“I started singing gospel music,” said Glenn, an Alabama native. “By five-years-old I knew 100 songs by heart.”
It’s the laundry list of other talents that might surprise you.
Glenn moved to Arizona from Alabama to study architecture and be a draftsman at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Glenn earned a degree in music at Arizona State University, where he also attended law school. His blueprint days may have been short, but he still continues to draw his own brand of cartoons where music is always the punch line. His cartoons were published in a California publication for 20 years.
“I have notebooks filled,” he said.
But his real love is music. Glenn wrote a one man musical at 28 using his four-octave vocals to voice the characters. This gave Glenn yet another hobby – ventriloquism. Two characters will be joining him when he comes to Pensacola next week, Tootsie the bird and Groggy the frog.
“I’m very lucky,” Glenn said of his many talents. “All the things I do, I try to do them well.”
Glenn and his Jazz Cowboys will be performing their own takes on classic, Americana songs.
“The set is 99 percent covers. My goal is to take well-known songs that are associated with multiple versions and create a fresh and personal interpretation,” Glenn said. “I’m basically an entertainer. I might occasionally sneak in an original.”
Glenn’s love of travel also has a major influence on his set list.
“I have a bit of an agenda,” he said. “I enjoy traveling and I enjoy songs about the United States.”
The set may include: “Alabama Jubilee,” “Georgia on my Mind,” “St. James Infirmary,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “San Antonio Rose” and “Happy Trails to You.”
Glenn appeared on the PBS special “This Land is Your Land” and traveled the world as a member of the New Christy Minstrels. He also performed with John Denver early in his successful musical career, and lived in Nashville among many talented songwriters. He said he tends to be shy and intimidated when it comes to original songs.
“I’m fascinated by the process and interested in songwriting, but I’m not in class of those songwriters in Nashville,” he said.
“There’s that saying – ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’” he added with a deep laugh.
Glenn learned a lot from his time with Denver.
“He was a very good guitar player, it fit his voice well,” he said. “He was a great songwriter. There’s only one John Denver. It was a very exciting, very gratifying time. It was neat to see his success.”
You would think that a man who has tried almost every career he’s come in contact with – especially one who does voices and draws cartoons – would be the life of the party. But when Glenn is at a party he tends to avoid the crowds and would rather conduct a sing-along rather than put on a show.
“In a crowd, I’m kind of shy,” he said. “At parties I usually find a quiet corner.”
But that doesn’t mean Glenn doesn’t enjoy entertaining new faces and places. In spite of his Alabama upbringing and constant traveling, he still hasn’t been to Pensacola yet.
“I’m definitely looking forward to coming to Pensacola and meeting new people,” he said.
Glenn and his Jazz Cowboys have been playing together since the 1980s. The western string band adds Dixieland horns to Glenn’s music.
“It’s Southern Roots, it combines the beach with the tradition of the American West,” he said.
As Glenn got older, his beard grew and his hair went white he added another bullet point to his entertainment resume: Santa Claus.
“I’ll probably play some Christmas songs,” Glenn said of the upcoming show. “You gotta have a little Christmas in July.”
IGOR GLENN AND THE JAZZ COWBOYS
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1
WHERE: Gregory Street Assembly Hall, 501 E. Gregory St.
DETAILS: 607-8633 http://www.igorsjazzcowboys.com/index.html