In singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston’s hometown of Kinsley, Kansas, there’s a sign which says that it’s 1,561 miles to New York City and to San Francisco. In pursuit of a career in music he took the first option, eventually selling part of his family’s farmland in Kansas to finance his acclaimed second album, 1992’s Can You Fly. A couple years later he released This Perfect World, which featured the single “Bad Reputation” and resulted in him being named songwriter of the year in 1995 by Rolling Stone magazine, ahead of some guy named Kurt Cobain. Other well-regarded albums followed, most recently this year’s Neon Repairman.
This interview was for a preview article for Johnston’s 8/15/15 concert at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. It was done by email, with answers received on 8/6/15. (Dina Regine photo)
Multi-instrumentalist Fred Tackett officially became a member of Little Feat in 1988, but he had worked as a session player on earlier albums by the band including the classic album Dixie Chicken.
But that was far from his only gig – Tackett has also recorded with an amazing collection of notable artists including Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, Kris Kristofferson, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt, Lionel Richie, Joan Baez, Jimmy Webb, The Allman Brothers Band, The Carpenters, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Kenny Loggins, The 5th Dimension, Johnny Rivers, Van Dyke Parks, Bob Seger, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, and more.
This interview was for a preview article for a benefit concert for Safety Harbor Kids on 4/18/15 at the Lobero Theatre by Tackett and fellow Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere. It was done by phone on 3/26/15. (L. Paul Mann photo)
Jimmy Webb’s songwriting credits are quite remarkable. He is most closely associated with Glen Campbell, who sang the definitive versions of Webb’s songs “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, and more. (A lesser known gem and Music Illuminati favorite is “You Might As Well Smile” from Campbell’s 1974 album Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb.) Other songwriting credits include “Up, Up and Away” (The Fifth Dimension), “MacArthur Park” (Richard Harris, Waylon Jennings, Donna Summer), “All I Know” (Art Garfunkel), and “Highwayman” (The Highwaymen). Other artists who have recorded and/or performed his songs include Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra. Webb has also released his own wonderful albums over the years, most recently 2013’s Still Within the Sound of My Voice.
This interview was for a preview article for the concert by Webb and Karla Bonoff at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on 6/7/14. It was done by phone on 5/21/14. (Jessica Walker photo)
Karla Bonoff is arguably best known for having several of her songs covered by Linda Ronstadt, including “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” “Lose Again” and “If He’s Ever Near” from Ronstadt’s 1976 album Hasten Down The Wind. But to call Bonoff a “songwriter” doesn’t do justice to the fact that she has also released her own wonderful albums over the years, including her 1977 self-titled debut that included the aforementioned songs and had quite a cast of supporting musicians, plus the hit song “Personally”. Before her solo career, she was a member of the folk-rock group Bryndle.
This interview was for a preview article for the concert by Bonoff and Jimmy Webb at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on 6/7/14. It was done by phone on 5/20/14.