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.
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.
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.
Mark Volman and long-time collaborator Howard Kaylan were founding members of The Turtles, whose 1960′s hits include “Happy Together” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”. When The Turtles disbanded, Volman and Kaylan joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and due to contractual reasons adopted the names Flo & Eddie. Flo & Eddie performed on the Zappa albums Chunga’s Revenge, Fillmore East June 1971, and Just Another Band from L.A., and in the movie 200 Motels. Flo & Eddie also sang background vocals for T. Rex, including on the worldwide hit “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” and the albums Electric Warrior and The Slider. And that’s just scratching the surface. They also sang on records by notable artists including Bruce Springsteen (“Hungry Heart”), The Psychedelic Furs (“Love My Way”), Stephen Stills, Alice Cooper, Ray Manzarek, Keith Moon, The Ramones, and Blondie. Volman is also the Chair of the Entertainment Industry Studies program at Belmont University in Nashville.
This is from a phone interview with Volman on July 29, 2011.
Photos from the Frank Zappa symposium at the Ojai Music Festival. Here is a link to my review of this event.
Review of Frank Zappa symposium at Ojai Music Festival, 6/11/10.
Songwriters and musicians answer the question: What advice would you give to an aspiring songwriter/musician? Responses from:
Sir George Martin
Booker T. Jones
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford
Rickie Lee Jones
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Kronos Quartet: David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt
Abdul “Duke” Fakir
David “Honeyboy” Edwards
Stephen ‘Doc’ Kupka
Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia
Country Joe McDonald
Van Dyke Parks
R. Stevie Moore
James Jackson Toth
Donald “Dino Sex” Sachs
Dannis and Bobby Hackney
Will Cullen Hart