Inside Engineering, untold stories and fascinating people from the world of civil engineering. This is Episode 13, recorded in October 2019. Design Build and Water Resources with Matt Slagel. Inside Engineering is an RK&K podcast. Learn more at rkk.com/podcast. Welcome back to another episode of Inside Engineering. Today, with me in the studio is The Man, The Myth, Matt Slagel. Welcome, Matt. Thanks for joining us. Yeah, thanks for having me. Tim, I appreciate it. We've been listening in the first couple of them at home with my wife and she has remarked how good of a podcast voice that you have. So I wanted to at least, you know, send that onto you. After todayI hope she knows that yours is way better and she'll be able to tell. Yeah, well we'll find out. We'll find out for now. Thanks for joining us, Matt. Matt is a Project Manager in our Water Resources group here at RK&K. And as we've talked about it, a lot of episodes, Project Manager is a sort of industry standard title and doesn't really describe what you actually do. Sure. Which is what you're interested in. But why did you talk about what you actually do? But also in the context of like your career as a whole, how you've gotten to where you are. I'll give you a just take a few minutes and walk us through that. Well, I've gotten to where I am from a very nontraditional path. I actually went to school for environmental science, started out first job out of college for two and a half years not in the engineering world. I had a buddy of mine up in York where I was living at the time. He was bugging me for about a year to to come work for them site development. And sure enough, I went and interviewed with them, the owner of this small company and took a big flyer on me. Course, I had no experience. And, you know, I I worked my way up and worked my tail off. And, you know, my wife and I moved down to Virginia and then we moved back and went to grad school for Environmental Engineering. Kind of marry up environmental science and engineering side. Lo and behold, after a ton of mentoring through my career, a lot of hard work, I sat down and took the P E 12 years later after I got into this field and sure enough got my PE and here I am at RK&K with a lot of opportunity ahead of me. So you got your PE. What does that let you do that you couldn't do before?
That's a good question. Obviously, the you know, the state, the obvious I can sign and seal plans at this point. But leading up to, you know, the actual getting of the PE and me being officially able to sign and seal, you know, I was still undertaking that standard of care. I still was responsible for designs. I just couldn't be kind of that forward face with my seal on the plans. So, you know, I got the PE, it was great. Obviously, it's the bare minimum for what you need in this industry. But the next day I woke up was like, oh, great. I don't have to study and do that again. But I just kept rolling. Not a whole lot changed, youu know, day one after the PE. Is there something another certification beyond the PE that you're looking at? So gosh, it's been about a year and a half now, I went back and got a Design Build certification. Which you can you can obtain that certification after three years of Design Build experience. That's been very valuable and that's kind of where a
lot of my focus has turned — still from a water resources specific viewpoint, but
in the Design Build world. So that's within the last three, four years that's been one of my major focuses. I didn't even really know what design Build was before I came to RK&K. I got involved in Maryland 404 project and I just kind of took off from there. And now I love it. I love that project delivery style. OK. So we've talked about Design Build a little bit. Barry and Jim. They talked a little bit about Progressive Design Build and stuff. But why don't you give us a bit of a primer on Design Build in regards to how you work, the kind of projects you work on, and maybe, maybe
even walk us through 404 or another, you know, project that sort of fits the role of being maybe a typical project. Yeah. So I think Barry and Jim covered kind of the difference between standard Bid Build where the industry was for the longest time and then. Somewhere around 25ish years ago, maybe even a little bit before then Design Build start come into play and before with bid build the owner, State Highway, for example, has one contract with us as the engineering firm and we take the design out to a hundred percent and then they go have another contract with the
construction company and then they go out and build it. And there's, you know, at that point when the owner acquires the engineering firm upfront, they take on a lot of that risk. So when you go from, you know, if there's errors in the plan. If there's different site conditions, which they still can't completely get out of that risk. But in Design Build they essentially have one contract. And that's with the contractor-design team. And so, you know, there's a lot of risk transfer and that's one of the biggest benefits of Design Build to the owner. I like it. We like it because we can cut through some of the the challenges that we have during design bid builds and just go, let's go get this thing done. That's one of the big benefits also to the owner is speed of delivery. So that is a good lead in the Maryland 404.
State Highway had put together a set of plans out to 20, 25, 30 percent. Put it out to the industry and one of their major goals — the top goal was speed, schedule. And what was the challenge of that 404, this project we're trying to solve with 404. What was the problem? So the problem was in Maryland 404 previously as a basically one lane in each direction east west was pretty dangerous road. Huge amounts of traffic in the summertime for folks from Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., traveling to the beaches in Maryland and a lot of accidents. Far too many deaths occurred. So that was really kind of the biggest or the main genesis of why 404 came to be. It had been planned for a long, long time. And under this new administration, they they decided that they wanted to get this thing taken care of. So essentially what it did was it dualized the highway. So median in the middle and then two lanes, both eastbound, westbound. Cut down on the left turns, which is really where the high danger comes into play.
So when this came out on the street, you know, it's 10 miles long, two lanes to four lanes. Lots of stormwater management. And lots of earth movement.
And the primary goal being schedule was you have to deliver this project to most completion. So. So it didn't have to be fully complete, but needed to be complete such that there weren't any permanent lane closures. OK. In 20 months. Wow. So that's a design, permit, approval, construction 10 miles in 20 months. So that's. That seems fast. Yeah. And it seems like you agree that it's really fast. That's incredible. Yeah. How long would that take typically outside of a Design Build or you know. Yeah, I was thinking I knew you were going to ask this question. I was thinking about this last night and. I would think minimum three years, too. So that's a design all the way to 100 percent. Get all the bid docs ready. Get it out on the street. That's like twice as fast. Yeah. And three years. Is generous. It could be even more than that. Wow. So it came out on the street and everyone's kind of panicking because, you know, we were teamed up with one contractor and other teams. Other firms are teaming up with contractors. And, you know, the realization hit quickly that this this is probably not possible. And if we say we can do this, we're acquiring so much risk that we're going to have to either figure something else out and team up with people or walk away. And that's what we did. We teamed up and I wasn't involved in this part of the process, but we teamed up with two other firms and two other construction teams and made one big tri-venture construction and design, and we delivered that thing to substantial completion — couldn't think of that before — in 20 months and yeah, it was a huge success.
You know, a lot of long nights, stressful conditions, but but fun. And you look back on it. And it's like, wow, how did we get that done? How did you know two other big firms that we generally compete with, how don't we just put all that aside and come together as one big team and collaborate, communicate well, cross teams in fast conditions and get it done? And we did. So that that feels good looking back. That was kind of my big kind of jump into Design Build. So it was exciting project for sure,. For sure. Absolutely. You mentioned the partnering aspect of it. And and I think that's one of the more unique things about this industry, is that one day you may be competing against another engineering firm the next day or even at the same time on different projects. Right. Often times. Yeah. Often times. Right. You are partnering with them. You are in it together on the same project, working together to accomplish the same goal. Yeah. Can you talk about that a little bit? I mean, give us some insight. It definitely puts you in a precarious situation often times, but, you
know, it all comes down to, you know, we're all trying to do the same thing. Our clients are all the same people. And, you know, really what we're trying to do is provide good, solid service to our clients and they are, too. And you know, so if you keep that perspective in mind and generally you want to be a good person. Then it makes that from my perspective, it's kind of easy. You know, low ego. There's no need to be an ego maniac when it comes to working in teams like that, we're competing against them. You know, we're all doing what we're doing. You know, it's all we're all trying to do the same accomplish the same goals. The goal is to make the client happy. Exactly. Yeah. Well,
you just talked a little bit about how we serve the client and try to deliver those, especially in Design Build those projects more quickly, more effectively. How
do you measure the success of what you're doing both from, you know, there's a project that you're working on Alright, but then also the people behind the project. And I mean, I think you probably get into a little bit of mentoring and stuff there. So in Design Build, measuring success is
pretty easy. You either get a lot of phone calls from the contractor that aren't nice phone calls or you don't. Or you don't get phone calls at all and that's good. Yeah. So,
you know, no no mechanism to measure the success. But, you know, the project get done gets done on time. If it gets done on time, we get permits and time from a water resource perspective. You know, maybe MOT can be out there less time, reduces the danger to the traveling public, delivers the project faster for our owner. Obviously, they're trying to deliver projects as quickly as possible and safely as possible for constituents and you and me and our families, that's really kind of, you know, you drill down deep into it. That's that's kind of where are all our clients — each of us, one another, all the other taxpaying, traveling public. But, to kinda talk to your other point question: mentoring. That's that's one of the more exciting things that I do on a daily basis. It's a lot of fun. You know, I didn't come into where I'm sitting now from a traditional perspective like I had talked about before, and it was only because of folks seeing something inside of me. The ability and mentoring and spending time and, you know, as they spent time with me and spending time away from their family. And I totally recognize that. And it's a from a day to day perspective now for me it's really kind of giving back to that. So someone spent time to mentor me, I feel like it's my duty to spend the time to mentor our folks. And we've got a lot of great folks out there. And it's fun to mentor them because you can see the development almost on a weekly basis. If we'd gone back to 404 and then I-270
Design Build after that, you know, we've been in the trenches with one another pretty deep on some nights, some long nights. And you kind of develop that trust you you you know what you're gonna get. It's consistent and you recognize that, you know, the way I grow, the way you grow, the way any of us grows is to mentor other folks so they can kind of step up a level, start taking over those tasks, which frees you up to kind of jump up and start doing some other task also. So, you know, from a purely selfish perspective, mentoring so important for the company, for each of us, individuals, but not, you know, kind of drilling down to like what is great about it. You know, just watching people develop.
You know. Watching success, watching like little wins on a day to day basis, seeing the light bulb click on for somebody who's. I was just about to say there's that light bulb moment. Yeah. So it's it's one of those things where, you know, I'm walking by and our staff out there is going to laugh at me. Listen to this. I walked by, I walked by people's desk and I'd see grading up on someone's screen. And I stop and I'm like, this doesn't look right. You know, it doesn't pass the smell test. You know what's going on here? And then you can talk about it. And, you know, the first five times or so, it's more of this is how you do this or remember, you know, here's here's what you need to do, like step by step fashion. And then after that it's like, well, I didn't do that because of this or that, you know, and that's when, you know. It's now intentional; they made that decision because of a process. It's kind of like the Phase 2 of mentoring, you know, like, you know, that someone has kind of taken to something when they can explain what they've done rather than just kind of listen and take it. And then when it gets really exciting, it's when they start to kind of push back a little bit and defend what they've done, argue a little, you know, in a healthy fashion. Well, I don't think that's the right way or that's great. That's when you know that people are not just they don't just have a mastery of what they're doing, they globally understand. And then they can start tying into other aspects of the project or, you know, hey, there's a big water line here, sewer line. Okay. At that point, you're developing a lot of trust in that person, their capabilities, the fact that they're looking at big picture and not just what we do in Water Resources. And then you can really start to feel comfortable, which then frees you up to kind of point your direction elsewhere. Maybe then get someone else in, slid underneath of that person and they can start taking over some of the mentoring from day to day perspective. That's fun. That's a lot of fun.
And we got a ton of development happening in our group. I know in other groups that probably from a day to day perspective is probably one of the things that I really enjoy most about coming into the office. Spending time with people. You know, I'm a hard driver. I'm pretty intense. But you know what? It comes down to it that day to day interaction. We'll break it down, will laugh, talk about fantasy football or something like that. You know, weekends, what's happening with your family? That's the fun part. That is really, really the fun part.
I also feel like you have fun with your signboard. Yeah. For the for those of you that don't know Matt, Matt sort of mentors all of us in in the office, in the Baltimore office every day with his changeable signboard. He's got one of his little boards that he can put letters on and he uses it to put up inspirational phrases. He numbers them so that we know we can keep track of which one it is. Yeah, we're on number twelve right now. On number twelve, which is? Which is a a grateful heart is a place where miracles happen. Interesting. Okay. Yeah, I feel like that should be the title of the episode almost. What's been your favorite one so far of the 12 that you've put up. Oh man. There's been some funny ones. I should have gone back and looked through all of them. That was that was bad on my part. I didn't anticipate that question. Yes. I gotta get you with one. No, I don't. I don't know that I have favorites. You know, the messages are purposeful.
Depends upon what I'm feeling that week or that month. You know, they come from all over the place. They come from some of the teabags that I buy, like on the back of the actual a little tag as messages. One of the 12 came out of a Chinese fortune cookie. Obviously, you know, you had to have at least one. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I do a lot of
reading of leadership articles, books
and a general even like self-help type stuff. It's all important. I think a lot of leadership is like, you know, the leadership stuff that you can, you know, read up on and kind of teach yourself. But a lot of like just general self-help, how to be a good person. That's a lot of leadership happens right there. I also feel like within the firm we sort of have a mantra of getting 1 percent better every day. Is this way that we think about doing stuff is where each day we're trying to get 1 percent better that day. Right. And over the course of time, that leads to this sort of exponential growth in improvement. And I feel like that's something that you really connect with that whole idea of constantly improving. Yeah. I mean, that's. That's how we provide value to RK&K.
To ourselves, to our families, to our coworkers, basically to every person we touch in life is just get 1 percent better at something. Whatever it is. Yeah. You don't know. You know, you're gonna build knowledge and you never know when it's gonna come into play. It doesn't have to be engineering knowledge. Give me anything. And, you know, sometime someone might be in a situation where they they don't know the answer to something in any walk of life. And maybe you've come and developed that knowledge. You can help somebody out. So that I kind of I can expand upon the 1 percent better, not just from purely engineering perspective, but just, you know, from a human perspective. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, Matt, what is — we're gonna go back in time here? Yeah. Back to the beginning of your career or maybe even slightly before it. What's something you wish you had known earlier on in your career? Oh, man.
Early in my career, I wish I knew that
everything is about relationships.
We've gone through the training. We've been mentored to handle the engineering part of what we do. And obviously I think it goes without saying that that is a huge part of what we do on a daily basis and extremely important to be technically sound.
But beyond that, you know, you can be very technically sound, but you got to be able to relate with people. You got to be able to kind of when you get in the trenches in difficult, challenging positions, which we're all going to be in at some point. If you've built those relationships or understand the healthy way to build those relationships during those challenging times, it can get you through a lot of stuff. You develop trust in people.
That's hugely important.
You know, it's it's one of the things I think that's kind of. I wish I would have known that earlier I would have probably spent more time developing relationships rather than just cranking away on work all the time.
Yeah, it's one of those things where, you know, with Design Build being the big focus of mine now, that especially is about trust and relationships. The whole process is built on trust. And if you're not trusting of partners, it's a recipe for a breakdown. And things are gonna go very, very poorly in and it's gonna get financial at that point. So you got to have good relationships. You gotta have trust. You got to, be able to, you know, maybe
raise your voice at someone at one point and then break it down the next minute because it gets stressful. But if you've built those relationships, you can get through that stuff. There's a foundation there built on that relationship. Exactly. That's very solid. Yeah. You recognize it's not personal. Right. You know, as you've you know who they are. They know who you are. It's just one of those times where, you know, you don't know what's happening in someone's life outside of work. Right. You know, they could be stressed because of who knows what. A million different reasons. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, you build those relationships. You know that it's it's not it's it's just some blip in time. You know? What is something that we haven't talked about yet? You got you, my friend, are well prepared for this episode. Right. And I appreciate that. There was one thing I was going to ask about, but first, I want to see what you what you might have.
One of the things I've been interested a little in a lot lately,
I've been bouncing around a bunch of different offices, across our footprint. Which right now we have 30 I believe. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. It's fun. It's a fun time. Exciting. But just probably in the last few months have been to Raleigh and I'm heading down there again on Monday. Tampa last week. Fairfax. Dealing with a lot of the folks in our West Virginia offices, I haven't been out there yet. But starting to again develop those relationships with folks — face to face, handshakes, laughter.
And the one thing I've been thinking about a lot is that, you know, working here in the headquarters
and RK&K being around here in the mid-Atlantic, Baltimore for, what, four years shy of 100? There is a certain feel about what RK&K is and does and is about, and it's, you know, you can be here and have a sense of pride that you're involved in that. And I always you know, as I I kind of I try to feel what it's like talking with folks, our other great folks. We got super smart people all over this company. What it feels like to work at RK&K at one of our smaller satellite offices. Does it feel like it feels here? Hopefully. And if not. How do we get to a point where it does feel like it's feels here? So I've been thinking about that a lot lately and how. You know how you one, ascertain that. And then two, what can you do to
help, you know, open up an office, say, in Tennessee, for example, and. We we get folks down there who just haven't they don't know the history of RK&K and how do we bring them up to speed so they can kind of spread that because, you know, we're going to be building staff down there. You know, what does it mean to work at RK&K?
It means a lot. And we want people to feel that all over the place. Absolutely. That's one of the that's one of the biggest things that we focus on in Communications is making it clear and obvious that everyone at the firm is a part of the family. Yeah. That it's almost really that it's not it's not satellite offices. Exactly. It's offices. Everybody's an office. Like this isn't the headquarters. Yeah, it's a big office. But yeah, we were founded in Baltimore. But it's like everybody is we're all in this together. It's challenging. I mean, it the logistics of that make it tricky. I would love to have, you know, people all the time on the podcasts that are from other offices. And we're working on that. You know, we're working on a least getting people able to call in, maybe doing a little road show. I'm actually looking forward to a road show at some point, but there's a logistical challenge of it. To do something like this or or, you know, any anything. It's it's obviously much easier to do it with people that are in the Baltimore office. But
for everyone from RK&K out there listening we absolutely want you to have that feeling of belonging. Yeah. And it's awesome when you when, you know, traveling like that and meeting the folks and just close it opens up one of those barriers. It's not just over the phone. Right. You know, we've. We've been doing it for a long time, but now there's... what I'm flying down to the Raleigh for is a work share quarterly work share meeting. Talk about our sharing work across offices. Closing that gap even more. And spreading out risk essentially across the company. You know whose light, who's overloaded? How can we make adjustments and
still get work done and allow people to kind of spread their wings a little bit beyond just their home base? Right. Maybe work on some really cool projects that we have across the whole company and build their experience, build their knowledge. It's kind of one of the big benefits I've seen. Recently, I worked on the pursuit of the 95 Design Build down northeast of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and cool project, big project. We won. So that was a that makes it even cooler. Yes, it does. Huge project. But, you know, you learn things the way NCDOT does something isn't always the way that [MD State] Highway does something. Just because we've been locked in in one location or the other to doing things the way we've always done them doesn't mean that there's not some other way or tweak that we can make to make things better. So, you know, it kind of goes to the heart of Design Build, innovation. Don't get locked into doing things the same way. There is always the mantra if it's not broke, don't fix it. But. Looking for opportunities. Yeah, exactly. How do you where can I get better to innovate to to provide a better service to our clients? I think that's right. That opportunity is always there. Yeah. Alright. I think do you have anything else you want to mention. Let me mention one more thing that's really awesome. Today, there's a wellness workshop. That Merritt has put together, and I forget the exact name of it, but. Is it How to be a better human? Yes. With Rachel Druckenmiller. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. I assume you're going to that. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And hopefully a lot of my other Water Resources brethren are going. We can all learn something to make us better human being. Sometimes that you have to hear it four times to actually let it sink in. Sometimes you have to think about it. So it's cool. I don't know. Are there other engineer firms out there doing that? I don't know. But I know I know that we. It's pretty awesome. Yeah. Yeah. These wellness workshops are something that we do on the regular. Yeah. There's a big... the company cares a lot about wellness, you know, from a holistic perspective. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I'm pretty stoked about it. That's gonna be pretty, pretty sweet. I'll try to make it down to that. Alright, Matt. We have we've arrived at the point in the episode where it is time for your. Pick of the week. Dun dun dun dun. You got it. So this is where Matt's gonna recommend something to us that he thinks we're going to like. I happen to know what it is. So I think this is gonna work really well. So take it away, my friend. Alright. So I think I know everyone's going to like these guys. It's a band I've been listening to for a couple of years now.
The Avett Brothers. The Avett Brothers. Yeah. You know 'em Tim? I do. Don't make me sing. Shame. Yeah. There you go. Boatloads of shame. So anyways. My wife and I have gone to five of their concert already this year. This year? This year. 2019? 2019. You've seen the Avett Brothers five times? Indeed I have. That. Wow. And we've got one more. And you got one more! Down in Greensboro, North Carolina on New Year's Eve. So you folks listening from Raleigh. We have offices in Greensboro and Charlotte and Raleigh. Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh. We looking for some ideas to do down there for a couple of days during around Christmas time. So I'm expecting a few emails or Skypes to give me some ideas here. Well, this is this is the track 'Ain't no man' from their album True Sadness.
How can you not feel this? I don't know how you can not feel it. This is and this is the style of the Avett Brothers. They're very much that kind of
nice groove. How would you describe them for anyone? I mean, obviously, we just play a little bit of a track. That's funny. They're hard to put in a box. They are essentially a folk rock band. So if you can imagine a rock band with a banjo. Yeah a banjo. And like they they've got a stand-up bass. They got a guy up there with a stand up bass. Like head banging on bass. This is this is 'High Steppin'. Oh, I admit I haven't heard the track. Just came out.
Don't be afraid to sing Matt. No one wants to hear that. These
guys are cool. They're they come back to like the human element of things. They're good humans. Judd Apatow put out a HBO documentary about them a couple of years ago, called May It Last. Go watch it. Super endearing. Hard to not really dig these guys after listening to their music and listen to them talk. My gosh, if you go watch them live. The energy that they bring is second to none. They don't they don't phone it in. No, no, no. Back to back nights. They're just they're cranking away at things. Fun, fun band. Alright. I've been big fans of the Avett Brothers for a long time. I'm glad to see they have a new album. And thanks for bringing that as your pick. Yeah of course. Yeah, well, the next time you come back on the show, you got to tell us about your sixth time. Although I imagine by then you'll be in double digits. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, we're already in double digits. Not, not not in 2019. So. OK. OK. So you've seen them. You're going to have seen them six times in 2019. How many times have you seen them total? It'll be 12 in December this year. And every time is is I assume you go back because they're they put on a real show. Incredible. Yeah. The first time we saw them were on vacation. That's to Colorado visiting friends in Fort Collins. And we're doing some backpacking. And it was actually for my wife and I's 10th anniversary. And, you know, our friends are like, hey, we're going to this concert at the Red Rocks. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Red Rocks. Tomorrow night. I'm like, okay, who is it? They're like, oh, it's Old Crow Medicine Show and they're the main act and the Avett Brothers are opening for them. And I'm like, well, I don't really know who either these bands are, but it's the Red Rocks and I've wanted to go see a concert area. So I have to go. So we went. And ever since then, fell in love with them. It's just hard not to. You got to go see em live. Alright. Now you convinced me. I have to go look at the tours . There were just here at UMBC like a month ago. It was the best one. I live very close to UMBC. It was the best concert that they ever put on that we've been too. Really? Yeah. They rocked it out two and a half hours. Just them. Just them. No opening act? Just. Just cranking away. Alright everyone. For those of you listening and watching right now, you are realizing the state of my misery. I need to get my act together. We're gonna go together. You and I. Yeah. OK. Maybe my wife, because she's not gonna let me go. Well I'll bring wife and it'll be a double date. Yeah, let's do it. Alright. Well, this is great. I really... Man, this episode turned out better than I thought. See. Relationships. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we wrap up another episode of Inside Engineering. Matt has as tied it all up neatly for his. I think maybe you should just host the show from now on. I don't have the voice Tim. Matt, do you have any, uh, any final parting words for our our listeners and viewers? Yeah, I just want to give a shout out: Happy holidays, everybody. Absolutely. Thank you all for joining us for another episode of Inside Engineering. We release a new episode every Tuesday, and you can find us on our home at our website at rkk.com/podcast. And you can stream every episode on demand. We have a video version and an audio version. You can also subscribe to us on just about any of the podcasting platforms. Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher. Speaker. Tune in. I always forget. I don't even know what those things are. I know there's a lot there's a lot of them, but we're there. And the point is that you can subscribe. You can leave us a review. We appreciate your reviews. We've also got a feedback form on our website because we want to know how we're doing and we want to make sure this episode's awesome. I know that how this episode is going to be pretty highly rated. So I feel good about that. But thanks again for watching us. And we'll see you next time on another episode of Inside Engineering.
Matt wishes he had known more about the value of business relationships. “I wish I would have known that earlier; I would have probably spent more time developing relationships rather than just cranking away on work all the time.”
Pick of the Week
Matt’s pick is the new album from The Avett Brothers, an American folk rock band that he has seen live nearly a dozen times.