REGATTA: Myer no stranger to stage
WORTHINGTON — Larry Myer has played in a variety of places for more people than can be counted.
Myer grew up playing music. In fact, some of his earliest memories involve music.
“I’ve always done it. I started playing real young. That’s pretty much what I do,” he said. “I started playing before I could even remember going to school. I started playing guitar at 5 and piano at 6. I was playing even before I could even remember anything.”
Myer takes the stage at the Unvarnished Music Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday. While this won’t be his first appearance in Worthington, it has been a while since he’s traveled from his Iowa home to this southwestern Minnesota town.
“I used to play in Worthington in my rock ’n’ roll band back in the ’80s at the Long Branch,” Myer said of his band, Bandit. “Back in the day, that was quite a rock club. That guy was great to us, and we’d go up there and play pretty regularly.”
Now, Myer is a solo act, playing for a variety of audiences.
“This is kind of like a Bruce Springsteen show,” he said. “It’s Americana folk rock, stories about life.”
Myer began performing at school and church and took a year of music theory at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.
“In the ’80s, we had the big farm depression and got sold out of all that deal and ended up in the streets,” he said. “That’s when the guitar came out, and I was a street musician for two years. That’s how the show got developed. It came through a lot of hard knocks.”
Since working his way up, he has been on what he’s called a “perpetual tour.”
“I went through a real trying time and ended up on the streets with a guitar, and that was the only way I had,” he said. “Out there, people would tell you what they wanted to hear, and I’d go home and learn it. Pretty soon I started playing full-time.
“I became street musician, and that was a life-changing experience,” he continued. “You’re standing on the street corner, trying to play your way through life. I did it all over the country. Then I started a lot of real tours.”
His first real break came in Des Moines, Iowa.
“A guy named Flanagan picked me up in Des Moines and I started playing there once a week,” Myer said. “We filled the place. Then we started playing at People’s Bar and Grill in Ames, which became a legendary thing at Iowa State. I did a Friday afternoon show there for years and that turned huge. It was about as real as you could get. We hatched out those songs and worked it up standing out in the street corner, and pretty soon it was a show that could be brought anywhere.”
Now, Myer travels all across the country — and into Canada — performing his show. This year, he has shows scheduled in Calgary, Idaho and Montana.
“This is just a tour. It goes on and on and on,” he said, adding he’s been on tour for the last 25 to 30 years. “It is my livelihood, it’s still all I do. I do 100-some shows a year.”
With his travels, he has seen some of the greatest places in America.
“I’m playing the coolest resorts and the neatest resorts you can go to,” he said. “I go to where people treat me good and where it’s just a cool environment. I’m not trying to be a rock star. I’m just out playing music and making people happy and making a living at it.
“This show is really just about going from one location to the other and setting up and pulling off a great show. That’s it.”
Myer is hoping to have some fun and add a little something to the Worthington festival.
“That’s what this show is about, trying to keep a good thing going with everybody,” he said. “I’m in the entertainment business. We just want people to have a good time at it and maybe experience something or see something or hear something that might affect them like a good piece of art would. That’s really what it’s all about.”