The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #55 – George Benson

George Benson is a household name. His abilities as a guitarist and vocalist safely ensure his place as a legend in the world of pop, jazz and R&B. A ten time Grammy award-winner, George Benson’s career has been a prolific one: 36 studio albums, and 5 live albums. Some of his songs are perpetually on the radio years and years after being recorded. From instrumental compositions like “Breezin'” to pop songs like “Turn Your Love Around,” or his live cover of “On Broadway,” one thing is certain, the music of George Benson seems to radiate from his heart.

Stay tuned for after the interview for an in studio sampling of PERRIER ® , the sparkling natural mineral water with co-sampler Jason Burge!

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The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #30 – Otis Redding III

Otis Redding III is the son of the legendary Otis Redding, the King of Soul. Redding was bestowed with his father’s talents and is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, performing and recording artist. Otis Redding III speaks with a sense of humility, but yet continues the tradition of musical excellence associated with the name “Redding.” Like the song his father wrote, Otis Redding III is full of respect for the art of music. It’s an interview with music royalty here on The Paul Leslie Hour!

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Steve Lukather: Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, member of Toto

STEVE LUKATHER is an absolute virtuoso of the guitar.  Aside from being a member of the band Toto, he is a solo artist who tours and records his own music.  Lukather is one of the most respected session guitarists, having recorded on countless artists albums through the years.
A very open Steve Lukather talks with Paul Leslie about the changes in his life that resulted in his acclaimed album “All’s Well That Ends Well.”  Lukather is proof that you can have tremendous talent and still be very humble.

Deborah McColl: Vocalist & Guitarist

The Kindred Spirit was a folk trio featuring Deborah McColl, Thom Tollerson and Phil Rolleston.  Deborah McColl today is a Psychotherapist.  She is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist.  Many people know McColl as the original “Reeferette.”  Deborah McColl was the first backup vocalist for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band from 1978-1981 and appeared on 5 of his albums and co-wrote two of his songs.

As a recording artist she released her solo album “Naked in the Garden.”  This interview with Deborah McColl was recorded the night before the 40th anniversary reunion concert of The Kindred Spirit folk trio.

Wesley Cook: Singer-Songwriter

Recorded several years ago, this was an in-studio interview and acoustic performances with singer-songwriter Wesley Cook.  He had released his first album “We’ve Been Here Before” featuring only vocal and acoustic guitar.  He performs many songs from this album as well as a few songs that had not yet been recorded and a couple that have yet to be put on an album.  This is an interesting artifact and the performances are soulful and played with great feeling.

 

Chaz McDonald: Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist

Chaz McDonald is a guitarist in the genres of blues and rock from Atlanta, Georgia.  He has performed thousands of concerts across the country with various bands.  Chaz McDonald appeared in the live CD/DVD from the band A1A: Live at the Strand.

He is also a vocalist and has written songs like “Please Don’t Wake Me In L.A.” and is known for his abilities as a storyteller.  Many of Chaz McDonald’s tales are “band stories,” or stories that could only happen to a musician on the road.

Ladies and gentlemen: Chaz McDonald.

Larry Carlton: Guitarist

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LARRY CARLTON is without a doubt one of the absolute greatest guitarists on planet earth.  If you think this is an exaggeration, maybe you have never seen him in concert.  This interview with Mr. Carlton was recorded prior to one of his concerts in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was performing a pair of shows on the same night at the Sambuca restaurant in Buckhead.

The resulting conversation became one of the interviews which received the most feedback.  This is a testament to Larry Carlton’s incredible following around the world.

We’d like to welcome the legendary Larry Carlton. We’re here at the wonderful Sambucca restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Carlton, thank you so much for making the time to talk to us today.

My pleasure. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Atlanta so, uh, good to be back.

Well, welcome back. You started the guitar from a very early age, at six years old, and I was wondering, from the very beginning did you know that being a guitarist and a musician was God’s plan for you?

Well, I don’t think anybody knows that for certain at six years old (laughs) but, uh, the, uh, path that I took through life kept reinforcing the fact that I was a guitar player and a musician. I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve never had any other kind of job or work. My whole life has been making music.

You obviously loved music from a very young age. Was there any guitarist in particular that made you want to pick up the instrument?
Uh, at six years old there was an acoustic guitar just laying around my grandmother’s house and, uh, I was told by my parents I was just fascinated with the guitar but, obviously, quite small to hold it. So that was the, uh, the input from my mom. She said ‘When you’re big enough to hold a guitar, then you can start taking guitar lessons.’ So once I was about six, six-and-a-half years, I could hold the guitar, physically, and I started taking guitar lessons. So it wasn’t really a player at that point, it was just being around the instrument.

So how did you get involved in recording session work?

Because I started playing so young, I was a pretty good guitar player by the time I was 15, 16 years old so I was playing in clubs – supper clubs, talent shows, jam sessions – all around Southern California area and the word started to spread is what happened. People started talking about this young guitar player from Torrance, California and from there, you start meeting other musicians, and those musicians have their network of things going on. And pretty soon, I was invited to play on demo sessions and from there, I became the arranger of the demo sessions and then, finally, big-time recording.

So do you have a preference as to performing in a studio or live?

Well, I’ve had the great fortune of experiencing both at a very high level so I, I really enjoy doing both but if I had to pick, it would be live performance. The freedom of being onstage with an audience – sharing the music – is very special to me.

Mr. Carlton, throughout your career as a session player, you’ve appeared on thousands of recordings from John Lennon to Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, The Partridge Family, Billy Joel and many more. Out of all these sessions, are there any that are particularly memorable for you?

All of them that you just mentioned are very memorable because of their success. As a studio musician, when I would go into the recording session for an artist like a Joni Mitchell, we didn’t know if the record was going to be a hit or not. We were just in there making the best music we could. It was unique with Joni Mitchell because she had never recorded with a rhythm section. It had always been just her guitar playing folk music. So that was an exciting time, to see what kind of music would come out for Joni with a rhythm section. And, obviously, the Steely Dan albums were highlights, or one of the highlights, of my career because the world embraced my guitar playing at another level because they were exposed to it through those great records.

After spending so much time as a session player, what were the events that led up to you joining the Crusaders?

I was doing some recording sessions starting in 1970 – not as busy as I became later. But anyway, one evening I was on a recording session and Joe Sample was the hired studio pianist for that night, and that was the first night we met. And Joe started playing the acoustic piano before the session started, and I picked up my guitar and joined in with him. And that was on a Friday night, and Monday morning my phone rang and it was the Crusaders’ office saying ‘Could you record for the next two weeks with the Crusaders? They’re already in the studio.’ So that’s how that came about.

One of your most famous covers is the, uh, Santo/Farina cover of, you did of Sleep Walk, uh, which was released in 1982. What drew you to that song?

You know, it’s interesting. I would love to take credit for that because it was very successful for me and actually, as you said, it became a career song for me. But I was producing another artist at that time and that artist’s manager suggested to me that I record Sleep Walk. And it seemed like a good match with the “sweet” sound that I can get out of the guitar, so I took his advice and recorded Sleep Walk and it became a hit.

And in 1985 you released your first acoustic jazz album called Alone but Never Alone and it included a beautiful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. And it appears you approach the acoustic guitar with the same style as the electric guitar. Which feels more at home in your hands?

I’m an electric guitar player first. I enjoy the acoustic but I find that I can express myself in a broader, wider musical sense on the electric guitar.

Of all the guitarists that are performing today, who do you feel has something original to offer the instrument?

You know, I won’t have an answer for that. I’m so busy – I’ve just started my own record label, 335 Records, I tour over 100 days a year all around the world – that I don’t get a chance, and I don’t take the chance, to listen very much because I’m so busy living my life.

Having performed all over the world, how would you compare the music fans overseas in places like Japan with those here in the United States?

Definitely the Asian audiences and the European audiences, in my opinion, are more appreciative and more loyal fans. Uh, I started going to Japan in 1974, and I was in Japan four times last year playing concerts. And many of the people who came to my concerts in 1980, 1982 now bring their children to my shows with them. So they’re very, very loyal. And the European audiences definitely listen differently than the U.S. audiences. The U.S. audiences are a little more fickle. If you’re on the radio, they like you and if you’re not on the radio, they forget about you, here in the U.S., often. And in Europe they base their whole relationship, especially with me – I’ll speak just for me – on what I play and how good I play it, not upon what some hit record that happens. So they’re really more interested in the artist than the songs on the radio.

On your album, Fire Wire, it seems like you were kind of experimenting more on that album and I was wondering, uh, was there anything in particular that gave you the idea to kind of branch out?

Opportunity. I, I’m so blessed. For the first time – starting in 2003, uh, I left Warner Brothers records – and for the first time in my, in 17 years, I’m a free agent. I can choose and be and do whatever I want to do as a musician. So I did, the first thing I did was do blues album, Sapphire Blue, the horn section, and we toured the world for two years. Came back and wanted to do something different so I associated myself with, uh, producer, Csaba Petocz, and we did the Fire Wire album, which was different, totally different than anything I had done in the past. So I’m just on a freedom dance.

Of all the guitars you have played on, if you had to pick one guitar to take with you for the rest of your life – and that would be just the guitar, your guitar – which one would it be?

I’ve been playing the same ES 335 Gibson since 1969. I’ve departed a few times but that’s my guitar. That’s what I’m known for and that’s the guitar that brings out the most music out of me, consistently.

Of all the songs you’ve written, is there a personal favorite of yours?

Difficult question because I don’t go back and re-listen to my own product after it’s released and we perform it for a year or so. Then I forget about a lot of those tunes. I know that I can tell you I love the relationship that the song Smiles and Smiles to Go has between me and my audience. It somehow, it united us in a way that is forever. It’s part of my career and part of their life.

 So, we’re getting closer to show time and we’re going to wrap this up but I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the band that will be playing this evening at Sambucca?
I sure will. This is, uh, another freedom dance for me, if you will. I just brought a trio – no keyboard player, which means there’s going to be a lot of guitar focus through the whole show and it’s an interesting challenge for me. Like Smiles and Smiles to Go that we were talking about, was based upon a keyboard part so the audience is going to experience it tonight without that foundation that they’re used to hearing. And, as I walked in the club tonight one gentleman said ‘Larry! Are you going to play Josie?’ I hadn’t planned on it because there’s no keyboard player here to carry that part, but I’m going to play Josie tonight as a trio even though it may be a little more empty (laughs).

Well, I have one more question for you, Mr. Carlton. Given that this radio special is broadcasting all over the world, what would you like to say to the world?

Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening and approving of my music. The one thing an artist cannot plan or work hard toward and accomplish is acceptance. So that’s the blessed part of my career. I played what I love and the world embraced that. And I thank you for that. I’m a very blessed man.

I thank you, Mr. Carlton, for your time. I really appreciate it.

OK. Thanks.

Continue reading “Larry Carlton: Guitarist”

Brian Ray: Guitarist, Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist

We are proud to welcome a guitarist, singer-songwriter and session musician from Southern California. Brian Ray may be most known for his work as the lead and rhythm guitarist and sometime bassist for Paul McCartney, but he has also released two solo albums. “Mondo Magneto” was released in 2006 and most recently in 2010, he has released his sophomore album “This Way Up.”

Rusty Anderson: Songwriter, Guitarist for Paul McCartney

RUSTY ANDERSON is most known as the guitarist for Paul McCartney, which he has done for more than a decade.  In addition to appearing on several of Paul McCartney’s studio and live albums, he has toured the world with McCartney.

Impressive as that may be, this interview focuses mostly on Rusty Anderson’s incredible gifts as a songwriter and creator of his own studio albums.  Rusty Anderson’s first studio album Undressing Underwater was released to critical acclaim.  This interview took place shortly after the release of his second album Born on Earth.

Rusty Anderson’s songs are unique and at times unusual, but always very interesting and a pleasure to listen to.  This interview covers a lot of ground and we hope you enjoy Anderson’s unique perspectives.

 

Our special guest is Rusty Anderson. In addition to being the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney, he’s also a singer-songwriter and recording artist. I’m going to share this quote from Rusty Anderson and then we’re going to bring him out for our exclusive interview.
“When I was a kid, I was like seven or eight, I had dreams that the Beatles would come to my door with their guitars and stuff and say ‘Hi! You wanna play?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah!’ And I’d wake up and be sad because it was only a dream. And then we’re in the studio recording and towards the end of that Paul says ‘Hey man, I had a dream about you last night.’ ”

 It is with great pleasure we welcome guitarist, singer-songwriter Rusty Anderson. In addition to being the lead guitarist with Sir Paul McCartney, he’s also a recording artist. He joins us to talk about his new album, Born on Earth. So first of all, thanks so much for joining us here.
How are you, Paul?

I’m doing great. How about yourself?
I’m good, man.

I think most stories are best from the beginning so tell us a little bit about your early life.
I guess, musically, I sort of flipped out on the Beatles when I was five ‘cause my older sister was playing Beatle records. Coincidentally, right around that time, my – I’m the youngest in my family – and my oldest brother, Mike, died of a kidney thing. And I was five and he was 19, and I think it messed with the family. And I think my parents sort of numbed out and no one really talked about it, and I just went into music land and started exploring all sorts of different artists. And I got a guitar when I was eight – finally. It was, um, an electric guitar and amp – a little cheap pawn-shop thing, that I was just really into it. And I think I just sort of really hyper-focused on the guitar, you know, ever since (laughs). So I’ve been doing the same thing since I was five, basically.

Can you give us your recollections of the first public music performance you ever had?
I was maybe nine years old, uh, we did like two gigs at the school, different classrooms, playing with my little band and, uh, the drummer, my friend Ronnie and, uh, another guy, I think it was Ken, playing fake bass on the guitar. That was the first gig I can recall but that was, uh, quite a while ago (laughs).

Well, tell us about the band, Eulogy.
Eulogy was, uh, the first actual band that stayed together that I was in because I was always forming bands and it was sort of a prerequisite to being my friend if you played an instrument and we could be in a band because I was a little bit OCD, I guess, about it. So yeah, Eulogy was together maybe five or six years and, yeah, it had a lot of great experiences. We played, you know, all over Orange County. We played like 85 high schools in one year, I think, and then, you know, really got into playing, through like, uh, this – it was through a radio station in Orange County, and then we played, uh, you know, a bunch of clubs in Hollywood and started doing gigs, you know, opening up for like, you know, The Police or Van Halen and things like that. Yeah, it was a fun band. Good music.

Tell us a little bit about your influences on the guitar and also as a songwriter.
You know, I have my guitar favorites like I really always loved Mick Ronson, just for his melodic sense and his arrangement sense, and his tone was so special. And I loved Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. I think, musically, I really, really have always loved Debussy and Rachmaninov and Gershwin. Sort of my three favorite classical composers and they sort of got into jazz a little bit, the early forms. I mean, they definitely have influenced jazz and they’re just beyond, you know, another world. I definitely had a lot of influences, I guess as all musicians do. Songwriting wise, you know how it is, everybody’s busy these days rolling through so many different styles of music. I mean, everybody I ask they say ‘Oh, I like a bit of everything.’ Very strange world in that respect. Yeah, there’s so many genres. I mean, I’m influenced songwriting-wise from everyone from Bob Dylan to David Bowie. You know, I love a lot of new the music – MGMT and The White Stripes and Band of Horses and The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie and, you know, on and on. There’s somebody I love, Captain Beefheart, and I love Cream and I love Todd Rundgren, and so many influences. I think ultimately, when I’m writing a song, I just have some ideas. Usually, I’ll come up with a lyrical thing. Maybe I’ll jot it down. Like, for instance, there’s a song on the record called Julia Roberts which was a dream. I wrote it down when I woke up because I thought it was really odd ‘cause I, you know – she popped into my head for no reason, and then I forgot about it. And later, I returned and saw the lyrics and thought, oh that would be cool to turn into a song. So I, actually I co-wrote that with a friend of mine named Jord Lawhead and we, uh, turned that into a musical, finished song. It happens a lot of different ways.

There’s another song on the new album called Funky Birthday Cake and I was hoping you could tell all the listeners about that song.
Well that song – actually, it’s funny ‘cause you brought up Eulogy – my friend, Myles, when he was a singer in Eulogy and we were, you know, maybe 13 or something and we had just started hanging out, and having fun and making music, and we wrote that song together when we were 13 or 14 or something. When I was working with Peter Smith who co-produced some of the songs on my record, who also plays drums in my band live – I had a demo of that song and he heard it and he said ‘Yeah, we should record this.” and I said ‘OK.’ It was just sort of an impulsive thing and it ended up on the record.

I was hoping you could tell all the listeners out there a little bit about meeting David Kahne.
I was in a band called The Living Daylights and, uh, we had a single. It got over to David Kahne, he really liked the band, he was working at a major label – I think, uh, Columbia or something at the time – and we didn’t end up signing with him but he was a producer that worked on a lot of major, different acts at the label. So I started working with him in the studio playing guitar and, uh, that was the beginning of a long relationship because then, eventually, he started working with Paul for Driving Rain. They had talked and he said ‘Hey man, I’m going to be, uh, doing this record in a few months – so this was, like, maybe two months before Driving Rain happened which was, I guess, 2001 – and he said ‘Yeah, I think, uh, we’ll be needing some guitar work’ and I said ‘Well, man, cut me in. I’ll be really exited to do that.’ And then I sort of didn’t tell anyone about it – I didn’t want to do the Hollywood jinx – and then, sure enough, two months later I was in the studio with Paul and David and, uh, you know, that was, uh, the beginning of, of working with Paul.

 You had an album before this one called Undressing Underwater. My two favorite songs on that album are Catbox Beach and Everybody Deserves an A in This Country.
That was my first solo record. Catbox Beach, which Stew Copeland played drums on incidentally. We were in a band together called Animal Logic a few years ago. That song started off – the concept was a classical sort of song rocked up – and then, I’m thinking to myself ‘this sounds suspiciously like a surf song.’ I kinda got that vibe. So I named it Catbox Beach and when Stew played on it, I thought it would be really a shame not to have his amazing reggae feel so we sort of put a reggae bit in there, which I thought was cool because I had never really heard a surf song-reggae song combo before. So that definitely had to stick.
[Recording concludes] From Rusty Anderson’s debut album, Undressing Underwater, that was Catbox Beach.
Everybody Deserves an A in This Country was a song that, I guess, I was hanging out with some friends and suddenly enough we had this plan to take mushrooms and record music. Not that I’m a big drug person or anything, but that day that’s what we did. I don’t know if you’ve tried to do anything (laughs) when you take mushrooms – it’s pretty, it’s pretty tough, especially singing. So we didn’t get a whole lot of music done that day but the, sort of the birth of the concept of Everybody Deserves an A was, to be frank, motivated by brain mindset.
Well, it managed to score a really cool song, as far as I’m concerned.
Ahh, thanks.

You’ve done a lot of things in your musical career. You’ve done session works for people like Little Richard, Neil Diamond, Carole King. You have two records, you perform on your own and, of course, you also perform with Sir Paul McCartney. When you look at your musical history, is there something that you’re most proud of?
I’m really glad to be making a living playing music. I feel very, very lucky. Especially – I just finished reading that book Grapes of Wrath, and I feel extra, extra lucky because in these crazy days you never know what you get. I mean, it’s been amazing working with Paul for the last eight-plus years. I’ve seen all sorts of things, you know, gone all over the world. And, you know, musically I just try to make music I’m proud of and I can stand behind, and trying to just contribute to making melodies or some lyrical idea or something that maybe will inspire somebody. Basically, to communicate. I think that’s what it’s about for everybody, you know? They say that, uh, the most important thing for people is to communicate with others and to feel understood and I would definitely concur with that.

 When someone listens to a recording you performed on or they see you in concert, either by yourself or with someone else, what is it that you hope that the audience gets out of the experience of the music?
Oh man, you know, people get what they get. I mean, it’s exciting to get responses back from people, to hear the different things that people interpret from music, whether it’s playing with Paul – out there doing shows or doing, you know, the records with Paul – or doing my own live shows. You know, I just got the record Born on Earth out so I’m starting to get a few responses and it’s been incredibly positive. And it was the same with, uh, Undressing Underwater. And people have their interpretations, you know, their favorite songs. Everybody’s got their favorite song that they relate to. I think that the cool thing about music is that it’s untouchable and, therefore, it makes it very, uh, very individual. The impressions people get from the music is very individual. I guess with any art, you know, you’re going to get a million different opinions whether your dealing with, uh, contemporary art or classic art or whatever.

You’re listening to our interview with Rusty Anderson, who’s here joining us to talk about his new album, Born on Earth. I was hoping you could everyone out there about the title track.
It’s, basically, sort of about the infinitesimal chance that we would be alive in this crazy era of technology bum and the way the world has changed so much and, you know, we could have been alive a few million years ago or now, or – it’s a crazy time I would say, and I think you’d probably concur. And the songs are sort of a reflection of that and I think – it’s an epic sort of piece. I would just say you have to listen to it to kind of understand what I’m talking about, maybe (laughs).

What song, from the songs that you recorded that you wrote, means the most to you?
Where Would We Go? Private Moon Flower. They’re sort of, uh, personal songs. You know, the new record – I think every song has some personal aspect and it has some global aspect to them. And so I felt like the title Born on Earth sort of fit the record and the song. And, in fact, I was up in Alaska hanging out a few years ago. Some friends of mine were getting married. Actually, I was kayaking out on the edge of this, um, sort of bay of the ocean and in the grass there was this mannequin sitting there, sort of out of the blue. And I took a picture of it because I thought it was so odd and then I ended up using that for the record cover. And it sort of summed up, to me, the sort of incongruency of life these days – the randomness of it.

Having recorded your own music and gotten the chance to play music all over the world, you could honestly say that music has done some things for you that most people will never get a chance to experience. Having said that, are there any dreams that you have that you have not yet experienced, that you’re working on making happen?
That’s a very good question. I think there’s certainly a part of me that feels drawn towards getting more involved in, uh, philanthropic types of things, um, you know, charities. There’s so many good causes these days to be involved with, whether it’s, uh you know, helping  people out in Africa – I feel very strongly about that. I also feel strongly about the environment and global warming, and I’m sort of trying to find a good place for my energies in that realm. Certainly, I think I’ll always be making music and creating new, uh, themes, whatever medium it’s in. whether it’s, you know, new CDs or, you know mp3s or whatever the new media is at the moment. Certainly, playing more gigs with Paul, and it’s a good ride that I’m on and I just want to keep it expanding and communicate with more and more people. That’s pretty much it.

Through the eyes of Rusty Anderson, when you’re on stage performing in front of just thousands and thousands of people, where everyone’s looking at you, and there’s definitely this energy and this positivity coming from everyone – tell us, through your eyes, what is that experience like?
You know, it’s a weird loop. You can’t think about it too much. I mean I sort of just vibe off the audience – you know, look for friendly faces and people that are into it. And I guess, in a certain way, I feel more at home on stage than I do anywhere else just ‘cause I’ve been doing it a long time. And it’s – it’s always, like, an engaging challenge to try to really connect in that zen way, you know playing guitar and singing and being up there and grooving with everybody and, uh – it’s a pretty astounding feeling. I think the biggest gig we did was, uh, in Rome for 500,000 people. In a way, the smaller the audience the harder, the more intimidating it can be, like playing for one person is almost the most intimidating thing there is, as opposed to playing for huge audiences. On the other hand, playing that gig in Rome, there was 500,000 people and it was this super-buzz – like you felt this extra kick of energy – thrill – I can’t explain it but, you know like, we were doing I think Let It Be and there’s a bunch of people holding up lighters. And it was at night and this was in front of the Coliseum, and you look down the Apian Way and it was like a river of fireflies going off the edge of the planet, and it was – you couldn’t even see the end of it. It was pretty, uh, heavy and, and sort of monumental. It’s like you can’t really remember it either. It’s sort of like eating chocolate or something – it’s an experience that you can’t have unless you are engaged in the middle of it and then you can remember what it’s like.

Working our way back to your album, could you tell us about some of the musicians who played on that album?
The latest one is primarily Peter, the drummer, and I and the other guys on my band played on some of the tunes, too, and did a lot of background vocals. I wanted to keep it a little bit more – on that level – more sort of band-centric. There was another guy, Bunk Gardner, a good friend of mine who played in The Mothers of Invention, who was a huge influence on me when I was, uh, a kid growing up. And I always loved their music. That was Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. And I liked that sort of incarnation the best because it had this really organic, out-of-control kind of feeling, And, uh, Bunk plays woodwinds and sax and flute, and I think he played sax and, uh, bass clarinet on Funky Birthday Cake. That was a lot of fun. The last record, Paul McCartney played on a track and Stew Copeland played on a track, and it was a little more kind of, um, fun, bringing all these outside musicians in. Like I said, this one was more sort of about the band. Oh, another friend of mine, Gabby Marino, sang background vocals on a few songs, and I think that’s about it.

Tell us about the song, Timed Exposure, on the album Born on Earth.
Timed Exposure – I’m not sure exactly what the song is about to tell you the truth. It just came about organically and I think the music came first. It seemed to somehow, uh, connect the global, sort of macro perspective on the world and what we all go through – that personal experience. One verse is written from, I think from a fortune cookie –combination fortune cookie and personal ads that are in the newspaper.
Oh, interesting (laughs).
Yeah. So, you know, different things will inspire lyrics.

Can you tell the listeners out there how they can find out more about not only the new album but also more about you?
Well, there’s RustyAnderson.com. There is my MySpace. I started doing this Twitter thing so look for that. I’m doing Guitar Center in-store CD signings.

This broadcast is going out all over the world. My final question for you, Mr. Rusty Anderson: What would you like to say to all those people that are listening in?
Oh, just say ‘hello and, uh, happy to e-meet you or vibe with you’(laughs). Hope to see you at some show soon. I’m always into connecting with people.

Rusty, thank you so much for doing this interview. It means a lot.
You’re welcome, Paul. It was my pleasure.

Jeff Daniels: Actor, Songwriter

JEFF DANIELS is another one of those singer-songwriters who is also an actor.  This interview was recorded on Halloween, on the stage at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia.  Jeff Daniels was kind enough to perform a song for us.

Daniels does a great job of talking about the creative life.  He is a great songwriter.  His serious songs represent his best work.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure to welcome our special guest, fellow Michigander, Jeff Daniels. Thanks so much for making the time to do this.

Thanks, Paul.

Who is the real Jeff Daniels?

I have no idea. That would take, um, probably a team of psychiatrists to figure out. I mean, if you look at the acting career it’s certifiably schizophrenic. It really is (laughs) because you can go from Dumb and Dumber to, uh, to Gettysburg or Squid and the Whale – there’s a lot of people in between those two, those two or three people. So, uh, probably the music, uh, is probably the closest but even in the music I go wildly comic to very serious so I’m probably still in search of whoever that is.

Can you remember and tell us some of your earliest musical influences?

I remember getting Tumbleweed Connection, the Elton John album and I didn’t even know who Elton was. And the album jacket, the cover, intrigued me at a young age and I bought it and I just loved it. And I didn’t know why I loved it. I’d never heard anything like it. And I think a lot of it was Bernie – Elton’s playing but Bernie Taupin, the writing. As I look back, I started to look at the writers. I started to look at the story-tellers and then that led to guys like Arlo Guthrie who could tell a story and then weave a song into that story. Stevie Goodman – I saw Stevie Goodman at The Bottom Line in New York – amazed at what that guy did with just himself and a guitar. Christine Lavin. You know, lately, guys like Todd Snider. Todd’s got such a point of view. Only Todd can write those songs and they’re almost like you can’t cover them. So, and that’s what you look for in writing – guys that have a singular point of view.

Yeah. When I was listening to the album that I got of yours, I thought ‘this guy sounds like Steve Goodman and Arlo Guthrie.’ That is what I thought (laughs).

Yeah. My heroes. My early heroes. They really, they openedthe door for you can just have a guitar, and you can write funny and you can write serious back-to-back and that – and Christine Lavin was another one. I chased all those three people. They were, they kind of led the way for me.

Could you pick a favorite artist that influenced you?

No, probably not because I’m still probably trying to, uh, define what it is I do and it’s influenced by a lot of people. Then you get guys like Stefan Grossman who I’ve been privileged to have lesson from and have also studied him since the ‘80s – his tab books on finger picking and the whole deal. Then you get into the blues. You get guys like, you know, Lonnie Johnson, Skip James, Robert Johnson – all those guys and what were they singing about? What were they doing? Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee. I remember listening to them in the ‘80s. A friend turned me on to them. They’re all probably in there somewhere. There’s a – Lyle Lovett is a guy that, again, as a writer only Lyle could write that song that way. If I had to pick somebody present-day it would probably be Lyle.

Can you remember the first song that you wrote?

Yeah. It’s in my notebook. My big, huge notebook of everything I’ve ever written. Yeah. I think it was about my dog, my first dog and it’s god-awful. It’ll never see the light of day.


You do this tour. You have four albums to your credit thus far. So you’ve recorded, you’ve written songs, you’ve performed. Could you pick a favorite part of music?

I think the moment – and it happens in some of the older songs now that I’ve played a few hundred times – but it’s, uh, certainly that moment when you find you get on top of that new song. And it takes a bunch of performances in front of people to kind of give birth to it. But you get on top if it, you get the phrasing right, you get the guitar right and then it connects. And you see and hear from an audience that this thing that really was just an idea in your head weeks or months ago is now something that you will be playing on a regular basis because it connects with people you don’t even know. It’s that moment where that first connection happens, that new thing. That’s pretty cool.

In the liner notes to one of your albums you talk about how these songs are like a snapshot and you’ve been keeping, like in this notebook, like a journal. Take it a step further and you record these songs and perform for people. What would you say makes you want to do that?
I’m living a very creative life but it’s creative on my terms. And this country, you know, uh, it – I wouldn’t say it’s exemplary in the way it treats its artists or supports its artists. I could argue that Europe does a better job of that or takes it more seriously. I think America has always been like that. There is certainly room, there is room for artists and art but you kind of have to make your own space, you know, if it’s what you’re supposed to do, which is what I was told at the age of 21. I had a director from New York see me in a college production and he took me aside and he literally asked me ‘You know what you should do with your life, don’t you?’ and he said ‘Come to New York and join my theater company and chase an acting career. No promised but you’re good enough to give it a shot.’ And that acting chase led to a lot of sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring, for someone else to tell me it was time to be creative. The guitar, which I picked up in 1976, became that go-to creative outlet so I could keep that side of my life and that part of my brain, and that – just that part of me, which is probably the essential part, going 24/7. And I didn’t have to wait for the phone to ring. I didn’t have to wait for somebody in Hollywood to tell me that I’m hot and I can now be in a movie. I just was able to do it on my own. The music has probably, you know, fulfilled me the most of all.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re listening to an interview with singer-songwriter and actor, Jeff Daniels. Grandfather’s Hat – tell us about that tune.
That’s a song that – I wear a fedora. I really like those fedoras. They’re kind of timeless and, um, I was – my kids played hockey and, uh, high school hockey in Michigan, and I was wearing it to one of the games and a friend of mine came up to me. And he knew my family and he knew my grandfather, and he came up to me and he goes ‘Is that your grandfather’s hat?’ and I said ‘No, no. It’s just one that was very similar to …’ Before I got to the end of the sentence, I knew it was a song. Not just a song about my particular grandfather but your mother’s necklace or your aunt’s ring or your father’s knife. You know, Guy Clark has a great, great song, uh, about his dad’s, um, jackknife. And so it’s that, that kind of ‘missing someone who is no longer here’.
Well, would you like to play it for all the listeners out there
Sure. [Performs Grandfather’s Hat]

Ladies and gentlemen, Jeff Daniels. Thanks so much. One of the things about music is you get to meet a lot of people. One of the tracks that you do, you did a cover of the George Harrison song, Here Comes the Sun. tell us about some of the exciting people you’ve met through your music.

Umhmm.

I mean, first of all, George Harrison – say no more (laughs).
Yeah, that was pretty cool. Uh, the short version of that story is I was doing a movie called Checking Out in 1988 and it was produced by George Harrison’s independent film company called Handmade Films. And we were hoping he would show up on the set in L.A. and, sure enough, one day he did. And I had a guitar in the dressing room and I said ‘Would you mind signing my guitar?’ and he said ‘I’d be happy to.’ Took him into a back room so it wouldn’t be, like, 100,000 signatures. And he signed the guitar and then, before he gave it back to me, he flipped it over and, on that guitar, played Here Comes the Sun. I mean, just me – and two other guys – just the three of us sitting there. It was like our own little private concert. It was such a gift that he gave and he couldn’t have been nicer. He couldn’t have been more interested in anyone other than himself. It was just a great lesson on how to handle that level of fame or any kind of fame.

You have a theater up in Michigan and everyone can check out JeffDaniels.com. The proceeds from the sale of the CDs goes towards this theater, the Purple Rose of Cairo. We just reviewed that film. It was from 1985 but we did like a flashback kind of thing. So tell us bout the theater a bit.

The Purple Rose Theater Company is 20 years old this season. Uh, it’s mission is mainly to do new American plays, particularly plays about that part of the country. That’s how I was brought up in New York, at the Circle Repertoire Company. Every play was a new play. Every play, the months before, the playwright was walking around rewriting the second act, getting ready for rehearsal. There was a thrill to that versus doing what New York had done last year and being popular, or doing, you know, Shakespeare or the old classics and all, which are fine. And many, many theaters do those. I want new stuff. I want living, breathing playwrights writing about the people sitting in our seats. Write about them. Connect with them and then I’m interested. After 20 years, that’s what we’re able to do now, more often than not. I’m real proud of that place and the fact that that part of the country supports it. It means the world to me.

What made you call the theater The Purple Rose of Cairo? That movie is great. I got to interview Woody.

I was a young actor. I was 30 at the time. I’d been in New York about nine years. Terms of Endearment had come out and I got that movie ten days after Terms of Endearment had been released. So Terms was now the #1 movie in the country which, at the time, for a character-driven film like Terms – it bypassed Raiders of the Lost Ark and all those kind of at the time special-effect movies. You hadn’t seen a character driven comedy-drama in a long time like that yet there we were, #1 – due, in no part, to Jack, Shirley and Debra. Jim Brooks had a hit and, uh, I was, I happened to be in it. Ten days later, they were looking to, uh, recast Purple Rose of Cairo and they called me in and, you know, a screen test later and, you know, a meeting with the studio, I got it. So now I’m working with Woody Allen. And I get handed the script and it’s not a supporting role or it’s not one starring role. It’s two starring roles in a Woody Allen movie. And I’m going ‘OK. Everything I have ever learned, please God, let me remember now.’ (Paul laughs) and that’s how I went into work everyday. And about halfway through the movie, Woody said I was good. For a young actor who had been battling, you know, rejection and, uh, are you going to make it? What’s it – you know, is this really worth it? It’s nine years. Terms of Endearment, yeah, but is it two or three movies and done? You know, you just don’t – the business is so, uh, here-today-gone-tomorrow. And Woody said I was good. And so, I remember going home and saying to my wife, um, ‘I think I’m going to be able to make a living in this business.’ And it wasn’t ‘I’m going to be a star.’ It wasn’t ‘I’m a genius.’ It was ‘If Woody Allen thinks I’m good, I think I’m going to be able to make a living in this business because if I’m good enough for Woody, I’m good enough for anybody.’ And that was a turning point. So years later, when it was time to name the theater, we named it the Purple Rose Theater Company.

My two final questions. What is the best part about being Jeff Daniels?

So many people go through life having to do things they don’t want to do, or they have a job that they wish they’d never taken but there’s security in it. And I think the satisfaction that I’ve had – I’m going way back to that director, Marshall W. Mason from Circle Rep, when he said ‘You know what you should do with your life, don’t you?’ What he didn’t say? It’s going to be hard. You’re only one who believes in you and you’re going to have to find people along the way. The fact that, decades later, I pulled that off and that now I’m still living a creative life and doing what I want to do, and that people in the business, whether it’s Broadway or film, TV or music want whatever it is I do – that’s the best part. It’s that I’m still relevant.

My last question. What would like to say in closing to all the people who are listening?

What I told my kids. I tell my kids, ‘Fall in love with tomorrow.’ Don’t worry about today. Don’t worry about the past. Fall in love with tomorrow. What are you doing tomorrow? That’s the creative process. That’s the creative life right there, is working on that next thing. Yeah. Fall in love with tomorrow.


Well, Mr. Daniels, it’s a pleasure. Thank you.
Thanks, Paul.

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA