The first track of Bill Romano’s album “One Man One Guitar” beckons, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” throughout the chorus.
Though it’s only a song lyric about a broken heart, that’s the way Romano approaches his music.
After playing with different bands starting in the ’70s and working as a sound engineer, Romano said he realized his sound was simple — just him and his acoustic guitar.
“Playing solo acoustic is my passion,” Romano said. “I like the acoustic guitar and the sounds that I can manipulate with the acoustic guitar with no effects, just you, and guitar and hand.”
Influenced by Willie Nelson, James Taylor and Jim Croce, Romano’s music hails from a different era as his crooning voice contrasts the smooth finger-picking guitar melodies.
When he played with bands, Romano said there were little-to-no opportunities to play finger-style guitar, so he learned to play bass. Romano is still a bass player with the 484 South Band, playing Southern rock and country for some weekend gigs, but his devotion remains with the acoustic guitar.
“I’m more comfortable connecting with the crowd in that setting … just me and my guitar,” Romano said.
An electrician for the state during the day and musician by night, Romano also dabbles in sound engineering at the Red Dragon Listening Room and other locations when he has the chance but maintains he always wants to get back to the music.
He didn’t set out to sell records or even to play high-profile gigs when he first branched out with the acoustic guitar, Romano said. Simply put, like his personality and music, Romano just wanted to play.
One of his first gigs once he went solo was playing in retirement homes to polish his craft.
“It started out just to brush up,” Romano said. “But you’re playing to such an appreciative crowd that’s what keeps me back going to play for them.”
Though the retirement homes are still a standing gig, Romano branched out playing in several songwriter showcases around Baton Rouge. And with more gigs came a demand for CDs.
Romano said it was never an original goal to record an album, but when people would ask if he had a CD after a show Romano said he wanted something to give them.
“I wanted my first one to be representative of what I actually perform. This is what you’re going to hear me do tonight,” Romano said. “I needed a CD to promote what I do.”
His first record is a mix of his simple personality, passionate guitar playing and life experience, playing about everything from once being kicked out of a band to his connection with God.
Though this album was well-received, Romano said, he may revisit some songs on his first album and record them differently, adding more instruments.
He said he’ll spend most of 2016 playing gigs but also finding time to write new music for his second album, which will be released in early 2017.
As for the performances, one can only guess they’ll remain constant — a man and guitar.