This week is the conclusion of my conversation with producer and artist Joe Henry. Joe is one of my favorite producers, taking huge risks and pushing sonic boundaries in the studio, mixing cutting-edge jazz with folk music, and capturing stellar live tracks that sound larger than life. He's been at the helm for some of what I think are the coolest sounding records of the last decade, for artists like Solomon Burke, Mary Gauthier, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint, and so many more. Last week, I spoke with Joe about his upbringing and how he got into record-making, his association with T-Bone Burnett, and some of his first production projects. This week, the story continues and we delve into Joe's philosophies on recording, some of his recent work, and his amazing encounter with the great Ornette Coleman. Thanks to Joe for being so generous with his time and giving us this cool 2-part interview. Enjoy, share it, and please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free!
Music Makers and Soul Shakers
In March of 2016, I'll be releasing a weekly podcast that delves into the lives, careers and studio experiences of musicians, music producers, and even a few music biz-types who have been involved in excellent music. Some will be artists you recognize, others will be the musicians behind the scenes you may not be aware of, but each one has a great story to tell and brings a perspective to great music that will be of interest to music fans of all kinds. Stay tuned here and subscribe if you'd like to hear each episode as it gets released starting in March!
My guest on Episode 15 is producer and artist Joe Henry. Joe came up through the ranks originally as an artist, but through some early interctions with T-Bone Burnett, ended up being T-Bone's assistant on a number of projects, which led to him producing artists for himself. Joe continues to make great albums of his own every couple of years, and I’m a huge fan of all of them. He’s developed a close working relationship with my guest from episode 6, Ryan Freeland. Ryan’s ability to capture depth and live performances in the studio along with Joe’s abilities to set the stage, and create a sonic vision for his recordings has led to what I think are some of the most interesting albums made over the last 10 or 15 years. Their recordings have inspired me both as a musician and producer, and their philosophy of recording live and letting the moment dictate the feel, and spontenaity override perfection has pushed me more and more down a similar path over the years, and is something that I hold in high regard and strive for. Joe has been at the helm for some great records by Aimee Mann, Bettye LaVette, Allen Toussaint, Rodney Crowell, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt, his grammy-winning album for Soloman Burke, my pals the Birds of Chicago, and so many more. It’s a huge and important slice of American Music that his body of work represents, and I was really excited to talk to Joe about some of these sessions and his path to where he is now in his career. Enjoy Part 1 of my conversation with Joe Henry!
Welcome to episode 14 of the podcast, where we welcome a Nashville veteran to the show. Fats Kaplin is his name, and when not performing slight of hand magic, Fats is one of the most in-demand sideguys around. He plays fiddle, mandolin, pedal steel, banjo, harmonica, dobro, guitar, oud, button accordion and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff. And he plays them really well. Fats has been in Music City for a long time, but he grew up in New York and got a gig as a youngster with Roy Bookbinder, a fantastic blues and ragtime player. Fats went on to play for years with Roy, and then the Tom Russel Band, touring the world. He moved to Nashville in the early 90’s and hooked up with Keiran Kane and Kevin Welch to form the Dead Reckoners, who were sort of a collective of great songwriters and instrumentalists.
He’s played with tons of artists, and in the last few years ended up getting a gig in Jack White’s band, with whom he now performs and records regularly. Fats is active around Nashville and plays with his wife Kristi Rose regularly. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Fats quite a bit oiver the last coupe of years and he’s a great improvisor and an incredibly receptive musician to play with. I feel like we’re sort of kindered spirits in our weird esoteric musical tastes and we always have a good time working on music together. Fats and I talked about his whole history with all of those artists, growing up in New York, recording and working in Europe with Tom Russell through to getting the gig in Jack White's band and tells some stories about going on the tour with the male and female versions of Jack's band. Then at the end, Fats brings out the violin and rips up the fiddle as only he can. Enjoy my conversation with Fats Kaplin!
Producer Lee Townsend is my guest on the show this week. Lee is a producer in the truest sense of the word. He’s not a performing musician, never has been, but has always been deeply into music and he brings a philosophy and easy going nature to sessions that make people rally around and perform their best. Lee is best known for his decades-long relationship in the studio and as manager for Bill Frisell, with whom he has made many records, earned Grammy Awards and countless other accolades, but he has also made some amazing records for artists as diverse as Dave Holland, Viktor Krauss, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Louden Wainwright, Carrie Rodriguez, and many more. He is an artistic member of the group Floratone, which is an experimental collaboration with Frisell, Matt Chamberlain, Tucker Martine, and Lee. He has also worked as VP of A&R for Verve/Polygram and as General Manager of of ECM Records in the USA. I thought Lee would be a great addition to the series here as someone who brings an intense love and passion for music to the table and has a long history of great records under his belt. He is a true Music Maker and Soul Shaker!
This week we have part 2 of my epic conversation with guitar legend and pioneer of TWANG, Duane Eddy. If you haven’t heard the first part of the interview, head on back and pick up episode 11 of the podcast and check it out. As I mentioned last week, he grabbed a guitar off my wall and kept it on his lap the whole time we talked and when the spoirit moved him, he plucked out some examples to illustrate his point. What you’re hearing is an electric guitar unamplified, and very casual! This week we pick the story up after he’s had some hits and we get into his further series of twangy records, how he got into the blues, working on major soundtracks and a classic country record he made in Nashville in the 60’s, "Twang a Country Song" and his reverence for the great steel player Buddy Emmons. It was such an honour to have Duane Eddy drop by and I hope you enjoy the episode. Feel free to leave comments and be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!
This week we're honoured to have the legend of TWANG drop into the Henhouse, Mr. Duane Eddy himself! For those of you who don’t know him, Duane Eddy revolutionized the sound of the electric guitar and became the king of "twang" with his trusty Gretsch guitar in hand. He had huge records in the 50’s and 60’s, most of which were instrumental. His playing and innovative guitar sounds, in conjunction with the pioneering production work of Lee Hazelwood resulted in over 12 million records sold before 1963! He had massive hits with “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn”, “Movin’ and Groovin’” and so many more. These songs were fixtures on the radio as well as TV, being a regular guest on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. He toured and performed with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, BB King, Chet Atkins and countless others. Duane was rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Duane Eddy lives in Nashville and was generous enough to drop into the Henhouse a while back and sit and tell stories and talk about some of the sessions for those legendary songs, some of his earliest musical experiences, and his involvement in the pivotal years of American Rock and Roll. He saw an Epiphone Casino hanging on my wall, which is the closest thing I have to a Gretsch, asked to play it and kept it on his lap the entire time and picked out some examples as he talked. There’s no amp, you’re just hearing him plucking on an unamplified electric as he talks. It was a huge thrill to have him here, and because of the length of our conversation, I decided to split it into 2 full episodes. Have a listen to now to Part 1 of my conversation with Duane Eddy!
Cindy Cashdollar joins me this week on the show. Cindy is a highly respected musician and sideperson, who has developed an incredible style and facility on the lap steel and dobro. Early on in her career, before she was really fluent on the lap steel, she got a gig with the popular western swing band Asleep At The Wheel, and had to really learn how to play that style on the fly. She ended up mastering the instrument, and her success as a player and sideperson to artists such as Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Dave Alvin, Van Morrison, Ryan Adams and many more is a testament to that fact. Cindy has released one album of her own called “Slide Show” that features some great performances with her and a number of high-profile slide and dobro players. She was also just nominated this week for an Americana Award for "Instrumentalist Of The Year"! I reached Cindy at her home in Woodstock, NY and we talked about those gigs I mentioned, the music that inspired her to pick up the guitar, growing up in Woodstock, getting in to blues and bluegrass, hooking up with Levon Helm and Rick Danko, and her trip through an 8 year stint with Asleep at the Wheel, to playing on Dylan’s 2007 masterpiece Time Out Of Mind.
Stephen Hodges joins us this week on Music Makers and Soul Shakers. Stephen is an incredibly creative and grooving drummer who plays on the most iconic Tom Waits' albums (Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Mule Variations to name just a few!), all of Mavis Staples' recent recordings, and lots of other cool sessions and albums. He worked with David Lynch on the "Fire Walk With Me" Soundtrack, and cut his teeth in the bars of Long Beach and Los Angeles in the late 70's and early 80's alongside Los Lobos and the Blasters. Stephen discusses his early days as a drummer/composer for modern dance classes, working in seedy bars in through the 70's, getting his mind blown by Howling' Wolf, developing his unique drum setup with James Harman, and landing gigs with Tom Waits and John Hammond. This is a hilarious and energetic interview with a very humble and generous musician and much can be learned from him by drummers and non-drummers alike!
The mighty Marc Ribot joins us on the show this week! Marc is one of the most sought after session and performing musicians in modern music, not to mention an intensely creative spirit who is just as comfortable hanging with the most experimental free jazz players as he is playing with Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Buddy Miller or any of the many other roots and Americana artists he regularly collaborates with. Marc emerged from the well-documented New York scene of the late 70's and early 80's with the Lounge Lizards and John Zorn before playing on some of Tom Waits' most iconic albums and creating his own impressive string of varied solo projects. Marc and I discussed those projects, his earliest influences, the importance and complexity of Chuck Berry, his history with John Lurie, how he got a gig early in his career with Solomon Burke, and lots more. It was a real honour to have Marc on the show and his stories and insights make him both an incredible Music Maker and a Soul Shaker!
My guest today is Danny Barnes. Danny is one of the most accomplished and eclectic musicians, songwriters, and wildly creative DIY artists out there. He just won the "Steve Martin prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo" and is a stellar banjo picker, but his adventurous nature and interest in improvising,new music and electronics really sets him apart. He fronted the genre-bending Austin-based band The Bad Livers before moving to Seattle about 10 years ago. Danny and I talked about his background, how he got into playing music, his history with his band the Bad Livers, Frippertronics, his love of the "Dr. Who" Theme, his epic hangs with John Hartford, and much more... His new album "Get Myself Together (10 Years Later)" is out now and well worth seeking out! This conversation swerved all over the musical spectrum and was extremely insightful for me, and I think it's a revealing look into the mind of a great creative artist.