Pittsford singer/songwriter Logan Riesterer talks life, music and what’s important

Logan Riesterer sat down at JR’s Eatery in his hometown of Pittsford to talk about his music and what lies ahead as he starts playing more gigs in the area.
Photo by Lee Kahrs

By LEE J. KAHRS

PITTSFORD – He could be any country boy from Pittsford: red plaid shirt, baseball cap, beard. But Logan Riesterer (pronounced REE-ster) is quietly making a name for himself as a singer-songwriter in the Rutland/Addison county area.

The 21-year-old has brought his unique musical style; rich, deep vocals; and talented guitar playing to local venues all over the area, and he’s looking to do more.

To classify Riesterer as a country music artist would be to limit his talent. His songs offer that country feel, certainly, but there is also a soulful quality that comes from within, creating a more unique, three-dimensional musical style. His original songs evoke Johnny Cash, Bob Seeger and Waylon Jennings all rolled into one. The songs sound like they’ve been around forever, but you’ve never heard them before.

Riesterer sat down at JR’s Eatery in Pittsford last week to talk about his music.

Birth of a guitar player

He graduated from Otter Valley Union High School in 2016, and he was as quiet and unassuming back in high school as he is now. He sang in chorus at OV, but it wasn’t for him. He also played bass in the concert band and pep band. At his mother Jacquie’s urging, Riesterer started playing guitar at age 14 with teacher Mark Harding, and after fighting it for a month or so, he had three chords down.

And there’s a reason Riesterer evokes the Man in Black. The young man played those three chords over and over and it started making sense. Then his mother showed him some Johnny Cash.

“That was the thing that really turned it around,” he said. “Johnny Cash was the reason I started playing guitar. And it’s some of the easiest songs to learn how to play. It’s mostly just three chords. As the saying goes, ‘Country music is three chords and the truth.’”

That quote by Harlan Howard is well known, but there are more than three chords to Reisterer’s guitar playing now. The truth has remained a constant.

The first song Riesterer learned to play on guitar was “Folsom Prison Blues.”

“It spiraled from there, and that’s when I decided to try singing and I found I had this lower voice than I thought,” he said. “No one really taught me to do the singing, it was more trial and error.”

Growing up, Riesterer listened to a wide rang of music loaded onto an MP3 player his family gave him. He listened to everything from Louis Armstrong to Nickelback, but he always came back around to country. He educated himself with the likes of Cash, Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Elvis Presley.

“Johnny Cash is the reason I started playing guitar, but Waylon Jennings is the artist who opened up my love for the outlaw country sound,” he said.

Now, he follows the more underground country singer-songwriters, particularly Cody Jinks, Ward Davis, Whitey Morgan and Tennessee Jet.

In fact, Jinks wrote a lyric that Riesterer deemed valuable enough to be permanent, and had it tattooed on his right forearm: “It’s never been a simple thing to see the world with a young man’s brain, and old man’s heart and a restless soul.”

“That’s how I would describe how I look at the world and music,” Riesterer said.

Day job

Riesterer completed the Stafford Tech Center’s automotive technology program while at OV. He then attended the University of Northern Ohio (UNO) and earned an associate’s degree in automotive technology. He is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in automotive technology remotely through UNO and will be done in June.

Riesterer has worked at R&D Automotive in Castleton since he was in high school. Owners Dan McMurry and Rich Moss held his job for him so he could go to school and hired him back when he returned from Ohio.

Riesterer’s prized possession is his Gibson J200 guitar, a standard in the industry.

“It’s the singing cowboy’s guitar,” Riesterer said. “It’s the first thing I ever had payments on. I don’t know if I could ever get rid of that guitar.”

But he also has what he calls a “camp guitar.” It’s like the winter beater of guitars, and that’s what Riesterer keeps at the garage, practicing his songs during his hour-long lunch breaks.

Getting the gigs

Riesterer has only been playing gigs in the area since last spring. Before that, he played for friends and family, and his father Dennis, mother Jacquie and sister Katie had a front row seat. But now he’s put together some shows, including a benefit concert at the Brandon Town Hall last spring and another in September. He also played Friday Night Live at the Paramount Theater in Rutland, the Mendon Fish & Game Club, of which he is a member, and played Shoreham Day and opened for Kevin Bryson at Addison County Fair and Field Days last August.

Just two weeks ago, Riesterer played a three-hour gig at Notte, the lounge restaurant downstairs from Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury, and has been asked to play again in April.

But the soulful young mans has no dreams of being a music sensation. It’s the music itself that sustains him, not the hype. There is a quote on his Facebook page that reads, “Not trying to be famous, just trying to be true and play the music that I love.” And he is nothing if not humble.

“I’ve never had these dreams of fame and fortune or anything like that,” he said. “Because there’s so much, there are so many more qualified folks than me.”

As for the music, Riesterer plans to continue on his path, saying it’s all about connection.

“I do it for the feeling,” he said. “Music has gotten me through a lot of hard times. Good music is one of the most effective things you can prescribe to somebody, I think. It’s always something that’s made me feel good.”

To contact Logan Riesterer or listen to some of his songs, find him on Facebook.