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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
David Freiberg was a co-founder of 1960′s psychedelic band Quicksilver Messenger Service, which was known for extended jams as captured on their classic album Happy Trails. He toured with Jefferson Airplane toward the end of that band’s existence, and stayed on when the band evolved into Jefferson Starship. He was a co-writer of Jefferson Starship’s 1979 hit song “Jane”. Both Freiberg and Paul Kantner quit the band as its sound became more commercial, in particular before the recording of “We Built This City” as Starship.
Freiberg answered the following questions by phone on 7/16/13 for a preview article for the Jefferson Starship performance at the Chumash Casino on 8/1/13.
Mike Palm is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for Agent Orange, a skate punk band from Orange County which plays a potent combination of punk and surf rock. The band first gained attention for the 1979 recording of the song “Bloodstains”, which was included on DJ Rodney Bingenheimer compilation album Rodney On The Roq. Their brilliant first album, Living In Darkness, came out in 1981 and features punk originals and smokin’ covers of surf rock classics. The band has released several more albums and EP’s over the years.
This interview was done by email, with answers received on 7/17/13. It was for a preview article for the Agent Orange show at SOhO in Santa Barbara on 7/19/13.
Belle and Sebastian’s early days are legendary. The Scottish indie pop band quickly recorded their first album Tigermilk in Glasgow in 1996 as part of the yearly project for a music business course at Stow College, pressing 1000 vinyl copies which they could barely give away.
But the law of supply and demand kicked in as interest in the band grew, thanks to the popularity of their follow-up If You’re Feeling Sinister which had a much wider release, and copies of Tigermilk started commanding prices in the hundreds of pounds. Meanwhile, the band laid low, with singer and main songwriter Stuart Murdoch refusing to do interviews for years. But the buzz continued to build, and the band cracked into the American market.
Fast-forwarding to the present, Belle and Sebastian has by now released eight albums and loads of EPs and singles, with their music drawing favorable comparisons to notables such as The Smiths, The Velvet Underground, and Nick Drake.
The following interview was done with Belle and Sebastian’s keyboard player Chris Geddes by phone on 7/8/13 for a preview article for the band’s concert on 7/17/13 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the only California appearance of its tour.
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford was the drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose songbook includes classics such as “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Green River”, “Down on the Corner”, “My Back Door”, “Fortunate Son”, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”, “Travelin’ Band”, and “Up Around the Bend”. Creedence also did smokin’ covers of “Susie Q” and “I Heard It Through the Gravevine”. The band broke up acrimoniously in 1972, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 1995, Clifford and Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited, the name change reflecting the absence of singer/songwriter John Fogerty and his late brother Tom. This band, which not coincidentally also abbreviates to CCR, plays the hits we know and love from their days with Creedence Clearwater Revival.
This interview was done by phone on 7/3/13 for a preview article for Creedence Clearwater Revisited’s concert at the Santa Barbara County Fair in Santa Maria on 7/13/13.
Chuck Negron was one of three lead singers for Three Dog Night, which had a whopping twenty-one Top Forty songs between 1969 and 1975. Three of these hit Number One – “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, “Black and White”, and “Joy to the World”, the latter featuring Negron’s vocals and the familiar opening line “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”. He also sang lead vocals on “One”, “Eli’s Coming”, “An Old-Fashioned Love Song”, and “Easy to be Hard”. These, like most of Three Dog Night’s songs, were covers, often in very different arrangements from the originals.
Negron went through a period of serious drug addiction, which he finally overcame in the early 1990′s. His book Three Dog Nightmare is a harrowing account of his rock and roll excess, and starts with the line, “I should be dead.”
This interview was for a preview article for the Happy Together Tour show at the Chumash Casino on 7/11/13, for which Lindsay is one of the featured performers. (Mac O’Brien photo)
Mark Lindsay was the lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders, one of the most popular bands of the 1960′s. Their songs include “Kicks”, “Steppin’ Out”, “Hungry”, “Good Thing”, “Him or Me, What’s It Gonna Be”, and “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” which was a Number One hit in 1971. Their early songs, in particular, have a raw sound that was influential on punk rock a decade later.
Paul Revere & The Raiders appeared regularly on television, including being the house band for Dick Clark’s show Where The Action Is. They typically played in American Revolutionary War costumes, giving a visual gimmick to go along with their rockin’ music. It has been reported that Lindsay is the most televised American lead singer in history.
Lindsay also had success as a solo artist, with “Arizona” selling over one million copies.
The punk rock band The Dwarves has taken the “Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” mantra to heart, with nearly three decades of decadence under their belts.
Formed in Chicago and now based in San Francisco, The Dwarves gained early notoriety for ferocious 15-minute shows that often degraded into violent brawls, and at times included onstage sex-acts. They also raised eyebrows with controversial song and album titles and artwork, including the 1990 album Blood Guts & Pussy which shows nude women (and a midget) drenched in animal blood.
The core of the band is singer Blag Dahlia and guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed, the latter the subject of a death hoax which got the band dropped from their record label Sub Pop. Dahlia was himself in the news when he was assaulted in 2004 by Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme.
Blag Dahlia answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 5/29/13. This was for a preview article for the show by The Dwarves on 6/6/13 at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara.
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.
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)