Q: How long have you been doing this?

A: I’ve been playing music for seniors and others for about 12 years now. I occasionally play for foster children in our state, libraries, and I’ve played many times at county fairs. I’m also part of a folk group called the Celtic Cowboys, with Lloyd Allen, who lives in Kennebunk, and Anita Niederer, who’s also up here in Augusta. I’ve been playing the guitar for a lot of years, since I was around 12 years old, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. … The way I tell it, when I go out, is that my grandmother got me my first guitar with S&H Green Stamps. I’ve gotten better guitars as the years went by. Right now I play a Gibson Songbird, an acoustic.

Q: Do you play other instruments when you perform?

A: Harmonica a little bit, but mostly I concentrate on my guitar ability, and singing for the folks. Some people call me a “tinker,” because I walk in with an old garden cart with bicycle wheels, so I can carry my amp and everything. I can set up and break down in five minutes.

Q: How did this get started?

A: Back in Colorado, where I’m from, I worked for the telephone company, Western Electric, and ended up getting forced into early retirement. So we came to Maine — my wife is from Belfast — but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Folks kept telling me I was good at guitar and singing — why not play music?

Q: You hadn’t before?

 A: I’d always had terrible stage fright, which prevented me from performing. I’d get up in front of people and fall to pieces. It was a shame, because I had many opportunities as a young man to play nice places in Denver.

 Q: What changed?

 A: There’s a folk club that meets every month in Kennebunk, and that’s where I met Lloyd. We began to play together, and he suggested, “why not play the guitar at senior communities? They’re a very forgiving audience, and a lot of people won’t go in there and play.” That’s what did it for me. My wife counted up that last year I put on more than 400 senior-community concerts. Two a day, mostly weekdays but some on weekends. All around the state, from southern Maine to Bangor, wherever they had a budget that called for it. Now I can play for anybody. I occasionally play for foster children up at the Muskie School in Augusta, and at a head injury place in Kennebunk three or four times a year. 

Q: How did you get over the stage-fright hump?

A: I needed a support system, so at first I played with Lloyd, who still plays with me occasionally. When I moved to Augusta I didn’t always have Lloyd anymore, and I was a bit fearful about the whole thing, but I was able to work through it. … The first gig on my own was when I went and sat and played at the veterans’ home in Augusta. That was six years ago.

Q: What kind of music do you play?

A: That’s the interesting part. I think a lot of people are saturated with music from the old big bands, or Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. I thought well, a lot of people from Maine are definitely country-music people. So I do a lot of the old country classics, a lot of Carter Family. I play music from Colorado, bringing the West to people here. I also use the Andy Griffith theme, with stories related to the show and the town.

Q: How much do you charge for a gig?

A: I don’t want to be specific. It fluctuates, depending on the budget of the senior home. Some, like in Falmouth obviously, might have a bigger budget than one in Lewiston, for example.

Q: How do you get the word out?

A: Certainly a lot of it is word-of-mouth. Activity directors meet every month or two and talk abut who’s good to hire, and who’s not, and reputation’s gotten pretty good. When I first started out, I pulled a list of senior communities off the Internet, and started calling one after the other, asking them to give me a chance. One or two did. … And now I’m already doing bookings for next year. So it’s turned into a pretty good business. Most places, I go back every month or every other month, or sometimes quarterly.

Q: How far do you drive every year?

A: Last year maybe 40,000 miles. … For example, several times a year I’ll go up to Madison, put on a show, and then they feed me a nice big dinner, then I go on to Bingham and then around to Skowhegan, and come back home.  

Q: Where are you today?

A: I’m going to Bath, to play at the Plant Home, and then to Rockland right after that, to Bartlett Woods. One of my favorite places to go, actually.

Q: Why?

 A: Well, it’s a very attentive audience. Not that I don’t like playing for Alzheimer’s patients, but sometimes it’s nice when people can listen to the whole story behind songs, like “Grandfather’s Clock” and things. It’s amazing, though, it might be Alzheimer’s patients, and I may tell a story about how Elvis Presley won second place at the Alabama State Fair when he was 9 with this song, and I’ll sing “Old Shep,” and they’ll sit and sing every word.

Q: Any drawbacks to what you do?

A: Well, one is, you get close with a lot of the folks … I was down at Midcoast one day and a man named Bob asked if I’d be good enough to have lunch with him. We did, and he told me he didn’t have long. Sure enough, he died a few days later. So, it’s just … losing some of them, I do get attached. … They look forward to my coming, and it makes me feel good to be appreciated.

Q: Do you get requests?

 A: When I lived in Kennebunk, I was told that if I was going to play in Maine, I had to know two songs: Jud Strunk, “A Daisy a Day,” which is requested a lot, and, of course, “A Tombstone Every Mile,” Dick Curless. I sing a lot of songs other entertainers don’t sing, old bluegrass and country and Carter Family. You can’t go wrong with the Carter Family. People with their noses in the air, they still like the Carter Family.

A lot of the old boys really like bluegrass. Usually an audience is 80 percent women. Men often don’t want to come out, but they will if they know they’ll hear some bluegrass.

Q: What would you be doing in your ideal world?

A: What I’m doing right now. I would probably just try to earn a more lucrative living at it. Otherwise it’s perfect; I’m excited when I get up, I work hard at it and like bringing joy to people. It would be a shame just to sit in the living room playing it, you know? I’ve even been encouraged to record. I have one CD out and I’m working on another now, more aimed just for senior citizens.