Musician (Mike) NOTAR is primed to take the stage, alongside the Counting Crows and Augustana, at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre on July 15, 2010. This is the musician’s first major tour after being discovered by Adam Duritz and Tyrannosaurus Records, but he’s definitely not new to the music scene. A former MC and a classically trained jazz musician, NOTAR has been exploring the world of music for as long as he can remember. His father, who passed away in 1991, was Michael Notarfrancesco, a well respected jazz musician, and he had a profound impact in helping NOTAR to develop and cultivate his musical talent. NOTAR was gracious enough to take time away from his busy touring schedule and answer a few candid questions about life, music, and what inspires him.
NOTAR had mentioned on his blog, http://notarforpresident.tumblr.com/ that he was spending some of his time on the tour van writing music. When asked what inspired him to write and whether or not he was incorporating his touring experience into his lyrics, he responded,” I try to write all the time. I’m always inspired to write, but sometimes it doesn’t really work out that way. I can be inspired and then the words won’t come together, the mood switches, or something out of my control happens and leads me off track. I just figure that if I’m going to be on these long car rides, I might as well put in double the work. Everything I come into contact with…traveling, life, experience, these are all things I try to incorporate into my music, because they’re real, not synthetic.”
NOTAR’s sound is definitely anything but false. Drawing from all kinds of musical inspiration, he has managed to create a unique blend of soul, hip hop, and lyrical styling that is far from ordinary. He credits such diverse musicians as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and Leroy Justice as inspiring him. “The other day, I was listening to Holland Oates, and Adam [Duritz] was like ‘Dude, are you a rapper, man,’ and I said, “I can draw from anything,” NOTAR relates. He went on to say, “I appreciate all kinds of music. Music is really just a feeling. A lot of it is mathematical, but I try not to be consumed with that part of it. I would rather listen to a guy like Miles Davis or any classic musician, to the kind of music that paints a picture on a wall, like a mural, than anything.”
NOTAR did a lot of experimentation with different kinds of music before cultivating his own sound. He is a theoretically trained musician, but he also spent some time after college playing in an experimental band called Duck Sauce. The band enjoyed some local success for awhile, before the members moved on to other pursuits. NOTAR mentioned that he recently ran into former Duck Sauce bass player, Ryan Bash, who he credits as “one of the best people I’ve ever known.” “For Ryan to see me at this level in my career was really inspirational for him, and he was always an inspiration to me.” While he has lost touch with most of the other members, NOTAR notes that all of them are still involved with music in some capacity. “If you’re real with [music], it sticks,” he said.
This is something that NOTAR himself knows all too well. He grew up watching his dad perform and drawing inspiration and guidance from him. NOTAR spent some time talking about his late father and his “nonny” (grandmother) as well. “I definitely draw from my father’s musical background. His death was a hard blow as a young boy, but I know that he’d be really proud of me and the fact that I’ve attained this level of success. I’ve just kept working through all of these hardships, and that’s something my father taught me. He was a hardworker. His mom, my nonny, is still alive, and she’s really proud too.” “His mom, my nonny, is still alive, and she’s really proud too.” When asked if his nonny had been to one of his shows yet, NOTAR said that he’s going to try and get her to come out when he plays in Atlanta. “She makes one hell of an eggplant,” he laughed.
NOTAR is definitely enjoying his time on the road and meeting his fans. He called the entire experience “humbling,” and said that he was having a “blast.” He also related his first crazy encounter with a female fan, “She pulled out her right breast and asked me to sign it. I signed it in the upper region. I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries. I’m a gentleman.” Breast signing and crazy fan encounters aside, NOTAR definitely seems to be keeping his head about him and focusing on what’s most important to him: his music. Once the tour is complete and his EP has been released, he hopes to start a college tour in the fall and to continuing writing his own music. “I think if I just climb slowly and steadily up this mountain that I’m on, good things will happen,” NOTAR said.
Tickets for future shows and more information about the tour can be purchased by visiting http://www.countingcrows.com