John Mayall has been called “The Father of British Blues”, with good reason. As bandleader and songwriter for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, he was instrumental in launching the British blues boom in the 1960′s.
Mayall is probably best known for the landmark 1966 album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (the “Beano” album), which brought Clapton to “Clapton is God” status. Mayall’s Bluesbreakers band was also an early incubator for other notable talent including guitarists Peter Green (who along with other Bluesbreakers alums John McVie and Mick Fleetwood formed the early Fleetwood Mac) and Mick Taylor (who went on to join the Rolling Stones).
Mayall has recorded dozens of albums over the decades, and at 79 years old continues to tour extensively. The following interview was for a preview article for his 5/22/13 concert at SOhO in Santa Barbara. Answers were received by email on 5/6/13.
Photos of Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, 4/12/13, Coachella (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Bobby McFerrin, 4/2/13, Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Vans Warped Tour Kickoff Party, 3/28/13, Club Nokia, Los Angeles (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Akron/Family, 1/29/13, Muddy Waters Cafe, Santa Barbara (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Review of Coachella 2013 bands playing near Santa Barbara:
Arlo Guthrie is a beloved folk singer best known for his talking blues epic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” and his Top 40 hit “The City of New Orleans”. But this is just the cream of the crop from dozens of albums that he has released and songs he has performed over decades of touring since the late 1960′s. He also starred in the 1969 movie Alice’s Restaurant, and made a “far out” appearance in the Woodstock movie, which used his song “Coming Into Los Angeles” as accompaniment to footage of some serious reefer gladness.
Guthrie is also the son of folk music legend Woody Guthrie, who wrote hundreds of notable songs including “This Land Is Your Land”. The family’s musical legacy continues with Arlo’s children.
The following interview was for a preview article for Arlo’s concert at the Lobero Theatre on 4/15/13. He answered the questions by email, with answers received on 3/26/13.
Morris Day is the frontman for The Time, a band which is known for funky songs like “Jungle Love”, “The Bird”, “Jerk Out”, and “777-9311″.
From the beginning, The Time enjoyed a close association with Day’s childhood friend Prince, who contributed significantly to their early albums – 1981′s The Time, 1982′s What Time Is It?, and 1984′s Ice Cream Castle. The combination of Day’s spirited vocals and Prince’s funky grooves led to some of the finest R&B of the decade. The band’s early association with Prince culminated in an appearance as the rival band in the film Purple Rain.
The Time returned in 1990 with the well-regarded album Pandemonium, recorded with less input from Prince. The original band also released the album Condensate in 2011, where the band was called The Original 7ven because Prince owns the recording rights for the name The Time.
The following interview was for a preview article for the concert by Morris Day and The Time at the Chumash Casino on 4/11/13. It was done by phone on 4/3/13.
Raffi has been called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world”. It all started with his 1976 album Singable Songs for the Very Young, which includes songs “The More We Get Together”, “Down By The Bay”, “Willoughby Wallaby Woo”, and “Going to the Zoo”, and which was notable for bringing the highest quality in recording and production to children’s music. He went on to release many other hugely popular children’s albums, and along the way wrote classics including “Baby Beluga” and “Bananaphone”.
Raffi is also a passionate advocate for children, and co-founded the Centre for Child Honouring which works to restore communities and ecosystems by addressing the universal needs of children. He has been honored as a recipient of the Order of Canada and the United Nations’ Earth Achievement Award.
The following is from a phone interview on 3/26/13 for a preview article for his concert in Santa Barbara on 4/7/13.
Stephen Pope plays bass guitar for Wavves, a noise pop / sunshine punk band whose profile has been on the rise over the past few years with their awesome 2010 album King of the Beach, 2011′s Life Sux EP featuring the song “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”, and now their new album Afraid of Heights. Before Wavves, Pope played with the late Jay Reatard, including on his last album Watch Me Fall.
It must be mentioned that Wavves has also made headlines for frontman Nathan William’s chemical-induced onstage breakdown at the 2009 Barcelona Primavera Sound Festival, and for Pope getting kicked out of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards for pot possession.
The following interview was done by phone on 2/20/13 for a preview article for the Wavves concert on 3/23/13 at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara.
The Guess Who had a truly impressive number of hit songs during the late 1960′s and early 1970′s, including “These Eyes”, “Laughing”, “Undun”, “No Time”, “American Woman”, “No Sugar Tonight”, “Share the Land”, and “Clap for the Wolfman”, many of which are on regular rotation on today’s classic rock radio.
Drummer Garry Peterson was a founding member of The Guess Who, and was part of their classic late 1960′s and early 1970′s line-up. He and founding bassist Jim Kale are in the current incarnation of the band.
This interview was done by phone on 2/21/13 for a preview article for The Guess Who’s concert at the Chumash Casino on 3/14/13. (Wayne Drennar photo)
Kim Wilson (who Santa Barbarans might know as “Goleta Slim”) is the lead vocalist and harmonica player for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, whose blues rock has thrilled audiences for decades. The band’s commercial peak came in the 1980′s with the hit songs “Tuff Enuff” and “Wrap It Up”, which helped to launch a blues revival. The latest release by The Fabulous Thunderbirds is called On The Verge. Wilson has also recorded with other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and James Cotton.
Dan Hicks has been a part of musical history in at least two big ways.
First, he was the drummer for The Charlatans, which is widely credited as the first psychedelic rock band. The Charlatans formed in San Francisco in 1964, and Hicks joined in time for their summer 1965 residency at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. When they returned to San Francisco, The Charlatans were important players in the city’s burgeoning music scene, helping to pave the way for the emerging San Francisco Sound.
Second, in 1968 he founded Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, which went in a more eclectic acoustic direction colored by jazz, country, and swing influences. Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks released several well-regarded albums before disbanding in the mid-1970′s. A little over a decade ago, Hicks put together a new incarnation of the Hot Licks to record new material and to tour.
The following interview was for a preview article for a concert by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, California on 2/27/13. It was done by phone on 2/9/13.
Review of Freebo and Jerry Donahue, Live Oak Universalist Congregation / Song Tree, Santa Barbara, 2/9/13.
Photos of Sound City Players, 1/31/13, Palladium, Los Angeles (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Donovan, 10/28/12, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
For a short time before Pol Pot and his totalitarian Khmer Rouge regime came to power in the mid-1970′s, Cambodia produced groovy psych pop music in the spirit of The Searchers’ “Love Potion No. 9″ and Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man”.
About a decade ago, brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman, who play guitar and Farfisa organ, respectively, became aware of such music. They recruited the elegant and talented Khmer-singing Chhom Nimol from Long Beach and, joined by like-minded sonic travelers, started playing covers of Cambodian songs as the band Dengue Fever. Dengue Fever has gone on to write and record several albums worth of similarly groovy original songs, with their latest album being 2011′s Cannibal Courtship.
For those of you who like your music a bit “out there”, check out the eclectic sounds of Akron/Family, who serve up a tasty mix of indie folk, prog rock, spacey jams, and noise freak-outs.
The band’s first album was 2005′s self-titled release on Michael Gira’s Young God label, which also released their next three albums. They switched to the Dead Oceans label for 2009′s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free and 2011′s Akron/Family II (The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT). Their seventh album Sub Verses will come out on the Dead Oceans label this spring.
The following interview with bandmember Dana Jenssen (drums, guitar, vocals) was for a preview article for their performance at Muddy Waters on 1/29/13. It was done by email, with answers received on 1/28/13.
For the last decade, Ricky Phillips has played bass guitar with arena rock favorites Styx, whose extensive touring continues to bring the band’s hard-rocking, FM-radio-friendly prog, and power ballads to the masses.
Phillips has also been a member of other notable bands, including The Babys, supergroup Bad English (best known for their No. 1 hit “When I See You Smile”), and Coverdale/Page. He has also played with Ronnie Montrose and Jeff Beck.
Phillips answered the following questions in a phone interview on 1/19/13. This served as the basis for a preview article for the Styx concert at the Chumash Casino on 2/7/13.
Jim Coleman was part of the seminal New York City alt/noise/experimental/industrial rock band Cop Shoot Cop, contributing on sampler, keyboards, and mixing. The band released several albums in the 1990′s, including Ask Questions Later and Release on Interscope Records, the former with the minor alt-radio hit “$10 Bill”. They also were a well-regarded live act, and did shows with Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many others before breaking up in 1996.
Coleman’s musical journey has continued with scoring of films and TV shows, and recordings released as Phylr. In 2012, under his own name he released the album Trees, an organic, sonically rich set of movements that should appeal to fans of ambient electro-acoustic music.
Coleman answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 1/7/13.
Photos of Reverend Horton Heat with Jello Biafra, 12/30/12, Majestic Ventura Theater (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
The following is a list of some of the notable musicians who passed away in 2012, 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.
Photos of Jonathan, Nathan, and John McEuen at Carpinteria Plaza Playhouse, 11/16/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Jim Heath is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for Reverend Horton Heat, a band which updated the sound and energy of rockabilly for the alt-rock era and beyond.
Reverend Horton Heat hit the ground running with their first album, 1992′s Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, which has gems like “Bad Reputation”, “Marijuana”, and “Psychobilly Freakout”. They’re still going strong ten albums and countless live shows into their career, with Heath’s twisted humor taking a front seat on songs such as “Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store” and “Death Metal Guys” from their latest album, 2009′s Laughin’ and Crying’.
This interview was done by phone on 12/19/12 for a preview article on the 12/30/12 Reverend Horton Heat concert in Ventura, with special guest Jello Biafra joining in for a few songs.
Photos of Charles Bradley at Campbell Hall, UC Santa Barbara, 11/28/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Before Kinky Friedman became a best-selling author of mystery novels, or ran for the Governor of Texas as an Independent in 2006 (coming in fourth out of six candidates), he recorded some of the funniest country music ever committed to tape. His best known songs include “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore”, “Ride ‘Em Jewboy”, and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed”, which aren’t exactly hymns to political correctness, but they probably will make you laugh, and might even make you think.
This interview was done by phone on 11/26/12, and was for a preview article for Friedman’s shows on 12/8/12 at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, California, and on 12/9/12 at Zoey’s Cafe in Ventura California. (Larry Pullen photo)
The band Punch Brothers uses traditional bluegrass instrumentation – mandolin, fiddle, guitar, banjo, and stand-up bass – but their repertoire is certainly not limited to traditional bluegrass music. Indeed, they push the boundaries of what can be done in such a format, both with their original songs and with covers of the likes of Radiohead’s “Kid A”.
This interview was with Punch Brothers bass player Paul Kowart for a preview article for their show at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on 12/4/12. It was done by phone on 11/30/12.
Garland Jeffreys is an acclaimed singer and songwriter whose songs cover a variety of styles including rock, reggae, and soul. His best-known songs are his 1973 single “Wild in the Streets” and his 1979 U.K. and European hit “Matador”. Notably, Jeffreys was named Best New Artist by Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. Jeffreys’ most recent album, The King of In Between, was released in 2011 and is one of the strongest of his career.
Velvet Underground afficionados will also be interested to know that Jeffreys is a long-time friend of Lou Reed and John Cale, and he played on John Cale’s first solo album Vintage Violence, which included Jeffreys’ song “Fairweather Friend”.
Garland answered the following questions by phone on 11/21/12, the day before Thanksgiving, and also the day before he was flying to Europe for some shows. This was for a preview article for his concert on 12/8/12 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. (Danny Clinch photo)
Preview of Charles Bradley at Campbell Hall, UC Santa Barbara, 11/28/12.
Multi-instrumentalist/singer/composer Michael Andrews recently released the wonderful album Spilling A Rainbow, which was inspired by him becoming a first-time father and features lush sounds, creative arrangements, and thoughtful lyrics. As examples, “The Dentist” recounts how he first heard that his wife was pregnant, “Music For Cell Division” is based on his wife’s ultrasound, and “Waiting For You To Wake” anticipates the day’s Daddy shift.
Andrews is best known for his work on movie soundtracks, most famously that for Donnie Darko which included a cover of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” that became the Christmas Number One single in Britain in 2003. He has also contributed to the soundtracks for movies including Bridesmaids, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and Paris, je t’aime, and the television show Freaks and Geeks. Andrews has also released albums with The Greyboy Allstars, and has produced albums for Inara George and Metric.
The following interview was conducted by email, with answers received on 11/21/12. (Laura Heffington photo)
Annie Haslam is the vocalist extraordinaire (with a five-octave range!) for the progressive / classical rock band Renaissance. The band’s classic albums include 1974′s Turn of the Cards and 1975′s Scheherazade and Other Stories, both of which they recently covered in full on tour. Renaissance’s songs include “Mother Russia”, “Carpet of the Sun”, “Song of Scheherazade”, and “Northern Lights” which was a Top 10 single in the UK in 1978. Renaissance will soon be releasing a new album called Grandine il Vento.
Annie Haslam has also released several solo albums, starting with 1977′s aptly named Annie in Wonderland. And she is an accomplished painter! She responded to the following questions by email, with her answers received on 11/19/12. Sadly, her bandmate, Renaissance guitarist and songwriter Michael Dunford, passed away suddenly on 11/20/12 of a massive Instantaneous Cerebral Hemorrhage.
Photos of Asia at the Chumash Casino, 11/8/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Gilberto Gil, Campbell Hall, UC Santa Barbara, 10/26/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of Benny Benassi, at Tonic Nightclub, Santa Barbara, 9/16/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Photos of David Byrne and St. Vincent at Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, 10/11/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
Singer-songwriter Holly Near has been combining music and activism for over four decades, dating back to the turbulent early-70′s when as a cast member of the Broadway musical Hair she was part of a silent vigil for the victims of the Kent State shootings, and as a member of the FTA (Free The Army) Tour she traveled with Jane Fonda and others to protest the Vietnam War.
Over the years Near has also lent her talents to feminist and LGBTQ causes, and she has worked with other socially conscious musicians including Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Joan Baez.
Near is also notable for being one of the first women to found her own record label, Redwood Records, which released her own recordings and those by “politically conscious artists from around the world”.
Near’s honors include being named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine, and being nominated as one of the “1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize” in 2005.
Near answered the following questions by email on 11/16/12 for a preview article for the 11/28/12 benefit by her and actor/activist Mike Farrell (of B. J. Honeycutt fame from M*A*S*H) for Antioch University Santa Barbara.
(Irene Young photo)
Review of The Monkees at the Arlington Theatre, 11/9/12.
Eddie Izzard is widely regarded as one of the top stand-up comedians of his generation, with a surreal, stream-of-consciousness style that’s a hit in Britain, America, and pretty much everywhere else in the world.
Izzard started doing comedy during his only year at the University of Sheffield in north-central England. He spent a decade in relative obscurity until a performance at a 1991 AIDS benefit lifted his profile. He went on to win a British Comedy Award for “Top Stand Up Comedian” for his 1993 show Live at the Ambassadors. His U.S. breakthrough came from his show Dress To Kill, which was shown on HBO in 1999 and for which he won two Emmy Awards. He recently became the first solo stand-up comedian to perform at the famed Hollywood Bowl.
Izzard has also acted in many movies (including Velvet Golmine, Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Across the Universe), starred in in the television show The Riches with Minnie Driver, and provided his voice to the animated films Igor and Cars 2.
Other notable things about Eddie Izzard are that he ran 43 marathons in 51 days for charity, he appeared briefly onstage with his heroes on Monty Python Live at Aspen (and has been referred to by John Cleese as “the lost Python”), he was a huge supporter of the London Olympics, and he is a heterosexual cross-dresser.
This interview was conducted by phone on 11/9/12 for a preview article for Izzard’s stand-up comedy performance at the University of California, Santa Barbara on 11/17/12.
Multi-instrumentalist John McEuen has been playing music professionally for over forty-five years. A key member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for much of that time, he was the driving force behind their classic 1972 album Will The Circle Be Unbroken, which had the band collaborating with bluegrass and country-western legends like Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Merle Travis. McEuen has also recorded or performed with a staggering array of other artists over the years, and his production credits include the Grammy-winning Steve Martin album The Crow: New Songs for the 5-string Banjo.
John McEuen and his sons Jonathan and Nathan recently released the wonderful album For All the Good, billed as The McEuen Sessions, which has been praised as amongst the best of the elder McEuen’s career. The following was for a preview article for the performance billed as John McEuen and Sons at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara on 11/17/12. It was conducted by phone on 10/27/12.