One face and guitar that I’ve gotten quite used to seeing around town belongs to the incredibly talented Anthony da Costa. Anthony is often seen in a supporting role to the likes of Molly Tuttle and Joy Williams and can usually can be found in close proximity to everyone’s friend Steve Poltz.
But “ADC” is a gifted artist in his own right, and he has recently released a record that ranks high among my favorite records of this young year. I’m also quite fond of this live version of the title track to “Feet on the Dashboard” recorded earlier this year at Paste Studios. It’ll also let you see what Anthony can do with a Foam Green Telecaster.
Anthony had a lot of touring planned to support the new record, but that is of course all up in the air for now. In the meantime, keep an eye out for some live streaming on his Facebook page, and you can read here what he had to say to 11 Questions! Thanks, Anthony, for sharing your great story with us.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m originally from New York. I was born in the Bronx (just like Jennifer Lopez) and mostly grew up in a town called Pleasantville, NY. It’s in Westchester County, up in the Hudson Valley. I was always a stone’s throw from New York City. My parents had jobs in the city when we were kids, and they’d often take us downtown to go see a musical or go to one of those diners where the waitstaff sings to you.
It was in New York City that I got to cut my proverbial teeth as a singer-songwriter. My father would drive me into the city, and I played countless open mics across Manhattan. I remember one time at the Sidewalk Cafe (R.I.P.) where they would have everyone draw a number for their slot in the open mic lineup. I happened to pull slot #36 or something of the like. It was a Monday night and I was maybe thirteen or fourteen years old. Luckily the host allowed me to cut the line and play early. I played a rack harmonica and he made jokes about it being Civil War times while I attempted to “blues” out. I have a lot of scattered memories of nights like that.
I ended up attending college in New York at Columbia University, and lived in Manhattan for four years before graduating and running away to Austin, Texas at the end of 2013. I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2016. It was just one of those things that I felt I should do. I had so many singer-songwriter friends over the years tell me that I would love it there, that I would thrive there. I had already lived in two major music cities, I had just gotten out of a relationship, and I always loved running from those breakups. I had also just met a fascinating fiddle player who drew me even further to the idea of making Nashville my home. I took the leap and haven’t left yet!
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
I believe that the first record I bought myself was The Beatles 1 on compact disc, which is only slightly embarrassing. I mean, most everyone loves The Beatles. It’s not that, it’s that when you get into a band, you’re supposed to find your way through one of their albums. This was literally a greatest hits collection. But hey! Whatever it takes, right? Honestly, the way I got into The Beatles was a combination of previous ‘50s rock ’n roll exposure from my Dad (we’re talking Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and the like) and a DVD copy of the lads playing live on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Apparently, when my dearly departed grandfather first saw news clippings of The Beatles that year, he would refer to them as the “mop-uh tops-uh” (To be pronounced with a native Italian accent…don’t try this at home.). Anyway, I was hooked, and now at least I can say that Revolver is my favorite Beatles record, followed by Rubber Soul and the White Album. Cool, right?
The most recent record I purchased was How to Break A Fall, the latest creation from my friend and collaborator Maya de Vitry. I met Maya back in 2011 or so when I opened for her old band The Stray Birds in Tulsa, OK. I was meeting my then-girlfriend’s family for the first time and happened to get a gig while in the area. The Stray Birds were better at whatever “Americana” is than anyone else. Anyways, Maya makes her own music now, and it is some of the most exquisite, heart-wrenching, soul-feeding music you will find. I had the pleasure of being a part of the band for her debut solo release, Adaptations, a record that I am extremely proud of. This album is on another level. I recently told Maya at a listening party for the record that I find it exhausting that she probably has at least a dozen more of these in her. I mean, who wants to feel that much? Dig on some Maya de Vitry for sure. Also shout out to producer Dan Knobler (who produces some music of mine) and incredible lead guitarist Courtney Hartman (formerly of Della Mae).
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
I don’t think these were my first concerts by any means, but when I was a child, my father took me to a pretty incredible series of shows at a local performing arts center in Westchester. In one year, I saw Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and James Brown. Same venue over the course of a year. Pretty incredible. Chuck and Jerry Lee fell a bit flat. Chuck hardly played any complete songs and Jerry was just Jerry, but it was still pretty incredible to be in their presence. Little Richard was stunning. James Brown had to be my favorite. I mean, he had cheerleaders and would also jump to the back of the stage to jam Wurlitzer while the rest of his band took features.
The most recent concert I saw was Daniel Romano and his new band Outfit at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville. Probably the best rock ’n roll show I have seen in a very long time. When I first saw Daniel play, it was years ago at The Living Room in New York (also R.I.P.). He set up after my band played, and we were all taken aback as these three or four Canadian dudes walked up onto the stage wearing full-on Nudie-type suits. He sang about 45 minutes of heartbreaking country songs, and I was pretty floored. What he’s doing now is something else. He’s a bit of a musical chameleon, but you can always count on heart and feel and intensity. I think he has a live record coming out soon!
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Oh, Buddy Miller by far. That dude is just insanely good. The vibe and feel of his guitar playing is very inspirational to me these days. Plus, he’s hilarious and a pillar of the community here in Nashville.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Lately, I’ve been drinking coffee at home for once, but my typical spot is Dose in Inglewood. They make wonderful coffee and food, and it’s a great spot to run into everyone you know in East Nashville at one time. My favorite pastime there is something I’ve witnessed and practiced that I’ve dubbed “The Dose Scan.” It’s when you enter the coffee shop and try to nonchalantly scope out the room to see who you know, who you want to know, who you don’t, and/or are trying to avoid these days. It’s pretty fun to watch all the different variations people try. My personal favorite is alternating between staring at your phone like you just finished a call, and quickly darting your eyes around the room.
For pizza, you gotta go Five Points Pizza. Closest thing to a beautiful NY slice that Nashville has plus their window is open late! Great post-gig comfort food.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Oh man, this one is way too tough to answer! I would say my latest favorite album to come out of Nashville (albeit partially) is Mark Knopfler’ s debut solo album, Golden Heart. My friend Molly Parden (wonderful songwriter and fellow Madison resident) recently turned me onto this record. I have listened to the title track maybe 400 times at this point. I know he made some of the record with some “Nashville Cats” and another portion of it overseas with some fantastic Celtic musicians. How did it take me this long to get into anything Knopfler!?
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
See above, Five Points Pizza. Another option is Dino’s, but you might be waiting a bit for that burger if it’s the weekend. So worth it though. I also like this new place in Germantown called Mother’s Ruin. Another great burger, plus healthy salad options and killer beers on tap.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Right now? I’d go Maya de Vitry, Peter Bradley Adams and Katie Pruitt.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
I just finished a winter residency up at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Madison. It’s a fun place to play loud and try stuff out. I’ve also done lots of playing at the 5 Spot, The Basement, and High Watt.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.
For this, I’d pick a new friend who plays under the name Rod Smoth. Dude is so good. He’s not too far away in Mississippi, but we should be writing every week!
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I just released a full-length album produced by Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids. It’s called Feet on The Dashboard, and it’s been such a long time coming! I’ve also got a compilation out that I curated called Nashville Unreleased Vol. I: Transmissions from Isolation Row. It was only available until April 20th and features 20 rad local artists who have lost tours due to the current shutdown. I asked everyone to give me an unreleased studio outtake/demo/live recording, and everyone delivered in spades. It’s available exclusively on Bandcamp. I’m also working on a podcast, an instrumental album, and have another ADC solo record nearly completed!