nashville at Belmont University.

What was your first guitar? Did you buy it yourself? Do you still have it?

Takamine. I did buy it myself at Gruhn Guitars but sold it!

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 dad played accordion. I never played with my dad but wish I did.

Monica's dad, Dennis.

What are the guitars that you play? Do you have a favorite? If so, why is it your favorite?

I own a ‘56 0-18 Martin and a ’37 Gibson L-00. Both I play quite frequently and can’t imagine playing anything else.

Monica with her 1956 Martin 0-18. Photo credit: Acousticool

Monica with her 1937 Gibson L-00. Photo credit: Here and There Photography

What strings do you use (brands and gauges)? How often do you change your strings?

I play D’Addario lights. I only change them when they break. I love old strings!

Do you use a pick? If so, what brand and thickness?

Yes, I own a Dunlop and I love it!

Do you use any effect pedals? If so, what are your favorites?

I have a Strymon Flint, absolutely love it!

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?

Bring them to my local guy. Fran Ladue is my guy and have been using him for years.

Do you have a favorite guitar shop? What makes it a good shop?

I love Gruhn whenever I’m in Nashville.

At what age did you start writing songs?

13 years old.

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 am definitely music first and then the lyrics find their way into the music! I write all my lyrics on my computer.

Who are the top three musicians or bands that have had a major influence on you?

That’s a hard one. Not sure I can give you an answer on that one…Willie Nelson, Orebolo, Goose!

If you could jam with one person, living or dead, who would it be?

Def Willie Nelson, Goose or maybe the boys from Leftover Salmon.

What are your top three “desert island” albums?

Any album by Willie Nelson. Maybe Red Headed Stranger, Dolly Parton and Dripfield by jam band, Goose.

What was the first concert you attended? What was the last concert you attended?

Willie Nelson was the first and Goose with Trey Anastasio was the last.

The Beatles or the Stones?


Where and when was your first paid gig? How much did you make?

Café in East Texas. I made $100.

What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?

Playing Symphony Hall in Boston with Tom Rush.

What has been your worst gig so far and why? (You don’t have to name names).

A bar in Oklahoma. It was one of those nights you question why you are a musician.

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)?

Club Passim, O’Shea’s Olde Inne, Narrows Center for Arts. I love the venue and the audience!

Monica at Club Passim.

How do you work out your setlist?

Feel it out every night depending on city and what I feel is moving me at the time.

Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out in the music business?

Keep on even when you ask yourself why you’re still doing this. Just keep on the road!

Do you have any suggestions for a guitarist or songwriter who might be stuck in a musical rut?

Allow yourself to be messy.

If you weren’t a singer songwriter, what would you be doing for work?

Music teacher, tour manager for a band.

Please list some of your upcoming shows, plug your music and provide links to your merchandise.

I am starting to book for 2023. Check out my website!


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