Brenda Russell has had a long, notable career as a singer and a songwriter. She is best known for the songs “Piano in the Dark”, which was a hit for herself in 1988, and “Get Here”, which was a hit for Oleta Adams in 1991. Other songs by Brenda include “If Only For One Night”, which was a hit in 1985 for Luther Vandross, and “She Walks This Earth (Soberana Rosa)”, for which Sting won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2000. She was also nominated along with Allee Willis and Stephen Bray for a Tony Award for Best Original Score the Broadway musical The Color Purple.
Her songs have also reached the next generation through samples by Flo Rida (who samples “Piano in the Dark” for “I Cry”) and Kayne West (who samples “Think About You” by Brian and Brenda Russell for “See Me Now”).
This interview was for a preview article for a concert in support of The Rhythmic Arts Project (TRAP) on 2/6/15. It was done by phone on 1/23/15.
Bill Champlin first made his mark in The Sons of Champlin, a San Francisco band which created a heady, horn-driven mix of R&B and psychedelia. Their 1969 album Loosen Up Naturally is considered by many to be a lost classic. The band continued into the 1970’s, reunited in the late 1990’s as a live band, and released a couple of albums of in the 2000’s.
Champlin also did session work with a number of artists during the 1970’s and 1980’s, including Patti LaBelle, Lou Rawls, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Donna Summer, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Jimmy Smith, Amy Grant, Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers. He co-wrote “After the Love Has Gone”, a hit for Earth, Wind & Fire, and “Turn Your Love Around”, a hit for George Benson, and sang the theme song for the TV Show “In the Heat of the Night”.
Finally, for nearly three decades Champlin was a member of the band Chicago, joining in time for the album Chicago 16. He shared lead vocals on the hit “Hard Habit to Break”, and sang the vocals on “Look Away”, Chicago’s first Number One song after Peter Cetera left the band. He left Chicago in 2008 to focus on his solo career.
This interview was for a concert by The Songs of Champlin on 1/3/15 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, a show co-billed with his son Will Champlin. It was done by phone on 1/12/14. And if you haven’t heard The Sons of Champlin before or just need a refresher, the first song “1982-A” from their classic 1969 album Loosen Up Naturally is a good place to start – click here.
Guitarist/vocalist Paul Barrere joined the legendary band Little Feat in time for their classic 1973 album Dixie Chicken. Other acclaimed Little Feat albums followed, including Feats Don’t Fail Me Now and Waiting for Columbus, but things came to a halt when bandleader Lowell George passed away in 1979. Little Feat, including Barrere, returned with 1988’s album Let It Roll, and most recently released the album Rooster Rag.
This interview was for a preview article for a benefit concert by Barrere and fellow Little Feat bandmember Fred Tackett on 1/31/14 for The Rhythmic Arts Program (TRAP), an educational program founded by drummer Eddie Tuduri that integrates percussion as a medium to address reading, writing, arithmetic, and life skills for children and adults with intellectual and developmental differences. It was done by email, with answers received on 1/23/14. (L. Paul Mann photo)
Review of Bonnie Bramlett with Rosemary Butler, Tata Vega, Carl Graves, Eddie Tuduri, Edward James Olmos, and more, 9/28/12, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara.
Review of Freebo and Jerry Donahue, Live Oak Universalist Congregation / Song Tree, Santa Barbara, 2/9/13.
Photos of Bonnie Bramlett, Rosemary Butler, Tata Vega, and Carl Graves at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, 9/28/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
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.