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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
The band’s first studio album, Nothing’s Shocking, was released in 1988, and consists of songs ranging from the hard rocking “Ocean Size” and “Mountain Song”, to the funk rock “Standing in the Shower… Thinking”, to the dreamy, psychedelic “Summertime Rolls”, to the disturbing “Ted, Just Admit It…” about serial killer Ted Bundy, to the delicate junkie tale “Jane Says”.
In 1990, Jane’s Addiction released the follow-up album Ritual de lo Habitual, with songs including “Stop!”, “No One’s Leaving”, “Ain’t No Right”, “Three Days”, and their biggest hit “Been Caught Stealing”. Unfortunately, tensions between band members led to their break up, but not before the first Lollapalooza, which was created by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for the band.
After the break up, Perkins worked with Farrell in Porno for Pyros, and did guest appearances on Rage Against the Machine’s debut album and Nine Inch Nails’ album The Downward Spiral. Jane’s Addiction has reunited several times, and in 2011 released the album The Great Escape Artist.
This interview with Perkins was for a preview article for the Jane’s Addiction concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on 10/21/12. It was done by phone on 10/11/12.
The Grandaddy album Sophtware Slump masterfully explored the relationship between technology and alienation, and it is only fitting that it came out in the yearof Y2K. This album, one of the best of the 2000′s decade in my humble opinion, was the work of Jason Lytle, a sonic architect who creates lush, vintage synthesizer-driven futuristic pop music.
Grandaddy released three other stellar studio albums and various EPs in addition to Sophtware Slump, and broke up in the mid-2000′s, although they recently reunited for a short tour. Lytle (the first syllable is pronounced “light”) went on to release the Grandaddy-esque solo album Yours Truly, The Commuter in 2009, and just released his second solo album called Dept. of Disappearance.
The following interview was for a preview article for Lytle’s concert at SOhO in Santa Barbara, California on 10/21/12. It was done by phone on 10/10/12. (Jeff Hawe photo)
Ian Anderson is the frontman / singer / songwriter / flautist / acoustic guitarist for the band Jethro Tull. Jethro Tull’s first album, the bluesy This Was, came out in 1968, and their music rapidly developed with 1969′s Stand Up incorporating elements of English folk music and 1970′s Benefit embracing hard rock.
Next up was Jethro Tull’s classic album Aqualung, released in 1971 and regarded by many to be the band’s best. This included such Jethro Tull mainstays as the title track, “Locomotive Breath”, and “Crosseyed Mary”.
Jethro Tull followed with two concept albums, both of which reached No. 1 in the U.S. concert charts: 1972′s Thick as a Brick, and 1973′s A Passion Play, the latter including the not-universally-loved Winnie-the-Pooh-on-acid piece “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles”.
Jethro Tull released many more albums, notable ones including the compilation Living in the Past (1972), War Child (1974), Minstrel in the Gallery (1975), Songs from the Wood (1977), and Crest of a Knave (1987) which somewhat controversially beat out Metallica for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance. Also well worth checking out is Nightcap (1994), which has a different take on the material that ended up in A Passion Play.
Anderson recently decided to explore different possible life trajectories for the ficticious lad Gerald Bostock who had supposedly written the lyrics to the original Thick as a Brick album, resulting in the album Thick as a Brick 2. This interview was for a preview article for Anderson’s performance of both Thick as a Brick albums at the Chumash Casino on 10/18/12. It was done by phone on 10/9/12.
The Blind Boys of Alabama started singing together in 1939, at a school for the blind in a little town in Alabama called Talladega. They had their first professional performance in 1944, and have been going strong with their heavenly Gospel music ever since, although only one original member, Jimmy Carter, still regularly tours with the group. They have received many accolades, including Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Grammys and the National Endowment for the Arts, and have performed for three Presidents.
The following interview was for a preview article for the Dr. John/Blind Boys of Alabama show called Spirituals to Funk at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on 10/15/12. This was done by phone on 10/4/12. (Erika Goldring photo)
John Kadlecik (pronounced Kad-le-sik) is the lead guitarist for Furthur, the band which is keeping the music of the Grateful Dead alive thanks to original Dead band members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and Kadlecik’s Jerry Garcia-inspired guitar explorations.
Before joining Furthur, Kadlecik played in Dark Star Orchestra, which was notable – and quite popular – for covering full Grateful Dead setlists from throughout that band’s history. And before that, Kadlecik was a member of various bands including Uncle John’s Band, Wingnut, and Hairball Willie, the latter of which I can personally attest to having put on a great show in Ames, Iowa back in the early 1990′s.
The following interview was for a preview article for Furthur’s return to the Santa Barbara Bowl on 10/7/12. It was conducted by phone on 9/18/12. (L. Paul Mann photo, from Furthur’s concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on 9/20/10)
Bonnie Bramlett’s soulful voice has graced an amazing number of recordings and concert stages over the years, making her a true American treasure. As a teenager, she was the first white Ikette to back Ike and Tina Turner. Later, with her then-husband Delaney Bramlett they formed the band Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, which struck a chord in the late-60′s and early-70′s with its mix of rock, Gospel, soul, and blues music. The “Friends” in this band included such notables as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Duane and Gregg Allman, and others.
Bramlett has also performed and/or recorded with the likes of John Lennon, Joe Cocker, Little Feat, Stephen Stills, The Allman Brother Band (earning her the title of “Allman Sister”), Emmylou Harris, and many others. She released several solo albums in the 1970′s, and then more in the 2000′s, with her latest release being the 2008 album Beautiful.
Plus, Bramlett is a noted songwriter, having co-written “Superstar” which was a mega-hit for The Carpenters, and Eric Clapton’s single “Let It Rain”. A recent composition, “Ain’t Gonna Let You Go”, appeared on Bonnie Raitt’s latest album Slipstream.
And if that’s not enough, Bramlett is also an actress, most notably in her recurring role on the TV show Roseanne.
The following interview was for a preview article for the Bonnie & Friends performance at the Lobero Theatre on 9/28/12, as part of a fundraiser for The Rhythmic Arts Project (TRAP), an educational program that integrates percussion as a medium to address reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as life skills for children and adults with intellectual and developmental differences. The interview was conducted by phone on 9/4/12.
Dave Alvin first received acclaim in L.A. roots rockers The Blasters, for which has was the primary songwriter, and whose revved up take on rhythm and blues won favor in the early-80′s punk rock scene and beyond. After a short stint with country-punkers The Knitters and punk-rockers X, Alvin launched his highly-regarded solo career which continues to this day. Alvin’s latest album, Eleven Eleven, came out in 2011.
This interview was for a preview article for the show by Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones on 9/19/12 at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, as part of the tenth anniversary celebration of the Tales from the Tavern series. The interview was done by phone on 8/30/12. (Brian Blouser photo)
Victor Krummenacher is a founding member and bass player for the eclectic alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven. Their first album Telephone Free Landslide Victory came out in 1985, and includes such classic songs as “The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon”, “Where the Hell is Bill?”, the Black Flag cover “Wasted”, and “Take the Skinheads Bowling”. They released four more acclaimed albums before burning out, the independently-released II & III and self-titled Camper Van Beethoven, and the major-label albums Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie. The band reformed at the end of the end of the 1990′s, and has released several more albums, with a new one coming out in January 2013. Krummenacher has also been in the bands Monks of Doom and Cracker.
This phone interview took place on 8/24/12, and was for a preview article for Camper Van Beethoven’s 9/10/12 concert in Ventura, California.
When the Jim Kweskin Jug Band formed in 1963, they breathed new life into the jug band music genre whose heyday had been several decades earlier. In the process, they inspired many bands including the Grateful Dead and the Lovin’ Spoonful, played several times at the Newport Folk Festival, and had a helluva lot of fun.
After the Jim Kweskin Jug Band broke up in the late 1960′s, Muldaur played with Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, and contributed to recordings for a number of notable artists. Both Kweskin and Muldaur have also released various solo albums over the years, and in recent years they have resumed performing together.
The following interviews were done for a preview article for the performance by Kweskin and Muldaur at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on 8/25/12. These interviews were done separately by email, with Muldaur’s reply received on 8/2/12, and Kweskin’s on 8/3/12.
Billy Duffy is the guitarist for The Cult, a renowned British hard rock band with psychedelic and punk rock influences formed in 1983. The Cult’s notable albums include Love (1985), Electric (1987), and Sonic Temple (1989), and in 2012 they released a new album called Choice of Weapon. Their songs include “She Sells Sanctuary”, “Love Removal Machine”, “Fire Woman”, and “Edie (Ciao Baby)”, all co-written by Duffy and singer Ian Astbury. Before The Cult, Duffy played in The Nosebleeds (with a pre-Smiths Morrissey, who Duffy reportedly introduced to Johnny Marr), Slaughter & The Dogs for a short time, and Theatre of Hate.
This interview was conducted by phone on 8/7/12, and served as the basis for a preview article for The Cult’s concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater on 8/18/12. (Michael Lavine photo)
Austin, Texas is rightfully known as a mecca for music, thanks largely to the city’s annual SXSW festival. And the latest band to bubble up to receive the prestigious Austin Music Award for Best New Band is the Austin-based band The Wheeler Brothers, consisting of brothers Tyler (bass guitar), Patrick (drums), and Nolan (guitar, piano and vocals), plus friends A. J. Molyneaux (lapsteel, guitar, vocals) and Danny Matthews (guitar, vocals).
The Wheeler Brothers’ “rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of twang” on their debut album Portraits has been well received in Texas and beyond, and their second album is in progress.
This interview was conducted by email, with answers received on 7/31/12.
Steve Hillage is best-known for his amazing guitar playing with Gong during its classic Radio Gnome Trilogy phase (1973-75), and for his subsequent solo career which included the albums Fish Rising (1975), L (1976), Motivation Radio (1977), Green (1978), and Rainbow Dome Musick (1979). He also played with the prog rock band Khan which released their only album Space Shanty in 1972, with Kevin Ayers on the album Bananamour (1973), and on the live performances of Tubular Bells at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1973 and for the BBC in 1974.
In the 1980′s, Hillage worked as a producer for artists including Simple Minds, Cock Robin, and Robyn Hitchcock. Then, after meeting Dr. Alex Paterson, he co-wrote, co-produced, and recorded songs with The Orb, including the British hit song “Blue Room”. Hillage and Miquette Giraudy also formed the still-active ambient dance band System 7, which has collaborated with Paterson, Derrick May, and others.
This interview was done by phone on 7/25/12.
Not many living people have their name appear regularly as the answer to crossword puzzle clues. But if you’re looking for a five letter answer to “One-named New Age musician” or “Greek New Age keyboardist”, it doesn’t take long to come up with “Yanni”.
Of course, Yanni’s mark extends far beyond crossword puzzles. He has released fourteen studio albums, the latest of which is 2011′s Truth or Touch and two of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards, plus seven live albums including Live at the Acropolis which along with its companion video has sold over seven million copies.
His music, which he prefers to call “Contemporary Instrumental” rather than “New Age”, has also been used in television shows, televised sporting events, and commercials. Yanni was even the first Westerner to perform at the Taj Mahal and Beijing’s Forbidden City.
The following interview was done by email for a preview article for Yanni’s 7/21/12 performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl. His answers were received on 7/16/12.
Micky Dolenz is best known as the lead singer and drummer for The Monkees, a group whose music and television show offered a fun, zany, and sanitized take on the emerging youth culture in the 1960′s. Although the television show lasted only two years, it has remained popular and influential to the present day. Dolenz’ vocals can be heard on songs such as “Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m A Believer”, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, and “Porpoise Song”. Altogether, four of The Monkees’ albums and three of their singles hit Number 1 in the U.S. charts.
The following is from a phone interview with Dolenz on 7/5/12, for a preview article for the Happy Together Tour visit to the Chumash Casino on 7/12/12.
Rick Wilder is the frontman for The Mau Maus, a legendary late-1970′s / early 1980′s L.A. punk rock band that recently reformed and released the album Scorched Earth Policies: Then and Now, which includes songs recorded in 1983 with Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and new recordings from 2011. This interview was conducted for a preview article for the upcoming Mau Maus show on 7/22/12 in Santa Barbara. It was done by email, with answers received on 7/3/12 – the 41st anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death. (Mila Reynaud photo)
James Stevenson (lower right) was the guitarist for the U.K. punk band Chelsea. Later, for a short time he joined Generation X with Billy Idol. He spent a longer time with goth rockers Gene Loves Jezebel, and has also played in The Alarm and The Cult.
Glen Matlock (upper right) was the original bass player for the seminal and hugely influential punk rock back the Sex Pistols. Their album Never Mind the Bollocks is widely viewed as one of the most important in the history of rock music, punk or otherwise. Matlock co-wrote nearly all of the songs on this album, including “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen”, but he didn’t play on it because he had left the group. He later played in Rich Kids, and with Iggy Pop and the re-formed Faces.
Stevenson and Matlock are part of The International Swingers, which also has Clem Burke (upper left) from Blondie on drums and Gary Twinn (lower left) on vocals. The following interviews were for a preview article for their 6/26/12 show at Whiskey Richards in Santa Barbara.
Greg Lake first made his mark as a founding member of King Crimson, for which he was lead singer and bass player. During Lake’s tenure, King Crimson released their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, which is regularly hailed as one of the pioneering works of progressive rock, and included “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the title track. When this original line-up broke up, Lake joined with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form the prog rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer (often abbreviated ELP), which became one of top bands in the genre. ELP’s albums included Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery, and their best known songs include “Lucky Man”, “From The Beginning”, and “Karn Evil 9″, all of which were written or co-written by Lake. ELP broke up in 1978, but reunited in the 1990′s and beyond, most recently for a one-off 40th anniversary concert in London in 2010.
Lake is currently on a solo tour called “Songs of a Lifetime”, in which he performs songs and tells stories about his life in music. The following interview took place on 4/24/12 as Lake was on his way to a gig in Alexandria, Virginia, and served as the basis for a preview article for his 5/17/12 concert in Ventura, California.
Photo: Lee Millward
Chris Hillman has been a professional musician for nearly fifty years, starting on bluegrass mandolin before he joined The Byrds, for which he played bass guitar and contributed vocals. You can hear him on hits including “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, “Eight Miles High”, and “So You Want To Be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”, which he co-wrote.
Hillman left The Byrds after their landmark album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, joining up with Gram Parson (who also played on that album) to form The Flying Burrito Brothers, whose classic debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin featured many songs that he wrote or co-wrote with Parsons. Hillman was also a key member of the band Manassas with Steven Stills, and had multiple country hits with the Desert Rose Band.
This phone interview took place on 4/11/12, and formed the basis of a preview article for his 4/25/12 show with Herb Pedersen at the Maverick Saloon as part of the Tales From the Tavern series. Incidentally, this interview was transcribed approximately eight miles high, on a flight between St. Louis and San Francisco.
Seun Kuti has inherited much from his father, the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti: musical talent, charisma, a commanding stage presence, a burning desire for a better life for his Nigerian countrymen, and even his band Egypt 80. Along with the music of his brother Femi, which Seun heartily recommends, Seun (pronounced Shay-oon) is keeping Afrobeat – a rhythm-heavy, hypnotic mix of James Brown-style funk, jazz, Cuban and traditional West African music, featuring call-and-response vocals which are often about political topics – relevant in the 21st century. Seun’s second album, From Africa With Fury: Rise, was released last year, and he is currently touring the U.S., including an appearance at Coachella.
This interview, which was the basis of a preview article for his concert at UC Santa Barbara, was done by phone on 4/2/12. (photo credit: Kelechi Amadiobi)
Steve Diggle plays guitar, writes songs, and sometimes sings for The Buzzcocks, the hugely influential band from Manchester which produced the blueprint for pop punk. The Buzzcocks also jump-started the punk do-it-yourself ethos with their 1977 self-released Spiral Scratch EP, on which Diggle played bass guitar. The Buzzcocks’ notable songs include “Orgasm Addict”, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've)”, “I Don’t Mind”, “Promises”, and “Harmony In The Head”. Their compilation Singles Going Steady is regularly ranked as one of the best punk rock albums of all time.
The Buzzcocks broke up in 1981, but re-united in the late 80′s and have been going strong ever since. Between performances at this year’s Coachella festival, they will be playing a few smaller gigs in California, including one in San Luis Obispo for which this interview served as the material for a preview article. I reached Diggle, who also released a solo album called Air Conditioning last year, at his home in London. The interview took place on 3/23/12. (Ian Rook photo)
Steve Reich is a pioneering composer, who along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass is viewed as one of the most important figures in minimal music.
Reich’s early compositions “It’s Gonna Rain” (1965) and “Come Out” (1966) made use of tape loops which went out of phase with each other, an idea which he extended to live instrumentation with “Piano Phase” (1967) and “Violin Phase” (1967). He also explored the concept of “music as a gradual process” in pieces such as “Pendulum Music” (1968), in which microphones as pendula swing over a speaker, causing feedback.
His music took a new turn with “Drumming” (1971), inspired by a trip to Ghana. Steady pulse and rhythm became a dominant element of his compositions, including in the acclaimed “Music For 18 Musicians” (1976), widely viewed as one of his most important pieces.
Reich’s pieces began to incorporate themes from history and from his Jewish heritage with “Tehillim” (1981), which is the original Hebrew word for Psalms. Such themes continued with “Different Trains” (1988) which uses voices including those of Holocaust survivors, “The Cave” (1993) based on The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron which uses videos developed by his wife Beryl Korot, the opera “Three Tales” (1998-2002) about The Hindenberg, the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll, and cloning, which also uses visuals by Korot, and “WTC 9/11″ (2010) which uses voices related to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Reich’s compositions have been highly influential in the world of classical music, and he has been called “America’s greatest living composer.” In the rock music world, his influence has been cited for artists including Brian Eno, King Crimson, The Residents, and Tortoise. Reich is currently working on a piece based on the music of Radiohead.
This interview was conducted by phone on 3/28/12.
Penelope Houston fronted the San Francisco punk band Avengers, whose “Pink Album”, consisting of recordings made in 1977-8 but not released until 1983, is often hailed as one of the best punk rock albums of all time. Avengers opened for the Sex Pistols at their final show. Houston re-emerged years later as a folk singer-songwriter, still retaining much of her punk attitude. Houston just released a new solo album called On Market Street, and a new Avengers compilation is coming out soon.
This interview was conducted by email, with answers received on 4/1/12. (Photo: Ethan Hill)
Bob Bert was the drummer for two of the most notable bands from the American Underground: Sonic Youth (playing on the albums Confusion Is Sex, Sonic Death, and Bad Moon Rising) and Pussy Galore (playing on their recordings from Exile on Main St onwards). He has also drummed with Bewitched, Knoxville Girls, and The Chrome Cranks, the latter of which just released a cool new swamp/noise/punk/blues album called Ain’t No Lies In Blood. Bert answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 3/20/12.
Kim Manning is an electrifying, red-hot performer who has been singing vocals with George Clinton and Parliament / Funkadelic / The P-Funk All Stars for ten years. She has also worked with artists including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, and Sly Stone, and was “Peaches” on the first season of the reality TV show Flavor of Love. Manning just released a new album called Good People. She answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 3/12/12.
Robben Ford has been playing guitar professionally for over four decades, and was ranked one of the Greatest 100 Guitarists of the 20th Century by Musician magazine. He has released multiple solo albums, helped launch the jazz fusion band Yellowjackets, and has worked with artists ranging from Joni Mitchell to Jimmy Witherspoon to Kiss to George Harrison to Miles Davis.
This phone interview took place on 2/15/12, and was the basis of a preview article for the Robben Ford and the Yellowjackets concert at the Lobero Theatre on 2/17/12.
Larkin Grimm is a well-traveled, eclectic singer-songwriter in the “freak folk” genre. The Swans’ Michael Gira has described her as “the sound of the eternal mother and the wrath of all women”, and also said “her voice is like the passionate cry of a beast heard echoing across the mountains just after a tremendous thunder storm, when the air is alive with electricity.” Grimm’s fourth album Soul Retrieval, which was recorded with the help of famed T. Rex and David Bowie record producer Tony Visconti, will be released in February 2012.
Richie Furay is best known for co-founding two notable bands: Buffalo Springfield, which is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and for which Furay was one of the primary songwriters along with Neil Young and Stephen Stills, and Poco, which is regarded as one of the pioneering bands of the country-rock genre. After leaving Poco in the early 1970′s, Furay was in the short-lived supergroup Souther-Hillman-Furay, and has since released several solo records. His song credits include “Kind Woman”, “A Child’s Claim To Fame”, “Hurry Up”, “Keep On Believin’”, “You Are The One”, and “Let’s Dance Tonight”. Furay answered these questions by email on 1/5/12, and this interview formed the basis of a preview article for his 2/1/12 performance at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, California.
Murray Gershenz, aka Music Man Murray, is passionate about music, and has spent over 70 years collecting, buying, and selling records. But the time has come to sell his collection, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands. The catch – he wants his collection to stay intact. It sounds like he’d settle for half a million dollars, a bargain for a collection valued in the millions.
Murray’s story is captured in the documentary film Music Man Murray, which premieres at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival. This film was produced and directed by Richard Parks, with music by his father Van Dyke Parks, who has had his hand in many notable music releases over the last five decades. Richard and Van Dyke responded to the following questions by email on January 20 and 21, 2012.