Coming home again: Trace Bundy back on the Paramount stage Friday

Published 3:00 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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The last time Trace Bundy performed in Austin was in 2016, but time reaches back further than that — enough to where Bundy himself was somewhat shocked at how much his musical history has been tied to Austin.

“2005 at the Ruby Rupner Auditorium,” he said with a laugh. That goes all the way back, almost 20 years.”

Bundy will be back in Austin on Friday night with the doors opening at the Paramount Theatre at 7 p.m. and the show starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door the night of the show.

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Bundy and his family moved from Austin after his fourth grade year, but that doesn’t take away from his excitement over getting to come home and perform again and see family still in Austin.

“There’s something really special about coming back to your hometown,” Bundy said. “I’ll never forget what it felt like to live in Austin: the downtown area, all the parks and all of the neighborhoods. Going to the Tendermaid. There’s something special about coming back to my hometown and playing a concert.”

Drawing early inspiration from 60s folk acts like Simon & Garfunkel and from groups like The Beatles, Bundy has been playing professionally across the last 20 years, starting with small shows in Colorado centered around where he lived and then spreading out from there. 

He has developed strong followings not only here in the United States, but in Asia and Europe as well. 

Often called the Acoustic Ninja, Bundy has honed a stage performance that is as much being a storyteller as it is about the music.

“I just love the connection,” Bundy said. “The in-person connection that live music creates and I think one thing I’m good at is facilitating my connection at a deeper level than just the music itself. I put a lot of thought into what happens between the songs. I’m trying to play the best I can and the banter and the interaction between the songs are equally important.”

That ability is honed from early inspirations that prompted the desire to establish a connection with his audience. In particular, folk musician David Wilcox left an impression on Bundy.

“He takes the audience on a journey through the whole concert, even between the songs,” Bundy said, adding that it was a very different experience when compared to another artist Bundy enjoyed, but who had very little interaction with the audience. “That was very influential and was kind of the opposite experience. Put those together side-by-side and I wanted something more.”

Through the connection Bundy fosters with his audience comes an opportunity to leave those attending his shows coming away feeling something more than maybe what was expected.

He wants audience members to take away everything they can when the last song is played.

“One of the ways I think of it is when people come to a show, regardless if they know anything about music. They don’t have to be a guitar player, or know anything about music. When they walk away from the show, they will really leave having had a good experience and a range of emotions. Hopefully lots of laughter, inspiration and learning a lot about music.”

Trace Bundy. Photo courtesy of 1073 Studios

That desire to open up people’s world has as much to do with a desire to teach as it does with the music itself. As a former adjunct professor of basic engineering classes at the University of Colorado, the desire to help somebody discover something new comes through in his music.

“I’ve always had a teaching draw or interest in teaching,” Bundy said. “I loved it, but music was truly my passion and that was what was really taking off. That’s when I made the decision to switch to full time music, but even that style of teaching comes through in my concerts.”

As he shares his passion for music, he also enjoys sharing that passion with his two sons, the eldest of which plays the electric guitar and the youngest plays the piano and ukulele. That’s been a special joy for Bundy, regardless of whether or not his sons adopt the same path as he did.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “To be able to introduce my favorite music to them is pretty cool.”

Bundy’s time on stage these days is spotlighted by small tours of grouped-together shows allowing him time back home with family. After Austin’s show Friday, he will be heading to the Icehouse in Minneapolis for a Saturday night show.

Sometimes the aspects of touring, even after all of these years, take on a more job-like approach for Bundy. It’s times like those that he reminds himself why he took to the professional stage in the first place.

“After 20 years there are definitely things like just being on the road and stuff like that. Some of that kind of robs you of that joy you previously had,” Bundy admits. “I even have a few songs I play that are specifically my reminder songs. I started this as a passion. I didn’t start performing to impress people or become famous.”

And that passion is bringing him home again.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there,” Bundy said. “I’m just excited to come back to the Historic Paramount and get to be on that stage.”

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