SCOTT SIMON, host:

So what have you done in the past 24 hours? Maybe came home, had some dinner, got some rest, got up, had some coffee. And you're letting us join you in the kitchen right now.

Well, Jeff Aug is an American guitarist now living in Germany who holds the Guinness World Record for the most concerts performed in different countries in 24 hours. He played in six different countries in 24 hours, six. He is the Jack Bauer of the music world. Mr. Aug, could you show us the kind of music you played at those six concerts?

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Wow. Ow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: That's "Boot on Fire"?

Mr. JEFF AUG (Guitarist): "Boots on Fire," right.

SIMON: That's Jeff Aug, certainly demonstrating why his whirlwind tour of six countries in 24 hours was called the Wounded Fingers Tour.

Mr. Aug: Right.

SIMON: Welcome to our performance studio, 4A, here. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. Aug: Well, thank you for inviting me.

SIMON: And you use your fingers, not a pick?

Mr. AUG: Right, only my fingers.

SIMON: Why?

Mr. AUG: Sounds better…

SIMON: OK, can't dispute that. But it must hurt.

Mr. AUG: Well, you know, you do it long enough, you develop a nice callus there on the fingers. It's like a fine, tanned leather.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Fine Corinthian leather?

MR. AUG: Yeah, it's very nice.

SIMON: Now, what were these countries? I mean, were they - forgive me - easy ones like Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra?

MR. AUG: You bet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MR. AUG: It was - started off in Liechtenstein…

SIMON: Uh-huh.

MR. AUG: …Vaduz, the capital. And then we moved it on down about an hour away to St. Gallen, Switzerland. And then it was a 40-minute drive - 45-minute drive to Dornbirn, Austria. And then we drove over the Alps through heavy fog to Immenstadt, Germany, which is southern Germany. And then had an extra driver sleep during the day, and he met up with us in Germany, and he drove us seven and half hours through the night to Belgium, where we played in the early afternoon, and then another hour away in Haarland, the Netherlands.

SIMON: Hmm. And this wasn't a gimmick, right?

Mr. AUG: Gimmick?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUG: Everything is a gimmick today, sometimes.

SIMON: What did your fingers feel like after 24 hours?

Mr. AUG: The fingers were fine. My right arm had a bit of a problem after show number four.

SIMON: Do - forgive me; I hate to get obsessed - but do you like, soak your fingers in ice the way a football player soaks - their joints?

Mr. AUG: You know, Chico Marx always put his hands in warm water before he would perform. And I prefer to keep my fingers away from all forms of liquid. Keep them dry and tight.

SIMON: Well, what do you like about the guitar? What…

Mr. AUG: I love the sound. I love the sound and I love to bring the sound out the way it feels - the way my fingers want it to be. A lot of people say they have a melody in their head. I have a melody, and my fingers have melodies in their heads. I think each of my fingers has its own brain, and they bring out things.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. AUG: They bring that, and it just rings out and that resonates, and I just - I love that sound. I could - one of my favorite things to do is to play guitar when I want to play guitar, not when I have to play guitar. And a lot of times, I'd sit on my couch at home, playing one note.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. AUG: And just letting it ring out. That's what I love about the guitar.

SIMON: Could we hear another song?

Mr. AUG: Yeah, sure.

SIMON: Something a bit slower.

Mr. AUG: All right.

SIMON: "120."

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: It's very nice.

Mr. AUG: Thanks.

SIMON: Jeff Aug, by the way, here in NPR Studio 4A. That piece called "120," it's on his most recent CD, "Living Room Sessions." I've been cautioned to look out for something. Are you - is there a finger you don't use?

Mr. AUG: Yeah, there is, there is. I don't use my index finger. I started out playing finger picking, holding the pick between my index finger and my thumb.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. AUG: Picking with the other fingers. It's called hybrid picking. And then eventually down the road, I figured out that just playing the bass with my thumb with the skin…

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. AUG: …instead of the pick, sounded nicer. So I dropped the pick and the index finger just had nothing more to do, and it kind of like hangs out now.

SIMON: So you play all that with four fingers…

Mr. AUG: Yeah.

SIMON: …with three fingers.

Mr. AUG: Yeah, mostly three. I don't use the pinkie that much, so…

SIMON: Now, how did you find the guitar?

Mr. AUG: Well, I was taking piano lessons from when I was 6 years old until about 12 or 13. But when I was 12 years old, my Uncle Arthur was moving out of his - out of Grandma and Grandpa's house in New York. They were moving down to Orlando, and so he had to move out. We went up there just as he was moving out, and he had an old electric guitar and gave it to my sister and brother and me. And I looked at that thing and I said, I'm going to learn how to play this thing because it's just cool.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. AUG: I liked to read music, so I was figuring out where these notes were on the guitar, and I fell in love with the instrument. It - I had a feeling with the - I was making music, whereas with the piano, it always seemed very sterile, just playing the notes that were written on the page.

SIMON: You - now, you used to be, I gather, in a hard rock band called Sorry About Your Daughter.

Mr. AUG: Right, right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUG: Don't hold it against me.

SIMON: No, no, no, no. I'm just wondering how you got from that hard rock band to this.

Mr. AUG: Well, I started out playing guitar, electric guitar. I was playing rock music and so I didn't even own an acoustic guitar until I'd been playing for a good six years or so. So while I was developing these rock skills on the electric guitar and writing rock music, then getting an acoustic guitar later on in life, listening to a lot of Windham Hill, New Age sort of stuff, Pierre Bensusan, Michael Hedges, I really got a taste for acoustic instrumental music.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: May I ask - why are you living in Germany?

Mr. AUG: Well, that's a good question. When I was in the band Sorry About Your Daughter, we had a record deal in Germany with a German record label and used to tour over there and release records over there. So when the band broke up, I had some contacts over there. And there was a lot more going on for me over there than there was over here in the United States. The United States is really very competitive, and there is not a lot of cultural funding over here. And I was invited over to Germany to stay with somebody for - old tour manager - for three months, and then hung out with him. And then it was, for the next two years, a rollercoaster ride…

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. AUG: But there were a lot of opportunities. And I'm pretty fast talking, can play a little bit of guitar. And so I was able to sell myself pretty well.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. And what's it like to tour the U.S.? What do you notice?

Mr. AUG: What's it like to tour the U.S.? Well, get used to no catering, no hotels. Enthusiastic audiences are OK. They can happen. Lot of gigs that don't pay money but with a big tip jar. Make sure you bring CDs to sell because that's going to be most of your income. But there's a lot of friendly people, and there's a lot of networking going on. There's a lot of people in the scene you can trade information with.

SIMON: So you're literally - I mean, your family is in the control room. I mean, you want them to come along. but it must be hard to…

Mr. AUG: Sure. Yes, sure, it's - it can - in Germany there's a few festivals that I'll play. And I'll take my son Adrian(ph) with me. And it's a blast. He loves it, you know. As long as he's not in school and he has time, he's with me. He's there, he loves it. He loves it.

SIMON: It's been delightful to talk to you.

Mr. AUG: Well, I appreciate it. It's awesome talking to you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And we're going to ask you to take us out with one last tune. What are we going to hear?

Mr. AUG: We're going to hear a piece that I wrote back in 1997. And it was inspired by a trip to Turkey, where I was introduced to an instrument there called the saaz. Saaz is a - the Turkish guitar. It's got five strings instead of six, the neck is a little bit thinner, the body is more round. And I wrote a piece called "Dedication To The Saaz."

SIMON: OK.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: And that's Jeff Aug, performing at NPR Studio 4A. His new CD is called "Living Room Sessions." You can see a video featuring Jeff Aug's fleet fingers on our Web site, nprmusic.org. By the way, special thanks to Studio 4A engineer Neil Tebold.

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