Guitarist Jeremy Spencer was one of the original members of Fleetwood Mac, bringing a style heavily influenced by Elmore James that complemented the fretwork by the band’s other guitarists Peter Green and, later, Danny Kirwan. Spencer’s recorded contributions to Fleetwood Mac albums included their self-titled debut, Mr. Wonderful, Kiln House, and various compilations from that period. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for his role in Fleetwood Mac.
While on tour in Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac in 1971, Spencer disappeared before a gig, and several days later it was discovered that he had joined the religious group Children of God. Since then, he has remained devoted to this organization, which is now known as The Family International.
Spencer had planned to tour the United States for the first time in 43 years, in support of a new album Coventry Blue, but had to cancel at the last minute reportedly because of illness. This interview was for a preview article for the scheduled show in Santa Barbara on 2/16/14; although the show was canceled, we believe that the interview is still of interest. It was conducted by email, with answers received on 2/6/14.
Pat Metheny brings brilliant technique, versatility, innovation, and overall musicality to his playing and his compositions, making him one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists out there. Up to this point, he has received an astounding twenty Grammy awards, most recently 2013′s Best Jazz Instrumental Album award for the album United Band, which also features the talents of Chris Potter (saxophone), Ben Williams (bass), and Antonio Sanchez (drums). Just a few weeks ago, the Pat Metheny Unity Group (the United Band members plus multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi) released the album Kin (←→), which debuted at Number One on the Billboard Jazz Chart.
Metheny has also collaborated with a diverse set of artists, including Jim Hall, Chick Corea, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Joni Mitchell, and Derek Bailey.
The following was for a preview article for the Pat Metheny Unity Group concert at the Lobero Theatre on 2/26/14. It was done by email, with answered received on 1/23/14.
Review of Gardens & Villa at SOhO (2/8/14), Chris Thile at the Lobero Theatre (2/11/14), Matisyahu at Velvet Jones (2/12/14), and Richie Furay and Jim Messina at the Lobero Theatre (2/15/14).
Review of Alan Parsons talking about working with The Beatles, plus screening of first appearance of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, 2/9/14, Carpinteria Plaza Playhouse Theater.
Those of us who like to read the liner notes to musical releases often see the same names popping up over and over. Such is the case with the legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette, whose credits include seminal albums with Charles Lloyd (Forest Flower) and Miles Davis (Bitches Brew), and who has also worked with the likes of Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea in addition to leading his own bands over the years.
This interview was for a preview article for the 2/18/14 show at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara by The Spring Quartet, which also features the talents of Joe Lovano (saxophone), Esperanza Spalding (bass, vocals), and Leo Genovese (piano). It was done by phone on 1/24/14.
Jim Messina is best known for the duo Loggins & Messina, which gave us songs like “Danny’s Song”, “House at Pooh Corner”, and “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. But by the time he and Kenny Loggins got together, he had already acquired quite an impressive musical resume, including the following highlights. He was the recording engineer for the album Buffalo Springfield Again, which ultimately led to him joining the band and producing their final album Last Time Around. Then, with Richie Furay from Buffalo Springfield, he co-founded the seminal country-rock band Poco, whose classic first albums he also produced. Next up was Loggins & Messina, which has been described as the most successful pop/rock duo in the first half of the 1970′s.
This interview was for a preview article for his 2/15/14 concert with Richie Furay at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. It was done by phone on 2/7/14.
The Santa Barbara-based band Gardens & Villa has taken off in the American Riviera and beyond with their intelligent synth-driven indie pop. Career highlights so far include their acclaimed 2011 self-titled album and a coveted spot at the Mojave Tent at Coachella in 2012. Their second album, Dunes, will be released on February 4, 2014. The band’s lead singer, Chris Lynch, answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 1/30/14. This was for a preview article for Gardens & Villa’s performance at SOhO in Santa Barbara on 2/8/14.
John Batdorf has worn many musical hats over his career. In the 1970′s, he was part of the acoustic rock duo Batdorf & Rodney, which released three albums and toured with some of the era’s biggest names. He went on to write commercials and music for television shows, and has in the last few years has returned to releasing material under his own name, most recently the album Soundtrax 2 Recovery with Michael McLean.
This interview was for a preview article for Batdorf’s concert in Goleta, California on 2/8/14. It was done by email, with answers received on 1/20/14.
Guitarist/vocalist Paul Barrere joined the legendary band Little Feat in time for their classic 1973 album Dixie Chicken. Other acclaimed Little Feat albums followed, including Feats Don’t Fail Me Now and Waiting for Columbus, but things came to a halt when bandleader Lowell George passed away in 1979. Little Feat, including Barrere, returned with 1988′s album Let It Roll, and most recently released the album Rooster Rag.
This interview was for a preview article for a benefit concert by Barrere and fellow Little Feat bandmember Fred Tackett on 1/31/14 for The Rhythmic Arts Program (TRAP), an educational program founded by drummer Eddie Tuduri that integrates percussion as a medium to address reading, writing, arithmetic, and life skills for children and adults with intellectual and developmental differences. It was done by email, with answers received on 1/23/14. (L. Paul Mann photo)
Kevin Barnes is the mastermind behind the indie pop band of Montreal, which got its start as part of the Elephant 6 collective that spawned other notable bands including Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, and The Apples in Stereo. The latest addition to the band’s diverse catalog is last year’s Lousy With Sylvianbrian, which tilts in a more straightforward rock direction, making it arguably one of the band’s most accessible recordings.
This interview was done by phone on 1/9/14, and was for a preview article for the of Montreal show at The HUB at the University of California, Santa Barbara on 1/24/14.
Merle Allin is the bass player for the Murder Junkies, a punk rock band best known as the last group to back Merle’s younger brother GG Allin, who died of a heroin overdose in 1993. With GG, they recorded the album Brutality and Bloodshed for All, and toured whenever GG wasn’t in prison. A snapshot of the feces- and violence-filled chaos brought on by GG Allin & the Murder Junkies is captured in the acclaimed documentary Hated, which isn’t for the light hearted.
In the post-GG era, the Murder Junkies have continued their punk rock mayhem with 1995′s Feed My Sleaze, 2011′s Road Killer, and 2013′s A Killing Tradition. This interview was done by phone on 1/9/14 for a preview article for the Murder Junkies show at Muddy Waters Cafe in Santa Barbara on 1/16/14. Merle had just arrived in Las Vegas for a gig that night.
The following is a list of some of the notable musicians who passed away in 2013, including a few who performed in the Santa Barbara area in recent years. Some are well-known, many are not, but all are worthy of our respect. R.I.P. — Rock In Peace.
Dick Dale is known as the King of the Surf Guitar, and for good reason. He basically invented the surf music genre with his reverb-drenched distorted-Fender-Strat-through-Fender-amps gloriously-glissandoing staccato-picked guitar instrumentals.
Dale had his first heyday in the early 1960′s in Southern California, and roared back into popular consciousness when his signature song “Miserlou” was used to great effect in the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction. Now in his seventies, Dale still has the fire that he showed in his early recordings, and gives awe-inspiring concerts like the one from 2009 reviewed here.
The following interview was for a preview article for Dale’s scheduled concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater on 11/10/13, which unfortunately was canceled. But the interview is still worth reading. As you’ll see, it turned out not to be a standard Q&A; instead, after a shaky start on the part of the interviewer, Dale spoke at length about his life in music and beyond. This was done by phone on 10/16/13.
DJ Bonebrake is the drummer for the band X, whose 1980 debut album Los Angeles was produced by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and ranks as one of the best punk albums of all time. This was followed by other acclaimed X albums. He was also a member of The Knitters, Auntie Christ, and The Flesheaters, and currently drums for a number of other bands.
This interview was for a preview article for the X concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater on 12/5/13. It was done by phone on 11/26/13, except for the “advice” question which was asked in person on 11/8/13 (L. Paul Mann photo)
Review of Brian Setzer Orchestra, 12/19/13, Chumash Casino, Santa Ynez.
Singer Mike Muir has been the only constant member of the band Suicidal Tendencies during its three decade existence. The band started out as a SoCal hardcore punk rock band featuring an aggressive sound and Muir’s raging lyrics that resonated with the era’s disaffected youth. Along the way, the band gained notoriety from frequent violence at their shows and alleged gang affiliations, later denied by Muir.
Suicidal Tendencies’ first, self-titled album came out in 1983, and the song “Institutionalized” received significant airplay on MTV, the first hardcore punk rock song to do so. Over time, Suicidal Tendencies evolved in a thrash metal direction, but they always retained a connection with their hardcore roots. Their latest album, 13, was released in March.
Muir is also the singer for the funk metal band Infectious Grooves, and has released solo albums as Cyco Miko.
This interview was done by phone on 12/16/13, and was used for a preview article for the Suicidal Tendencies show on 12/21/13 at the Majestic Ventura Theater.
Photos of Jeff Tweedy at the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara 12/13/13, with opener Scott McCaughey. (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Review of Notes For Notes Benefit Concert, 12/6/13, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara. With Slash, Robert Randolph, Alan Parsons, Don Felder, and more.
When Jackson Browne assembled the band for his 1977 landmark live album Running on Empty, he chose some of the best musicians in the business. For backing vocals he chose Rosemary Butler. The rest, as they say, is history.
By that point, Butler already had a notable career in music. She was in the all-female band the Ladybirds, which opened for The Rolling Stones in 1964. She later joined the all-female hard rock band Birtha, which released two albums in the early 1970′s. And she had sung backing vocals for Bonnie Raitt and Warren Zevon. She went on to sing backing vocals for many other notable artists including Linda Ronstadt, Ringo Starr, James Taylor, Little Feat, and many more. Butler just released a new album You Just Watch Me.
This interview was done by email for a preview article for her concert at SOhO in Santa Barbara on 12/1/13, with answers received on Thanksgiving Day, 11/28/13. (L. Paul Mann photo)
Review of Bonnie Bramlett with Rosemary Butler, Tata Vega, Carl Graves, Eddie Tuduri, Edward James Olmos, and more, 9/28/12, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara.
Review of the Meat Puppets 11/8/13, Quasi 11/14/13, and Bill Callahan, 11/15/13, all at SOhO, Santa Barbara.
Photos of Quasi at SOhO, Santa Barbara 11/14/13. (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
In one of the more memorable scenes from the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, Wayne and Garth get to hang out backstage with Alice Cooper, to which they respond by bowing down and telling him, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Cooper commands such respect, fictional or otherwise, both for his music and pioneering dark theatrics involving guillotines, snakes, twisted makeup, and much more. His efforts have earned him the honorary (or is it dishonorary?) title of the “Godfather of Shock Rock”, plus well-deserved election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Alice Cooper saga began in the late 1960′s when the band, at that time itself called Alice Cooper, released the psychedelic-tinged album Pretties For You, which Frank Zappa reportedly agreed to produce to get the band to leave his house. Early notoriety came when Alice Cooper, the singer, threw a live chicken from the stage which was subsequently attacked and killed by the audience, an incident exaggerated by the press. The classic Alice Cooper sound was born when producer Bob Ezrin came on board, and the band’s profile grew with hits like “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.
Alice Cooper, the singer, launched a successful solo career with his 1975 album Welcome to My Nightmare, and since that time he has released multiple albums and played countless concerts which push the boundaries of what a rock and roll show can be.
This interview was done for a preview article for Alice Cooper’s concert on 11/21/13 at the Chumash Casino. It was done by phone on 11/5/13.
Photos of Buddy Guy at Campbell Hall, UC Santa Barbara 11/5/13. With Quinn Sullivan. (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Review of The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 11/1/13.
Sam Coomes sings, plays guitar, keyboards, and whatever else might be laying around for Portland-based indie rock veterans Quasi, who have been cranking out remarkable music, that has unjustly flown under the radar, for two decades. Back to their roots as a two-piece – Coomes with Janet Weiss on drums – they recently released an adventurous double album called Mole City which straddles the pop, indie, and avant rock universes.
While Quasi has been active, both principals have also made marks on other projects, Weiss as drummer for riot grrrl notables Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Coomes as a guest with Built to Spill and with the late, great Elliott Smith both in the alt rock band Heatmiser and in his solo career. Along the way, Quasi backed Smith on some of his tours.
This interview was done for a preview article for Quasi’s long overdue Santa Barbara debut at SOhO on 11/14/13. It was done by email, with answers received on 10/28/13.
Passion Pit has come a long way since Michael Angelakos recorded a set of modern electronica songs on his laptop in his dorm room as a Valentine’s gift to his then-girlfriend. Those songs ended up getting released on an EP that included the additional song “Sleepyhead”, which became a minor hit.
Since then, Passion Pit has released two popular, critically acclaimed albums of well-crafted electronic pop, the latest of which, 2012′s Gossamer, includes “Take A Walk”, their biggest hit to date. In its full-band touring configuration, Passion Pit has appeared on Saturday Night Live, played at Coachella, and much more.
This interview with Passion Pit’s bassist Jeff Apruzzese was for a preview article for their concert on 10/26/13 at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Review of Atoms for Peace at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 10/17/13.
Although the word “virtuoso” gets used a bit too generously at times, it truly applies to guitarist Steve Vai. But don’t just take my word for it: he was called the “little Italian virtuoso” by no less an authority than Frank Zappa, who hired the young Steve Vai to transcribe his guitar solos and play in his band.
After his time with Zappa, Vai played with David Lee Roth at the dawn of Roth’s solo career – that’s him doing the talking guitar at the beginning of “Yankee Rose” – and with Whitesnake. He also released various solo albums including 1990′s Passion and Warfare and 2012′s Story of Light, has been a guest artist on recordings by many artists, and has toured with fellow guitar virtuosos Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, and others as part of the G3 concert series. You might also remember him as the Devil’s guitarist Jack Butler in the movie Crossroads.
The following interview was for a preview article for Vai’s 10/18/13 concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater. It was done by email, with answers received 10/10/13.
Review of John Fogerty at the Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles, 10/11/13.
Review of The Avett Brothers at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 10/10/13.
Review of World’s Greatest Teen Idols (David Cassidy, Micky Dolenz, Peter Noon) at the Chumash Casino, Santa Ynez, 10/3/13.
Photos of World’s Greatest Teen Idols (David Cassidy, Peter Noone, Micky Dolenz) at Chumash Casino, Santa Ynez, 10/3/13 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
There have been teen idols throughout the history of rock and roll, dating back to the young Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson, and continuing up through Miley Cyrus (in her pre-twerking days, at least) and One Direction.
One of the most popular teen idols of all time is David Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge on the 1970′s TV show The Partridge Family, and at the same time also enjoyed a successful pop music career including the smash No. 1 hit “I Think I Love You”. Since that time, he has continued to record music and act on television and in musical theater.
The following interview was for a preview article for The World’s Greatest Teen Idols show at the Chumash Casino on 10/3/13, featuring Cassidy and fellow idols Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees and Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits, who together have sold over 250 million records. It was done by email, with answers received on 9/30/13.
Well, it turns out that Rachmaninoff wasn’t the only prominent musician to have played the piano. The owner that was giving it away for free was Vijay Iyer.
Dr. John, aka The Night Tripper, has released over thirty albums which draw from the music of his native New Orleans and beyond, bookended by his 1968 voodoo psychedelic masterpiece debut Gris-Gris and last year’s wonderful Locked Down, produced by Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys.
Although not the sort of artist who had big hits – his only one was the funky “Right Place Wrong Time” – Dr. John has been hugely respected in the music world for decades. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, not just for his solo career, but also for his contributions to recordings as a member of the group of Los Angeles session musicians now known as The Wrecking Crew, and later contributions to recordings by an incredible set of musicians including The Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Rickie Lee Jones, Carly Simon, Joe Cocker, and many more.
The following interview was for a preview article for a concert by Dr. John at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara on 9/20/13. It was done by phone on 9/11/13.
by Paul Mann
Peter Hook (known as “Hooky” by friends and fans alike) may be one of the most fascinating figures in modern electronic music. He created a new music sound born out of punk rock roots, in a working class neighborhood of Manchester in the mid 1970′s. He was a founding member of the pivotal rock group Joy Division. His unique signature bass sound, invented out of economic necessity, became an intricate part of dance club music, in the early 1980′s. As Joy Division morphed into New Order, after the untimely passing of iconic singer Ian Curtis, his music became part of mainstream pop culture. But maybe, even more importantly, that sound led to a whole new type of electronic dance music, that evolved into today’s world of massive EDM pop culture.
Although Boz Scaggs is best known for the slick R&B hits “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” from his breakthrough 1976 album Silk Degrees, his career in music has spanned much, much more.
Scaggs first made a mark as a member of the Steve Miller Band during their early psychedelic rock phase, playing guitar plus writing and singing a few songs on the band’s first two albums.
His first solo album after leaving Miller’s orbit was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, and featured a young Duane Allman on guitar shortly before Allman reached guitar god status. This has been ranked in the Top 500 albums of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Subsequent solo releases were also well regarded, hitting a peak with the aforementioned Silk Degrees which sold millions of copies and won Scaggs a Grammy for Best R&B Song for “Lowdown”. Scaggs has continued to release acclaimed albums over the years, most recently the covers-heavy Memphis.
This interview was for a preview article for Boz Scagg’s concert at the Chumash Casino on 9/12/13. It was done by phone on 8/28/13.
Review of Heart and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 8/27/13.
Ann Wilson is the lead singer for the band Heart, which was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ann and sister/guitarist Nancy Wilson have formed the core of Heart since the 1970′s, when they recorded hits including “Magic Man”, “Crazy on You”, and “Barracuda”. They struck gold again in the 1980′s with help from MTV and songs like “What About Love”, “Never”, “These Dreams”, and “Alone”.
This interview was done by phone on 8/7/13, and was for a preview article for Heart’s concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on 8/27/13, with opening act Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. (Norman Seeff photo)
Booker T. Jones has had an astounding career in music, as part of Booker T. & the M.G.’s and beyond.
With the M.G.’s, he had hits in the 1960′s with instrumentals including the timeless “Green Onions”, “Hang ‘Em High”, and “Time Is Tight”. The band also backed an amazing collection of artists on the legendary Stax Records, such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Albert King.
Jones also co-wrote notable songs for other artists including “Born Under A Bad Sign”, “I Love You More Than Words Can Say”, and “I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)”. Moreover, he produced records by Willie Nelson, Bill Withers, and Rita Coolidge, and he played with musicians including Stephen Stills and Bob Dylan. Booker T. & the M.G.’s were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and Jones received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2007.
This interview was done by phone on 8/8/13 for a preview article for the Memphis Music Fest at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara on 8/23/13. (Piper Ferguson photo)
When Cherie Currie joined the all-girl jailbait rock band The Runaways, whose classic line-up also included Joan Jett and Lita Ford and whose manager was the legendary Kim Fowley, it was 1975 and she was a teenage David Bowie fanatic.
Over the next few years, the white-corsetted Currie and the rest of the band made a mark in the burgeoning punk rock scene with infectious songs like “Cherry Bomb” and “Queens of Noise”, ultimately becoming an important influence on all-female bands like The Go-Gos, The Bangles, and The Donnas, and various male rockers as well.
A well-publicized 2010 biopic brought The Runaways back into the popular consciousness, and Currie now has a new album in the works. She answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 8/16/13; this was for a preview article for her concert at San Luis Obispo on 8/18/13. (Donna Santisi photo)