Philip Gerard to Discuss His Road to Recording with Brown Bag

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When Philip Gerard was a child, he made a list of some of the things he wanted to accomplish in life: he wanted to fall in love, sail the ocean, go to Alaska and make a record.

The last item on that list recently became a reality, and now Gerard will speak to Chautauquans about it.

Gerard is the prose writer-in-residence for Week One at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. His Brown Bag, “Words & Music: Making a Record,” will be at 12:15 p.m. today on the front porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Gerard is the author of four novels and five works of nonfiction, and he teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington. Chautauquans might know him best as the man behind the Chautauqua literary journal, which he and his wife Jill co-edit.

The Brown Bag will focus on Gerard’s path to his album, titled American Anthem. The album was released in 2015 and features 15 songs.

Gerard said he had been performing music for years, but he had never taken the time to get into a studio and record an album. The idea to do so came to him like a “great unread novel on my shelf or a great unopened gift.” Gerard thought the time may have passed for him to create an album, but he found he was wrong.

“It turns out in this case, experience — the knowledge of how to play, the knowledge of people, songwriting — all those things were terrific virtues that really made it fun,” Gerard said. “It was getting a whole second chance at that.”

Gerard is now working on a book about the process of creating his album, something he said he’ll draw on for his lecture. He said although his dream may have been to make an album, people in the audience might have other dreams they thought would never happen.

“Don’t just assume that that part of your life is over,” Gerard said. “One of the things you can do is to take the experience and your age and the things you’ve learned, and now you can apply that to whatever it is that you want to do.”

Gerard said it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the opportunity for pursuing dreams ends after a certain point. He said people are expected to have fun when they’re young, and then to become more serious as they get older.

He wants his Brown Bag to help his audience dispel that notion.

“We’re finding out that aging is not just a matter of becoming not quite the runner or swimmer you once were, not being able to play sports — but the things you acquire, the knowledge, skills and experience — you can do something with it,” Gerard said.


The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.