• Posted June, 2009

    Edgar Winter.  When the name is mentioned in the presence of Baby Boomers, it conjures up two iconic songs of the Seventies:  Frankentstein and Free Ride.  For others who enjoy the deeper, lesser known aspects of music, the name, Edgar Winter, brings to mind a Texas-born musical prodigy.

    Yes, prodigy.  For, not only has Winter's musical career spanned the genre's of rock, pop, blues and pop, he has mastered at the saxophone and a wide range of keyboard and percussion instruments.  To watch Edgar in concert provides the spectator with the rare but entertaining treat of viewing his virtuosity on these instruments.

    It was after witnessing just such a display of musical genius that I had the privilege of sitting down with Edgar Winter.  He had just retired to his hotel room after a crowd-pleasing concert at the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival in Richardson, Texas.  Consequently, Edgar was a tired but very gracious host, not acting the least bit annoyed at having his day prolonged by yet another interview.  For this, Boomerocity is eternally grateful.

    After being escorted into Mr. Winter's hotel room by his tour manager and long time friend, Dave Lopez, we sat down for our conversation.  I complimented him on the tremendous show he just performed and about the diverse group of people that made up the audience.

    He's animated with his reply, "Yeah, I love those multi-generational shows.  I don't think there is any particular demographic, especially with the outdoor shows.  The hard core Johnny (as in "Winter", his equally iconic, blues guitarist brother)/Edgar/Rick (Derringer) fans are . . . one type of people but I think because I've done so many different kinds of music over my career.  "Entrance" was more of a blend of jazz, classical and rock so, our = my audience can be quite different.

    In chatting about the gig that he just completed, I asked if the show was his first time playing this particular venue.  The pride of being a Texan is readily apparent.  "As far as I can remember, yes, this is the first.  And, of course, ANY TIME I'm playing in Texas, that's my old stomping grounds!  I love coming back to Texas and I don't do that many shows here but we played in Houston last night which is even closer - 90 miles from Beaumont.  It was a great show.  The rain threatened but, uh, GREAT Frankenstein music with some thunder and lightning going on.  Whenever there's threatening weather, "Yeah!  ‘Frankenstein' is going to be PERFECT!"

    As a forty year rock and roll veteran, Winter has played venues all over the world.  I asked him which venues were his favorite places to play.  Listening to his answers was akin to what it would be like to hear Patton name his favorite fields of battle.

    Oh, I'll tell you, uh, I guess, just looking back over my career, there are certain ones that stand out.  We're all based in L.A. so I really like the Greek Theater there, in L.A.  It's beautiful.  It's sort of indoor/outdoor and the sunsets (are) really magical.

    And, as far as most memorable, I guess, Woodstock (laughs).  That was '69.  I played that with my brother, Johnny.  The Apollo Theater was one of my favorites.  And, I love Royal Albert Hall.  We did a U.K. tour about three or four years ago with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After.  The last show of the tour was Royal Albert Hall and we shot a video of it.  We've been trying to get it released and it looks like it's FINALLY going to come out.  I haven't even seen it so I have no idea what it looks like.

    Edgar goes on to explain the delay in it's release: "I think the guy that shot it had - he had a deal, I think with Sony, that probably was a part - you know, this particular thing was part of a group of things and I think that faltered.  Then I think he tried to replace it and it just kind of gone on and on.  He's kind of got it - he does, he has a big bulk of stuff.  Ours was just one of many things that just, lost in the shuffle!  But it is going to come out so that's good."

    Getting back to the venue discussion, Winter adds, "Oh, and Carnegie Hall!  Those are the ones that I - oh, I loved the Fillmore East.  That was amazing.  But, as far as places I like to play now, you know, the Greek is really one of my favorites."

    With so many accomplishments on his resume, I asked Edgar what he hasn't done that he would like to, musically.  "What haven't I done?  Well, I've got a Broadway musical comedy version of "Frankenstein" that I'm working on.  That's something that I haven't done yet.  I did a jazz CD which I've always wanted to do.  I have classical music that I will probably get around to recording at some point.  And . . . I love standards.  I'll probably do a standards album at some point.  Everybody's done them but, nevertheless, it's something that is a part of jazz - part of my jazz upbringing - unique arrangements of standards that have beautiful chords and are fun to play.  It's just something I've always wanted to do.

    I bring the conversation around to Winter's latest CD, Rebel Road, by telling him what a great disc it is.  "Oh, thank you!  Yeah, I was really happy with the way that came out.

    I add, "I have to tell you, though, I love the rockers, of course, but I was really touched by what you wrote about ‘The Closer I Get'.  But for you guys to be married this long and (with) you in this business, that's got to be one of the ‘Hall of Famer's', right?"

    Smiling as one who wishes that he was home with his wife, Edgar responds, "Well, yeah.  I'm equally, if not more proud of that than any of my accomplishments in music.  And it means so much to me.  I mean, music is great but if you don't have one to share your life with, what's the point?  And, really, music is spiritual.  It's a spiritual thing to me.  Well, life in general is a spiritual undertaking.  So many people - it's not very popular to be religious these days.  People always say, ‘Well, I'm not really religious but I am very spiritual.'  You never know - what does that mean, ‘that I believe in some thing'?

    Continuing on, he reflects, "I was brought up that way but I feel that religion is a personal thing.  And organized religions are sometimes problematical.  And that's a different a thing.  But music for me, that was the thing that helped illumine that spiritual path - to me.

    "When I played Woodstock, it really changed my life because, up to that point, I had been a serious musician as a kid.  It was my own private escape world.  I just loved music.  I loved the beauty of harmony and rhythm and just loved it in and of itself rather than a means to an end."

    In bringing back the discussion to "Rebel Road, I comment, "There are two great country cuts on your latest CD.  How come there's not a crossover there.  Do you not want to go ‘country'?"

    The Texan rises up in him again.  "I'm from Texas and I grew up playing country music.  Being around it and  . . . it's just sort of odd that it's one of the influences that's never really come out in my music.

    "I had written some lyrics to a song that I thought was a blues song, "Horns of a Dilemma".  And the guys that I was writing with, Curt and James, took a look at these lyrics and, "Oh, that's a great Country song!" "What?  I thought it was a Blues song!" "No, man!  It's a great Country rocker!"  They came up with a treatment of it.  I thought about it and said, "You know?  You could be right.  It could be that."  So, uh, I've really thought about doing a Country album until, until we did those two songs.  Now that's another thing I might do.

    "It's like "Power of Positive Drinkin'".  It's clever like some kind of play on words from a familiar phrase.  A lot of them, they're kinda geared in that way.  I've always enjoyed those.  Those are good examples of it.  "Horns of a Dilemma".  Familiar phrase.

    I mention the fact that his friend and country star, Clint Black, is on the two country tunes.

    "Yeah . . . Clint, you know, it was just so great to have him on both of those songs.  All the guests! Slash did a great job on "Rebel Road" and Johnny was great on "Rockin' the Blues".  When I listen to THAT song and close my eyes, it takes me back to when we were kids.

    "You know, you always, in the process of making an album, there's those magical moments that happen.  "The Closer I Get" is that way for me.  And the one I wrote for Ringo, "Peace and Love", is another one.  That's all of what you always hope for in the process of making music is that you're gonna really, like, it's - I think that's why they use to call them "albums" because it's like - sort of like a musical snapshot that captures a moment in time when something really happened."

    I mention to him that "one thing that really stood out to me about your album is how positive it is.  The over-arching theme of Rebel Road is by-the-numbers great rock and roll and some blues.  But your message in there is a positive, refreshing feel."

    "Yeah, most of my songs are optimistic.  I have a dark one occasionally.  But, uh, yeah, rock is about having a good time.  And . . . I think the thing about blues - even though . . . a lot of the content is sad, it's still like transforming suffering into joy.  It's still happy music.  It's a hard thing to explain.  But you listen to it and you say, ‘Oh, I thought things were bad for me!  Man!  I'm pretty well off, actually.'

    "But, yeah, thanks!  Writing, it's one of those stream-of-consciousness things - and I suppose it just reflects the fact that I am really happy now.  I love the music I'm making.  I love my band.  I love my wife, Monique.  (We've been) married for 30 years.  And . . . it means the world to me to be able to do what I most love and see people out there having a great time.  What could be better than that?

    "I would be playing regardless if whether paid for it because I love to play.  I don't even think of it as a career.  To me, it's like a hobby.  Just something that I love to do.  Well, not a hobby.  It's a consuming interest.  It's really my life.  A lot of people think of it as a business.  I really never have.

    "What's most important to me is just that I'm making honest music.  Whenever anybody asks me about advice, I always say that the thing is just to follow your heart and do what you really believe in and what really matters to you.  Don't try to think about what's going to sell or try to second guess what audiences - what people are going to want to hear.  You do the music that's in your heart - that you really love and care about and I think that will communicate more than anything else to an audience and to the people that hear it."

    I turn the conversation to his participation in the "Heroes of Woodstock" tour of shows.

    Smiling, he says, "You know, a lot of people are not aware that I played Woodstock because our footage was not in the movie or any of the CD's or any of that stuff.  We played the whole set.  He, at that point, Johnny did the part of his show with his blues trio.  No one even knew that I existed back then.  ‘Now, I'm going to bring on my little brother, Edgar!'  And I came on, (mimicking the audience) ‘Oh, wow!  There's two of them!'

    And then, he would do, "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Mean Town Blues", I forget all exactly - probably "Hustle Down in Texas".  Just a lot of his standard blues songs.  I did "Tobacco Road" with the band.  We did a version of what became "Frankenstein", the instrumental, which we use to call "The Double Drum Song" - we did that.  The Ray Charles song called, "Tell The Truth".  I don't remember if we played it at Woodstock but that was one of the songs that we did.

    "I know that there are 10 or 12 of those ‘Heroes of Woodstock' things.  We're not sure how many of those we're going to be doing.  I think that there's only one of them that's for sure."

    Our conversation involved other work, the record industry and life in general.  Certainly to much to include in this story.  However, I left the interview sensing Edgar Winter's profound love for his wife, his brother, those near to him, and people in general.  He exudes a sincerity that is commonly found in the rarified air of celebrity.  As they say in the south about people like him, "he's good people."

    This article written by Randy Patterson.  All rights reserved and cannot not be used without written permission, which can be obtained by writing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

  • Hippiefest 2011
    August 18, 2011
    DTE Energy Music Theater
    Clarkston, MI

    On a warm Thursday evening, I travelled an hour up I-75 to attend Hippiefest 2011 at the old Pine Knob, corporately renamed years ago as the DTE Energy Music Theater. Hippiefest has been going on for a few years, the idea being to group four or five performers from the ‘60’s or ‘70’s together and have them perform concise sets, thereby eliminating the filler tunes that often bog down longer concerts of more seasoned acts. At tonight’s show, each act did about half an hour.

    At the start of the show, while there were a decent amount of people on the grass (I mean the lawn seating), those in the pavilion were few and far between. By the end of the night, most of the seats were filled. It was a mixed crowd of middle-aged, suburban types, younger kids who were either with their folks or on a ‘60’s lark, and a few old counter-culture holdouts that were still letting their freak flags fly. There was plenty of tie-dye and everyone seemed up for it.

    The night kicked off with Felix Cavaliere former lead singer of The (Young) Rascals. He accompanied himself on his well-known Hammond B3 backed by a band that played for most of the evenings’ performers. Felix was in fine voice as he won over the slowly entering audience. He opened with (I’ve Been) Lonely Too Long, segueing into In The Midnight Hour with a few riffs of Sly and the Family Stone and Michael Jackson tossed in. In fact, his style is to start with a verse or two and a chorus of a Rascals’ song followed by a line or two of tribute to other musicians.

    I don’t know if he specifically catered to the Detroit crowd, but there were a lot of Motown lines added. Groovin’ was augmented by a Temptations medley while my Rascals’ favorite, People Got to be Free, morphed into Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ No Where to Run. The people seemed to respond to Mr. Cavaliere’s appreciation of Detroit’s legacy, and by the time he finished his set with Good Lovin’, he met with warm applause and cheers.

    Rick Derringer was up next, opening with Still Alive and Well. The crowd liked the music, but a few appeared confused hearing Jesus mentioned in the lyrics. A tribute, of sorts, to “the troops” began with a distortion-laden version of Star-Spangled Banner, followed by Real American, which some of you might recall as Hulk Hogan’s WWF theme song. After being treated to Hang On Sloopy (which Rick recorded with The McCoys at age 17), he ended his set with his biggest hit, Rock and Roll, Hootchie-Coo, joined by Gary Wright on keyboards. The audience responded well to Mr. Derringer’s guitar pyrotechnics and gave him a good send off.

    The aforementioned Gary Wright began with a couple tunes from his days with the band, Spooky Tooth, the best of which was Better By You, Better Than Me. His songs were longer than the other artists of the evening with plenty of instrumental solos, although there seemed to be issues with his electronic keyboards throughout. The crowd favorites were Dream Weaver and his final song, Love Is Alive. He was joined on Alive by Rick Derringer, who saved his best guitar solo of the night for this song.

    After a short break, the night was wrenched into high gear by a Michigan native, the fabulous Mark Farner. He began on keyboards with Footstompin’ Music, being joined by the crowd on the “woo-ooo-oos,” before cranking up his guitar for The Loco-Motion. Mark’s performance was filled with energy, as he danced about the stage like a madman. His vocal ability hasn’t faded in the slightest; he’s still one of the greatest natural rock vocalists – ever! He was especially able to showcase his singing on Bad Time (To Be in Love), the only tune of the night that wasn’t “full steam ahead.” Several other Grand Funk Railroad songs were included, and when he finished with his set with I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home, the crowd burst into rousing applause and a standing ovation.

    Well done, Mr. Farner.

    The night’s last performer was Dave Mason. Let me retract that. I should say musician, instead of performer. His over 50 years in the business really showed: Dave’s set was the most musical of the evening. He brought out his own people to back him and it made a difference.

    He began with a few songs he recorded with Traffic, which he co-founded at age 18. Let It Go, Let It Flow and Dear Mr. Fantasy were both rich, melodic tunes with fine harmonies by the band. When he hit the 12-string chords for We Just Disagree, the people cheered and sang the entire song with him. After a fine Only You Know and I Know, I moved up into the crowd on the lawn to join the swaying, dancing masses experiencing a truly great version of All Along the Watchtower (Mr. Mason played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix recording).

    For the final song of the night, Dave was joined on stage by most of the other acts for his classic, Feelin’ Alright, which has been covered by many including Grand Funk and Joe Cocker. It was an appropriate rap-up tune since it appeared to convey the sentiments of both artists and audience: a good time was had by all . . .

  • May, 2015

         

    If you’re a hard core Todd Rundgren fan, then you’re familiar with Kasim Sulton. He was part of Todd’s band, Utopia, and is still an essential member of his current band.

    If you’re a current Blue Oyster Cult fan, you’ll know him as the bassist for the band since 2012.  Maybe you’re a Meat Loaf fan. If so, you’ll know Kasim’s work on the “Bat Out of Hell” album.  The multi-talented musician has also worked with Cheap Trick, Ricky Byrd, Celine Dion, Patty Smyth, Indigo Girls, Rick Derringer, Joan Jett and several others.

    Oh, and he’s cut a couple of solo albums of his own, the latest being “3” (reviewed by Boomerocity, here).

    I called Kasim at his home to discuss the making of “3.” But, before chatting about it, I asked what he had been up to lately. He and I passed each other backstage at Ringo’s Greenville, NC, concert back in February so I led in with asking what it was like playing with the former Beatle that night.

    “Well, I had played with Ringo before. It was a very, very long time ago. When I was in Utopia, we did a Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethon one year. They had this huge jam session set up when they were doing it out of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. I forget the theme of it, but there were probably twenty musicians at any given point. Utopia was kinda the house band for that. Ringo was there as was Bill Wyman, Kiki Dee, Dave Spencer, Dave Mason, Doug Kershaw on violin, Rick Derringer, and a few others I can’t bring to mind right now. During the course of the evening, Utopia did some performances by ourselves. Then we did a big jam session, and Ringo was in on the jam session. So I met and played with Ringo before, albeit thirty years ago. 

    “This time was the second time I got to play with him, and it was a little more intimate than ten minutes on stage playing ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

    Continuing , he added:

    “Yea, well, that’s a dream gig. Todd’s been doing it for three years, and so has Luke. When a Beatle calls, you answer. You say ‘yes’ no matter what. I had some Blue Ȫyster Cult shows that were coming up that week, and I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make the Blue Ӧyster Cult shows. I do about forty or fifty shows with Blue Ӧyster Cult in the course of a year, but they tend to get a little pissy when you miss a show. But if there is anything I was going to miss a show for, it would be because Ringo called and asked me to come in.”

    As for the other things occupying Sulton’s schedule, he said:

    “I have some solo shows coming up this week actually. I leave tomorrow. I have a show in Atlanta on Wednesday; Nashville on Thursday; Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday; and Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday. I’ve just been prepping for these shows, and getting ready to pile in my car and take a little road trip. 

    “It’s a real fun show. I make you feel like you’re sitting in your own living room. It’s good. It’s a nice sixty to ninety minutes of some stories and my songs. I do a lot of the new record, probably two-thirds of it, and some Utopia songs. I do some songs from other artists that I’m particularly enamored of.”

    Kasim said this about the reception to his CD, “3”:

    “I did an initial round of press the first couple months. I gotta tell you I didn’t get a lukewarm review in the bunch. It’s really great to see press people, journalists, people like you that are really drawn to it, appreciate it, and aren’t afraid to say this is a really great record. I worked really, really hard. It took me a lot longer than I had expected it to take, because I had some personal issues that happened during the recording of it. With each successive song that I finished, I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t bad. This is gonna be good.’ Then I’d finish another song, and I’d say, ‘Wow, another good song. Ok, great.’ It kinda gave me the courage, the stamina, and the fortitude to push on and make it as good as I possibly could. Even down to the very last steps of mastering and the final mixes, I paid a lot more attention to detail than I ever have on any project I have worked on over the past forty years.”

    He then shared his perspective of the album.

    “I started the record in 2009, I think. I take an inordinate amount of time in between solo projects. I do solo shows pretty regularly and have been doing them since 2000. But records take so

       

    much time, so much energy, so much effort and money. I can’t always block out the proper amount of time that it takes to put one together. I released a record in 2002, and I toured behind it. When I say tour, I did like a couple dozen shows a year along with my other work. At that time, I was heavily involved with Meatloaf, and I was working with Meatloaf probably eight months out of the year. The other four I spend with my family and at home writing. 

    “Come 2009, I was in England, and I had some time off. I had a writing partner in London who’s a very good friend of mine- a guy by the name of Phil Thornalley. I went over to his studio on a day off and said, ‘I’m thinking about putting another record together. Do you think you want to write something?’ 

    “We came up with the first song for the record, and that was actually the first track, ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’. It just kinda grew from there. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I didn’t know what direction it would take. I didn’t know how many songs would or wouldn’t be on the record. I just continued to write, and with each successive song, I was like, ‘This is going to be okay. This is going to be good’. Most of my material, as witnessed on this record, is very introspective. I don’t necessarily write songs about stuff that I haven’t had experience with. For instance, a song like ‘Clocks All Stopped’ which is the second track from the first single of the record, was my vain attempt at trying to write a song that Utopia might still be recording if we were still together. I co-wrote that one with Phil as well. 

    “The next song, I think, is ‘Watching The World Go By’. It’s my take on my life. ‘The Traveler’ is another one. If I’m in a conversation with someone who doesn’t know me, my history, or what line of work I’m in, and they ask me what I do for a living, invariably I say, ‘I travel’. More than anything else, I’ll travel fourteen hours to work for an hour and a half. So really, most of my life is about traveling, ergo, ‘The Traveler’.

    “Most of the songs, if not all of the songs on the record, are very much about me and my life and how I look at the world. That’s how I put a record together.”

    Sulton then answered a question that he’s had to have been asked a bijillion times: why the title, “3?”

    “It’s my third proper solo record. There’s a couple others floating around the world. There’s a record that I released in 2008 called ‘All Sides’, but that’s a compilation with two or three new songs on it. Most of the songs on that record are songs that had already been released or recorded prior by other people. I had a bunch of demos that I thought might be nice for people to hear, so I put together that record. That’s why it’s a two CD record.

    “The one prior to that was called, ‘The Basement Tapes’, again demos with one or two new songs. So when you come right down to it, my first solo record was in ’80 or ’81 on EMI. My next one was ‘Quid Pro Quo’Then, this one which is my third proper solo record. Also, three is a pretty cool number. It shows up a lot in the universe. It’s body, mind, and spirit; thought, word, and deed; the holy trinity; earth, wind, and fire (not the band, the elements). Three is a good number for me. It just made sense, rather than try to come up with some title like, ‘The Secret Life of Robins and Other Miscellaneous Bullsh*t’, I’d just stamp it with that ‘3’.”

    When I asked if he had ran into any surprises in the making of the album, Kasim opened up a little about the personal side of his life during the recording process.

    “I lost my wife about a year and a half into recording it. We had been married about thirty-one years. I stopped recording for a year while I took care of her. She got sick first. The following six months after she passed away was just me trying to get my life back on track- with my children, being at home, being a single parent- so that threw a monkey wrench in finishing the record. 

    “I quit Meatloaf in 2010. I stopped working with him. That was kinda weird, because prior to that, we had been on the road for a good eight months out of any given year. Six to eight months were with Meatloaf, plus work with other people. I’d go out for a couple months with Todd. My year was really busy up until 2010. Everything rained down at once- my wife being sick, leaving Meatloaf, her passing away, trying to get back to finishing up the record. 

    “I got this brilliant idea that it’d be great to put everybody’s picture on the cover of the record. I solicited the fans and said, ‘For sixty bucks, I’ll put your picture on the cover of the record. I’ll send you a CD and a poster as well as enter you into a contest for me to come play at your house’. I got about three hundred submissions, and the server I was storing all the pictures on crashed. I had to beg people to please re-send their pictures. It was a nightmare.

         

    “Prior to this record, most of my solo work I’ve done by myself. I do all the programming, all the engineering, all the production. I play most of the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards. I thought it would be really nice to have other musicians on this particular record. That presented a little problem, because I was making phone calls to people like Greg Hawkes, Andy Timmons, Todd Rundgren, Roger Powell, Willy Wilcox, and Mark Rivera. I was farming tracks out for people to put their particular expertise on- that was pretty interesting. For instance, when I sent Todd the track for him to play on, I sent it to him in July of 2012. He didn’t send in back until January 2013. You don’t want to be a pest and say, ‘Hey Todd, where’s that track I sent you? Are you EVER going to finish it?’ It’s a favor, so I have to be patient and wait for him to have a free moment to work on my record. 

    “With Roger, I had to actually fly to San Francisco and go into a buddy studio to have him come in and play on it. He didn’t want to do it. I said, ‘Look, please. I’ll fly to San Francisco. I’ll bring the tapes with me. We can sit down, do it in the afternoon, and I’ll take you dinner that night.’ That worked with him. 

    “This is the first record since 1992 that all four Utopia members are on. I really wanted to have that little feather in my cap. People like Andy Timmons who is probably one of the best guitar players in the country… he is just the sweetest guy in the whole world. He is a big fan of mine, and I said, ‘Andy, would you like to play on the song?’ He said, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’, so I sent him the track. He recorded two passes at a solo and sent it back to me. It just wasn’t what I was hearing, so I then I go back and say, ‘Can you do it just a little bit more like this?’ 

    “This is what separates this record from my prior solo records. In the past, I might have said, ‘That’s great! Thanks!’ and moved on. I didn’t. I needed to feel like it was right. That was a big thing for me. Even when it came to the mixing process, I thought, ‘You know what? I need outside input on this record, so I’m going to send it out’. I had a couple other people mix the record for me.”

    I never ask an artist what their favorite song is on an album because it’s like picking heir favorite child. However, I did ask Sulton which song he would using a “calling card,” so to speak, to introduce it to people who might not be familiar with his work.

    “It’s very strange. There are songs on that record that I think are really strong, and there are songs on the record that I think are just good songs. One of the songs that I thought was one of the strongest tends to be a song that people gloss over. They’re not drawn to it, and I was a little surprised. 

    “I think at the end of the day, probably the first two tracks are indicative of what the rest of the record is like. I think ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’ and ‘Clocks All Stopped’ really are the songs that, to me, best represent the entire record. They’re strong songs, good songs. They’re likeable and hummable. People seem to enjoy them.”

    Being very impressed with who all Kasim pulled in to work on the album with him – some whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing (Mark Rivera as well as knowing and interviewing Andy Timmons) I asked how was it to work with such an arsenal of diverse and amazing talent like those guys and the others.

    “Just the simple fact that all of those fifteen other musicians that are on the record, when I asked if they’d be interested, they said, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course! Just send me the track’ or ‘I’ll be over on Tuesday’. 

    “It’s one thing to have the acceptance, the accolades, the great reviews from fans and people in the music/journalism/radio business saying, ‘Oh, this is a really great record. Thank you very much for it’. It’s another thing to be accepted and get those same accolades from your peers. To me, it is the ultimate compliment to have other people I grew up listening to and people I think are the top in their field say, ‘This is a good record, Kasim. I’m really proud to be on it. Thank you so much’. 

    “I’m very proud to have the career that I’ve had and to have that caliber of people playing on the record. I wish I would have gotten Luke to play on it. That would have been great.”

    In comparing work on “3” to all of the other albums he’s worked on over his long career, Sulton said: 

    “The difference between this record and any record I’ve worked on in the past was my attention to detail. I pained over every lyric, every note, every part, and every mix. I mastered the record once with one guy and hated it. I had it re-mastered by Greg Calby here in New York. I just did not want to leave anything on the table. 

    “Even with a record like ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ which we did in 1977, we rehearsed for about two weeks. Then we went into the studio and cut the tracks within a week. You didn’t look back. There was no, ‘Should we try it again? Should we try it this way? Should we slow it down or speed it up? Should we take this section out?’ It was just like, ‘Ok, next!’ Most records are done like that. You don’t want to make it seem like it’s the last time you’re ever going to record. If you don’t get something right on this record, well, you’ll get it right on the next one.

    “Again, on this record, I just would not leave anything to chance. I just wanted to make sure there were no stones unturned, nothing I wish I did that I didn’t do. The only way to explain it is I worked really hard, and I don’t like to work.”

    Sulton has seen a ton of changes in the music industry in his long career. I asked him what are the most positive and negative changes he’s seen in the industry over the years.

    “I think there are a lot of reasons the music industry is in the shape it’s in. A lot of it is the caliber of music that’s available today. My son is nineteen, and my daughter is twenty-four. My

         

    nineteen-year-old has never bought a record. When I was nineteen, I must have had five hundred records at home that I’d bought over the years. He’s never bought any music, and I scream at him all the time about downloading or using YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, whatever. I say, ‘You’re taking money off your own plate, dude. Don’t do that. I gotta pay the mortgage!’ A guy named Jimmy Bralower produced Mark’s record ‘Common Bond’ which I love and am on, actually. He says, ‘You know, it used to be that water was free, and you paid for music. Now, music is free, and you have a water bill every month!’

    “I don’t want to complain, because at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s not going to change. It’s the Wild West. There are no rules. Anything goes. By the same token, any kid with a laptop can sit down and make a record. It didn’t used to be like that. It used to be that you had to go in the studio, come up with at least a $50,000 budget, then hopefully come up with something the record company likes. It doesn’t matter anymore. Now, you almost don’t even want a record company. It’s the surest way not to make any money, but there are some advantages of having a machine behind you. I don’t have that machine. Everything is on my shoulders. Everything I do has to come from me, from the album design to calling musicians to turning on my studio here at home and recording. It’s a lot easier to reach a vast amount of people, but it’s a lot harder to get them to pony up ten or fifteen bucks for a CD. 

    “These days it’s all about live performances. It’s all about going out, playing live, and getting fans one at a time. That’s not so different than it used to be. Radio is still really important. You get a song on the radio. If it gets picked up, and people gravitate to it, there is still nothing better for you promotion-wise. But it costs a ridiculous amount of money to get a record on radio. If you have a small budget like I did for this record, I hired a publicist, and I got a bunch of great reviews and interviews. It’s still about trying to get people excited and jazzed and talking about it. It’s a monumental task. That’s why I’m going out and doing shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville, and Nashville. I’ll probably do some more later on in the summer. There’s good, and there’s bad. Like I said, at the end of the day, you can’t complain. It just is what it is.

    “Sirius has been great to me. A guy by the name of Mike Marrone, the program director at The Loft, is a fan of mine. He heard the record and said, ‘Kasim, I love the record, and we’re going to play it’. I did a live show at the Sirius XM studios. They broadcast out about a half dozen times over the course of a month. That kind of stuff is invaluable. But, unless you have anywhere between $50,000-$100,000 to get your record on the radio, terrestrial radio isn’t going to play it. They have forty records they play over and over again. Classic rock doesn’t want to touch it, because they’re busy playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’. You’re really between a rock and a hard place.”

    I choked at the dollar amounts that it takes to get a song on the radio and asked if they didn’t used to call that payola.

    “They still do! In my book, it still is. You hire a radio promo guy. He services three hundred stations around the country. A good radio promo guy is $10,000 a month.

    “These days, what you want is a song and a television show. You want to be on Grey’s Anatomy. You want to be on Shameless or The Big Bang Theory. You get a song on one of those TV shows, and that opens a huge amount of doors to go from there. That’s the kind of validation you want these days.”

    I asked Kasim what he would do to fix the music industry if he were named music czar – or if he thought it even needed fixing. 

    “I read an article not too long ago that said Jon Bon Jovi is responsible for ruining the music industry. The article went on to blame, using Jon Bon Jovi as an example, corporate rock, lackluster dreck. I disagree with that. I don’t think Jon ruined the music industry. I think Steve Jobs did. I think iTunes and YouTube ruined the music industry by making it free. I’m not saying that fifteen dollar CDs are the way to go or that music should be expensive. By all means, it shouldn’t be. But if you don’t have to buy something, why bother buying it? Pharrell did an interview where he said his song was streamed 45 million times from Spotify or Pandora, one of those services. He got a check for $2,500 from that. What we’re talking about is the bottom line of money. And it really isn’t about money. It’s not. 

    “I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of where to start to fix the music industry. I just think it’s about good music. Maybe there should be some kind of forum or something where Jimmy Iovine says, ‘These are the records everybody is listening to these days. Let’s support these artists’.  When something new comes out, there would be a panel of people just like you, other writers… even though David Fricke refused to review my album. He said it didn’t wow him. You know who Bob Lefsetz is, right? Well, a good friend of mine, Glen Burtnik, did a record about ten years ago called ‘Palookaville’. It’s a great record. Somehow, Bob got a hold of it and wrote one of his entire newsletters on how amazing this record was. I called Glen and said, ‘Hey Glen, after Bob did the newsletter on your record, did it reflect in sales at all?’ He wrote back two words: ‘No way.’ The Lefsetz Letter goes out to probably 20-30,000 people, I would imagine, but it’s all industry people. What you want to do is get to people like my daughter, the 24-year-olds. But she’s not listening to me- I’m 59 years old! The last thing she’s going to do is pick up a record from 59 year old.”

    I would pay some nominal amount to access YouTube. I don’t listen to Spotify or Pandora, but if I were to, I would pay $20 a year to listen to those if it was important to me. I posited to Sulton if the solution is simple math- taking a percentage of that income (a recognized percentage, say 35% across the top) then prorate the income from that to those who are getting the most activity. 

    “It sounds like an accounting nightmare, but maybe what the solution would be is to take it a step further with a YouTube music channel. For access to the music channel, you pay a premium of twenty bucks a year or whatever. Any music videos on that channel, in order to access it, you have to pay a yearly fee. Then again, what’s to stop somebody from taking that video, copying it, and putting it out on a free site? It becomes this vicious circle. It’s never going to change. The thing to try to do is how to survive and make a living doing what you do with the landscape the way it is currently. That is merchandise: CDs, t-shirts, what have you, and live shows.”

    Kasim then shared what is on his career radar for the next year to five years.

    “Right now, it’s the shows I have coming up and doing as good a show as I possibly can do for the people who come to see me. I’m putting in some more shows after that. I don’t know where. Usually, I go to Chicago, Cleveland, stuff like that. I love playing those places. I have a pretty decent following in those places. I have some more Blue Ӧyster Cult shows coming up later this month and in May/June. I’ll be busy doing that on the weekends. They’re weekend warriors. For the rest of the year, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking maybe I need to do another record right away. I will probably, at some point over the next six months, sit down and try to put together the beginnings of my next record, even thought I just cringe at the thought. It just takes so much work. 

         

    “As far as my five year plan goes, I turn sixty this year. I was with my family yesterday for Easter. My brother-in-law who is married to my sister will be sixty two months later. We’re going to go to Jerusalem. I’ve never been. I’ve been to the Middle East, but only Dubai. We were talking about going to Cuba: ‘Cuba will be great! We’ll just lay on the beach for three or four days.’ Who doesn’t want to go to Cuba? Then I thought about Jerusalem. He’s like, ‘That’s it! That’s where we’re going.’ So we’re talking about going this year for our sixtieth birthdays.

    “Five years? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to do live shows and doing this. I can’t imagine I’d be doing anything else, because it’s a little late in life to become a plumber. I always threaten myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to just give it all up, sell everything, and I’m going back to DeVry to become an air conditioning technician.’ But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.”

    I like to ask this question of people who have been in the business a long time – and I never intend it to be a macabre one but I wanted to know: once Kasim’s stepped off the tour bus of life for the final time and is at the great gig in the sky (to borrow a line from Pink Floyd), how does he want to be remembered and what do he hope his legacy will be?

    “That’s a good question. The greatest thing for me is that I have a body of work that will live on well after I’m gone. I’ve been on some great records that will always be available for people to hear. I have worked with some of the best people in the music industry- past, present, and hopefully in the future. I’m not a Beatle. I’m not a Rolling Stone. I wasn’t in Led Zeppelin. I’m not Leonard Bernstein. I haven’t yet written a song that millions of people can sing the lyrics to. The pleasure and the honor is in the journey. My journey has been long, and it’s not over. There’s still a lot to do. I’d love to write a song that everybody knows, so I’m going to keep trying.”

  • knightedbythebluescoverKnighted By The Blues
    Artist: Rick Derringer
    Label: Blues Bureau International
    Reviewed: May, 2009

    “Knighted By The Blues” clocks in as Rick Derringer’s 40th album/CD in his long and legendary career. This doesn’t even count the countless discs that he’s played and/or produced with many other artists or, for that matter, the myriad of soundtracks that he’s either worked on or his work was used.

    To say that “Knighted” is a “must own” by Derringer fans would be an understatement. His signature guitar work is as great as ever and his voice doesn’t seem to have changed one bit since “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” was first released. How many of us can say that?

    This album is a huge treat! It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite tune so I’ll narrow it to two . . . but it’s a hard “two” to pick. Okay, I’m going to make it three and in no particular order, alright? Those three songs are the title cut, the incredible “Sometimes” and “If 6 Was 9”, which is a tune written and recorded by Jimi Hendrix on his “Axis: Bold As Love” LP.

    The album’s namesake song, “Knighted By The Blues”, is a great, slow blues tune that is sure to chill out its listener on the first play. Rick’s vocals are smooth as is his fret work. While listening to this cut repeatedly, it began to make me wonder if the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn wasn’t influenced by Derringers interpretation of the blues. I suppose that we’ll never know.

    The one song that Rick says is commanding a lot of attention by the radio stations is “Sometimes”, and I can see why. When you hear this song for the first time, it grabs you by the ears and doesn’t let you go until it’s darn well ready to. Be warned! Don’t listen to this song while driving. There’s something about the tune that makes you want to put the pedal to the metal and make the roads melt.spacerun: yes;"> This song is destined to be a crowd pleaser for Rick for years to come. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear this song used in a car commercial or some incredible scene in a movie. It’s THAT good!

    Derringer’s interpretation of Hendrix’s, “If 6 Was 9”, would make Jimi stand up and take notice. Besides the fact that seeing Hendrix stand up today would scare the rain right out of our clouds, I would dare say that Rick’s version would give the original a run for its money. I don’t think Jimi would mind a bit. Can you imagine what it would sound like to hear Hendrix and Derringer jam together? Dwell on that thought for a minute or two!

  • rebelroadcoverRebel Road
    Edgar Winter
    Airline Records
    Reviewed: June, 2009

    Rebel Road is Edgar Winter’s 20th recording. Of course, this doesn’t include his countless collaborative works as well as the myriad soundtracks and commercials that have used his iconic work.

    Winter’s landmark hits, Frankenstein and “Free Ride” still stand up well as pillars of rock classics. That said, I sincerely believe that Edgar’s work on “Rebel Road” have the same quality material that will stand the test of time. Not only that, I also believe that we will see Mr. Winter add another genre to his appeal by drawing Country fans to his work. Either that or Country artist will record his work, exposing him to that lucrative base.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s look at the title cut from the CD.

    “Rebel Road” has all the right ingredients for a rock classic. It rocks the senses! It also doesn’t hurt that guitar virtuoso, Slash, handles the axe work on the tune. This song cries out to be used in a Harley Davidson commercial. Are you listening to me, Keith Wandell? Or how about you, Mark-Hans Richer? This advice is free. The rest of my brilliant ad ideas will cost you. You know how to reach me.

    Back to the disc.

    Rebel Road makes you want to get on a Harley and hit the roads at very high rates of speed. I say that and I don’t even own a motorcycle. That’s the affect this has on its listeners. Did I already say that it rocks?

    The other brilliant tune that was originally the working title cut for the album is “Rockin’ the Blues”, featuring Edgar’s brother, Johnny. When two siblings who have rock, blues, and jazz burned into their DNA like the Winter boys do, you know that when they get together to jam, sheer brilliancy will result. Between Edgar’s signature keyboard work and Johnny’s straight forward rock/blues genius, I have run the risk of causing my iPod to get permanently stuck on this tune. Yes, it’s that great.

    Winter crosses the genre barrier with two incredible Country flavored tunes, “The Power of Positive Drinkin’” and “On the Horns of a Dilemma”. Both cuts feature Country great, Clint Black. Clint plays the harmonica on “Drinkin’” as well as on “Dilemma” with a bit of vocals to boot. Why these two great tunes haven’t commanded the attention of the suits on Music Row in Nashville, I’ll never know. I would say more but I’ve already given too much great, free advice in this peace. You guys know where to reach me. Have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch.

    At the risk of getting real mushy on everybody, I have to say that “The Closer I Get” is one of the best love songs that I’ve heard in a long time. Written for his wife of over 30 years, Monique, this song should serenade every wife on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. It’s heart-felt, positive and romantic, all in one tune.

    Speaking of positive, this disc oozes an upbeat, positive vibe, even on the blues tunes. It’s refreshing to hear an album that has a positive message over-arching the entire work without making it a concept album.

    I’ve hit on all of my personal favorites but the whole CD is great.

    “Rebel Road” proves, yet again, that Edgar Winter is not only a versatile, musical genius but still relevant on the music scene after over forty years in the business.

    Buy the disc. In fact, buy two and give one to a friend. Trust me. They’ll love it.

  • Posted May, 2009

    In the early Seventies, many a teenage boy fantasized about being able to play guitar just like their favorite guitar hero.  When they’re favorite guitar song would come on the radio or while listening to it in their room, they would imagine that was THEM playing that song.

    One such song during those innocent times was a song that helped define the music of the Seventies.  That song is "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo".  The guitar virtuoso wailing on the guitar on that song was a 26 year old man by the name of Rick Derringer.

    By the time that song was rocking the airwaves, Derringer was already an 8 year veteran of the rock scene.  He recorded his first huge hit, Hang On Sloopy, at the tender age of 17, with his band, The McCoys.  He also performed the guitar solo on Alice Cooper’s 1971 album, Killer.  Soon after “Hoochie Koo”, Derringer had a follow-up hit with Teenage Love Affair.  With those hits under his belt, Rick worked with Johnny Winter and his brother, Edgar, as well as the jazz rock band, Steely Dan.

    In the Eighties and Nineties, Derringer has been involved in a plethora of projects and bands, including working with Weird Al Yankovic, Barbara Streisand, Kiss, and Cyndi Lauper, as well as work for the World Wrestling Federation.  This was all in addition to his continual touring and working on his own projects.

    In recent years, he’s converted to Christianity but still tours and performs his past hits as well as his more recent work.  In 2006, he was featured in a Fidelity Investments television commercial.  In 2007, “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” was featured in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero 2, which will inspire another legion of teenage boys to fantasize about playing just like Rick.

    I had the privilege of sitting down with Rick Derringer during his appearances at the 2009 Dallas International Guitar show.  We covered a wide range of topics that included his new CD, Knighted By The Blues, and his line of guitars. We also discussed his vintage guitar business and the market in general, as well as his faith and several other topics.

    A scramble-brained rock star he is not.  Derringer is an affable man who can converse on almost any topic and smoothly segue from one topic to another.  His business finesse and command of current events and how he views it all through the lens of his faith is evident from the git-go.

    I started off by asking Rick Derringer how the guitar show was going for him.  “Very good!  I mean, I come here, more than anything, to just do my concert, be a part of this great roster of guitar players and Jimmy Wallace, who runs the show, is also a good, strong Christian and I like to help him out.  One of my favorite parts of the show is Sunday morning, before the show starts, we have church over there.  So, I come here for a lot of other kind of reasons that aren’t necessarily connected to selling guitars.

    “On the other hand, I do work with Warrior Guitars.  We’ve created a Rick Derringer Signature Model guitar.  And, uh, I always spend a quite a bit of time at their booth showing people that guitar.”

    When asked how sales of his Signature Model guitar were, he enthusiastically responds, “They do pretty well!  It’s a custom guitar company.  They make them by hand.  You don’t see them in many music stores so it’s kind of a smaller number of sales than like a Paul Reed Smith or something like that.

    Paul Reed Smith, I think, makes 70 a day at this point.  And we make about, I think, 30 in a month, which is still pretty good volume but – and there are all other (Warrior) guitars as well as the Rick Derringer model.  But people that play it enjoy it and because of that, most of them that are really ready to buy a guitar – after they play it, will buy that one! “

    We then segued into a discussion about his vintage guitar business.  He describes it this way:  “Yeah, well, always in my life, I’ve been a lover of toys.  A new guitar, to me, is a toy.  And, so, I enjoy acquiring the NEW guitars.  So, what I usually do is, I take my old ones and I play them for awhile.  And they end up sitting somewhere in a vault or somewhere.  Eventually, I sell those old ones so that I can get more NEW ones!  And that has turned into being kind of a business over the years. I always have guitars in my collection and whenever I put a few up for sale, they seem to go pretty fast.  We always provide a certificate with them saying that they’re from my collection and that adds a little bit to the value, as well.”

    However, Derringer acknowledges that the current economy is impacting his business.  “I think that it’s affecting everything!  Not just the vintage guitar business.  It definitely affects everything.  I mean, we’ve all heard that people thought that they had money.  They thought they had invested wisely in real estate and they looked at that equity as their nest egg.  And they looked at themselves as affluent!  As soon as that disappeared, as that nest egg became, apparently, gone, that affluence that they felt was gone, too.

    “So, all of a sudden, when people felt that they had money that they could spend for whatever it was, they don’t feel like that anymore.  So, I think it’s definitely affected the vintage guitar business from one point of view.

    “Now, here’s the other side of the coin:  People are nervous about putting their money in real estate.  They’re nervous about putting it in stocks.  And there are some things that have intrinsic value that will not go away.  One of those things is rare instruments and from that point of view people that see that are still there and they’re actually looking to buy up instruments right now when they’re cheaper – a little cheaper.”

    With the help of a weak dollar, Rick is seeing continued purchases not only domestically but from overseas, especially Japan.  “It’s a world-wide business. Certainly the Japanese like to come over and take the guitars back over there.  But it’s a worldwide business.”

    We turn the discussion to Derringer’s touring.  “Touring this year is less.  This year, I decided to just really tell my agent that I was retiring from concerts.  He chose that as a opportunity to say, ‘Well, if I got you ‘this much’ money, would that mean that we could still get you out there?’  And, I said, ‘Yeah’.  But it was quite a bit more than I have previously charged.  So, I didn’t expect to get any gigs, frankly.  I just said, ‘Okay, I will put in the hands of the Lord and He will provide.’

    "And what has happened is He has!  Just by not having as much of my time tied up travelling, I’ve been able to work on a lot of other kinds of projects.  Albums, CD’s and things like that.  And, also, then just devoting time to properly focusing on our business.  We also manage other artists and produce other records and things like that, too.”

    Derringer has a new CD out entitled, Knighted By The Blues.  I asked him to tell me about it.

    “Yeah! ‘Knighted By The Blues’, it’s called.  It’s on Blues Bureau International Records.  I’ve done – this will be the fifth one for them.  And each time – in some ways – they’ve given me a little more freedom.  But Mike Varney, the president of the company, really is a very strong president.  He has his definite ideas.  He’s a guitar player himself.  He wants to make records for guitar players.  And he wants, somehow, to make sure his interests are protected.  He helps you choose songs for the records and things like that.  And this is the first one where he’s actually allowed me to just ahead and do it without his – I did it in the studio where I like to record as opposed to his turf.  I used the musicians that I like as opposed to the ones HE likes.  I chose the material myself as opposed to him having any input.  And from that point of view, it certainly reflects more what I look at as a blues CD.  And that is not necessarily the strict, old-timey, kind of blues that – it’s a different kind of blues CD.

    “It’s a little more current.  The songs are more relevant to subjects that I think are current.  It doesn’t rely as much on just old songs, too.  There are not as many covers there.  And the covers that I have done, I am personally fond of as opposed to somebody saying, ‘Well I think everybody else is going to like this song.’

    “I’ve done Jimi Hendrix’s, “If Six Was Nine”, which is a song that I always enjoyed.  We changed the lyrics just enough to make them reflective of my Christianity.  And it’s not one that a lot of people have covered.  So, it’s one that people will find refreshing.

    “I did a very rare Ray Charles song that I don’t know – I think only one other person has ever even recorded it as far as I know.  Diana, uh, not Krall. Ah, it doesn’t matter.  At any rate, only one other cover that I know of, of the song.  It’s called, “Funny, But I Still Love You” and I LOVE that song.  We closed the album with that one.

    “So, most of it, though, is brand new original stuff.  And it expands the gamut from the slow, what we call “gut bucket blues” all the way to – one which seems to be finding acceptance with rock radio.  I can’t believe it!  I never would’ve expected it!”

    Later in the conversation, Derringer glows as he describes his wife’s contributions to the CD.  “She’s written about – we wrote seven songs – original songs.  And I think one or two of them I wrote.  One of them, she wrote. And the rest we wrote together.  She’s right there all the time!

    “One of the songs – the one that rock radio likes – she didn’t even present that lyric to me.  She said, ‘Here’s some stuff that might be good for the blues album.’ But that’s not one of them.  I actually was able to go into her computer and pull up her song file and go through things.  And I found that one that she hadn’t even taken that much of an interest in, frankly.  But I said that this could be really cool!  So I took that one myself without even asking her and took it to the studio and turned it into a song, which she was pleasantly surprised!”

    Later, when asked about the rest of his family, Derringer’s eyes light up again, telling me that he has a 16 year old and a 17 year old.  I comment that “they’ve obviously got to think that it’s pretty cool that their dad is a rock ‘n roller and can show them a thing or two.”

    He shoots back, “They do! They do!  My daughter really sings well as does my wife.  And my son, he’s turned in to more of a writer.  He’s turned into a lyricist, so he’s writing words for songs.  And that’s cool.  So, we’re just – whatever they want to do, is pretty much up to them.  I try not to be the boss too much.”

    One of the questions I like to ask those that I interview is how, if they were starting today instead of when they did, would they be able to start the same way?  I asked Derringer this question.  His reply surprised me.

    “It wouldn’t be a lot different.  I mean, we were out there in the grass roots, just trying to be a good band.  And that doesn’t change.  You’re not going to get anywhere if the band isn’t good enough.  So, the first thing you concentrate on is on being a really good little band.  And we then went out, using that.  (We) got local gigs – as many as we could and tried to find gigs with radio stations and things like that, that would give us a little more visibility.  And that’s no different.  Everybody has to do the same kind of thing in that respect.  And, obviously, the end result is that somebody will find YOU.  The music business will find YOU.

    “People have it a lot easier in some ways now.  They can supply their music to download sources, iTunes just being one of them.  But they – without a record company – can get their music out there and, theoretically, grow and become more well-known.  So that’s the only thing that’s really changed is the way – the ease – which you can get into the music business.  In some ways, it’s easier now than it even was then.

    “The music business still loves young people – the young artists.  From that point of view, that hasn’t changed, either.  It’s easier for a young person to get a contract or record deal – or even a place on American Idol than it is for an older person.  That hasn’t changed.  So, uh, in some ways, I’m giving a message of hope and blessing because it’s just – all they have to do is be good.  Practice enough to be good.  The rest will come pretty easy.”

    “So, is there a guitarist today – new – that really commands your attention?  I don’t want to put you on the spot!”

    After pausing for just a moment, Rick answers, “Nobody in particular.  I was going to say a couple of names but – nobody in particular.  In fact, the lead guitar has kind of been downplayed, and it’s just more about the music and the songs than ever.  That hasn’t changed.

    “But, you know, people are starting to find – I understand that the vinyl records has gone up over 30% last year.  And a lot of that is specifically college kids – people in dorms.  And they found that they don’t just have to have ear buds and only be by themselves.  They can actually put a turntable in their room, with speakers, and play music and other people can come in the room and all of them hang out at the same time!”

    “Interaction, imagine that!”

    “Yeah!  So, from that point of view, it seems to be growing more and more all the time.

    Bringing the discussion back to the theoretical “then and now” discussion, I asked, “If you were 16 today and starting a band, would you be doing the kind of music you’re doing now?  Do you feel that was just what you were cut out to do?”

    “ Yeah, music has to be reflective – every kid will find the kid of music he likes.  But they are finding, like I said – through the LP’s and stuff – they’re finding those guitar players.  They’re finding me and they’re finding Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.  All the music from the era that we’re from is being found, whether it’s by young kids or college kids.

    “Guitar Hero (Xbox 360) used “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo” in its very second incarnation, Guitar Hero 2.  So I was only one of the first 20 songs that were out there and that is giving us a world-wide presence again, too.  So, that kind of stuff is making – in fact, they accounted for 1/3 of the world wide music business in the last few years - Guitar Hero alone!  It’s incredible.  Everybody has one now.  The family has one.  Some families have several!  But it’s amazing what that has done for music, too.”

    I add, “Our generation of music, it just spans.  It can stand on its own.  And people reach back to it as a foundation.”

    “Well, it meant something special to us as a generation of – I don’t think that it holds the same place.  Music is viable, certainly, and kids will always go there.  Music is always going to be something that helps people.  Music is a different language – language of our soul, in some ways, (the) language of our heart.  And that’s not going to change.  We are humans.  As long as we have souls and hearts, then music will be viable.  And that hasn’t changed at all.  Like we said, kids will find the music they feel is important to them.  And that’s the stuff they’ll do!”

    Derringer is not the least bit shy in letting it be known that he is a Christian.  Since he brought it up a couple of times, I drilled into how his faith has impacted his relationships within the music business and with his fan base.

    “It hasn’t hurt anything!  It hasn’t hurt at all!  As a matter of fact, the idea is for some of ‘me’ to rub off on them!  And that’s what we’re really most excited about.  THAT’s the idea.  I mean, if all of a sudden I changed as a person and I – my music started sucking – uh, they’d all have a pretty bad image of it.

    “They’d blame it all on it (his faith), huh?”, I added.

    “Yeah, but, in reality, what happens is, you know, you’re still the same person you always were.  Where the Lord loves us THEN, He loves us NOW!  And music doesn’t have to get worse.  The fact of the matter just have to have ear buds and only be by themselves.  They can actually put a turntable in their room, with speakers, and play music and other people can come in the room and all of them hang out at the same time!”

    “Interaction, imagine that!”

    “Yeah!  So, from that point of view, it seems to be growing more and more all the time.

    Bringing the discussion back to the theoretical “then and now” discussion, I asked, “If you were 16 today and starting a band, would you be doing the kind of music you’re doing now?  Do you feel that was just what you were cut out to do?”

    “ Yeah, music has to be reflective – every kid will find the kid of music he likes.  But they are finding, like I said – through the LP’s and stuff – they’re finding those guitar players.  They’re finding me and they’re finding Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.  All the music from the era that we’re from is being found, whether it’s by young kids or college kids.

    “Guitar Hero (Xbox 360) used “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo” in its very second incarnation, Guitar Hero 2.  So I was only one of the first 20 songs that were out there and that is giving us a world-wide presence again, too.  So, that kind of stuff is making – in fact, they accounted for 1/3 of the world wide music business in the last few years - Guitar Hero alone!  It’s incredible.  Everybody has one now.  The family has one.  Some families have several!  But it’s amazing what that has done for music, too.”

    I add, “Our generation of music, it just spans.  It can stand on its own.  And people reach back to it as a foundation.”

    “Well, it meant something special to us as a generation of – I don’t think that it holds the same place.  Music is viable, certainly, and kids will always go there.  Music is always going to be something that helps people.  Music is a different language – language of our soul, in some ways, (the) language of our heart.  And that’s not going to change.  We are humans.  As long as we have souls and hearts, then music will be viable.  And that hasn’t changed at all.  Like we said, kids will find the music they feel is important to them.  And that’s the stuff they’ll do!”

    Derringer is not the least bit shy in letting it be known that he is a Christian.  Since he brought it up a couple of times, I drilled into how his faith has impacted his relationships within the music business and with his fan base.

    “It hasn’t hurt anything!  It hasn’t hurt at all!  As a matter of fact, the idea is for some of ‘me’ to rub off on them!  And that’s what we’re really most excited about.  THAT’s the idea.  I mean, if all of a sudden I changed as a person and I – my music started sucking – uh, they’d all have a pretty bad image of it.

    “They’d blame it all on it (his faith), huh?”, I added.

    “Yeah, but, in reality, what happens is, you know, you’re still the same person you always were.  Where the Lord loves us THEN, He loves us NOW!  And music doesn’t have to get worse.  The fact of the matter is, your conscience being freed up just lightens your load so that your creativity and music can soar!  That’s what I’ve found and people are excited about hearing that.

    “So it hasn’t turned anybody off and, as a matter of fact, I have people telling me all the time that they appreciate seeing my testimony on the website.  And we’re actually spreading that more all the time, rather than less.  And that helps people see that they can, you know - they’re not alone!  The Lord can help ME.  He can help them!  And that’s the message that we have!”

    Rick becomes even more animated at this point.  “Amazing!  Yeah!  Yeah!  You just put your – live by faith!  LIVE-BY-FAITH!  Because HE will provide!  “I will take care!” Like this year, for instance, like I said, I raised my price pretty drastically.  And, all of a sudden, I was turning down some shows because they were for less than what I was asking for.

     “And my road manager called me up and he was a little concerned, you know?  “You’re turning down this show!  This is a good concert!”  And I explained to him, ‘You know? Look. I put it in the hands of the Lord.  I told the Lord that I have FAITH that He will PROVIDE what we see as necessary.  If all of a sudden we take the first gig that comes along that is way less than what I asked the Lord for, what kind of faith is that?’  What kind of faith does that show?!  You HAVE to have the faith!  I mean, you just can’t pretend.  It has to be real!  As long as you put your faith in the Lord, He will provide!”

    Curious how the church world was receiving him, I asked, “Are you getting any interest from church circles for your work?”

    “Uh, well, we haven’t really tried to go out there and, uh, shoot for that.   But slowly –“

    “You’re a different kind of gig than that.”

    “Yeah, and I do have more churches and stuff, though, that are coming around, asking me to perform, and things like that.  But here’s what happened.  When I first started doing more Christian based music and changing some of my songs to reflect that standing, I was a little concerned about the kind of shows – we’d play for biker events.  And I don’t play anymore - we were playing bars and those kinds of venues.  And I was a little concerned so I asked my pastor at that time for their advice.  And what they told me was that, really look at it as the opportunity that the Lord has given me!  If I go into a church, playing for a bunch of believers . . .”

    “You’re preaching to the choir!”

    “Yeah, it certainly reinforces THEIR belief.  Once again, their saved!  You’re preaching to the choir!

    “On the other hand, the places that I just mentioned where I play, they don’t necessarily ever invite a Christian artist to play those places.  So, I’m able to go in there – totally with their approval – and they’re even paying me – and play my concert and throw in a few songs that have now been changed to reflect that Christian standpoint.  I’m given that opportunity that nobody else has!  So I’m able to go in there and just do what Jesus said to do!  Be that light in the real world and, uh, deliver that message.  And even if some people don’t hear the lyrics, if they just – if I’m reflecting Jesus to that audience and they should be able to feel that and see it . . . and it works!  They said, ‘You should be doing THAT! That’s a responsibility that you’ve been given and you should honor it!’ And that’s what we do!”

    Later, when mentioning other rockers who have also proclaimed their faith, Derringer interjects, “We call ourselves, ‘Double agents for the Lord!  We’re working behind the enemy lines!”

    We wrapped up our chat with what he’s got coming up, which includes some dates with Edgar and Johnny Winter in September.  Rick Derringer’s appearances are listed on his website, www.rickderringer.com.

    This article written by Randy Patterson.  All rights reserved and cannot not be used without written permission, which can be obtained by writing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

  • Posted June, 2010

    This month will witness the latest tour and incarnation (the 11th, to be exact) of Ringo and His All Starr Band. This will be one of those special and rare opportunities to see the “lovable Beatle” performing many of the hits from his impressive solo work as well as from the Beatles’ extensive catalog. Ringo also will be sharing the spotlight with each of All Starr band mates as they sing some of their hits, as well.

    Ringo kicked off his first All Starr band back in the summer of 1989. The band consisted ofClarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead), the late Rick Danko (The Band),Levon Helm (also of The Band),Dr. John, legendary session drummer,Jim Keltner (who worked on many of the greatest classic rock albums ever recorded),Nils Lofgren (Neil Young, E Street Band), the late Billy Preston and the incomparableJoe Walsh.

    Over the next twenty years, other big names such asBurton Cummings, Dave Edmunds,Randy Bachman, the lateJohn Entwistle,Peter Frampton,Todd Rundgren,Billy Squier,Greg Lake andEric Carmen, to name just a few, joined Ringo band of merry men, delighting audiences everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to see Ringo perform not only the great Beatles tunes but his many great songs from his long solo career? I mean, really! Who wouldn’t?

    The eleventh All Starr Band is made up of another impressive group of some of the best artists in rock and roll history. The multi-talentedEdgar Winter returns for his third tour of duty with Ringo as well asGary Wright for his second stint. On their maiden voyage with Ringo areRick Derringer (Hang On Sloopy, Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo),Richard Page (Mr. Mister),Wally Palmar (the Romantics) andGregg Bissonette (Maynard Ferguson, David Lee Roth, Carlos Santana, Toto).

    This tour is, in part, in support of Starr’s 15th solo album entitled Y Not that features ten great new tunes crafted, sung in the signature Ringo Starr style. You can read more on Y Not byclicking here to read the Boomerocity review of the album.

    To find out more about the latest All Starr Band tour, I tracked down Rick Derringer and Gary Wright. I chatted by with Derringer first, as he was in route to a sound check before a show with Pat Travers. Derringer shares that, “ . . .basically, Ringo’s agent has been a big fan and he tried to do it a couple of years ago but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. This year, they had the slot to fill and I was the perfect guy to do it.”

    After breaking my heart by telling me that Dallas isn’t on the tour’s list of stops, I asked Rick what he thought can people expect from a show from the tour?

    “Well, they get to hear all the songs that Ringo sang with the Beatles and all of his solo hits. And then, everybody in the band is required to have had at least two hits that they’ve sung. So, you get to hear two songs from Gary Wright and two from Edgar Winter; two from Wally and the Romantics and two from the guy who sang lead from Mr. Mister and two from me! It’s a big show.”

    Having watched Derringer perform several times, I can personally tell you that you’re in for a real treat that you’ll not want to miss.

    Duringmy recent interview with Gary Wright, I asked him what it meant to him, from a career fulfillment standpoint, to be part of Ringo’s All-Starr Band not just once but twice.

    “Let me preface it by saying that I was a huge Beatles fan. I saw them when they first appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1962 – whenever that was. I was a huge Beatle fan. I played on all of George Harrison’s solo albums and to have been a close friend of his and I met Ringo through George because he played on George’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass. So, I’ve known Ringo over the years. All of a sudden, out of the blue, to get a call two years ago to join him – well, first of all, I was overjoyed. 

    “He’s a great drummer – a fantastic drummer. He’s got an incredible feel. And, he’s a wonderful, wonderful human being! He’s giving; he’s very kind; he’s funny; he’s just a great person to be around. He treats the musicians really wonderfully. And, it’s a joy! It’s like touring at its best. It can’t hardly get any better than that!”

    In discussing Ringo’s line-up for this tour, each band member is mentioned with accolades by Gary: Edgar Winter as a great keyboardist; Rick Derringer and his phenomenal guitar work, Gary goes on by adding, “ . . . Richard Page from Mr. Mister – he’s got great songs like Kyrie, Eléison and Broken Wing. And Wally Palmer from (The Romantics’) Talking In My Sleep and That’s What I Like About You – they’re all great songs.

    “The thing about the Ringo show is that it’s hit after hit after hit and the audience loves it, which is good. It’s like those old doo-wop shows from the 50’s when there’d be ten artists on the bill and each group would come up and sing one, two or three of their big songs and everyone would people would go crazy. It’s that identity factor that people love to hear their favorite artist.”

    Ringo’s All Starr Tour kicks off June 24th in Niagra Falls, Ontario, and concludes at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 7th. Click here to see if the boys are coming to a city near year. If they are within a couple of hours driving distance or a good, quick flight from where you live, I would highly encourage you to take this opportunity to catch Ringo and the boys in concert.

    While you’re at it, why not pick up or download Y Not? If you’re waffling about buying it, again, you can read the Boomerocity review of ithere.