Peter Buffett: Composer & Musician

Peter Buffett is a prolific composer of music and also a New York Times best-selling author.  He has recorded 17 studio albums, 2 EPs and 33 singles.  Many of his compositions have been heavily influenced by Native American music, but he has never limited himself to a single genre.  In Kevin Costner’s acclaimed 1990 film “Dances with Wolves,” the Fire Dance music was provided by Peter Buffett, one of the most crucial parts in the film.

Peter Buffett is the author of the book “Life Is What You Make It,” in which he shares the story of his pursuit for fulfillment in life.  You will find Peter Buffett to be a laid-back and yes, inspiring man.  You will enjoy his perspective.

 

Michael McDonald: Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist

Michael McDonald has one of the most iconic blue-eyed soul voices in music today.  Instantly recognizable, Michael McDonald has recorded and toured with the greatest artists and many of his songs have become legendary.  Michael McDonald has won 5 Grammys among many other honors.

This interview with Michael McDonald took place after his recording of the album “Blue Obsession.”  He also talks about his friendship with Jeff Bridges and the inspiration behind the Doobie Brothers song “It Keeps You Running,” the songwriting of John Goodwin and more.

John Goodwin: Songwriter, Painter, Recording Artist

JOHN GOODWIN is one of the few songwriters and recording artists who makes music as a completely free expression.  This is the first in a series of interviews Paul has had with this artist John Goodwin.  We get a good concept of John Goodwin as an artist and in particular songs from his albums “Thorny” and “State of the Artist” are discussed.

What would happen if the record companies and commercial radio embraced the idea of limitless expression and freedom of creativity?

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

 

Stephen Bishop: Singer-Songwriter

Singer-Songwriter Stephen Bishop to talk about his latest album Be Here Then and his many successful songs which have been recorded by a verifiable Who’s Who in recorded music. His songs have been performed by artists such as: Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Barbra Streisand, Art Garfunkel, Steve Perry, Stephanie Mills, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Phoebe Snow, David Crosby, The Four Tops, Aswad and Pavarotti and featured in countless motion pictures. Stephen Bishop is also an actor and has appeared in films like Animal House, Henry Jaglom’s “Someone to Love” and “The Blues Brothers.”

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, our special guest, Stephen Bishop, is a singer, songwriter and recording artist. He joins us to talk about his most recent album ‘Be Here Then.’ Thank you so much being a guest on The Paul Leslie Hour.
Thanks Paul.

 So, I think most stories are best from the beginning.  What was life like growing up?
That’s a good question, not many people ask me that. (Stephen laughs) Growing up, in the beginning, was a little rough, my parents got divorced when I was 5, I had an older brother who’s nine years older than me and wound up buying me my first guitar when I was 13 or 12 and a half, something like that, and I had a… after my parents got divorced, my Mother eventually wound up re-marrying a guy who was an Opera singer, who sang… Opera teacher actually that sang at the hardware… I mean, didn’t sing it the hardware, worked in a hardware store that’s about his whole thing, and he made it difficult for me because he hated rock n roll and that kind of thing so, you know, I wasn’t allowed to play guitar in the house, it was kind of a drag, so that was rough. It was kind of… you know, at times, pretty rough actually.  I loved the Beatles and loved music, he wanted to push me into more of a John Philip Sousa bag (Stephen laughs).
I see.
(Stephen toots a tune, Paul laughs)
You  know and it didn’t, you know, I’d be at the lunch quad trying play… you know he bought me a clarinet when I was 10, so I started first on clarinet and I’d be like, at the lunch quad at school you know, and the Beatles were happening and everything, trying to impress girls playing the ‘Satisfaction’ riff on my clarinet, at school, I just didn’t make it getting girls interested.

 I see. So tell me, do you think the ability to write songs was something that was just natural to you?
Not really, I don’t think so, no, I was shown how to write by the songs on the radio, by the Beatles, always had great structure in their songs, so beginning riff, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, riff again, bridge, chorus, out… you know… that…I followed that except for ‘Separate Lives’ which is a totally different structure I follow that structure for most of my songs.

 Is it the melody or the lyric in a song that attracts you more, that excites you more?
Good question. It’s probably the melody, you can have kind of crumby lyrics, if the melody is really, really catchy, I mean I was just noticing that song that’s a big hit now,  ‘Happy’ by Darrel… I mean by Pharrell Williams, it’s really catchy song, it’s really well done and he doesn’t change the lyric very much in the chorus, and he says (Stephen sings)… ‘Cause I’m happy’… and he says something like ‘when there’s rain upon the roof’ or something like that, but he says it over and over, I don’t know where I’m  going here with this, but it’s an interesting use of structure there.

You just mentioned this artist of today, as a songwriter, do you think it’s important to continue listening to the recordings of other writers?
Oh yeah.  Sure, I mean, god, I’ve been very influenced by other writers, I mean, the British invasion, all that and I love Comden, I think it was, Comden and  Adolph Green, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, you know, something like that, a song like ‘The Party’s Over’ by Judy Holliday, the way she does that, and amazing songwriting and Bacharach and David and the Starlings, you know, Jagger and Richards they made great, great songs, usually there’s not much of a shortage of great songs.  They do keep popping up, sometimes some of the songs on the radio kind of.. I feel like they’re like  ‘fast food’ music, kind of here today, gone tomorrow kind of thing.

Well, sometimes it feels like some of the songs of today are here today, gone later today (Paul and Stephen laugh)
Yeah.  Right, right, right,  yeah but they’re… people love them, my step son loves them.

When you decided to pursue the life of an artist, did you ever doubt yourself? Or did you always believe in yourself?
Always doubted myself, (Stephen laughs) but I always believed in myself.  I did both, I do both.

What kept you going?
Well, What kept me going most of the time, during the tough times, was that I’m not really adept at many traits, I’m not like ‘this is what I do,’ I’m a good entertainer and I can write songs and do this kind of thing, but I’m not going to design a new architectural dig or anything, I’m not going to do anything amazing that doesn’t have to do with music, unfortunately.

I’ve seen two Art Garfunkel concerts where he specifically mentioned you, once he was with an orchestra and another time it was just him and a solo guitar player and he would list his five favorite songwriters  in both of these concerts and he made a point, twice, to mention Stephen Bishop as being a favorite songwriter.
Well that surprises me, mean I just had dinner with him just the other night, I would never have thought he would do anything like that.
No? He did it twice.
Wow, wow, amazing.
He listed Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Bishop and Randy Newman. I have a strange memory and he did this twice.
Wow. That’s very cool.  He’s an amazing singer, he’s a great singer, Garfunkel. 

Yes, absolutely, one of the best, so how did Mr. Garfunkel come to record your songs?
Well that actually happened through a woman I became friends with and still really close friends with Leah Kunkel who is Cass Elliot’s sister and was back then the wife of Russ Kunkel, the drummer, the session drummer and he was doing a session with Garfunkel, and Garfunkel was looking for songs for his album ‘Breakaway’ and Leah Kunkel had got a tape together of mine, and got it through her husband and he wound up hearing it and I came in there, met him, way back when and recorded some songs on tape and he wound up doing two and since then has done about 8, he’s done about 8 of my songs.

Speaking of Garfunkel, it seems like, especially great vocalists are attracted to your songs, Barbra Streisand has recorded a Stephen Bishop song, Johnny Mathis, the aforementioned Art Garfunkel, Pavarotti. Why do you think it is that great singers seem to be attracted to your work?
It’s funny that you would.. (Stephen laughs). I never even thought of that… yeah, that’s great. I don’t know, I mean, I do try and have a lot of range in my songs and have it be interesting and exciting and melodic and… I don’t know, I don’t know… Frank Sinatra never recorded one of my songs, but he actually heard ‘On And On’ where I mentioned him , which is cool.

What did he say about that?
He liked it, that’s all he said. He told his daughter Tina and Tina told me.  They drove down to Palm Springs and she played it for him. I kept thinking ‘well, I’m going to open my front door and there’s going to be a shiny new bike from Frank with a little note.’ But I never see it. (Paul laughs)

Tell us about that song ‘On And On,’ did you know that it was going to be as successful as it was and is?
Not at all, not at all, no, no, no, I did not. I was surprised because it started being played on college stations and… back then and a lot of people really liked it. The record company back then… we had that hit with ‘Save It For A Rainy Day’ and they thought ‘well, let’s just move on,’ you know, let’s go to the next album, I said “Well, the people are playing ‘On And On’, so.” Then it became a big hit so, it was one of those things, that song… I don’t know if that song would ever be a hit now, I mean it’s just so unusual and different, and doesn’t have to four on the floor with the bass drum.

 In my humble opinion, a truly great song is found at the very beginning of this comedy, that I love to death, starring Tom Hanks, I’m talking about ‘Money Pit.’
Oh yeah.
What inspired ‘The Heart Is So Willing?’
Technically, I didn’t write it, but the reality was, they wanted me to sing it and they were going to pay me well for it and the song wasn’t completely written… I worked on it, but I didn’t get any credit on it, I worked on it all night with Kathy Wakefield, the lyricist.

Who wrote the initial version of it?
I think it was written by…  the music was written by Michel Colombier.
Oh yes, the late composer.
Yeah, and Kathy Wakefield I think and I went over to her house and I worked out the structure of it and I wrote another little part and I didn’t get any credit. I just was doing it mostly to make some money.

Of the songs that you wrote, who do you think has done the best rendition of a Stephen Bishop song?
I’ll just tell you what comes to mind… right… the first thing that comes to mind, first thing that came to mind was Sandie Shaw’s version of ‘One More Night,’ Sandie Shaw was a big hit artist in England and she always wore… she always dressed wearing bare feet and she’d sing wearing bare feet and she had a hit with my song ‘One More Night’… not a hit, but it was a recording with ‘One More Night’ and I got a big kick out of that, because she had the song (singing) “girl don’t come” and that other song (singing)  “Always something there to remind me.’ She had those as hits, and then I guess the other person I would say, would be Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin with ‘Separate Lives,’ I did really like that version, it’s really interesting, came out great and Kenny Rankin’s  version of ‘On And On’ which was really good, he did that with the orchestra.  Plus Garfunkel, almost everything that Garfunkel did of mine, I really like, he just always had a nice vibe on it, the recordings he did of mine. I didn’t like Barbra Streisand’s ‘One More Night’ so much, was a little over produced and stuff, but hey, it was great that she recorded my song.

 What’s the greatest compliment you’ve gotten as an artist?
The greatest compliment? I guess… the first thing that comes to mind, I was very fortunate to work with Oscar Castro-Neves, who was the guitarist for Carlos Antonio Jobim and all those early recordings, Brazilian recordings, it was a treat to work with him and record with him and just by him liking my songs and stuff, it was a big compliment. He’s just an amazing guitarist, I did an album called ‘Romance In Rio,’ it was all with this fellow Oscar Castro-Neves playing guitar.  He’s  just a brilliant guitarist, Brazilian guitarist.

Working our way to the present, this new album you have ‘Be Here Then’, tell us about… first of all the title of this album, ‘Be Here Then.’
Well, what actually happened was, during the Beatles time, when the Beatles were first getting together and you know, they needed a name and then John Lennon used to say ‘A man with the flaming pie  came and suddenly appeared and said ‘you’re the Beatles’, so, that same man with the flaming pie showed up at my house about six months ago and said ‘you’ll call the album ‘Be Here Then,’ (Paul laughs), the same man, you wouldn’t believe it.

 It’s funny because there’s that Buddhist expression, ‘Be Here’… what is it?
Now.
‘Be Here Now,’ and then the name of Jeff Bridges, his first solo album was called ‘Be Here Soon’, (Paul laughs) so…
That’s funny.
Yeah.
It’s ‘Be Here Then’.
It’s just the natural progression.
I guess so.

 The Album starts off with this song ‘Pretty Baby,’ and it’s one of those songs that just sinks into your heart right away.  Tell me about the inspiration.
I’m not sure if it’s about a runaway, or about a girl, or what we meant it about, but I thought it was about a runaway, but it also could be about a girl that you, you know, lost or something. I wrote it with this great songwriter named Tia Sillers who co wrote ‘I Hope You Dance,’ that great song, (Stephen sings)…‘I hope you dance.’
Yeah.
And she wrote it with me and she was just really…coming up with the great lyrics and just brilliant writer, it’s very exciting when you collaborate with someone and you see the spark flying out of their head when they come up with great ideas for songs and she is just really brilliant, so she had these great lines in there and, not really like a country song, it’s more like a folk song.
Yeah.
More like a folky song.

Kind of in keeping with the substance of that song ‘Pretty Baby,’ the great novelist Pat Conroy, he said that ‘there is more music in loss’ and I read where you said that you find it easier to write when you’re feeling kind of sad. What do you think it is to that?
I don’t know, it seems to hold more weight, but you have this song out there we were just talking about, a glad, happy song and it’s like everybody’s happy and everything, but I have a tough time writing a song like, you know, (Stephen sing ad lib) ‘I’m in looooove, cause I’m happy, it’s a beautiful thing,’ I have a tough time with that, so, it’s funny too, because I just got this email from this guy who has gotten my album and said ‘I’m disappointed, there was no  joy’, and I’m thinking ‘since when was I the bearer of joy?’ (Stephen and Paul laugh). Like in my other albums, you know. (Paul laughs) I’m no bearer of joy, I always have a little bad songs to my repertoire because it’s part of who I am I guess.

There’s a great guitarist who I did an interview with named Brian Ray, and he said that ‘happy art sucks.’
Oh I know Brian.
Yeah.  He appears on this album.
Yeah.
Tell us about some of the musicians who appear, cos the great bassist Leland Sklar, Brian Ray.
David Paich from Toto.  Let’s see, Mark Goldenberg, he wrote some great songs for Linda Ronstadt, ‘That Mad Love,’ we wrote a song on here called ‘Sparkle You Shine,’ which I really, really like.  Players that have played for years, great players like Lenny Castro, a great percussionist and really talented people on here and got it all together. My wife’s in some of these pictures.

Could you pick a favorite song from this new album ‘Be Here Then?’
Well, They’re all my children, chillin.  They’re all mine, but I guess I’d pick, if I had to pick one favorite, I’d go for different favorites, I would say there’s ‘Sparkle You Shine’ or ‘Cry of The Broken Hearted,’ just for my own self.

 The one you just mentioned ‘Cry Of The Broken Hearted,’ that was one that I thought was interesting, so tell us about that one.  How did that come about?
Well, It’s just a story song, it’s a… I do songs that are esoteric.  It’s about a guy, yeah, it’s about a guy who gets you know,  with a girl and they break up and he gets a record deal, and then she hears a song on the radio and it makes her feel badly (Stephen and Paul laugh). It’s not really..it’s not something really heavy, it’s not ‘War And Peace.’

 Our special guest is singer-songwriter, Stephen Bishop. When someone listens to this new album ‘Be Here Then’, what do you want the listener to get out of the experience?
Entertainment, and a worthwhile album that they could play over and over again.

 So, when you’re writing a song, how do you decide when a song is a keeper and… or is not?
I kind of do this in a couple of ways, I try and play the song for different people, friends of mine and get just kind of an overall reaction, what song, what kind of reaction the song gets, and it usually goes something like that, by taking a little poll, or just instinct, but most of the time I have to be reassured. I’m one of those people, unfortunately, that can walk into a building, just a small building and everybody is in there saying how great they are and how great their album is and they’d go. I’d walk out of there thinking I was great. (Stephen laughs) If I went into another building with everybody going ‘ohhh it’s lousy, I hate you’re album,’ I would think it was lousy. (Stephen and Paul laugh) I don’t know, I’m just like that.

What is the best thing about being Stephen Bishop?
The best thing about being Stephen Bishop. I’m happy, I enjoy my life, some things could be better, but generally I’m pretty happy and I’m creative and I like being creative, and still in this business after, gee, I don’t know, 40 years, or more.  I was playing on a stage at the Del Mar Fair near San Diego, California when I was in my band ‘The Weeds,’ when, like 42 years ago.

For anyone who listens to this broadcast, what would you like to say to the listener?
Vote Democratic (Stephen and Paul laugh) No, I don’t even like the Democrats any more. What would I like to say to the listener? I would like to say, it’s important to treat other people as you would yourself. I always believe there’s two different kinds of people in the world, there’s a person and there’s somebody who messes with that person. (Paul laughs) and that’s it, I say it in a different way, but just to try and enjoy life without making it harder on other people.

That’s wonderful, I think.
Yeah, I think so.

 Our special guest has been Stephen Bishop, his latest album ‘Be Here Then,’ my last question. Who is Stephen Bishop?
(Stephen whispers)  Who is Stephen Bishop? He’s a guy who you wouldn’t have heard of if he wouldn’t have busted his ass to make it, that’s it.. (Stephen and Paul laugh). That’s who he is and I came up from San Diego, I did it the hard way, I walked around town and went to the school of hard knocks and I’m still in this business after all of these years, with all the young people and the young, happening people.

 Mr. Bishop, thank you very much for this interview, I really appreciate it.
All right, it was fun.

 Yeah, thank you.
All right, great Paul.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON

Sean McDermott: Singer & Recording Artist

SEAN MCDERMOTT is a Broadway actor and singer.  Accomplished concert artist Sean McDermott joins us to discuss his fourth and latest album “You’re Not Alone” on the LML Music label. Sean McDermott was one of four Broadway singers selected by Barbra Streisand to sing alongside her on her 2007 European tour. He has traveled all over the world performing with symphony orchestras. Sean McDermott has shared the stage with Bernadette Peters, the late Robert Goulet, Johnny Mathis, and Mandy Patinkin just to name a few. Sean McDermott is recognized as one of Broadway’s leading performers having starred in Miss Saigon (opposite of Lea Salonga), Falsettos (opposite of Mandy Patinkin), Starlight Express (opposite of Jane Krakowski), and Grease (opposite of Lucy Lawless). He has also starred in major productions of Carousel, Chicago, Jekyll and Hyde, Show Boat and West Side Story.

Our special guest Sean McDermott has had the privilege of singing to the President of the United States at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on three separate occasions. He made his solo debut garnering glowing reviews at New York’s prestigious Joe’s Pub, at the Public Theater and he has performed at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall.

Ladies and gentlemen, our special guest is Sean McDermott.  First of all, thanks so much for joining us.
Good to be here. 

My first question:  who is Sean McDermott?

Oh gosh…well, I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado…come from a family of cattle ranchers…my dad’s from back East and both my folks were in the entertainment business.  My mom studied to be a concert pianist so music was always in my life and I started studying voice and music around thirteen and went to college for music and decided I wanted to pursue musical theater so I moved to New York and started in my career there.  A couple years after living in New York, out of college, I got my first Broadway show and the rest is history (laughs).  Sean McDermott is someone who loves music and loves the entertainment business and, uh, this CD is a little different from the previous CDs that I’ve done that are big Broadway production CDs. 

What singers have influenced you the most?

Well, you know, in the beginning my folks were very much into classical music so I listened to a lot of opera….Maria Callas, obviously Pavarotti…but as far as my genre of singing, Johnny Mathis would have been one of the singers that I saw live.  My folks took us to see him.  I must have been ten years old.  Certainly Barbra Streisand, who I ended up then years later performing with on her European tour, was a big influence just cause she’s an amazing singer and had the ability to communicate not only through, uh, you know, sounds and tones but, uh,  emotion.  Early on, Mario Lanza, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson…all of those movie musical singers…certainly Shirley Jones, who I ended up working with later as well…Robert Goulet, who I worked with as well…you know, these people influenced me and that’s why I did choose to go into musical theater because it was that combination of opera and not really pop, but it, you know, it was operetta op…you know, it was the American musical theater form of opera…how that began.  So I was really drawn to that.  It moved me and that’s who I listen to, of course, and was inspired to, you know, sing like.  But of course, you know, I love James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, I mean, that was all my time, you know…the 70’s were a huge influence too.  That’s why this album has some of that on it, which I’d never been able to record before…some of those 70’s tunes; ‘Whiter Shade of Pale,’ uh, Journey with ‘Open Arms,’ not so much in the heavy rock but, you know, classical rock. 

You mentioned there a lot of people…

Yes.

And a lot of them you’ve actually shared the stage with.  You’ve shared the stage with Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis and you mentioned Robert Goulet.  Could you pick one that has been the most thrilling?

Well, I don’t know if it’s obvious…but Barbra Streisand certainly was the most thrilling to stand next to and, you know, sing the high note at the end of ‘Somewhere’ from ‘Westside Story’ or, you know, ‘Evergreen,’ singing a duet and, you know, part of a song with her.  That was magnificent.  But, you know, at the same time, Bernadette is such an incredible musician and, uh, thrilling to work withas well so….and Robert Goulet was…I did a show with him so we did ‘South Pacific’ together so to sit on the stage as Lt. Cable, you know, kind of sickly and ridden with malaria and look over and watch this legend…sort of icon of his time…sing ‘This Nearly was Mine’ is something I’ll never forget but I would say Barbra Streisand was the most thrilling to work with. 

I want to talk about your new album, ‘You’re Not Alone.’  What do you think of the new album?

I love it!  You know, I’m very much like Streisand that I’m a perfectionist.  I will always find things that I wanted to do different and perhaps better, but I am very satisfied with and, uh, think it’s honestly great material and not only covers the old songs that I’m re-doing, but also the new material is great.  I love the new material.  I love the writers that I worked with.  I think you did mention, uh, that you love the Charlie Midnight songs.  He was my first producer that I worked with on this album so…and is just an amazing writer.  His credits go back…you know, he started writing for Fleetwood Mac and the Doobie Brothers in the 70’s.  He produced Joe Cocker for years.  Later on, Christina Aguilera’s Christmas album.  He was one of the producers on the ‘Body Guard’ with, uh, Whitney Houston.  So when I chose to come to LA, or choose a producer in LA, he was the obvious choice and I met him through the composer on a lot of my tunes, uh, who worked on the arrangements, Mark Chate, who is an accomplished pianist and scorer, a film score writer.  You know, we started working on the material and he had him on his phone so I wanted to do something different from the Broadway albums that I had done, which I love.  I produced them in London with a producer named John Yap  who is on Jay Records and we performed all of the material at Abbey Road Studios with the National Symphony Orchestra so it was thrilling to be doing the original scores from these songs, Broadway tunes, that we did an I wanted to do something different.  I’m not a pop singer but I wanted to go, to go in that vein of pop opera or pop Broadway such as Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli.

The thing about Charlie Midnight is I think a lot of people wouldn’t recognize his name but they would recognize a lot of his songs.

Yeah….like I said, he sort of has been in the background writing for a lot of these people.  He’s a guy from Brooklyn who…he’s got that real kind of Billy Joel feel to him and, uh, you know, when he started writing I think, uh, that was a big influence, that whole era of music early on, but he was always behind scenes, you know, writing for people but then, sort of producing so…and he loves being kind of behind the scenes in the studio and is an incredible producer. 

Do you have a favorite song from this album?

Well, ‘You’re not Alone’ is the title track.  I think it speaks to…well, it spoke to me.  I, um, was actually wanting more for the album so I actually went with, after we finished with Charlie, I went with another producer and wanted, you know, to add things to it and this producer actually wrote ‘You’re not Alone.’  I found out later that Ivan ended up writing ‘You’re not Alone’ with Charlie Midnight so it was quite interesting that, you know, there are no mistakes and I really wanted to record this song and it kind of speaks…it spoke to me and I think everybody that listens to it, you know, over a few times says “Wow, this sort works really for what’s going on right now.  We’re going through some really challenging times and we’re not alone in all this.”  Everybody’s kind of feeling stuff, you know, the sort of shift in consciousness and whatever you want to call it and everybody’s kind of in this together so that sort of worked.  I love that one.  It’s based on the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ so it…that kind of brought me back my classical roots and, but also, ‘Ordinary Man’ is one of my favorites.  I kept it on there.  It’s a Charlie Midnight song.  You know, those two would be two of my favorites.  Of course, ‘Walking in Memphis’ was a great Mark Cohn tune that I, you know, performed several times so I would say those would be my three.  What’s yours?


Well, that’s a good question.  I thought your rendition of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was really, really interesting.  Getting to discover those Charlie Midnight songs, I thought all of those songs were exceptional.  There’s a lot of good choices.  On that note, when someone listens to this album, what do you want the listener to get from the experience of listening?

Well, I want them to enjoy what they’re listening to….maybe be uplifted by it.  I know I do get a reaction a lot of times that thereare tones in my voice that make people feel things…that makes them feel something physical so, whether it’s being moved by it or…and I find that in a lot of singers that I listen to and it’s sort of unconscious…it’s really kind of who I am and what I do so I always love it when I hear after a performance, “My god, you really moved me.  You know, I felt something physically,” so I guess that would be…I always think we kind of can, you know, get to people…communicating that ultimate joy… when you’re listening to a piece of music that just makes you…gives you chills…or takes you to another place and that’s what I hope that people get by listening to this CD and certain songs from it…you know, the messages in some of the songs are really good….you know, really powerful…and also, the older tunes, you know, ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, ‘Open Arms’, ‘Walking in Memphis’, you know, kind of taking them back.  That’s why I chose covers or, uh, you know, tunes that had been recorded before so it’s not just all original.  I do have three other albums.  The first one that I did was all original material and some great songs and Paul I’ll send you that one as well but the response that I got was, “We love these songs but we don’t recognize any of them,” so that was sort of my point to choosing songs that were some of my favorites and that everybody knows. 


As a singer, would you say that you’re more moved by the lyrics or the melody of a song?

That’s a good question and it’s different with the different songs.  You know, I’ll listen to Rachmaninof’s ‘Concerto in D Minor’ and it is just…there are certain parts of that melody that really move me to real emotions yet, a Carly Simon song or, like, you know, a Carole King…there are lyrics that just really make you feel things and think things and I think it was a song recently that I was listening to that was a 2008 Grammy nominee by Vince Gill called ‘What You Give Away’ and if I…if you listen to the words it almost kind of…you know…I get moved to tears because it is about not what we have…it’s about what a man really is at the end of the day is what he, what we give away in love, or monetary or whatever…it’s whatever it is.  Vince Gill is an incredible singer, but those lyrics are just amazing so it depends on the song, you know, and obviously with classical music or just instrumental it’s going to be the melody…kind of a mix of both.

What is the best thing about being Sean McDermott?

Oh…what is the best thing?  That’s a, you’ve got some good questions…that I have the opportunity to have great experiences on the stage with some incredible performers…some amazing, talented people.  Um…I’m very, very grateful I guess that I’ve been able to do what I do in an art from that is just so joyous and fun and wonderful…being musical theater, of course, and performing because I do a lot of concert work with symphony orchestras and being able to be in front of an audience and make people happy.

One of the amazing things about music is that a song can be in any language and there’re going to be people all around the world who identify with it.  We have a lot of listeners from different countries who listen to this show so my last question for you:  for anyone who hears this interview and for anyone who’s listening to your music as we play it, what do you want to say to all the people who are listening

Certainly for me, singing is an expression of the soul.  It opens us up and lets us express just ultimate joy so for, uh…listening to a piece of music is a similar experience when you’re moved by it.  Music is the answer.  Music never stops.  Having music in your life and searching for new music…there’s so much out there.  It really does help us to evolve, I think.  Tones are extremely healing in my beliefs so find a piece of music…several pieces of music to listen to that will make you feel things…make you feel…whether it’s chills, whether it’s tears, whether it’s happy, whether it’s sad…it’s making you feel and that, I think, opens up the soul and lets us…allows us to feel that ultimate joy which we need to have on this planet right now.  We need to, uh, all be feeling joy and bring that consciousness up, up, up in sort of an esoteric way.  Just be happy, you know.  Listen to music.  It’s an expression of the soul and moves you, I think, more than anything.  Dancing is good too and so dance to the music.  (Laughs)  Find music you can dance to as well.

You know, you’re the second guest who has said to dance.  The other one was, believe it or not, Adam Carolla.  (Laughs)  I don’t know why…Adam Carolla said that.

(Laughs)  Oh did he?

That surprised me.  I just didn’t see him as a dancing kind of guy,  but he…that’s what he said.

Well sometimes you find something that not only you can sing to, but you dance around like a fool…maybe in your underwear…you know.  There’s not a better feeling in life than dancing with people but you know, there is that, you know…just let it all out, you know…it’s who you truly are…just be…you become who you really are, I think, is what I feel sometimes and if somebody were video-taping it, I’d probably be really sorry. 

(Laughs)

Slip it on YouTube and it’d go viral or, who knows, maybe it would help a lot of people but…

Well, thanks so much for this interview.  I appreciate it.

Sure Paul.  Thank you.  

TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO

David Burnham: Singer, Performer, Recording Artist

DAVID BURNHAM.  My goodness!  What a voice!  That was the thought when we first had the opportunity to hear his record “One Day.”  Along with some new original songs, Burnham tackles “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and “Unchained Melody,” and let me tell you the results are pretty spectacular!

Then there is this interview.  David Burnham is a Broadway singer and joins us to talk about his background and this album, which is a follow-up to his debut recording “David Burnham.”  Burnham sings with symphonies all over the country and his solo concerts have reached Europe in addition to the United States and Canada.  We hope you enjoy this interview with this singer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s our pleasure is with great pleasure, to welcome a singer, a song writer, a recording artist, a performer, Broadway’s David Burnham. Thank you so much for joining us, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you.

It’s really my pleasure to be here Paul.

My first question. I’ve affixed a lot of labels to you (David laughs) but who is David Burnham at heart?

Who is David Burnham at heart? Well I guess at heart, I’m an artist, basically I am happiest when I am creating my music and performing and just being creative in any different venue or whether it’s a record or whether it’s on stage, as long as I get to do what I love, which is to perform, then I’m happy.

Well take us back a little bit, what was life like growing up?

Well, I grew up on a farm, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, in a small town called Fontana, which we lovingly call ‘Fontucky’, didn’t know I could sing until I was a junior in High School, I was trying to get into wood shop class and that class was full, so the only class they had available was choir, went into choir and  opened my mouth and I could sing, found out I really loved it and luckily I had a great choir director and he kind of took me under his wing and encouraged me to pursue music and I ended up getting a scholarship to college on a music scholarship and went from there and just started performing and I’ll just sing for anything I can find and just started working in musical theatre.

What was your favourite music growing up?

My favourite music growing up, well I had a lot of different influences, my Dad loved Gospel music, and he also loved like, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, so I was exposed to a lot of really great crooners when I grew up and also, I enjoy some of the classic musical theatre performers such as John Ray  in Carousel, and some of those guys really belted out tunes, I really enjoyed that growing up.

Tell me about the first time you dreamed of Broadway?

I had always been a fan of musicals since I was a kid, I would watch them on TV and stuff, but probably not until High School did I start getting the bug when I realised I could sing, I thought ‘well maybe I could actually be in a musical,’ that’s when it all happened for me as far as I started getting the bug, and then when I went to college and studied more, the more I studied the more I loved it,  and then eventually I got my big break.

You mentioned some of the song writers that you heard growing up, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, what about now, what singers have caught your ear?

You know who I’m listening to now a lot? Is Adele, she’s got her new album, it’s just so fantastic and I really love what she’s doing musically, she really sings and her writing is just beautiful, ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is a terrific song, so I’m really into her right now, like I said, I have a lot of… very eclectic taste, I’ve always listened to a lot of different things, I listen to classical music even, and a lot of my influences comes from the past as well as what is current right now.

What is it you like about performing?

Well, performing live is a rush like nothing else, it’s that real exchange of energy between you and an audience, it’s immediate, it’s thrilling, you know, if you’re singing a song and you know that the audience is really on board with you and they’re really into it, then there’s this really great exchange of energy that happens that is just so much fun, and when you do a recording, you know, it’s great in the studio and you do the songs, but you don’t know how people are reacting or responding to it, so that’s the difference between doing a record and performing live, I think it’s that audience response.

Well speaking of the record, the new record from David Burnham is ‘One Day,’ what do you think about your new album?

Well, I’m thrilled with it, it took over a year to make, we weren’t doing it every day for a year, you know, I would go in and I’d do a show here and there and I’d come back and work really hard for a couple of months and then go do something else, but it’s everything I hoped it would be, it’s combining my song writing, my singing and music that I love, some classic standards and I got to work with.. I have a camp for kids called ‘Camp Sing’ that I do and three of the tracks actually feature the kids from my camp singing a big choir thing and was really fun to work with those kids and be able to put them on the album, turned out really beautiful and really inspirational and really proud of that.

This record is dedicated to your Mom, tell us about that.

Well, my mom was always my biggest supporter in life, when I was 8 years old growing up on the farm I would go out and I would kind of serenade the pigs, sing to the cattle and the pigs and I came in one day after singing something to the pigs and as an 8 year old boy and told my mom “Mom, you have to write to MGM because I’m now good enough to be in a musical I think,” she looked down at me and said “David, whatever you do with your life makes you happy,  you do what makes you happy,” she has always been so supportive of me and I lost her to cancer a few years ago and so this album really expresses the love and appreciation I have for my mom and everything she did to me and everything she was for me.

Tell us about Mark Vogel who produced this record and he wrote a few of the songs.
Yes, Mark Vogel is a brilliant composer and pianist, we actually met a little over a year ago, we were working on a…  a workshop of a new musical, new Broadway musical, we hit it off really well, he was actually starting to work on Camp Sing, he had an idea about camp and approached me about that, and so we started working on that and realised  musically we are very similar in our style and how we work, and he writes a lot of music for Fox television and scores for movies and stuff like that, we just instantly hit it off and started recording and trying, you know, just one or two songs and that worked and so we ended up doing the whole album together and I’m just thrilled, now he goes on tour with me anyway, when I do my concerts he’s my Music Director and I’m really thankful that I found him cause he’s terrific.

Could you pick a favorite song from the album?

Wow, it’s like they’re all my children (David laughs) it’s hard to pick one, I have favourites for different reasons, you know I really love the way ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ turned out, I told Mark I really wanted to do a different take on it, not just the same kind of gospel take that everyone does, so I had this idea for a kind of Celtic feel and I think he really nailed it and gave us this really unique sound and then, you know, some of the new tunes that we wrote are kind of bubblegum pop if you will, they’re kind of really catchy and fun and they just put me in a good mood every time I listen to them and then the other ones like ‘Unchained Melody’, the string lines on it are so gorgeous, every time I listen to them it’s like wow, you made it sound like a movie, they soar and it’s beautiful, then of course the song I dedicated to my mom called ‘Fly Again’ is very personal to me because that particular song is… I think about her every time I hear it.

Tell us about this song ‘Three Little Words’.

‘Three Little Words’, that was a song that I wrote with Mark Vogel, it was interesting, any new song takes a journey and that one was no different, it started out as actually… we were going to call it ‘One Little Word’ based on the idea that, you know, “just go out with me, say ‘yes’ and give me that one word and I’ll, you know, I’ll be right there”, but aswe started writing one thing leads to another and you just make different choices and it ended up being ‘Three Little Words’, which means, you know, “just say I love you” and so once we got that then it all kind of fell into place. It’s kind of my nod to the 60s a little bit, it’s got a little retro feel to it, I’ve got like, lots of backup vocals on it, got tight harmonies and we took a little retro flare with it and then tried to add… make it modern, so I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

Another song on the album ‘One Day’ is a song ‘Beautiful,’ tell us about that track.

Well, “Beautiful,” it’s.. I co wrote that one also with Mark Vogel and my engineer, Luke Tozer, it was his idea to start writing that song, he was just nominated for a Grammy for Katy Perry’s album this year, and he was fresh off that and he was like “I have this idea for a song”, it actually started with a rhythm he had in his head, the drum track, this drum rhythm he had, so he played us that and then Mark sat around the piano and said “what if we put this kind of a melody with it” and then I came on and said “I have an idea for a lyric” and so the three of us kind of combined together and came up with ‘Beautiful,’ which is probably the most pop, maybe one of the most pop tracks on the album. It’s a different color and I think it turned out really cool and it was a lot of fun to record and the processes is really collaborative and interesting.

What is the best part about being David Burnham?

(David laughs) Well, I am blessed that I get to do what I love to do and that’s perform and write music and sing songs, I’m just so thrilled that I don’t have to, you know, have a nine to five job, I get to perform and for me that is the greatest gift, I can’t imagine doing anything else and I’m so lucky that I get to sing for my supper (David and Paul laugh).

Well, is there anything on the horizon?

You know, the new album just came out so we’re starting to promote it, so we’re going to be doing lots of concerts, and putting a tour together and going to take this record on the road, and the eventual goal is to go overseas and play Europe and whoever will have us and listen to our music.

Any desire to sing in Atlanta?

Yeah, I love Atlanta, Georgia. I actually did “Light in the Piazza there, and that’s a great town, great town.  I would come to Atlanta in a heartbeat.

Alright, well, just putting that out there. (Paul and David laugh)

And that’s where the Paul Leslie Show is based from, is Atlanta?

That’s right, but we have listeners all over. It’s kind of interesting, we actually have more listeners in New York City than any other place.

Oh wow, that’s so cool.

I don’t know why that is but…

(David and Paul laugh) Well that’s great.  Well I love Atlanta, it’s a beautiful city and the people are really nice, I had a good time there.

I know that this one’s just come out and you’re promoting this one, but are you already thinking in the back of your mind, does it ever pop up like…the next record?

Yes, we’re already starting and it’s going to be the Christmas album.

Aahhhhh okay.

Hopefully ready a year from now. It won’t be ready this Christmas, but the following Christmas. I’m crazy for Christmas.  I’ve always loved it and I think my voice suits it pretty well, cause you can do some big singing for Christmas stuff. (David laughs)

Well, I have one final question. No matter where somebody is when they’re listening to this interview, what would you like to say to all the people who are listening in?

I would just say pursue your dreams, pursue your dreams, if.. it can happen if you make it happen.  I’m living proof, I got out there and I made this album and it’s a lot of work, but boy, the payoffs are great, just inside you feel so great if you actually get to do what you love to do and so keep pursuing your dreams.

And everybody out there that wants to find out more about you, they can visit lmlmusic.com they can also visit your website for more information and what would that be?

davidburnham.com

It’s d.a.v.i.d.b.u.r.n.h.a.m.com

That’s it, they can find out touring information, information on my records and where I’ll be next and all that stuff.

Well Mr. Burnham, I appreciate this interview very much.

Well thank you Mr. Leslie, it’s my pleasure.

All right, well you have a fantastic day.

You too and thanks for listening to my music.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON.

Julie Budd: Singer

 It is our pleasure to welcome the woman behind a spectacular singing voice, Julie Budd.


I have sung for presidents, I have sung for the troops, I have sung in some of the finest halls and opera houses in this country. Yet, I remember being a little girl in Brooklyn, singing from stoop to stoop, dreaming of these days. It is so unbelievable to me, and it is so wonderful to be lucky enough to live your dream.

Our special guest is Julie Budd. Thank you so much for joining us.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

I think most stories are best from the beginning. Tell us, what was life like growing up?

Well, life was pretty good. I mean, I lived in Brooklyn. I have two sisters. We lived with our parents and our grandparents, and we had a very traditional home and lots of friends in Brooklyn. And I went to school with all my friends and I had a pretty – I can say I had a pretty normal life but I was always pulled toward music so I don’t really think my parents were surprised when I went into music, although my mother wanted me to be a doctor and my father wanted me to be a lawyer.

The pull to music early on, was it a specific style of music?

You know, I liked everything. I just, I just heard the magic in everything, whether it was Elvis or the Beatles or, you know, whoever it was. I mean, you know, Simon and Garfunkel and, you know, Neil Diamond – like, whoever it was, I was pulled. But I loved show music. I loved big bands. I loved big bands. I loved all the original Broadway cast albums. My mother and father, every Saturday night would go out to a Broadway show and my mother always brought me back the original cast album and I got hooked. And it’s really because of my mother.

Were there cast albums that you liked in particular?

Yeah. There was one that I thought was the most perfect musical ever written – ever written! And I think it was My Fair Lady. And I thought Julie Andrews, I thought Julie Andrews was like over the top magnificent. And I wanted to be her in the worst way, I wanted to be Julie Andrews.

Tell us about some of the singers that influenced you the most.

Well, the first singer was Julie Andrews because my voice, when I was a little girl – I really, I mean, I don’t think I had much of a belt voice in those days. I mean, I think it was something that I developed, a chest voice. I really had a very high, almost a coloratura. It could have been. I know I was a high soprano but I could have been a coloratura. And I was able to sing with Julie Andrews as a child. And I remember when my father used to come home from work at 7 o’clock every night, uh, while he ate his dinner I did a concert for him (laughs). Isn’t that funny how I remember that? And, um, I was able to sing in anything that, in any key that Julie Andrews sang in. So she was like my favorite singer in the world. And then, of course, my mother had the Judy Garland albums. I remember when I was like eight or nine years old there was an album, Judy Garland Live at Carnegie Hall, and that was played, like, over and over and over in my house. And I loved that album, not because I liked Garland but because I loved that the audience was going crazy. You know, it was a live album. So I was always used to hearing studio albums and when I heard something with a live audience – I swear that’s was when I knew this was going to be my world.

What about the first show you ever saw, can you remember that?

The first Broadway show? The first Broadway show I ever saw was Fiddler on the Roof. And I went with my sister, Jill, and we took the subway into Manhattan. And she’s my older sister so they entrusted her with me on the subway. And I was, like, 10 years old and my sister, Jill, was about – I don’t know, going on 14. Maybe she was 14 already and so, you know, she was like the grown-up sister. She took me into Manhattan and we got off on 42nd Street, and we walked to the West side and over toward the theater district and we saw Herschel Bernardi in Fiddler on the Roof. And I – the opening. I’ll never forget the opening! I don’t know if you know the show that well but the opening, the bottle dance – you know, the bottle dance, the Russian kick bottle dance? When I saw that, I swear I thought I was going to levitate (laughs). I thought that was the greatest thing I ever saw (laughs).

Tell us about Herb Bernstein.

Herb Bernstein? In fact, I’m waiting for Herbie, I’m waiting for Herbie now. He’s on his way over here to rehearse with me. I met Herbie Bernstein when I was 12 and I was staying at a hotel up in the Catskill Mountains called Tamarack Lodge. And Herbie – there were two sides of Tamarack. There was the hotel side and that’s where me and my family were staying and I was in camp, day camp, there. And then there was another side of Tamarack called Homestead, and that was the bungalow colonies, and Herbie’s family was in Homestead. And that was a good distance from the hotel. I mean, you had to walk on this sort of trail in a very woodsy, in order to get to Homestead. And Herbie was at Homestead. And I cut camp – renegade that I was, I was 12 years old – and I found out that there was a talent show. And I put my name on a list and they said that in the afternoon you had to audition. So I go down to the nightclub – and everybody thinks I’m in camp – and I auditioned and they accepted me. And that night, I was in the talent show and I won. And the MC was a guy by the name of Vic Minnow. And he was a great guy. He was a great guy. He was, like, the social directed and the MC. You know, those guys did everything. And the musical directed was a very, very well-known musician, very, very gifted musician by the name of Milton Lear. He was a wonderful musician and he accompanied me. I had no music, you know, and he just pulled it off the top, you know? And I sang Moon River and Who Can I Turn To? I was not your ordinary 12-year old (laughs) and I won. And I won. And when I, when I went backstage, Vic Minnow told me there was this man by the name of Herb Bernstein who was staying at Homestead on the weekends – he used to come up on the weekends; all the men came up on the weekends – that he had produced Laura Nero and the Four Seasons and Dusty Springfield and John Denver and Tina Turner, and he was working with this new singer. I said ‘Who is the new singer?’ He said ‘A new singer. She’s sort of a Broadway singer. Her name is Lainie Kazan.’ And I said ‘Oh, cool. That’s great.’ So he said ‘Well, why don’t you come and sing next week, um, in the finals and get Herb Bernstein to come down and listen to you?’ I said ‘OK.’ So I tracked Herbie down. Don’t ask me how I did this at 12 years old. I went all the way to Homestead by myself the next day. It was a weekend on a Sunday. And I went to Homestead on that trail all by myself and I knocked on Herbie’s door and I told him he had to come listen to me sing the next week. And then the next week I did it again to make sure he was there. And I sang and I won the contest again. And I went backstage and Herbie was standing right there in the wings. And from that day on, we’ve been working together. It’s a crazy story, I know, but it’s true. Believe me, it’s a true one.

Tell us about the different ways you and Herb Bernstein have worked together.

Well, in the beginning it was very different because I was a little girl. I only, I was only surviving on my instincts. Herbie had experience. He was a well-known orchestrator and producer, and he knew what he was doing. And he had to educate me on how to work professionally in this industry. He was recording Merv Griffin at the time and he brought me down to the studio and – where they were recording Merv – and on the break he brought me up to Merv Griffin and he said ‘Merv, I want you to hear this little girl sing.’ And Merv said ‘Oh, Herbie please. Another kid that sings at weddings and bar mitzvahs? Please, Herbie, let’s just do the session.’ Herbie said ‘No, no, no’ (laughs). Herbie said to Merv, he said ‘Merv, you really have to hear this kid sing.’ So I – Merv started playing and I sang Chasing Rainbows. Now what’s kind of interesting about that is I was 12 and I knew the song (laughs). You know what I mean? (Laughs) It was that I was very musically sophisticated and I really owe that to my mom. Merv just looked. He just played a few bars and he looked at Herbie and Herbie looked at Merv, and then Herbie said ‘Go ahead, sweetie. Go, go. Go sit in the control room and I’ll see you in a little bit.’ And Herbie and Merv started to talk. Well, two days later – two days, two days later! – now, keep in mind, I had never done anything professionally before – two days later, I wound up on Merv’s show. Right? It was, it was like a whirlwind. My life, my life changed overnight. Television can change your life overnight. I mean, more than anything in the world, television can change your life. And it was amazing. I mean, they got, they got me into shape in 48 hours (laughs). And I, and I wound up doing his show. And, you know, in the old days everything was live. When I did the Ed Sullivan shows, they were live. Everything was live in the old days. Sometimes they would tape them live and show them later but you were live. There I was, my life was beginning. Merv started me. Herbie and Merv. And that’s, and that’s kind of how Herbie, that’s kind of how Herbie and I always worked. Your question was how do you and Herbie work. Herbie and I work very, very simply. We get together, if it feels right we do it and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. At this point we’ve just done so many shows over the years, that we have a kind of shorthand. I mean, we’ve written shows on the phone. We’re very in sync. But in the beginning, to answer your question, in the beginning I was the student and I – I like to think of myself as the perpetual student. I like to think of myself as someone who always remains the student. But in those days I was the first grade student and I was taking my cues from Herb. And I was very fortunate that I was with someone who was very smart, musically, and had a very, very good ear for what I needed.

What does it mean to be an eternal student?

I think that people who think they know it all or think they have it all covered – those people – or think ‘hey, I don’t have to vocalize’ and ‘hey’ you know, ‘ I got this down.’ I don’t know, people like that, I think they just become hacks. I think that you have to always be on top of your game. I think you always have to be the student. I think you always have to be studying. I think you always have to be listening. I think you always have to question yourself. I think it’s a, it’s a funny balance between you have to question yourself and you have to trust yourself. It’s a very strange balance but you have to find that balance. And I think that you have to keep your mouth shut and your eyes open, watch and learn and listen at all stages, at all stages of your career. And I teach now as well, you know. I, I do master classes. I go all over and I teach master classes, and I also have a few private students here in New York. And I find that if you’re not listening you cannot be a good teacher. And if you’re not a good student yourself, and if you’re not curious, and if you’re not a person who is, um, detail-oriented, I just don’t think you can be a good teacher. You have to have that sensitivity and that kind of discipline and devotion to be a good teacher. That’s just, you know, my feeling. I, I just don’t think that people that think they have it all covered remain very good artists. I think you always have to be listening and studying.

Tell us about the first time you headlined. What was going through your head?

It was a very small engagement and it was actually before I came to New York. My first big headlining engagement – headlining, you know, big, big-time headlining engagement – was here in New York at the Copacabana. As a matter of fact, when I was 16 Jules Podell, who was the owner of the Copa, threw me my Sweet 16 party and he and his wife were very, very sweet to me. And they gave me a beautiful – if you can believe this (laughs) – they gave me a beautiful diamond pin when I was 16 years old. It was 24 karat gold encrusted, two-carat perfectly white diamond. I mean, geez (laughs), I was 16, you know? I still have this pin and every time I look at it, I can’t believe they were kind enough to give it to me for my Sweet 16. There was a big cake and they had the press there and – you know, it was my Sweet 16. And he made me promise him that on my 18th birthday, that I would open at the Copa, and I certainly did. That was my first really, really, really, really big public engagement. And there I was. But you know, it was hard to really enjoy it as ‘Oooh!’ you know, ‘My first engagement, let’s go out and have fun!’ There was a tremendous amount of responsibility attached to that. It was the #1 venue, maybe in the country – maybe in the United States – and there I was. And, actually, I wasn’t quite 18. I was still 17. It was, it was a couple of weeks before my 18th birthday, actually. And somehow, I don’t know how he did it but Mr. Podell got the powers that be to allow me to open up in New York, because there’s child labor laws. You can’t be performing in a venue that sells alcohol openly like that if you’re under 18. And somehow, he pulled strings and there I was. It really wasn’t my 18th birthday the day that I opened there and, yet, I was told it was perfectly legal. I’m allowed to do it. I have some sort of waiver. It was close enough to my 18th birthday and they let me do it. And so I’m on record, actually, as being the youngest performer to ever premier an engagement in an adult nightclub in New York City. I was the youngest performer to ever debut in New York. But, like I said, it was exciting but it was very, very hard. You know, I was a pretty serious kid and I was very aware that the, the perks that I was getting for being discovered so young. But they drew out a lot of responsibility and I was, I was up to the challenge. But I was a very steady…and that along with this privilege came a lot of responsibility. And I had to take care of my voice and I had to learn the show and I had to speak to the press and I had to deal with audiences and I had to do two and three shows a night. A lot of people don’t realize that at the Copa on Friday and Saturday night you had three shows and you had to do complete shows. There were no days off. You really had to take careof your voice. You had two shows on Sunday night. It was, it was a grueling first experience, I have to tell you. But it was exciting but it was grueling.

You’ve worked with so many artists.

Yeah, I was lucky.

You opened and worked with Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, George Burns, Liberace – just to name a few. Could you pick a favorite?
It’s, it’s tough to say. I could say right off the top of my head the four favorite people that I loved personally – personally – who I really loved. The first person was Liberace. He became a dear, dear, dear, dear friend of mine for 17 years. In fact, I’m still very dear friends with his choreographer and director. The second person that I loved, loved, loved – I loved Jim Nabors a lot. I loved him. He was really great to me. I loved him. Jim Nabors and Danny Thomas. Danny Thomas was like the best friend you could ever have in the world. He was the most loyal, true, best friend, bar none, that you could ever, ever have in the world. And I learned more from Danny Thomas in one day than people could learn in a hundred years. He was a great, great person. And then I loved Carol Burnett. She was, really taught me a lot about how to be on top, how to be a pro and how to be a real person when you’re on top – how to conduct yourself. She was always a real lady, a real lady. And she knew how to run her business. She knew how to get things done but she always knew how to do it like a real lady and I always admired that. And she’s a real example of how to be the eternal student. You know, every day, before we went to work, she did a yoga class, a stretch yoga class. And she was always a very finely tuned instrument. I really loved that about her. I loved that about her. And, you know, I really liked Frank. I liked Frank a lot but I didn’t have the relationship with him that I had with Liberace or Danny Thomas, and I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him as well. I did the Jim Nabors show a lot and I got to know Jim. And I spent a lot of time with him and had a great affection for him, a real affection for him. I admired Frank a lot but, you know, Frank was kind of a complicated person and, although he was amazing to me – he was fantastic to me – and I really did like him. And if I had spent more time with him, you know, over the years, maybe I would have had better affection for him than I have for, you know, some of these other guys. But Frank was really terrific to me. You know when I think about it, I have to say – I mean, God, he could have used anybody in the world and he chose to use me. And I had some really great moments with him and wonderful times with him, very, very meaningful times with him, too. But I don’t think I had the relationship with anybody the way I did with Liberace. I was really close to him.

Someone we have to mention is the late, great Marvin Hamlisch. He’s no longer with us but his music lives on.

Oh God, do you know – I have to tell you something. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Marvin. It’s almost spooky. I mean, he’s, like, always here with me. It was a little bit over a year ago. Marvin died in the month of August. I would say August, September, October – yeah, it’s about a year and two months. It feels like yesterday. Ahh, I cannot tell you how … how hurt I was when he died. I cannot tell you how it just pained me so. I still walk around with it. I still can’t believe it even happened, you know?

Tell us about the song, Roses and Rainbows.
Well, Marvin wrote that for me and he wrote it with Carole Bayer Sager. He had another song – it was from a film called The Devil and Max Devlin and I co-starred along with Bill Cosby and Elliot Gould. And I had the lead in the movie and it was me – there were other people in the film but I happened to have the biggest lead part along with Elliot and Bill. It was about a girl singer. You know, she ran away from home, she wants to become famous, she goes to California, she’s from New York, blah, blah, blah. And Marvin was chosen to do the compositions for this film. And, uh, he had another song in the film – he had Roses and Rainbows that he wrote with Carole – and then he had another song called Any Fool Can See and he wrote that with Allee Willis. And that was a great song, too. But Roses and Rainbows, they used that as the big closing credit song for the film. And Marvin wrote that for me. We recorded here it New York and it just turned out to be one of those great moments in the film. It was a really great song. It sort of got lost because the film was sort of an OK film. You know, it was cute and everything but it never broke out as, you know, like a major film. But the song, it was interesting, the song had kind of a cult following. And I re-recorded it. In the old days, when I did it with Marvin, we did it on A&M Records. I think we first did it for Disney Records and then we re-recorded it for A&M. I don’t know. And then, years later, because it had such a cult following, my fans kept saying, you know, Roses and Rainbows, Roses and Rainbows and they couldn’t track down where the masters were after all those years so I re-recorded it and I put it on my CD called The New Classics. So it’s available on The New Classics on Amazon. But it was just one of those great songs. And it was funny because all roads kind of went back to Marvin, you know? Then I wound up doing a play called They’re Playing Our Song and that was Marvin (laughs), you know? And then I wound up working with a lot of symphonies and then Marvin called me years later, and asked me to go on tour with him to do a “few” symphonies. I said ‘OK, I’ll do a few symphonies with you.’ And then we wound up working together for seven years (laughs) you know? He called me over a weekend, ‘You want to work with me?’ ‘Oh, yeah, alright’ you know? So we went and did some of these symphonies together. We wound up doing the Kennedy Center and the Baltimore Symphony and the Dallas Symphony and, you know, the National Symphony Orchestra, which we did at the Kennedy Center. And, I don’t know – Marvin and I were kind of like peanut butter and jelly. We knew how to do it together, you know? We kind of had a very – we knew how to fall into it kind of the way that I know how to fall into it with Herb, you know? Sometimes that just happens with people. We wound up working together for seven more years. So, I mean, I must have known Marvin for, like, 30 years. And then, when I got that phone call that he passed … I gotta tell you something. I still can’t believe it. I still think ‘Oh, Marvin’s going to call and we’re going to do another show together.’ you know? When people leave your life so untimely. You know, Marvin was not an old man. He was 67, 68 years old, you know? So, it’s kind of a shocking thing to hear.

Moving to the present, you’re performing at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City. Have you performed there before?

Actually, I did a tribute there years and years ago when Anthony Newley had passed. His lovely lady made a beautiful tribute to him there and his mother, God bless her, she was there, too. And I performed there, at the Laurie Beechman for the Anthony Newley tribute. But it’s the Laurie Beechman Theatre and she was a magnificent artist, you know that. So I’m sort of very proud that there’s going to be a tribute in my honor there. And Richard Skipper, who is so brilliant, my God, he’s going to host the event. It’s kind of an Inside the Actor’s Studio kind of an afternoon. And I’ll also sing a few songs. We’ll take questions and answers from the audience. People will be able to ask me anything they want to ask me. There’ll be film clips. We’ll talk about what it’s like to grow up in the industry and how to hang on in this industry for all these years. There will be a raffle. All of the proceeds are going to go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And I chose that because of my love for Danny Thomas. You know, he was the founder of that hospital. And then we’ll go upstairs and we’ll have a meet-and-greet with all of the people in the audience, you know? We’ll sign some CDs and spend some time with people. It’s going to be a really lovely afternoon and an opportunity for people who show up to really talk to me in person, ask me questions, get to know me, speak to me on a one-on-one basis, and I think that’s what we’re really trying to do there, you know?  Let me just say it, please. I’m sorry – let me just say the event is October 20th at 1 in the afternoon. It’s an early start. It’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon. You can go there and have brunch, you can be part of the event. It could really be a nice afternoon for you – and it’s on a Sunday and that’s always nice.

Very nice. You’re definitely a woman who has lived her dreams. What’s the best thing about being Julie Budd?

Oh my goodness. I think the best thing about Julie Budd was her parents (laughs). I had the most wonderful parents. That’s sort of the backbone of everything in my life. It’s my family, my parents. Unfortunately, inthe last five years I lost both my parents and that’s just (sighs) devastating. But I carry them with me wherever I go, and whenever I don’t know what to do, I close my eyes and hear their voice and I pray it guides me – and it does. And then I have two wonderful sisters. I’m one of three girls, so I have two wonderful sisters. They’re just the most fantastic girls in the world and they have great kids, so … And I have a wonderful man in my life and he has a wonderful family, so I’m blessed. I think the best thing about Julie Budd is that she comes from good folks and whatever she ever wanted to do with her life, or in her life, she had the confidence and the wherewithal to go forward and do it, but with all the good stuff that goes with you in life – that you need to take with you to have that strength and to know what to do. I knew right from wrong. And I was in a crazy business at a young age but, because I came from really good folks, I always knew how to survive and what to do. And I pray that I did it right and that I continue to.

For my last question – who is Julie Budd?

I’m a person just like anybody else in this world. I’ve been very, very fortunate to have an extraordinary and beautiful life. And I pray that we’ll all be well and that the country will function well, and that everybody will have a peaceful life. And who is Julie Budd? I think Julie Budd is somebody that just wishes the best for everybody, and hopes for the best, and works as hard as she can, and thinks of herself as being just like everybody else. And I don’t like show people that think that they’re so special. I don’t like anybody that thinks that they’re so special. I think everybody is special. You just have to love people, stay close to your family, and that’s who Julie Budd is.

Well, I can tell you this interview has been areal pleasure.

Oh, that’s so nice of you. Thank you! You’ve been a pleasure to talk to. I wish you all the best, too. I hope all is well and thanks for having me on your show.

It’s my pleasure.

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA.

Larry Carlton: Guitarist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how did you get involved in recording session work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK. Thanks.

Continue reading “Larry Carlton: Guitarist”

Jessie Bridges: Singer-Songwriter & Recording Artist

JESSIE BRIDGES is a singer-songwriter who debuted as a recording artist in 2010 with the self-titled EP “Jessie Bridges.”  She has recently released a full-length LP entitled “Let It Breathe,” featuring songs that have been described as everything from “spirited and twangy” to “soulful and vulnerable.”  She has been called introspective and sentimental, and at times with a country feeling.  She is definitely a songwriter who writes from the heart.

Jessie really opens up in this interview and even sings and plays some acoustic and unplugged songs.