The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #12 – Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is a prolific singer-songwriter with more than 300 songs in his catalog.  A Canadian recording artist, this interview (among many topics) is discussing his 33rd studio album “Bone on Bone.”  Bruce Cockburn’s songs have been covered by a diverse number of artists: Barenaked Ladies, Ani DiFranco, k.d. lang, Jimmy Buffett, the Jerry Garcia Band, Dan Fogelberg and many others.

Cockburn has written many beautiful songs. The first song I heard of his was “Pacing the Cage.”  He’s long been someone I wanted to have on the show and now he’s kind enough to join us!

Special thanks to Bernie Finkelstein.


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Jared Michael Hobgood: Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer

JARED MICHAEL HOBGOOD was a singer-songwriter, recording artist and entertainer who was well known for performing at the famous Irish Kevin’s bar on Duval Street in Key West, Florida.  This interview with Jared Michael Hobgood was recorded on the street in Key West.  Jared told us what brought him to Key West, and about his early days as a performer starting at age 12.  Jared described himself as a glutton for life and we think you’ll agree when you listen to this interview.

Many tourists from around the world have fond memories of seeing Jared perform.  He was part musician and part comedian and  a very fun-loving soul indeed.  Jared Michael Hobgood passed away on December 5, 2013.

We hope to keep his memory alive by sharing this interview with you.

Doyle Grisham: Pedal Steel Guitar Player, Session & Performing Artist

This is an interview with  pedal steel  guitarist, studio musician,performer and member of the Coral Reefer Band, Doyle Grisham.  Doyle’s pedal steel guitar playing was once referred to as “tasty” by Rolling Stone magazine, and we have to agree. Some of the artists he has recorded with include Lynn Anderson, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Bill Anderson, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Dickey Lee, Jim Glaser, George Jones, Reba McIntire, Dan Seals, Randy Travis, Mel Tillis, Tiny Tim, and many others including countless albums from  Jimmy Buffett. All of those great classic Buffett songs from the  1970s that featured pedal steel guitar–Come Monday, Why Don’t We Get Drunk…, He Went to Paris, the list goes on and on. In fact, with the exception of one Buffett album–EVERY Buffett album which  features pedal steel guitar owes credit to Doyle Grisham. We get the complete story about how Doyle Grisham started on the  pedal steel guitar.

 

Dan Johnson, PhD & Candy Ashton, PhD of the Parrothead Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

Some of the interviews have been a bit unusual…this one is another of those things you never knew existed.  After hearing there was an Honors class at the University of North Carolina Wilmington called “Parrothead Studies,” I wrote a letter asking about it and the entire class called me on the phone and invited me to visit.

They asked me questions during the class and afterwards I got to interview the professors Dan Johnson, PhD & Candy Ashton, PhD.

Peter Mayer: Singer-Songwriter

Peter Mayer had returned from Mexico and invited us in to do this interview while also playing many of his songs (old and new) on acoustic guitar.  Mayer had just released his album “Musicbox.”  Both as a solo artist and with his band PM, Peter Mayer has released 13 studio albums and 2 live albums.

This is the perfect introduction to those who are new to Peter Mayer.  For those whoare fans already, you will feel like you were right there…like we were, listening to Peter tell the stories of the songs and then play them.

Greg “Fingers” Taylor: Harmonica Player, Recording & Performing Artist, Songwriter

This interview was conducted with the harmonica legend Greg “Fingers” Taylor on September 1, 2006 in Northeast Georgia.  Taylor released a total of five studio albums including “Harpoon Man,” “Chest Pains,” “New Fingerprints,” and “Hi Fi Baby,” as well as two compilation albums “Greatest Hits” and “Back to the Blues.”  Taylor was also a singer and played keyboards.  He was one of the original members of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and continued on until 2000.

Taylor wrote the song “Big Rig,” which Buffett recorded and also co-wrote the song “Miss You So Badly” with Buffett.  In addition to appearing on the majority of Buffett’s albums he has recorded with James Taylor, Chris LeDoux, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mac McAnally, Little Milton, Al Kooper, Jimmy Hall, Tim Krekel, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Michael Nesmith, Bo Diddley, Larry Raspberry, Debbie Davies, Don Nix and The Tams.

In this interview, the story of Greg “Fingers” Taylor is told in his own words.

PAUL: I’ve waited a long time to interview the legendary Greg “Fingers” Taylor.   Here we are on the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, and I sit down with the Harpoon Man.  How ya doin’ Fingers?

FINGERS: I’m doing good!  Out here in the hills of Georgia, playin’ some music for some people and eatin’ some good food.   It’s good to see you.

PAUL:  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.   I really appreciate it.  I wanted to get back to your roots.  You come from Jackson, Mississippi.

FINGERS: That’s right.  I wasn’t born there.   I was born in Wichita, Kansas.  I was in Wichita basically until I was fourteen years old.  I’m 54 now.   Wichita was actually a pretty good R&B town at that point. There was a guy named Mike Finnigan who played the organ, who was my hero.  Played the B3 Organ.   I used to go see him play all the time.  Lots of great musicians came through Wichita, R&B players like Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett.   They played the Cotillion Ballroom there.  Before I moved from Wichita, I became a big Beatles fan.  I had me and my two compadres: Dave and Dan.   We tried everything to meet girls. We joined the track team.  We weren’t very good at that.   We played some baseball and we weren’t very good at that.  We began to hear these Beatles guys, the Dave Clark Five, and a lot of the English invasion bands on the radio.   They were all basically all R&B based units.  You know what I mean?  So, I was hearing that, especially the Dave Clark Five.   They had a sax player; they had a real big sound.  The drums were turned up loud, and I liked that.  So, I formed a band with my guys and we met girls and we had fun.   I don’t know how good we were at that point, but we sure loved the music a lot.  Somewhere in there, when I was about fifteen or sixteen I started listening to Blues records.   Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Sonny Boy Williamson…one and two.  There were two of them.  I just loved the way the music sounded, got deep off into the blues.   I ended up in Jackson, Mississippi.  I was fourteen when we moved.  I was so excited because I was going to where the Delta Blues came from.   To the Mississippi Delta, right around Jackson, Mississippi.  Anyway, I learned to love the Blues.  I started a little blues band when I was in high school in Jackson.   Just sort of went from there.  The instrument that I really liked to hear was the harmonica.  I thought it was a very expressive instrument and it was a little different.   And also at one of the battle of the bands we had, the guy in the band that won blew a little harmonica and drove everybody crazy just by the sound of it.   Didn’t play very good, but I filed that away.  Once I got down to college at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, I was pretty well blowing the harmonica all the time, and I carried it around with me.   That was another thing, because my nickname, “Fingers” came from being a keyboard player back when I was in high school.  But then I largely became a harmonica player, so I kind of got the wrong name.   Should have been “Lips” or something like that.  Down at Southern, I learned how to play the harp.  I sat around in like the stairwells on the weekend at the University.   There weren’t many people there on the weekend.  I would play and practice and I formed a little band down there and just one thing lead to another.   This guy Jimmy Buffett came through one time when I was in my sophomore year and he was playing what we called the Union Building there, which was basically a couple of soda machines, a PA that didn’t hardly work, and a couple of old beat up microphones.   By that point I was jamming with a lot of the groups that came through at Southern, at the big coliseum we had there.  I played with Delaney and Bonnie and the Dirt Band, Black Oak Arkansas, just about anybody who came through town.   I got up on the big stage for the first time, and so then I was definitely hooked.  Buffett was playing that night at the Union Building, one night and I sat down and there were three little old ladies on break from night class and that was it…and Buffett with a big ten-gallon hat on, and back then he had lots of hair.   We all did.  He was singing “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and…” to three little old ladies.  For Hattiesburg housewives, on break from quilting class or something, I don’t know.   Anyway we hooked up over the next week.  He had a weeklong gig there and I started playing every night with him and by the third or fourth night we were selling the house out.   We kind of realized that we had something together that neither one of us had apart, and that it was a good combination.  He wanted somebody who could play more solos.   He was never a solo guitar player.  He was a folkie strummer, and a good one, but he didn’t play lead guitar.   So I took up the lead spots on the harmonica.  More time ensued.  I went back to Little Rock.  Jimmy eventually wound up in Nashville.  I wound up in Memphis, where I was a part of a band called Larry Raspberry and the High Steppers.  We were on Stacks Records and we did one album.   Stacks, was unfortunately getting ready to go bankrupt, by the time we hooked up with the company.  Anyway, I went on the road with Larry Raspberry and the High Steppers, left college.   Started up in about 1972, was when we first hit the road.  We toured the United States, had a ball, played with a lot of great musicians.  We almost, kind of, made it big.  Stacks like I said, was going under.  Meanwhile, Jimmy and I had kept up with each other and I had gone on a few gigs with him.  Acoustic gigs, just the two of us, while I was still in school at Southern.  He would, even when I was with Larry Raspberry and on the road all the time, when he got ready to do his records for ABC/Dunhill, the first three or four records, he called me up for all those sessions.   No matter where I was, time for a new album, he would fly me into Nashville.  And I got to play with all the great Nashville players, Vassar Clements, just a bunch of great players.   So, anyway in about 1975 or late 1974, the High Steppers were about to breakup, Stacks was going under, the record company.  But Buffett was just getting cranked up.   He had three albums behind his belt by then, and he said, “Do you want to go on the road?  I got a bus.”  It wasn’t like a real fancy one, like we wound up with years, decades, later, but it was a bus.  And it had bunks in it so we could sleep and just keep moving.   So I quit college all together and hit the highway.  And I’ve been out there ever since.  I took a couple of breaks, at points, just to get off the road, and get my health back every now and then.   It’s a grueling existence.  At any rate, I continued to just pursue the harmonica in a whole lot of different ways.   The guy who really made a difference for me and for a lot of other Chicago-style Harmonica players was a guy named Little Walter Jacobs.  I totally got off into Little Walter.   He’s still the King.  Nobody ever really beat what he did in the Fifties.  He was actually a star back then, which was unusual for a harmonica player to be a big star.   At any rate, it just kept on rolling and I worked on Buffett through many, many more albums.  I decided to leave him in 2001 to be with my family.   I had two new baby boys.  They’re now seven and eight years old, Hunter and Steven.  I just wanted to be home more.   I think Jimmy and I were both a little tired of each other.  It was a good time to take a break.  Just recently I went back and played with Buffett for the first time since 2001.   I did a show with him in Cincinnati, at Riverbend Coliseum.  I would up in the studio with him in Mussel Shoals, Alabama where they were working on his new record, one that will be out in October 2006, and also for a soundtrack called “Hoot,” it’s a children’s movie that he was in and produced.   So, I’m going to be seeing him in a couple weeks in Detroit.  I’ll probably get up on stage again.  He has some things he wants to talk to me about.   He’s breaking ground for a casino in Las Vegas, his own casino.  There’s a chance I might get to have a little piece of that deal as a little Fingers Taylor type of club, and have my buddies come through.   I don’t know anything about running a club, but I could have somebody who did know and I could just sort of be the figurehead.  And I’d know who to hire and who not to.   I know who’s good.  That may happen.  We’ll see.  We’ll know something more in a few weeks.   What do you want to ask me?  Ask me questions.

PAUL: All right.  Well, I wanted to ask you, what is it that you think makes the blues, the blues?   For me, it’s always been a feeling.

FINGERS:  Yep.

PAUL:  It’s a feeling.   I told you this in Key West one time, your music has gotten me into a lot of trouble, in the past.

FINGERS: (Laughs).  Good.

PAUL: Because, ya know, I live in Athens.  It’s hard to go to class when you hear the blues.

FINGERS:  Mhmm.   I know. (Laughs).

PAUL: Because you feel like drinkin’ another beer.

FINGERS: That’s right.

PAUL: You feel like maybe smackin’ the backside of a woman you’ve never met.

FINGERS: Well that’s true.  (Laughs)

PAUL: So what is it that attracted you to the blues?

FINGERS: Man, I don’t know for sure.  I think that I identified with the soul and feeling that is involved in that music.  I love the simplicity of it.  The expressiveness.   When I was still fourteen and fifteen, I went through kind of a traumatic time, with a girlfriend of mine.  I felt really down.  When I listened to the blues records, I felt better.   So I said, hmm, this is kind of cool.  I guess I was trying to drown in my own sorrow or something, but then later I began to appreciate the blues as a happy music.   Regardless of it’s a sad song.  I’m talking about the way the beat goes, the jump. I want to get up and dance, I want to have fun, I want to blow my harp.   I want to listen to the blues, dance to the blues.  I think it’s therapeutic music.  (Laughs.)   It’ll cure your blues.

PAUL: It’s like the Keith Sykes song, “Advanced Medication for the Blues.”

FINGERS:  There ya go!   That’s right man.

PAUL: Well, tell us about Keith.  You and Keith are buddies.   And he certainly is a hell of a songwriter.  So tell me about Keith.

FINGERS: Well, ya know Keith came on board as a Coral Reefer.   He was always, like a friend of Buffett’s and Jerry Jeff Walker’s down in Key West, and the inner circle that Buffett had down there.  And a great songwriter always, but he joined up with the band about 1976 or 1977, about the time we did “Volcano.”   He went down to Monserrat at George Martin’s studio with us and James Taylor, and Hughie Taylor and Livingston Taylor…all the Taylor brothers.  We made the album “Volcano,” which was like one of the great times of our lives.  It was a real special time; it was like being a cave man again.  You wanted to go around in a loin cloth (Roars).  We made a lot of good music down there.  It was a real inspiring place.   Keith was in on all that, and of course he wrote the great song “Coast of Marseilles.”  I just saw Keith in New Orleans, like two weekends ago. They were having a songwriter convention.   I have a guy that I play with in Columbus, Ohio named Ken Moore, who’s a folk-singer, acoustic player.  He got us booked down there at the songwriter’s convention this year and Keith was working down there, the same deal.   So we all ran into each other and Keith and I played together for the first time in many years, just the two of us.  We did “Coast of Marseilles,” and the whole nine yards.   It was great, we had a ball.  He’s doing good.  One of the great songwriters.   And a great Memphian.  And he could be a real rocker too.  He did some rocking stuff.  A lot of his solo records were rock and roll records.   He’s also the first guy who ever introduced me to a song called “Jackson Police.”  It was written by a friend of his, north of Memphis, named John Kilzer.   Still a great songwriter.  He’s still around.  He brought the song in, and we cut it in one take.   I had done it a couple of different ways.  The one that Keith produced has never really truly been released.  The one I did that was released was on my solo record called “Chest Pains,” that was produced by Mike Utley in the early 1980s.   Anyways, Sykes is fine.  I hear there’s going to be a big time in Key West this year.  Jerry Jeff Walker’s coming down.   I think Buffett is maybe coming down.  It’s called the Meeting of the Minds.  Keith will be there, Buffett, Jerry Jeff, Hugo Duarte, I’m sure Jeff Pike, all of the Parrot Head singers and people will be there.   It’s going to be a good time.

PAUL: There’s a guy I’ve been listening to, that you kind of ran with for a while and I really started appreciating, and his name is Tim Krekel.

FINGERS: Oh yeah! (Excitedly)

PAUL: You’ve written some songs with Tim, and you two have a lot in common, I guess.

FINGERS: Yeah, we do.  Tim entered the Coral Reefer Band about 1976.   I had been hanging out with him in Nashville some, so I knew who he was and I talked Buffett into hiring him.  He was a great asset to the band, a great rocker.   Tim and I are actually playing together in a couple weekends at a blues festival over in Kentucky.  So we’re going to get to do it all over again.   Have a little fun for a couple of days.  Krekel’s doing great, man.  He still writes a lot of songs in Nashville.   He’s got a new song with Danny O’Keefe, the guy who wrote, “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.”  It’s going to be released on an Alan Jackson record, and it came at a good time because he just lost his publishing deal, his long time publishing deal.   Krekel’s got him a cut now, got him a cut!  Got him a hit!  So that’s good news.

PAUL: What kind of music, in your spare time, what’s the stuff that’s in your collection?   What do you like?

FINGERS: Well, man I like a lot of areas of black music.  Of course I like the blues and soul and funk.   I just listen to a lot of stuff.  I listen to a lot of hillbilly music, white country music, very old timey stuff.   I love bluegrass.  As long as it’s roots music.  I can identify with that.  In fact when I was in college for a while, way back, at the University of Little Rock, my first brother-in-law to be was a banjo picker.   He turned me onto bluegrass and got me started on the whole deal and on the weekends we’d go up to a place called Mountain Home, Arkansas.  All the great bluegrass players from miles around would come every Saturday and play at the courthouse on the lawn.   So I got into bluegrass, learned how to play all that kind of stuff.  You know, I still go back and listen to the blues a lot.   It’s kind of my schooling.  I’m probably going to be doing a lot of that wood-shedding kind of stuff, coming up before I go play in Wilmington, North Carolina and Richmond.   That’s going to be with Magic Dick, the guy who was with the J. Geils Band.  Great harmonica player.  Also another great harmonica player from the west coast named Mark Hummel, and his band are going to be the backing band.   The three of us are going to do a couple of shows in that part of the country.  I’m really looking forward to that.   I’ve got to get my chops together.  These guys don’t fool around.

PAUL:  As far as harmonica players go, as a blues harp player, who would you have to give the respect to?

FINGERS: Oh, it would definitely be Little Walter and as far as living harmonica players, it would be Kim Wilson with the Fabulous Thunderbirds who’s also the stepfather to my boys and a good friend for many, many years.   He’s as close as you’ll get to Little Walter of anybody alive.  An incredible harp player. There’s all kinds of harmonica players.   We were talking earlier about Howard Levy, he is just a monster harmonica player.  He’s not a blues player, but he can take one C harmonica and blow up and down it and do all the scales.   He over-blows, sort of like the guy in Blues Traveler, John Popper.  Levy can take it and walk it up all the way.   That means you’ve got to over-blow the low notes, which is almost impossible to do.  A lot of those high notes, like that you hear me doing, like on “Tampico Trauma,” that’s over-blowing.   But that’s on the higher four or five notes, and that’s an easier bend.  But Levy, bends them on the bottom and probably gets two or three scales out of one tiny blues harp.   There’s new guys coming up all the time.  There’s guys around and it’s still a very vital instrument.  People’s personality comes out; it’s such a small instrument.  It really does assume someone’s personality, or vice versa.  You know what I mean?  It’s a real personal kind of instrument.  I liked it originally because I got my nickname “Fingers” from being a keyboard player.   I told you the story about hearing the guy blow the harp at the battle of the bands.  Later on I got so tire of lifting big B3 organs and pianos upstairs so that we could go play.   That was before we had portable stuff.  It became a lot easier for me just to stick that harmonica in my pocket.   I could practice anytime I wanted.  It was easy, it was portable.

PAUL: As far as the future goes, do you intend to put out another record?

FINGERS: Yeah.  It’s in the very, very, very beginning stages, but I have several ideas about who I want to use.   There’s a great blues band in Nashville, Mike Henderson and the Blue Bloods.  I’m thinking about using them for the basic band.   I’ll probably have several of my buddies come in.  Kim Wilson produced my last record.  We did that in Ann Arbor and I might fly him into Nashville to produce part of this one.   I’m just slow to do it.  I’m really lucky that this summer, and the spring and the fall is turning out to be such a busy time.   The money has been good, which we all need, as players.  I’m glad for that, but it takes me a long time to get an album together.  I have to think about it and do this and that.   I don’t write a whole lot, so I have to get together with co-writers and I already have plans to do a lot of that.  Plus, I know a lot of the songwriters in Nashville.   They’ll send me stuff that they think might work for me.  I need to go in there and write some more of my own tunes.

PAUL: I want to ask about a couple of my favorites, of your tunes.  One of my favorites is “Good Rockin’ Woman.”

FINGERS:  Really!  I wrote that one.

PAUL:  So tell me about that one.

FINGERS:  Man, when we were getting ready to do the “Chest Pains” record, I wanted to put a shuffle, a blues shuffle.   Let’s see, which wife was I with?  My second one, but the song is not really about any woman in particular.  It’s just a blues song.  That’s what I kept trying to tell my exes.  It’s not about her; it’s not about you.   It’s a damn blues number and I wrote lyrics like the old guys.  “Good rockin’ woman, shake it all night long, blah, blah, blah.”  I just used the idiom as it’s meant to be used.   That was a fun track.  I had the great Anson Funderburgh on guitar, and then I had Wes Starr, a great, great shuffle blues drummer from Texas.   I had a lot of great players on that cut.  A lot of the “Chest Pains” record was actually done on machines, because that was the first age of the drum machine.   It was cheaper for us to use the drum machine.  That’s just an old blues song.  I kind of like it though.   I still like it.  I listened to it in the car coming up here.  Paul O’Daniel played it for me.

PAUL:  There’s the one song that you co-wrote with Jimmy Buffett, Tim Krekel, and Michael Utley, it’s one of your signature songs, “Some White People (Can Dance).”

FINGERS: We were at Buffett’s studio in Key West and we were all just kind of hanging out.   We were getting ready to go to Australia.  It was the whole Buffett band and a lot of our buddies and stuff.  We were in Buffett’s studio and I said, “You guys need to write me a song.”   They started writing it actually and then I got in with them.  It was Krekel, and me and Buffett, and who else?   Maybe Utley.  Mike Utley.  They were always making fun of me because I was like the guy who listened to the blues all day, and all that kind of stuff.   The white people, black people stereotypes and that kind of s—t.  That’s where that came from.  Then we took it to Los Angeles, when we were on the way to Australia, we stopped in LA, and cut it.   We cut it with Bonnie Bramlett and Larry Raspberry, different players, Steve Cropper on guitar from Memphis, the legendary Steve Cropper.  Then we cut it, then we went on to Australia and hung out for about a month and came back.   We still had the track, the track still sounded good so I just kept it until the rest of the album was going to be put together. Anyway, that’s the story of that one.

PAUL:  Didn’t Ed Bradley have something to do with that song?

FINGERS:  You know he might have.  I think he was in the studio playing tambourine or something.   He liked to show up at our shows a lot, probably still does, take his tambourine and beat it all over the place.  He always liked hanging out with us.   We liked hanging out with him.

PAUL:  Nice guy?

FINGERS: Great guy.

PAUL:  What was he like?

FINGERS:  Just a real cool cat.  You know, obviously very intelligent and well-spoken, worldly and all that kind of stuff, but he loved to get down and have a little fun.   You can’t imagine what was his name, Ted, what’s his name?  The newscaster.

PAUL: Koppel?

FINGERS: No, you can’t imagine Ted Koppel hanging out with, uh…

PAUL:  No.

FINGERS: No.  Ed, I’m sure Ed still shows up at some of the shows.

PAUL:  There’s a couple of songs where I thought when I heard it, that sounds like Fingers’ voice.   I know you had a hand in helping produce the Margaritaville Café New Orleans Late Night Gumbo album, on the Iguanas song “I Like Eatin’ with Fingers,” is that you that says, “Don’t get greasy now”?

FINGERS:  No, no.  I think that was probably Joe Cabal, the sax player.   He sang that one.  Totally.  That was funny, man.  Did you ever hear that whole CD?

PAUL:  Oh yeah.

FINGERS:  You know, I found one more copy in New Orleans when I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I picked it up.   Most people don’t even know about that record.  I was real proud of what me and Utley did with the stuff.  It was so much fun bein’ the A&R guy, discovering these new talents.  These people that nobody knew about.  The Iguanas were just super, man.   They just decided one day to write that thing, it was pretty funny.  I’ve been a lucky guy.  I’ve had a lot of fun, man.   I’ve made a lot of records.  Buffett’s new record is in the can and ready to come out.  We finished that up in Muscle Shoals.

PAUL:  What did you think of the new album?

FINGERS:  I love what I’ve heard of it.  I absolutely did.  It’s been a while since one of Jimmy’s records just absolutely knocked me out.  I think a lot of his later output has been very good, but it didn’t sell that well.   Of course the Alan Jackson thing came along.  This was sort of a combination of what he was doing before, the country stuff again, and a little bit of the country kind of deal.   He’s got a great song about the Florabama, I think that’s going to be a hit.  The production is excellent.  Utley and Mac and their engineer Alan just did a fine job.  Very strong, big sound.  So, I’m looking forward to that.   I’m on three cuts.  Not playing a whole lot, but we got one rocker on there.  It’s called “Everybody’s on the Phone.”   It’s about cell phones.  I got to blow a little of my Little Walter style harp on that one, instead of the acoustic, Buffett-style.  I always like to get a couple of those in.   (Laughs).

PAUL:  Did you ever think you would be back doing anything with Buffett, or did you think that probably wasn’t going to happen.   I have to say, I was a little surprised.  Do you know what I mean?

FINGERS:  Surprised that I’m doing things with him again?

PAUL: Yes.

FINGERS:  Well I am too.  It was at this gig I was telling you about in Cincinnati at Riverbend, a guy that I work with, Ken Moore, from Columbus, Ohio…he had booked us a gig at this huge complex, a Koney Island kind of place, and they had a small amphitheatre.   We played a couple of sets with the damn sun; I was about to keel over.  So we went backstage and said, well we just got to rest for a while before we drive to wherever the hell we were going.   I get a phone call, on my cell phone, it was Mac McAnally.  He said, “We know you’re there.  (Laughs).   Don’t go anywhere.  We’ll send the roadies down from the big stage.  The big stage was just over the hill.   He got his roadies to come down to come and get my amplifier and we had to go through the crowd to get to the big stage, but we made it.  Then I got up and played “Fins.”   I played organ on “Margaritaville.”  They were the encore.  That’s when Jimmy said, “We need to sit down and talk.  Because I have something that I want to talk to you about.”  I believe that’s probably the casino deal.  So we’ll see.  I’ll find out in a couple of weeks.  I called McAnally and told him that I would be in town and that I would be there and to get me some tickets and then hopefully he could ask Jimmy, hopefully if he had a minute to sit down and tell me what’s going on.    That would be great.  I think he’s thinking about retirement for me and for everybody else, finally.  We never had any kind of regular retirement, but he’s thinking about us.  You know, he’ll probably get it to us in different ways.

PAUL:  Do you mean Jimmy retiring?

FINGERS:  Well no, we’re talking about retirement for our old asses.   (Laughs)

PAUL:  But, do you think he’s getting ready to?

FINGERS:  You never can tell with Jimmy.  I would have thought he would retire by now.  I mean, he’s not a young guy anymore, but do you know what he takes care of himself, he’s vibrant, His mind works well.   He’s writing great, he’s singing great.  So who knows?  And he likes to make money.

PAUL:  Yes, that’s the truth.

FINGERS:  But I think when you get to that point, you have to make a lot of money.   Just to cover your bases.  To fuel your airplanes and take care of your boats.  He has a big pile of money he has to make each year.   I really can’t predict how much longer he’ll do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it until he was 65.

PAUL:  I’m sure you get tired of answering this, but do you ever think you would play bunch of tour dates with Jimmy again?

FINGERS:  That’s a good question, man.  I think that’s why he’s thinking about me.  He knows that the road is whippin’ my ass.  He came up to me on stage in Cincinnati and said, ‘Man you don’t have to keep doing this the rest of your life.”   I would certainly do it.  I’m still a road dog, I can go out there and play all night if I have to.  I might hurt a lot more after the gig, but I can still do it.   But he’s got a cool little band right now.  Do you know who Sonny Landreth is?

PAUL:  Oh, yeah.

FINGERS:  He’s got Sonny Landreth on slide guitar.   He’s got this little guy from Hawaii and I don’t know his name.  Jake…

PAUL:  Jake Shimabukuro.

FINGERS:  Yeah, yeah!  Jake the Snake!   And he’s cool man; he plays that ukulele like Hendrix.  Dances all over the stage, he’s great energy.  He got rid of the dancing girls.  He’s got it honed down to a really good tight band.  I think he’s having a lot of fun with it.   I think he’s glad that a lot of the show biz stuff, all of the dancing girls and the horns and everything, I think he’s glad that they’re gone.  I think he really wanted to pair it down, and he’s got a unit that can do it.   Everyone on that stage is top-notch.  They give him what he wants and they won’t give him any trouble. He doesn’t have any f—in’ losers or drug addicts.

PAUL:  I’ve interviewed just about all of the Coral Reefers, and it seems like inevitably they’ll start talking about you.   Utley, all of them really…  Is there any person in the band that you feel that you are closer to than the others?   You feel kind of a kinship.

FINGERS:  Yeah, sure.  I had several good buddies in the band.   Mac McAnally of course is a good friend and I’ve known Mike Utley for many, many, many years.  Amy Lee was a good friend of mine too.   I miss seein’ her on stage with Jimmy, but she’s still up there in Atlanta somewhere.  Still flyin’ out and doing gigs and working Parrot Head stuff.   Me and Utley always hung out.  Been a lot of good folks come through the band.  They were all buddies, friends of mine in one-way or another.   You don’t spill out your guts every night, go down the highway, and airplanes and not get close to people when you work with them.  In that kind of situation.   They were all a real nice bunch of folks.  There were a couple of people who came in the band that were pretty crazy.   Hell, I was pretty close to them too.

PAUL:  Are there any memories from the old days, back in the 1970s or any of the decades really, any memories that stick out in your mind?   Not just with the Coral Reefers, but in music, in general or in your life.

FINGERS:  You know, I mentioned that James Taylor and his brothers Hughie, Livingston and Alex, who’s now gone.   Alex was a good friend of mine, and a blues man.  I got to know James in Monserrat, when we were recording.  He and I immediately struck up a friendship of craziness.  (Laughs).  He was still pretty crazy at that point.   He’s doing really good now, but we were both nuts.  He ended up taking me out with his band.  I toured a whole summer with Buffett, and then went right from Buffett’s tour to James’ tour, which was another three months.   So I was toast by the time it was over with.  Playing with James and the quality of musicians he had, Leland Sklar on bass guitar, Russ Kunkel and Rick Moratta on the drums, Don Grolnik, who unfortunately passed away a few years, back.  Great keyboard player, very nice man.  He produced a lot of James Taylor’s later records.  That was a real treat.   I was really working with some serious, serious players.  All of them crazy, but I think sometimes the serious ones are the crazy ones.

PAUL:  I like asking this question a lot.  When you were out on the road with the Reefers, and you weren’t playing music, the down time…what was your favorite thing to do?

FINGERS:  Laughs.

PAUL:  If it’s suitable for airplay.

FINGERS:  Well, I don’t know.  I like to go out on a few dates.   We used to imbibe a little bit, out there on the road.  Have a few rum drinks.  We were especially bad in the 1970s.   Even other substances were involved back then.  It made for a very crazy mix.  Somehow we lived through it, and we had a good time…and we never got arrested.   (Laughs.)  Which could have happened at any point.

PAUL:  Is it true that the women like the harmonica players more than the other band members?

FINGERS:  I don’t know, man.  It all depends.   I will say that the tongue is involved in harmonica playing quite a lot.  It’s easier to do your little dances, your little tribal dance with just a little harp in my hand.   Who knows?  I’m getting too old for all of that s—t.  Women don’t look at us anymore.   Who are those old guys?  It’s the young man’s business now.  We would actually go do really cool s—t.  We played a lot of times in Chicago.  I just loved going to Chicago.  Going on Michigan Avenue.  Going to record stores.  Going down by the lake and the whole thing.  Frisco was especially cool back in the 1970s.   We had a lot of fun in San Francisco, Los Angeles.  LA was always fun to me, I liked it.  I still do.  There was always something to do, man.  Not all of it was real good for us.  We actually did do a lot of sightseeing.   We saw a lot of the world.  I got to tour Europe a lot, not with Buffett; he never went to Europe and played.  Maybe Paris a couple of times.   He never was a European phenomenon.  We went to Australia—twice, and that was very cool and New Zealand.  You know it was funny; we didn’t sell that many tickets when we were there.  He’s really an American phenomenon.  I’m sure that’s just fine with him.   He’s done quite well for himself, here in the States.  We had a lot of fun.  We did.

PAUL:  You were talking earlier about some of your favorite harmonica players—past and present.   Are there any of the young kids out that caught your eye that made you think, this kid’s going to be big?

FINGERS:  You know there are several of those little guys, and I don’t know them by name.   Kim Wilson, my buddy, does know some of them.  In music or any art, there’s always going to be somebody that comes up when you least expect it, and when you think that you’ve seen everything, here comes the guy from Hawaii playing Hendrix on a ukulele.   You never know, and that’s one of the fun things about it.  There’s always somebody lurking back there that nobody knows about that’s going to be big in the next few years.

PAUL:  Out of all of the songs that you’ve written, what’s one that you feel you are the most proud of?

FINGERS:  Ohh!  I haven’t written very many!   I like “Miss You So Badly.”  It was a co-written thing with Buffett.  I wrote it in the back of a bus, missing my wife back in Nashville in the 1970s.   Jimmy sort of helped me figure it out, finish it.  I’m real proud of it.  “Big Rig,” was a song that was on Havana Daydreamin’ that was kind of one of those things about missin’ home again.   I wrote it more like a bluegrass song, a country song.  When we did it in the studio with Jimmy for Havana Daydreamin’ it turned into kind of a funky R&B deal.   This is the great thing about it, I preferred it more country and there was a great bluegrass band, they were all like professors from Washington DC.   They were great bluegrass players. They, on one of their little albums, cut “Big Rig,” and they did it exactly like I had written it originally.

PAUL:  What was their name?

FINGERS:  The Seldom Scenes.  I was real proud of that one, when they cut it.   Of course not many people heard it that way.  I was happy somebody got it.  …But, anyway there’s a lot of great harmonica players that people just don’t know about.   Like Junior Wells.  There was a guy named Papa George Lightfoot that’s just completely off the wall.  He was from Natchez Trace, Mississippi.  He’s still one of my heroes.  He blew more like a trumpet with his phrasing.   And also my good friend, who just passed away. I called him my daddy…he called me his son, Sam Myers.  Great harmonica player, he used to play drums with Elmore James in the 1950s.   Just an incredible style of harmonica, it was more like a trumpet or a horn, and he taught me how to do that and think in those terms. Anyways, we had Sam for a long time.   He finally got sick.  Got old and died.  All of the blues players in Jackson and the surrounding parts of Mississippi came down for the funeral and we all did our favorite Sam Myers songs and it was a good tribute.   Junior Wells, he was a great, great blues harmonica player with his own style.  In his later years he played a lot with Buddy Guy.   Junior passed a couple of years old.  We’re all getting old.  I’m next in line, me and my buddies. (Laughs)

PAUL:  Somebody told me about this thing called “Fingers Taylor and the Lady Fingers.”

FINGERS:  Yes!

PAUL:  Tell me about that, I’m so intrigued.

FINGERS:  Well, we were doing a tour; I’m not sure which one it was (Editor’s note: It was Outpost— 1991. )  Jimmy wanted me to open the shows for the tour with an all-female blues band, and call it the Ladyfinger Revue.  So, I said “Well, that sounds fine to me.   I’m not going to ride on the bus with them.”  (Laughs) They’ll gang up on you!   But I opened the shows; they were all really good players.  Debbie Davies on guitar, Janiva Magnus who’s a real popular blues singer in LA now, has been for years.   It was a really good crew of players.  They were female, and it was kind of a gimmick, but they held their own in any arena, especially playing blues.

PAUL:  Were there any live recordings that surived?   No?

FINGERS:  I don’t know.  There’s got to be.   There was a lot of film taken, in the last couple decades.  I’m sure they’ve got some Ladyfingers bootlegs somewhere.

PAUL:  So what do you look for in a woman?

FINGERS:  (Laughs) In a woman? Money.  (Laughs).  No man, I don’t know.  I like down-home girls.  I like southern girls by and large.   That’s what I like about the south.  That old song.  In my older age, I have grown attracted to older women.   I didn’t think I ever would because I was always going for the young girls, when I was a younger man.  Loved each and every one that I spent time with, lived with, married and whatever.   Now days I see the old gals, and you know what, I’m an old guy.  I need to stay with my own kind.  I’ve got a couple of real good ones that take care of me wherever I’m at.

PAUL:  When you’re not playing blues, and we’ve talked so much about the music side of you…I know you were journalism major.   Tell me about some of the other things you do when you’re not playing music.

FINGERS:  Things that I do for hobbies, you mean?   I have a gigantic CD and record collection and I love to make compilations for my friends.  That’s kind of what I like to do.  I don’t do it for money or anything; I just do it to turn people onto music.   That’s all I ever wanted to do in the first place, I think.  If I could be a DJ for the rest of my life, I think I’d be more than happy.   Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get one of them Sirius radio gigs.

PAUL:  I’ll tell you, I love being a disc jockey.   It’s so much fun.

FINGERS:  Yeah I know, I do too.  I’m sure you like turning people onto stuff they haven’t heard and you think they might like it, and if they don’t at least they heard it.

PAUL:  They’re wrong.

FINGERS:  You’re wrong you mother-f—er!

PAUL:  This is going to go out all over the world, so my question for you Mr. Greg “Fingers” Taylor, the Harpoon Man, the man with the movement below the belt.   The man who can…what would you, Fingers Taylor like to say to the world?

FINGERS:  Y’all quit feudin’ and fightin’.  Get rid of your bombs.  Try and figure it out.  Trim back on them religions a little bit and we won’t have so much trouble.

PAUL:  Well, Fingers, thank you very much.

FINGERS:  Thank you man.  I appreciate it.   It’s been a pleasure.  Indeed.

 

 

Jim Asbell: Singer-Songwriter

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Jim Asbell is a singer-songwriter and recording artist who has a lot of “tropical” influence in his songwriting.  He has two albums entitled “Man Overbored” (spelling intentional) and “Tropiholics.”  He joined Paul in the studio for an in-depth interview as well as many vocal and acoustic performances.

 

Jim Mayer: Singer-Songwriter

Jim Mayer invited us into his hotel room where he performed several of the songs from his debut solo album “Funky As a Diaper” and told us what it is like being Uncle Jim.  Sure to be entertaining, funny and fun-filled no matter what age you are.
In addition to his career as a solo recording artist, Jim Mayer has been the bass player for Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band since 1989.  This interview took place while he was on tour with Buffett.

Captain Tony Tarracino: LEGEND

This   conversation   with   Captain   Tony Tarracino is  being  published  in  memorial  to  a  man  who brought  a  lot  of  smiles  and  joy  to  a  world  that  sometimes takes things a little too seriously.


This was recorded in Old Town  Key  West  when  he  was  88-years-old.   Captain  Tony told  us   to  make  every   heartbeat   count,   and  as   this interview  shows-he’s  a  man  who  did  just  that.   I’ll  never forget that day, the excitement in his voice as “I looked into those  eyes,”  as  he  recalled  a  life  few  could  even  dream  of. 

Sail on Captain Tony.

Special thanks to Koney Ferrell, Jeff Pike, Brent Griffis and Al Kelley.

We’re   here   in  Old   Key  West   talking   with Captain  Tony  Tarracino,  a  man  who  is  synonymous with  the  town.   I  think  all  stories  should  start  from the  beginning.  So  tell  us  about  the  man  and  where you came from.
Well, Paul you surprised me.  When you  talked  about  the  background  of  this  man,  I  said,  “That can’t be me.”   You know I  do have a little ego.   There is  a beginning;  I  was  born  in  Elizabeth,  New  Jersey.   In  fact, August the 10th, 1916.  That makes me 88-years old.  That was  the  year  they  came  out  with  the  Model  T.   My  eyes are  going;  you  know  the  windshield  is  going.   I  have  a hearing  aid,  the  horn’s  going.   I’m  a  Model  T  you  know, and  I  shuffle.   You  know  the  tires  are  worn  out.   I  just wanted  to  let  everybody  know  that  the  clutch  is  still working.  Long story, I was  always a gambler.  88 is a lot of,  lot  of  years.   I  guess  I  did  everything.   I  was  born;  I guess it was like a ghetto.  I grew up with the boys.  Frank Sinatra  and  Al  Capone  were  my  heroes.   It  was  the  time.  Like I said, I was always a gambler and as the years go on I  found  out  a  way  to  find  out  what  horse  won  the  race before  the  bookies  did.   Could  you  imagine  what  that means?   Going  to  a  bookie  joint  and  betting  on  a  horse you already know has won, and we got away with it for a while.   The  boys  caught  up  to  me.   They  break  your thumbs and all that.  So I had to leave Elizabeth for health reasons.  So I left for Florida.  I remember seeing my first orange-my  God,  coconuts  and  I  had  a  beautiful  girl  in the car.  Of course I went to Hialeah Race Track.  Imagine, going  to  Hialeah  in  those  days  was  almost  like  a  Jewish person  going  to  Israel,  and  it  was  just  beautiful!  Of course  I  lost  my  fanny  as  usual.   I  gave  the  girl  the  car;  I gave her a hundred bucks.  I had twelve dollars left and I told her to head back home.  I couldn’t go back home.  If I went back home, I was a dead man believe me.  I saw this sign-“See  Key  West.”   I  went  to  the  bus  terminal.   I missed the last bus, and I think the guy felt sorry for me.
I  think  the  fare  was  $12  or  $7.   He  said,  “Look  you  can take a bus to Homestead.  It’s only 30 cents, and you’ll get a  lift  down  there.   The  Navy’s  down  there.”   I  asked, “What’s  Key  West  like?”   He  said,  “It’s  like  the  Barbary Coast!   Wide  open,  gambling!”  and  boy  that’s  for  me.   I get  to  Homestead  and  I  got  a  lift  on  a  Land  of  Sun  milk truck.  He said, “I’ll drive you into town.  I never had seen the lights until I got to Boca Chica.  There was nothing on the  Keys.   Millions  of  land  crabs,  all  you  could  hear  was the  crunching  of  the  tires.   Finally  we  hit  Key  West.   I couldn’t believe it.  We drove down Duval Street.  Bars all over.   It  was  a  big  military  town.   It  looked  like  cold cream-all  the  guys  in  the  whites  walking  down  Duval like  a  wave.   I  could  see  the  slot  machines,  crap  tables.  There were a lot of women of ill repute on the corners.  I said,  “Boy  this  is  for  me.”   That  was  it.   I  had  twelve dollars  and  I  slept  in  an  old  beat-up  car  where  the  Pier House  used  to  be.   There’s  a  lot  of  in  between  stories here.    I   started  heading  shrimp.    Then  I   became  a shrimper.   I  didn’t  know  anything  believe  me,  I  was  the typical  New  Jersey  boy.   I  met  a  couple  of  old  time shrimpers  who  taught  me  how  to  shrimp.   I  went  to Georgia  in  the  summer.   For  about  four  or  five  years, slowly  I’m  catching  on.   You’ve  got  to  remember  I  was  a hustler.  I grew up selling wristwatches with no insides in it.   That  was  a  big  deal.   Cockroach  powder-can  of cockroach  powder  was  a  dollar,  and  I’d  mix  it  with  ten cans  of  cleanser.   It  killed  the  roaches,  it  took  longer.   I kept  moving,  and  I  became  a  charter  boat  captain.   The only  experience  I  had  on  the  ocean  was  a  Staten  Island Ferry and Tom’s River fishing for crabs.  I kept going and became  a  very  famous  captain.   I  broke  records,  national records.   I  just  had  “it,”  I  don’t  know  what  it  was.   God was  good  to  me.   I  kept  going  and  was  always  active politically.   I  ran  for  mayor,  I  felt  sorry  for  the  people here.   They  were  taken  advantage  of.   It  was  the  times.   I don’t  think  they  even  knew  the  United  States  was  here.  They weren’t too sure anyway.  Slowly, I start making the big  time,  and  I  never  even  lied.   Just  told  the  truth.   I exaggerated  things.    Like,   “why   are  you   a  famous captain?”   I  told  them  that  I  hooked  this  mermaid.   A beautiful mermaid, I brought her to the side of the boat- sweating  in  July.    She  had  that  hair  like  you  know, Clinton’s girl?  You know what I’m talking about.  I didn’t know where to gaff her and she broke the line.  That was it.   The  press  was  so  good  to  me,  and  I  was  good  copy.   I got  involved  in  the  Haiti  thing,  the  invasion.   Then  came the  Bay  of  Pigs,  I  was  involved  in  that.   I  mean  this  is  all history, you can read about it.  In the mean time, I used to hang  around  what  is  called  Captain  Tony’s  bar  today.  Real  history.   It  goes  back  to  1852.   It  was  a  morgue  and an  icehouse-really  was.   Somebody  said,  “Ah  you’re  full of  bull.   There  was  no  ice  in  them  days.”   What  they  did years  ago,  the  sailing  boats  from  Maine,  up  north-they put  ice  in  their  hull  for  ballast.   Then  when  they  came  to Key  West  they  sold  it  to  the  few  people  who  used  it  for ice  and  they  covered  it  with  sawdust  and  it  lasted  for  a long time.  That’s how the ice got there.  It was called The Blind  Pig.   The  Osceola  Bar,  the  General  Store,  Sloppy Joe’s,  and  it  became  the  Duval  Club.   I  followed  the history very strongly. When the battle ship Maine was sunk,  the little  wireless station was in Captain  Tony’s. We got pictures of it, the pole coming through the roof and everything with the wire over to Western Union. Captain Tony’s Saloon first  gave the world  the news of what happened in Cuba.  This is all history.  I don’t know what it is-maybe it’s the Italian in me, but I loved it.  It was so fascinating to me.  The building was falling apart and David Wilcowski, one of our great locals, one of the prominent families, had gone to Philadelphia to get involved in rebuilding some of the old buildings.  Saving the houses and all this. He comes back to Key West, and Captain Tony’s building-428 Greene Street, was tipping over.  Falling over.  This was really just the way it was. He got together with Dan-Danny Sturr, because it was his grandfather that owned that building. He rebuilds Captain Tony’s.  It was the first rebuilding of anything in Key West.  Morgan Bird out of Pennsylvania, very, very wealthy man. His parents probably owned old coalmines. He comes to Key West, he’s gay.  He opens the first gay bar.  It was beautiful.  He didn’t even sell beer.  I mean top of the line-Old English couches, paintings and everything.  I was a famous Captain.  My brother Sal was gay.  In New York, a very big time, big time gay.  In fact, I went to New York with him and lead the first gay parade in Manhattan.  I mean, I’m going back.  I fell in love with the bar. It was really great. It was all gays, Truman Capote, all of these people-I was right at home with them.  It didn’t bother me at all, and I’m a very famous captain.   I’m  big time  now.   I  met Shirley,  one of my wives.  I have a beautiful daughter.  She was a Navy wife.
I was the scandal of the town, man. Even though the owner of the dock knocked up the head woman at the church that was okay.  But Captain Tony, man that was bad.  That was a big, big scandal.  Every time I’d walk in the bar they would play “It was fascination.” It was a beautiful love affair, and Morgan Bird was one of those great people.   He was like  Charles  Laughton Bly-just like him, the jackets and everything. I could live this. Thank you for letting me do this show, cause I relive all of these things and I want to remember these things.  He goes to Pennsylvania to commit suicide-just like that. So the bar closes down.  David comes to me, Tony why don’t you open the bar?  Ehh,  what do I know about a bar.  I missed the bar.  I know there’s 24 cans of Bud in a case, that’s all. Shirley’s brother ran a big, big bar in California.  She said, “I can get my brother to come out and run it.”  So  I took over Captain  Tony’s for Shirley. That was that.  It was a great bar.  I kept it just the way it was.  Could you imagine gays, shrimpers, Marines, Navy, I mean it was a boiling pot.  I had complete control.  The old New Jersey hustlers there.  Anybody started any shit, “come on cool it man.”  If he kept it up, “do you want your knee cap broke?”  That’s the way it was, but people were different then. They didn’t go to college like they do today.   They  weren’t  brain-damaged yet.    You know that’s happening today. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I was just enjoying it, thinking I could beat the system.  I never did, but I wouldn’t join it either.

I was going to ask you about some of the people that are most prevalent in your mind when you think about Captain Tony’s Saloon.  All of the people that drank there and hung out there.
We have a tendency in this life, that if a man makes the papers, he makes TV, and this and that he stands out.  In the bar, we go from one extreme to the other. We go from Cassius Clay to Walter Cronkite. David Allan Coe, Jerry Jeff Walker.  Many, many people.  Senator Dirkson.
I had a big sign in my bar and it’s still there.  When you walk through these doors, everybody’s a star and I applied that.  Women.  I remember the woman who had the first sex operation.  Names are hard.  I helped make some of these people, and they helped me. Shel Silverstein used to play handball with my brother in New York, and he’d come down.  What happens here, and this is something that I’ve never said.  I’m going to say it for the first time, when I take the bar over-it was always a great time when I talk about gays.  The local gays, I’m going back now.  The old gays had a little more class than the gays today.  Maybe TV did, maybe fight for rights did it.  They were special people.  They gave so much to the arts, culture.  The modern days, things happen.  What I’m trying to say is that Key West was a mixture. We all learned to live together.  If Harry Truman walked down the street, you would say “Good morning.”  You didn’t ask for his autograph.  You never dared do things like that. He was nice guy.  He was down at Shorty’s having coffee and some toast.  You could be sitting next to him and, he would say, “How’s the fishing, Captain?”  That’s how Key West was. When people like Hemingway, is a great example,  could  walk  down  the  street  barefoot.   They knew he was a big writer, some people thought he was stuck up, but he could do that.  That’s why he loved Key West.  Tennessee Williams was the same way.  They put the gays down in those days, but it wasn’t like today. Education is very damaging, to a point.  After the eighth grade, forget it. There were so many great people. I remember Truman Capote, “the Midnight Cowboy,” Evan Rhodes, and “The Prince of Central Park.” Jamie Kirkwood, my God we used to have supper together. I knew these people. You’ve got to remember the breaks. Remember the breaks? I’m hanging up fish one day at the dock.  It’s like late 1950s. You hang the fish up so you get more customers the next day.  You’re a hustler.  Me and my wife were good.  I’ve got a little book on the boat and it’s got cities of 125,000 or more. You’d come by, “where are you from?”  Detroit?”  I’d say, “Just a minute I want to run and get a cigarette.” I’d run down to the book, find out who the mayor was, what the occupation was.  I’d come back up.  “I was in Detroit last weekend. That’s a great mayor.”  He had to come on my boat.  This was the hustle.  This was how you survived.  I’m hanging up the fish and I hear this voice, “Hey Tarracino!” I looked up and it was Frankie Merle.  Frankie Merle was my brother’s lover when they were in school-gay.  He was my brother’s lover back in Elizabeth in high school. We lived on the same floor. He said, “I’m working as secretary to a guy named Tennessee Williams. He just wrote a play and it’s very popular, “The Glass Menagerie.”

Why don’t you bring the fish over to the house tonight?  I want you to meet him.  So I met Tennessee Williams as Frankie Merle’s lover.  I never met him as a playwright.  I never met James Hurlahee or any of these people.  Now all of these gays, they were all skinny dipping in the pool. He was like a teacher to them.  They were his pupils-all of them, Jamie Kirkwood, Evan Rhodes.  I’m talking about the breaks. They started hanging out in my bar and it was just beautiful.  I had celebrities in my bar that if you put allof New York they wouldn’t match the people I had.  I mean the greatest and they came from all over the world. Then you could just imagine everyone saying, “Hey this is where Hemingway hung out.” I read Hemingway.  I read every one of his books twice.  To me he was the greatest writer I will ever know in my generation and the greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams and then you throw Shel Silverstein in. How lucky can you be?  I stepped into the biggest pile of shit in the world and came out smelling like a rose.

I wanted to ask you about being Mayor of Key West.
That was one of the greatest honors of my life.  Could you imagine my father?  Came here from Italy in 1900.  Could never read and write.  He had four sons.  They were like Kings.    Girls   didn’t   count.    They  didn’t   put  them  in buckets like they did in China, but close.  Of the four boys, never learned to read and writer. A very tight family, very uptight family.  I could write ten books on that, but anyway he was so proud of us kids.  My brother was gay, Louie was a barber, Joey was doing plays and I was the Captain in Key West.  A captain! A real captain.  “My son is a Captain Tony in Key West.”  When I made mayor, the only regret I had-he  wasn’t there.  That was it.  Being mayor of Key West?  Gotta remember, I ran four times. Four times I ran for mayor, barefoot.  But I believed in it. They were the great years.  It will never happen again. Too late.  You guys are lucky you got in on the fringe of it.  The seventies and the eighties, they were the greatest years this country ever knew. People standing up for women, fight for what you believe in. You honestly practice the Constitution.  I wouldn’t look at polls.

When you walk down  the streets  of Key West,  and you remember how it was back then and you see how it is now..what do you think?
See,  you can’t stop progress.   First of all,  when you’re
88-I went to the Eighth grade.  I’m a genius, believe me. There was no time to be educated.  If you want to read the propaganda, you went to college.  Because you want to  show  people  you’re  not  stupid.  That’s  what happened.  I could be wrong with what I’m saying.  What happens here is you call it progress.  I was in Key West, I fought the oil wells. I fought real hard for the environment.  I wasn’t a radical.  I wanted to try and save the waterfront.  There’s nothing left on the gulf.  I mean I could see all these things.  I’ll  give you an idea of how I got in trouble.  I wrote an article,  I said in the Florida Keys there’s roughly 80,000 people and they pass everyday one pound of garbage-crap.  Now, you’ve got 80,000 pounds of garbage everyday. They told me in school you can’t get rid of matter.  So they’re going to put big sewer wells up.  So we had a sewer outfall here.   I used to advertise, “No fish, no pay.”  If you didn’t catch a fish, you didn’t  pay.  The wind always goes north,  east, south, west.  This is very true.  If the wind backs up the fish don’t bite.  I don’t know why,  they don’t bite.  So I used to go where the sewer pipe was, anchor above wind to get away from the smell.  Everybody caught fish.  The lobsters, birds hung out there.  Since they chemically take care of it,  there’s nothing there.  Nothing.  Like a white sand,  nothing’s  alive  there.   It’s  all  gone.   So   I  was fighting, you’ve got to stop building.  They passed a lot of laws, but you can’t beat big money.  They beat them all, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what got me in big, big trouble.  The government.  I told the truth.  I said, you go down  to  Mallory  Square  and you  can catch your supper.  You went down to the beaches you see all the guys casting for bait, on a reef, food all over.  It’s all gone, all gone.  Everything’s gone.  It’s hard to believe what I’m telling you.  It’s probably happening in your place too, in your state.  This is what got me in big trouble.  When I started  fighting  things  like  that.   I  kept  running  for mayor.  Finally it happened.  I had a tough time running for mayor.  You got to remember the word got out that I was bringing  the mafia in  from  New Jersey  if  I  won. People believed that!  They believed it!   Came  the big year.  It was the right years.  They all got together; even Jimmy   Buffett   was  one  of  my  honorary  campaign managers.  We had a hell of an election,  I mean it  was fun.   It  was really  great!  We won  by  31  votes.   28 hookers. (Tony   and   the   whole   room   burst   into laughter.)  How did I feel?  When I was sworn in I had to cry.  They were like 26,000 of my kids.  That’s what they were.  I knew them all.  I loved them all.  I never changed when I was mayor.  I stood right there.  I did a lot of good I was never given credit for.  I’ll  give you an example. About 25 years ago, the Navy wanted the Black beach. The blacks had a great beach.  They Navy wanted it.  So they said,  “We’ll build you a swimming pool and we’ll give you the beach.”  Which they did, it was fine.  After three  years  they  never  put  water  in  the  pool  for seventeen years.  For seventeen years! I became mayor and I found money,  and I broke my ass and we got a beautiful community pool today.  That I feel was great.

I’ve   heard   so  many  legendary   stories   about  the saloon.  I’ve heard if you throw a coin into the fish’s mouth you’re guaranteed to come back to Key West. I’ve heard that there are ghosts in the saloon.  So tell me, is it magical?
They just did this on the Travel by the way. I don’t know if I should tell the story about the tree.  The building is so old, I honestly, I lived upstairs I know.. I never stayed in that building alone.  I never.  I don’t ever remember that I was comfortable. It’s so old, you know! It’s so many years.  There’s a big tree there and I was going to cut it down. There was little caterpillars and those little cherries. It was the patio. Some friends of mine were coming down from Miami and they were going to cut it down.  This is a true story.  Old Man Mr. Roberts, he must have been my age-about 80.  It was in the paper that I was going to cut the tree down.  It was full of bugs, and branches on the roof and all that.  I’ll never forget it, just the way he said it.  “I hear you’re going to cut the tree down.” I said, “Yeah Mr. Roberts, you know it’s full of berries and everything.”  He said, “You can’t cut the free down.” I said, “Why?” He said, “That was the hanging free.”  I said, “What do you mean?”  He said, “You know a lot of years ago, we’d come here.  We’d sit on the corner with soda pop and sandwiches,” it was real natural talking, “and they hung this woman, she had a blue dress on and it didn’t break her neck and she made noises for a long time.” I said, “Shit, I can’t cut this tree down.” I couldn’t do it! And then some great, great things happened through the years. Whether that story had something to do with it, I don’t know.  A woman I lived with for three years upstairs, after three years came back to see me and we talked about it.  The Lady in Blue..and we talked about it.  We used to cash out, we both would see her. A great photographer in Key West, who disappeared by the way, he had a picture of me and Stacy sitting in a tree and there was a person in the middle of us..like he drew it.  You know it’s a person!  So I got the priest to come in and bless the place.  My daughter Coral, she’s right there.  Her best friend ran into this woman in the back room to get a can of orange juice.  So it’s not a bullshit story. I was digging in the poolroom, I was digging a whole to get down lower and we ran into a well and there was a body in it and a tombstone on top of it.  I covered it; I called the police and all that. It’s just a matter of bones and a bad smell.  Where the tree is now, there’s a tombstone. About 20 years ago, a father and son drove by and they dumped it in the street.  It’s right there, by the tree.  About a month later I saw the son, and I said, “Come here kid.  What do you want me to do with your   mother’s  tombstone?””    He  said,   “My   father’s crazy.”  I said, “What do you mean he’s crazy?  What do you want me to do with it?”  It took four guys to carry it in, it was a patio then.  His mother had died.  They were married  20 years.   His father used to work  in  a Navy yard.  He goes through her stuff, finds a stack of letters. She was meeting her lover at Captain Tony’s every night. He says, “That’s where she belongs, and that’s where she is. ”

Captain  Tony,  when  you think back,  with all of the memories you have, what are some things you love thinking  about and always  seem to be prevalent  in your thought?
Well, I could put it this way.  There’s a couple of things
that have been very big in my life. Every one of my children.  Thirteen times.  That’s big time.  Being mayor of Key West.  That’s big time.  But I think the one that I favor, sort of my favorite, The Last Mango in Paris, Jimmy Buffett.  That was big time to me.  You know?  I always called him the kid. I remember he stopped by the bar one day.  It was a hot day in July.  “Come on Jimmy have, a seat.”  Remember the words!  “Come on Jimmy, have a seat.” He sat down next to me, “What are you doing Tony,  man?   You’re  up  in  the  years.”   I  said  “Jimmy, there’s so much to be done.”  The song.  We talked about a lot of things.  There’s a lot to that song that only Jimmy and I will understand. It’s sort of very, very personal. Thank God, and it wasn’t anything.  So I said, “Jimmy,  I gotta go home.  My wife’s got supper ready.”  I went to the head and the old man disappeared. He came by a month later, he throws this tape at me.  “Tony, I hope you like  it.”   I  was leaving for  Charlie  Rose.   I  was doing Charlie Rose in New York at the time. I said, “Jimmy, thanks.”  I threw it on a shelf because I had enough time to make the plane. So when I get to Washington, with CBS, you know the limo.  I’m sitting back and I heard, “I went down to Captain Tony’s.” I said, “Is that Jimmy Buffett?” and the guy driving shuts it off!  He said, “Are you Captain Tony?”  That’s all I heard.  Four days later, when I got back to Key West, I heard the tape.  I don’t know what tosay.   He did something.   You talk about great people.  Here’s a guy who plays the guitar, to me did things that I think were fabulous. He saved a generation.  He saved a generation..the 70s, the 80s.  He saved it.  It was still doing it.  It’s like a cult.  It’s like the Constitution.  All of those things we encountered in them days.  You know, when I’m at his concerts, I stand up and turn around and look at the people. He gave so much, and he did it the right way. Just a regular guy, “if the phone rings it isn’t me.”  Oooh.  He just, he did something very beautiful. It’s more than just being big time. He found the forgotten people, and kept them alive.  Cause we are the forgotten people, whether you like it or not, cause we did things they wouldn’t dare let you do today, and that was fight for the truth.  So that’s about it.

As you know, this show goes out all over the world. So  before  we  go,  what do  you  want to say to the world?
Well, I always say let every heart beat count, but I think the most important thing is be good to your fellow man. It’s so easy to be good. Believe me. Everybody has a god. My God is on my side. The Muslims have a God. Everybody. But you know, I think God looks after everybody. And look at him as a God for everybody. I don’t know.  Be good to your fellow man, but most of all be good to your women because they’re the ones that bring the children into the world.  Remember that.  You know? I always remember that song, “So when she’s weary, everything looks dreary. Just try a little tenderness. I try that with everybody.  Everybody.  Thank you.

POST-SCRIPT

This interview just goes to show that a legend never dies. I hope everyone was as touched by the life that Captain Tony lead as I was.  He was proof that you can make every breath count. That was an interview and afternoon we will never forget.
As the 1985 liner notes of the Last Mango in Paris record says, “For all the living legends I’ve ever had to know..there’s still so much to be done.” -Paul

Jeff Bridges: Singer-Songwriter, Actor, Photographer, Painter

JEFF BRIDGES is so much more than an Actor.  Of course he is certainly a great actor, but at the time this interview was originally broadcast the world was just catching on to the fact that he is also a talented musician and songwriter.  I listened to a few songs from his first album “Be Here Soon,” and thought he was really recording some unusual and very creative songs.  The lyrics made you stop and think.  It also seemed like he could seemlessly transition from doing a reggae song like “Movin'” to a country number like “Picture Frame.”  The songs on his first album are great and would be indicative of more to come.

The first song of Jeff Bridges I played on the radio was Movin’…More or less on a whim I decided to see if I could contact his associates to tell them.  They wrote back right away and said that he thought it was cool that someone was playing his music out there.

It was not too long after that fact that I got to welcome him on my radio show.  We recorded this thing using the best equipment we could use, and the audio quality was not great.  When Jeff says hello to “Jeff” in this interview, he was referring to Jeff Pike who was recording the conversation in the other room.  We had never recorded an interview over the telephone.  It had always been in a studio.  When I had to tell him the audio quality was not great, he understood.

I was still very new to interviewing people and you may notice I was not very proficient.  I am not someone who likes to use the word “celebrity” because I find it sometimes conjures images of popularity and not necessarily talent.  I’ve never tried to interview someone because of how popular they are, but rather because I believed in their writing or their artistry.

So someone had to be my first “celebrity” interview.  I was very fortunate that it was Jeff Bridges because he is a true artist.  He has something to say.  When I think of him I do not think of awards and red carpets, but rather the films I love and the sometimes surreal songs he writes and the ones he selects to record by other great songwriters.  It helps that he is a good soul.  The number of “stars” I have interviewed has grown and a part of this game is that you interview them and then you never hear from them again.  Not so with Jeff Bridges.  He is an artist and what comes with that is a curiosity in other people and what is going on with the world.

So go easy on me with this interview, ladies and gentlemen.  I was very new and if you think the audio quality is not pristine, you should have heard it when it was aired!  I have taken the original tape and done a lot of audio work to make it sound a little better.  I think what we talked about is still valid and I hope you enjoy hearing from the very talented and sincere Jeff Bridges.  A transcript is included if you prefer to read it.  From 10 years ago, here is Mr. Jeff Bridges–actor, singer-songwriter, concert and recording artist, painter, sculptor, photographer and all around artist.

A big “Aloha” to Mr. Jeff Bridges…

Hey there, Paul and Jeff.  Aloha Oe!  (Laughs)


A lot of people are aware of your shows but some might be surprised to find out that you’re a songwriter and a musician and you have a very incomparable album called ‘Be Here Soon.’
That’s right!

How’d you get this passion for music?
Well gosh…I can’t remember not loving it.  You know, I remember my brother back in the early sixties…maybe late fifties…having this white electric guitar and I kind of took it over and started playing on it and, you know, the great thing about the guitar is you can kind of teach yourself, you know, the chords are just pictures of where you put your fingers, so I had a ball just working on tunes that I liked, trying to play them and that kind of thing and then I started to write music with the knowledge of the chords that I’d learned…I just kind of started to make up songs and stuff and that really took off and I started doing that more than playing other people’s songs. 


Speaking kind of in that same vein, you said you were looking up songs that you liked.  What kind of music did you grow up with and what do you listen to now?
Well my brother, Beau, he’s about eight years older than I am, and so, um, you know when he was a young teenager he experienced the birth of rock-n-roll:  Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis and all those guys…and so I, of course, looked  at my older brother and I got involved with all that early rock-n-roll music and as I became a teenager, started that English invasion, you know, the British invasion with the Beatles and all the great Brit groups and that was a wonderful time to be involved with music.  It was just so rich and honest…you know, the San Francisco scene…I don’t know…it was just a wonderful, wonderful time to be a musician and work with music and it was also kind of the birth of FM radio during those days.  It’s kind of a shame now you get on the radio and it’s all Clear Channel and you don’t get to hear the DJ’s taste in the music,but back in those days you had FM and you could get these wonderful, long sessions of DJ’s turning you on to all kinds of great music.  And I guess now-a-days, the internet’s going to do that for us. 

So what do you listen to now?
Oh gee….I listen to all kinds of stuff, you know, from all kinds of people:  old jazz…I’m a big Bill Evans fan…but you know I love Captain Beefheart.  I listen to his stuff.  Lately Howe Gelb, I don’t know if you know this guy Howe Gelb.
I’m not familiar…
Yeah…Mitch Cullin, a friend of mine, turned me on to Howe Gelb.  I like his music a lot. I’m a big fan of Tom Waits.  One of my favorite albums last year was his album called ‘Wicked Grin.’  I don’t know if you’ve heard that album.
Oh yeah…
Oh yeah?  The John Hammond album?  God, wasn’t that cool?
Yeah.

Did you like that?  Is that your style?  And then John Hammond is a great guitar player on this album.  ‘Wicked Grin’ was an album Tom produced.  It is all Tom’s songs, but sung by John Hammond.  I thought  It was great.

The title of the album, ‘Be Here Soon,’ comes from the song ‘Movin’ and some of the lyrics….
Uh-huh.

…which we played on a past episode so tell usabout ‘Movin’ and why you chose ‘Be Here Soon’ as the title.
‘Be Here Soon’ is sort of a take-off on that great Ram Dass called ‘Be Here Now.’
Ah…
I don’t really claim to be any kind of guru or anything.  I’m not quite as evolved as ‘Be Here Now’ (laughs).  ‘Be Here Soon’ and of course is kind of an oxymoronic statement because if you’re already here, how can you be here soon?  By saying you’re here, I don’t know…it’s a kind of tricky, screwed up title.  But ‘Movin’ is kind of a reggae-ish number and just about how I moved through life, I suppose.  Kind of like the ‘Be Here Soon’ title kind of refers to this fact that I’ve been involved in music most of my life but it took me a very, very long time to get anything out to the public concerning my music and I’m just really happy about the fact that my music kind of stayed on the back burner…simmered back there and, you know, during the acting deal, I kept my music alive which is, uh, I’m really happy about that.  You get older and you stop doing the things that you love and you find out you don’t do it…you don’t accomplish some of your dreams and I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by some great friends who also play music and write songs and sang and those kind of…those guys have kept me at it and kept me involved. 

The cool thing about this album is a lot of it is not what I would have expected.  Say, for instance, ‘Picture Frame.’ It kind of has a country feel to it
Oh yeah, that’s right.

So how did you get the inspiration for that?

Uh let’s see here…I’m turning to it here…I got the album and I’m looking at it.  I kind of forget.  Oh well…this is um…it’s uh…my taste in music is pretty eclectic.  We tried this, when we recorded this song, we tried it a bunch of different ways and this is kind of the version that ended up on the album but we did a lot of different versions of it and basically, I guess it’s about, you know, how you view the world and how it’s kind of up to you how you feel it and it’s up to you…what are you going to do about it. 


It was the lyrics on one of the songs that’s got me kind of puzzled and I’m trying to piece it together but it’s ‘Budda + Christ At Large…’
Ah-ha!
“We got a sexual president in office.”  How did you decide on the title and tell us a little bit about the song?
Well this was written…I was making a movie….making a movie, what the hell was the name of the move?  It was called ‘Arlington Road’ andwrote it all kind of in one night and during this time it was, well, Clinton was going through, well, having that fellatio performed on him in the oval office (laughs), you know…
Yeah
That’s where that first line comes from, you know, “Surprise! Surprise!  We have a sexual president.”  I thought it was a great opportunity for us to kind of acknowledge our sexuality and how, uh, how powerful that is in all of us and, uh, we bury our sexuality. We don’t talk too much about it.  We’re kind of embarrassed about it.  Uh, I think he certainly was too and, uh, it’s a driving force and then it just kind of takes off from there and the lyrics roll along…just the thought was, um, you know, Budda and Christ actually hung out together and what they might think about what’s going on…what kind of action they might take.  What lines are mysterious to you?
Well, I guess a lot of it.  There’s that part and there was the other part about, um, the black hole, stars and planets being one single symbol…
Yeah…I guess it has the whole duality thing, you know, of separating good and bad and righteousness and evil and all apparently opposite things are really just all part of the whole, you know and you really can’t have one without the other and there’s a relationship that these things have together and I think the song talks about, uh, looking at the lyrics here…look at that part where he’s like “Budda and Christ met one day by the riverside and decided to join forces and let all the best ride….put all their jewels in the pot…let all the lights mingle…all the black holes, stars and planets be one single symbol.”  I guess it was kind of like, you know, if Budda and Christ threw all the East and West notions of spirituality together and just let it all explode in a beautiful, spiritual firework.

There’s a great band on the album that does some background vocals for some interesting people.  How did David Crosby end up doing background vocals?
Well all of the music is really…the birth of it really was started by that earthquake kind of like all those years ago and it shook me and my family out of our home in Santa Monica, California and we landed in Santa Barbara and, uh, I was like for as long as I had a place, I had some kind of little music set-up, recording set-up of some sort, and I was looking to turn a garage into a jam space and do some recording and I called up to some local guy…I didn’t know who he was…I don’t know where I got his phone number…in the phone book or something…but, uh, he was an acoustic specialist and it turned out to be this fellow, Chris Pelonis  who was, is an award-winning acoustic engineer and a great musician, songwriter and singer himself and then we talked about the room a little bit and he said, “So let’s see some of your tunes,” and I whipped out my pile of tunes and started to sing and play together and he liked it and said, “Hey, you know, I got a buddy who might also like these tunes.  Do you mind if I give them to him?” and I said, “Yeah, who is it?” and he said, “Michael McDonald,” and I said, “Oh, gosh.”  I was a huge fan of Mike’s and I was thrilled to have him listen to the tunes so Chris sent them off to Mike and Mike liked the stuff and came to LA not too long after that, we all produced his album together and Mike sings on it, Chris sings on it, and Mike play this wonderful piano on it and another one of our mutual friends…we all know David Crosby, who’s a Santa Barbara guy…he’s grown up in Santa Barbara…and so he came along and sang backup with Mike on some of the tunes and that was really a dream come true if you can imagine having Michael McDonald and David Crosby backing you up…that was really thrilling…and then we had a great rhythm section in Brian Zupnick and our bass player…I can’t remember his name…one second here…it’s terrible what happens to the mind…let’s see here…Todd Smith, of course…unfortunately, Brian Zupnick is no longer with us but he was a great, great drummer and he had really a cool sound. 

Speaking of the songs with Michael McDonald, looking back on one of our last episodes, we played ‘She Lay Her Whip Down’ by John Goodwin…
Yeah
It’s such a smokin’ song and I was checking out his website and I was telling him actually about this interview.  He was real stoked about it.
Oh, good.

And you’ve covered three of his songs so I…
Yeah…well, Johnny and I, we go back to the fourth grade together and he’s one of those guys I was speaking about that’s kept my music fires burning because he’s such a wonderful songwriter and, like you say, I included three of his songs on this album and I just recently through the Terry Gilliam movie up in Canada called ‘Tideland.’  Terry Gilliam was the guy who directed ‘The Fisher King,’ ‘Brazil,’ and whole bunch of wonderful movies and I get to play a rocker in that one and I get to do one of Johnny’s tunes in that.  I submitted it and Terry liked it and so that was really exciting.  Maybe I can slip you an advance copy of that or something and you can spin it.


Cool!  Yes please.  For all the listeners at home, one of the places they can get this album other than Amazon.com is one Jimmy Buffett’s Mailboat records label and that’s Mailboatrecords.com.  So could you tell us, why did you…how did you end up thinking this would be a good home for Jeff Bridges?
Well it…it happened in kind of a mysterious way to me.  I didn’t have too much to do with it…it’s funny…the guy who is originally distributing ‘Be Here Soon’ and…we formed a record label when we made this album with Chris, Michael McDonald and myself called Ramp Records and Harold Sulman at Chicago Records was a distributor and then Jimmy bought up Chicago and so, here I am, back with my old friend, Jimmy Buffett.  It’s pretty cool.


A lot of the listeners are familiar with a movie you did with him back in 1974, ‘Rancho Deluxe.’
Yes…that’s a very special movie for me.  Not only did I meet Jimmy but I met my wife, Sue, on that movie.  She was working at a dude ranch there.
The Dude!
…how appropriate (laughs)
(Laughs)..Yeah…working at my ranch and I fell in love and that’s all she wrote.  But I met Jimmy…you know, he was a….he was a good buddy of Tom McGuane’s who wrote the script for ‘Rancho Deluxe’ and I met Jimmy over at Tom’s house and I can remember many evenings, sitting around listening to Jimmy play.  I don’t know if the listeners know this, but Jimmy was also in the movie ‘Seabiscuit.’  Did you know that? 

I did not know that.
No.  He actually got cut out of the picture.  They always cut the good parts, you know.  (Laughs)
(Laughs)
But we had…that was probably the last time I got to hang out with Jimmy was on the set there.  We had a lot of fun. 


I can imagine.  One of the things I think is really important and everyone needs to know is that some of the proceeds from the CD goes to the End Hunger Network.  I know it’s something you feel strongly about.  What compels you…or what, I should say, inspired you to feel the End Hunger Network was (blurred)…

Well the End Hunger Network was something that I helped found in ’83.  It’s a non-profit organization.  We started out, really paying attention to world hunger because here in our own country we pretty much had it licked.  You know, there were government programs in place that were keeping it at bay and then maybe fifteen years ago, these safety nets weren’t being funded properly and so hunger has kind of started to resurface so now we’ve got hunger here again so we’ve refocused our energies to hunger here in America and particularly children in America because hunger affects them the most, you know, the most damage to them and so we work to raise awareness and resources to end childhood hunger and also you have to keep hunger programs and organizations in Washington as well, lobbying and that kind of thing.  Now we’re putting most of our attention on school feeding programs; breakfast and lunch and summer programs because, a lot of people don’t know this, but the government has funds that’s available to schools to feed kids…you know, breakfast and lunches and all these summer meals but the schools need to have these programs in place.  A lot of schools don’t know about this and they think it’s too much of a hassle to do it and that kind of thing, but kids need food to concentrate…to learn, and a kid who’s hungry all through the day is not going to do well in school and that affects all of us too..
Absolutely.
And so a lot of times, you know, the kids who go…the kids who eat…the kids who get fed at school, it’s like their only meal for the day, you know.
That’s true.
According to the latest 2003 report from the Department of Agriculture and the census bureau there, I’m reading off here some new statistics, 11.2% of American households experience food insecurity.  “Food insecurity” is the term they use to describe the widespread hunger but it’s not…that we have here in America…but it’s not like the hunger you have in Africa.  Here, food insecurity, it really has to do with a lack of access to food to meet the basic needs, you know, and, uh, usually has to do with kids who are living in poverty and we’ve got about 34 million Americans who live in poverty.  That’s 12% of our population.  Poverty, according to this census, is defined by the poverty line for a family of 4 is 18,400 dollars.  So we’ve got 34 million people living below that.   12% of us.  I have the statistics here…I know it’s kind of boring to read them but they’re kind of shocking and they deserve to be heard because the bottom line is that hunger threatens 36 million Americans, including 13 million children.  18% of all American kids under the age of 18 are at risk for hunger.  That’s about one in six.

Is there a website where people can find out more?
Yeah…yeah…there sure is.  It’s Breakfastfirst.org
Excellent.
Breakfastfirst.org and they can also check the End Hunger Network website and that’s EndHunger.com

All right.  This is kind of a vastly different subject…I understand you have a book out called ‘Pictures by Jeff Bridges.’
Right

Let’s hear a little bit about that.
Well, uh…this is a book I put out I guess last year.  It was a compilation of photographs that I’ve taken on movie sets going back to ‘Starman’ and ‘King Kong’ around, you know, around that time…about thirty years ago…and what I often do..I don’t know…maybe twenty or so times…I’ll make a…when I’m making a movie, I’ll take photographs and make a small book as a gift for the cast and crew.  I use a quite unusual camera called a wide-lux and it’s a panning still camera and so the lens actually pans and you get a very elongated negative and so last year I put out this gathering of all these different old pics and people were happy with it.  It came out great.  It should be available, you know, in bookstores or on Amazon.  I think you can get it on Amazon. 

And speaking of websites like Amazon, you have a website with lots of personality…it’s one of the most interesting websites I’ve ever been on.  So tell all the listeners how they can get in on the madness.
JeffBridges.com isn’t it?
That’s it.  (Laughs)
My memory…I forget things…my own phone number sometimes.  Yeah that…I started the…I started this website because, as we were talking earlier, you know, I was so excited about the album I thought, “Gee, this is going to be a cinch to get on the radio.  You know, I got a little bit of fame.  I can do all the talk shows and publicize the thing and then the radios will play it.”  Well, I went on the talk shows…did that part…but the radio, to break that thing, is, you know, very difficult to get on the list, you know, so I decided to create a website and sell the CD that way and I started to, uh, have so much fun with just the idea of communicating to the world that way that I kind of got hooked on it and thought, “Oooh..here’s another canvas…another way to express myself and have some fun, get some feedback,” so it’s kind of blossomed from there, you know.  I don’t know where it will go.  I mean, eventually I guess what I’d like to do is kind of what you guys are doing…have my own radio station and my TV station (laughs), you know and just put it up and just get it out there. 

Is there anything on the horizons as far as the music?
Well, this Friday night we’re taping this so it’s going to be passed when people hear this but there’s a wonderful thing that I’ve never been to but I’m looking forward to it called the ‘Lebowski Fest”

Oh yeah…I saw that on the web…
The ‘Lebowski Fest West’…this is one in LA.  So, I’m going to get on there and play a few tunes with Chris and the guys who have got together and there’s going to be another band there.  Peter Stormare, the guy who played the Nihilist you know the guy who cut my Johnson off and had the marmot and stuff.  He also happens to be the guy they throw in the wood chipper in ‘Fargo.’  He’s got a band called ‘Blonde from Fargo’ I think it’s called and he’s gonna be playing there and talking about his new CD and, uh, and they’re going to show the movie.  It should be pretty fun.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.
Cool.
I’m looking forward to playing.

This show goes out all over the world, so here’s a chance to let it all out, sort of like your website.  What would you like to say to everyone listening?
Oh…gosh…now that’s a question you like to prepare for Paul.
I sent an email…
And it was probably in there but see…I didn’t do my homework enough here.  God…the whole world’s listening, now what do I have to say?  Oh my god…well…I guess I’d like to invite everybody to be as kind as possible.  (Laughs)  How’s that?
I like that.
Kindness…you know, I remember hearing the Dali Lama speak once and he was saying, “All religions are good.  Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism…ah, Hindu is not so good…No!  No! Just kidding!”  (Laughs) Then he said it doesn’t really matter what religion or what beliefs you have.  Just the important thing is to be kind.  That made a lot of sense to me.  Kindness will take us far I think.

That’s right.  Well, Mr. Bridges, we’re just…it’s been a lot of fun.
Good talking with you Paul and Jeff.

TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO