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  • Blind, Crippled & Crazy

     

     

     Blind, Crippled & Crazy
    Artists: Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark
    Label: New West Records
    Released: June 18, 2013
    Reviewed: June 23, 2013

     

    I was first turned on to Delbert McClinton back in 1980. I was in the process of promoting a Christian concert by former Wings drummer, Joe English, and Bonnie Bramlett was opening for him. The Saturday before the concert, their record label phoned me and told me that Bonnie was going to be on performing with a cat by the name of Delbert McClinton on Saturday night live. I watched their performance of his hit, Givin’ It Up For YourLove, and became an instant McClinton fan. 

    Fast forwarding to today, the three-time Grammy winner has kicked out his 28th album, Blind, Crippled and Crazy. It blends R&B, country, blues and rock ’n’ roll with humor, heart and roadhouse virtuosity. The disc also reunites McClinton with his longtime friend and musical running partner Glen Clark, making these 12 songs the first time the seminal roots music duo Delbert & Glen have recorded since 1973. 

    “We’ve always had an amazing rapport as musicians and friends, but we’ve been off living our own lives,” McClinton explains. “For the last decade Glen and me have been talking about doing another album, and everything fell into place last year here in Nashville with my songwriting partner Gary Nicholson.” 

    Besides co-writing several tracks, Nicholson co-produced the LP with McClinton and Clark and played guitar alongside drummer Tom Hambridge, fellow six-stringer Bob Britt, keyboardists Kevin McKendree and Bruce Katz, and other members of McClinton’s touring band as well as blues guitar hero Anson Funderburgh, who guests on “Oughta Know,” a hot-licks fest penned by McClinton’s son Clay. 

    Blind, Crippled And Crazy’s opening Texas shuffle “Been Around a Long Time” sets a reverberating tone of self-deprecating humor, as does the album’s title. 

    “We’re a couple guys who started playing together in ragtag bands around Fort Worth in the ’60s,” Clark relates, “so we like to poke some fun at ourselves for being older now.” 

    Clark picked up the tune’s tag line many years ago from a feisty 102-year-old woman in Arkansas, who told him, “Sonny, I ain’t old. I’ve just been around a long time,” and the song finally emerged during the disc’s 2011 writing sessions. 

    The loping and textured More and More, Less and Less resonates similarly as it dismisses the excesses of youth, although its acoustic guitar bedrock and the yearning timbre of McClinton’s vocal performance and his haunting harmonica solo add poignancy, too. 

    “The bottom line is that we’re still bulldogs on a pork chop, but our teeth are ground down, so it takes longer to chew that thing up,” Clark says, chuckling a bit. “But we still get it right down to the bone.” 

    That also explains the amount of sheer growl in Blind, Crippled And Crazy’s grooves. World of Hurtis a snarling six-string rocker about biting heartbreak, and Good as I Feel Today rings like a great lost Little Feat number — although McClinton and Clark come by its drawling melody, swaggering rhythm and buttery slide guitar via their own assimilation of R&B, blues, country and nascent rock in the 1950s and early ’60s. 

    They were schooled by the sounds of Ray Charles, Charles Brown, Little Richard, Bob Wills, Elvis Presley and Hank Williams courtesy of the radio and their siblings’ record collections. Then they graduated to playing the roadhouses of their native Texas. 

    Musical mutual admiration rapidly followed. “Delbert was the first great singer I ever saw in person, so he’s always been one of my biggest influences,” Clark relates. In turn, McClinton testifies that “Glen is one of the few people I can reallyduet with. Our phrasing just compliments each other, and our voices sound great together. I have more fun singing with Glen than anybody else.” 

    Clark left Texas in the early ’70s for the lure of Los Angeles’ big-time music business, and after a while McClinton followed. Soon the collaborators landed a record deal and cut two albums, 1972’s Delbert & Glen and the follow-up Subject to Change. Both of these now-hard-to-find classics plumbed the same turf as Blind, Crippled And Crazy, albeit in the sweeter vocal registers of younger men. 

    McClinton’s B Movie Box Car Blues from Delbert & Glen was re-cut six years later by the Blues Brothers for the double-platinum-selling Briefcase Full of Blues and has become a standard of the genre. In a twist of fate, Clark would later play keyboards with the Blues Brothers after becoming music director for Jim Belushi in 1997. 

    Delbert and Glen began their four-decade hiatus after both men moved back to Texas separately to follow romance and their solo careers. Clark returned to Los Angeles in 1977. He became a popular songwriter, authoring tunes for Rita Coolidge, Etta James, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Kris Kristofferson and many others. He also hit the road with his keyboards, touring with Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and others before beginning his dozen years with Belushi, which included nine years as composer for the sitcom According to Jim. 

    Of course, McClinton became an international star in the realms of blues and traditional country music, cross-pollinating the genres into his own unique sound. Since 1980, when his sixth solo album The Jealous Kind sparked the aforementioned top 10 hit Givin’ It Up for Your Love, he has remained one of the most respected figures in American roots music. In 1992 the man who gave John Lennon his first harmonica lesson — when McClinton toured England in the early ’60s as part of Bruce Channel’s band — won his first Grammy Award, for the duet Good Man, Good Womanwith Bonnie Raitt. That was followed by a second win in 2003 for Nothing Personal in the Best Contemporary Blues Album Category. In 2006, he won a third Grammy for his Cost of Living album. McClinton’s songs have also been recorded by a who’s who of country music royalty including Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood. 

    Over the decades his blend of soaring blue-eyed soul singing sprinkled with red Texas dust, the emotional wealth of his songwriting and his command of virtuoso supporting ensembles has built McClinton a wildly avid fan base in the United States and Europe. They are nearly like Deadheads in their willingness to travel to repeated shows and their level of support. Each January they turn the Delbert McClinton & Friends Sandy Beaches Cruise, a weeklong music festival he hosts aboard luxury liners, into a sell-out. 

    “The bottom line is, at this point I don’t believe in doing anything that’s not fun,” McClinton says, “and recording Blind, Crippled And Crazy was a blast. Me and Gary, who I’ve known for 40 years starting back in Texas, handpicked every musician on the record and made sure every song was perfect. The title, from the old soul tune, is something I’ve wanted to use for years. And singing with Glen again — between the way our voices mix and his sense of humor — makes me excited about us taking this music out on the road together. 

    “I’ve got a good deal in life,” McClinton continues. “I’ve got a lot of good people for fans who support me — although I’ve won over each of them one-by-one on the road. I can pick and choose whatever I want to do. And I’ve never had to keep a job for long, thank God, because jobs stink. I know. I’ve had a lot of them, and I know why I got fired from every one. And believe me, making this album and singing these songs with Glen is nothing like a job.”

     

     

  • Bonnie Bramlett

    Posted July, 2011

     

    bramlettrehearsalbarbicanconcertlondon2005Photo Courtesy of Peter CrossIt was early 1981. John Lennon had been murdered the previous December and I’m in the process of organizing and promoting a concert at my church by the former drummer of Paul McCartney and Wings, Joe English. English had “crossed over” to the Contemporary Christian Music (“CCM”) genre as many other secular artists had. To say things were a little nutty because of the whole Lennon/McCartney association would be an understatement. My phone was ringing off the hook with people representing various levels of instability just wanting to be close to anything “Beatles”.

    Yeah, it was a bit scary.

    However, one time my phone rang and it was Joe English’s manager asking me if I would mind terribly if Bonnie Bramlett could open for Joe’s concert. As long as it wasn’t going to tax my already strained and skimpy budget, I didn’t care. To be honest, at that time I wasn’t as immersed into rock and roll history and royalty to fully appreciate just who Ms. Bramlett was. After the call, I did my homework and quickly realized just how lucky I was to get that opportunity presented to me.

    Ms. Bramlett was the “Bonnie” on the iconic rock husband and wife duo, Delaney & Bonnie. Mr. and Mrs. Bramlett enjoyed chart making hits such as a cover of Dave Mason’s Only You Know and I Know and their own Never-Ending Song of Love. They shared the stage with such huge names as George Harrison, Dave Mason, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and ton of others. 

    A prolific songwriter, she’s co-written such songs as Superstar and Give Peace a Chance with Leon Russell as well as Let It Rain with Eric Clapton. If you’ve never seen Bonnie sing Superstar, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Check out the video of her performing that tune on the YouTube clip shown on this page.

    After she and Delaney split up (both professionally and matrimonially), Bonnie went on to pursue her solo career, supported by a band that wasn’t very well known at the time: The Average White Band. Throughout the seventies, she released three albums (It’s Time, Lady’s Choice and Memories) with the legendary label, Capricorn Records. When she wasn’t busy with her solo work, she was providing backup vocals for some of the biggest and diverse names in music. Folks like Joe Cocker, Dwight Yoakum, Carly Simon and Joe Cocker, again, just to name a few. In fact, with her work with the Allman Brothers, she is the only woman to earn the title as the only “Allman Sister”. How cool is that?

    Anyway, back to the concert.

    The Saturday before the concert, I got a small taste of what I was in for with Ms. Bramlett. On Saturday Night Live Delbert McClinton performed his hit song at the time, Giving It Up for Your Love, which Bonnie sang back-up on the record as well as that performance. In my opinion, she stole the show.

    The following Wednesday night was the concert. My gosh! When Bonnie Bramlett took the stage as the opening act, I was totally and completely blown away by the raw power and soul that woman projected. I definitely got an education in the power of performing. She seemed to embody rhythm, blues, rock and soul all in one body. She sang it like she invented it and drove it like she stole it. And, yet, there was such a gentleness and sincerity about her that, when she spoke or hugged your neck (Yeah! She gave me big ol’ long hug after her performance!), you knew that this woman was as real and genuine as a human being could be.

    Over the years, I’ve kept up with Ms. Bramlett, catching her appearances in movies, (The Doors and The Guardian) or her regular role on the hit TV show, Rosanne as well as a guest role on Fame. In the past year, the R&B icon blipped large on my Boomerocity radar when I came in contact with her daughter, Michele (Delaney’s daughter from his previous relationship with Patty Stanley). An interview with Michele soon resulted.

    In the months since that interview, I’ve kept in touch with Michele and the work she is tirelessly pursuing.   In recent weeks, Michele was kind enough to arrange a phone interview with “Baba” (Bonnie). It was the first time we had spoken with each other since that Joe English concert over 30 years ago. When I called Bonnie for our interview, our first few minutes were spent reminiscing about that show.

    At one point, Bonnie asked me, “Don’t you think we were way ahead of our time in gospel music? I mean, c’mon!” I thought about her question for a few seconds and had to agree with her. While there were definitely other “secular” artists who had crossed over into contemporary gospel music as well as some Christian metal bands and the like, there really wasn’t anyone who reflected the kind of R&B that Bonnie and friends helped pioneer. Bonnie agreed.

    “Nobody was playing slide guitar! The slide just wasn’t happening yet! They (the Christian music industry and some of its fans) just wanted us in pigeon holes.” As we shared some stories of some of our redneck friends’ reaction to CCM, Bonnie said they symbolized her uncle who was a preacher when she was a kid.

    “They’re (our redneck friends) are my uncle!” she said with a laugh that accentuated our entire conversation. “My grandmother would roll! Playing music in the church that loud? With drums? God bless ‘em for being there because they were my foundation. That’s why I’m still alive today – because of him (her uncle) and his red neck! God bless his little red neck! And you know what? I’m sorry, I wouldn’t trade them. They built us a foundation that kept me alive and allowed me to have the cajones to even come there and do it (the concert in a church). God bless ‘em and their little red necks because they won’t be here long.”

    As we chatted about the differences in tastes in music amongst the “churched”, Bonnie shared her religious background that had a major influence in her style of singing.

    “We were the first Methodists in our genealogy in the state of Illinois. But I have to say that my great grandmother – who we lovingly called ‘Momma’ and who raised me the first three or four years of my life and who I went to every weekend – she was like a rock star! She followed preachers!” She began mimicking her grandmother as she said, “We’ve got to go see so-and-so preach at the Pentecostal church!’ That was okay with her. ‘Let’s watch Brother So-and-So at this Methodist church.’ And, then, she was a big radio listener and a big Bible teacher herself. My great grandfather was a minister. He was terribly shy and she would write all of his sermons – and he just gave ‘em! She rehearsed him and he did it because he was the minister.

    “He really wanted to be a newspaper man. He had his own printing press. To have your own printing press and publishing in those days was awesome. He was a writer and poet, as well.” When I suggest that is who she inherited her artistic genes from, she laughed that infectious laugh of hers and said, “Ah! Totally! Because on the other side of my family were Irish travelling mountain men! It was what it was!”

    We shift the gears of our conversation to what Ms. Bramlett has been up to in recent days.

    “Well, you know what? I’m 67 in November and I’m retiring!”

    You heard it here first, folks!

    “So, I’m sitting here wondering, ‘How do you do that? How do you really do that?’ But I do know that I’m done. I haven’t quit but I’m not going to be out there rustling the bushes, trying to get work or tours, a record label or any of that kind of thing anymore. I’m pretty much done with that. I’m wanting to have new dreams - maybe acting, maybe an artist. Maybe I’ll be a writer. Who knows? That’s what I’m doing this year.”

    At this point, Bonnie shared with me a super secret that I had to pinky-swear not to tell. What I will tell you is that she has appeared on a pilot of a new TV reality show, helping someone with their singing. From everything she’s told me about it, her appearance on the show will tie up some loose ends, musically, for a certain celebrity. If the series is picked up, it’s going to make big new so stay tuned to Boomerocity in the weeks and months ahead to learn what this is all about.

    As Ms. Bramlett continues to share what she’s been up to, she shares a little insight into her family life.

    “I’m spending the summer with my own grandson. He’s on the high functioning end of autism and he needs some special attention. And the thing is I kind of know what to do with him because I am him, sort of – except in my days there was no diagnosis for ADHD or Autism. I mean, I rocked horribly and, having tried to self-medicate just to feel normal, I understand. We’re trying to keep it very holistic – no medication. We’re working with it through diet and nutrition.”

    Bonnie also shared with me some other options that she is investigating including teaching performance singing (“I’m not a do-re-mi kind of teacher! But teaching is not out of the question . . .”). This quickly led to discussing how songwriting today is different from back in the 60’s and 70’s.

    “Back then it wasn’t like ‘writing a song’, you know? It was very a Native American understanding for me. It was, ‘I just made that up.’ I used to never call myself a songwriter. I just said, ‘I made that up.’” 

    It’s clear that Bramlett has a thorough understanding of, to quote a Joni Mitchell song, “the star making machinery behind a popular song” today. 

    “There’s a whole craft - here in Nashville – to writing a song. For someone who makes songs up, it’s quite confusing. It’s hard to incorporate one’s heart into the ‘recipe”. It’s the genius of the songwriters today. It is happening. These are all really great songs and wonderful stories that are out there. God knows that the singers are fabulous! There’s just so many of them. You cannot help but compare them to each other. There’s only twelve notes, honey! How could they not be alike now and then? 

    “There’s so many songs and so many artists. It’s really taken a hit among many of my peers. I’m hearing them get pretty hard on the music today. That’s not been my experience. I’m seeing some fabulous singers and songwriters and artists and creative dancers. I mean, my word! These kids are working! I mean, they ain’t playin’. They’re hard working kids!. 

    Having a “tetch” of ADD myself, I go off the conversational trail and ask Bonnie what she likes to listen to when she isn’t working.

    “I promise you, it’s not like I listen to the radio or listen to the TV or listen to my iPod and all of that. I don’t. I do that in my car by myself. It’s usually our own music, my stuff, (daughter) Bekka’s stuff, people that I’m working with – mostly Mussel Shoals Sound stuff and gospel stuff – the Winans! I have to go to gospel music to get the skills I’m looking for. Then you have to weed it out because there’s so many notes being sung now. Their chops are incredible but they don’t linger long enough to put that feeling into it. I go to gospel music to get my butt kicked! If I want to be humbled, man, I just listen to Vickie Winans. She just gives me a righteous butt-kickin’! ‘King Jesus’ (a James Cleveland song entitled, Long As I Got King Jesus).”

    Rounding out that part of the conversation, she concluded, “I just hope that I never get too old to learn or be interested enough to want to learn. I don’t want to get that old!”

    I have a feeling Miss Bonnie will never get that old.

    A couple of years ago, while interview Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Sam Andrew, Bonnie’s name came up in the conversation and paid here a very high compliment (you can find that interview here). Prior to my interview with Miss Bonnie Sam and I exchanged some e-mails in which he had this to say about her:

    “The main thing about Bonnie is that she is very soulful and one of the most decent people in our business. I loved her relationship with Janis - honest, comradely and collegial . . . I am only sorry we didn't get to work with her... yet.”

    I read that quote to Bonnie AND mentioned the quote from Sam in my interview with him wherein, again, he mentioned his desire to work with her. Bramlett responded immediately and unequivocally.

    “It can happen! That is totally doable! Wouldn’t that be cool? I’d love to do that! I’m flattered! I’ve got goose bumps!”

    Our conversation came around to discuss the beginning of Ms. Bramlett’s career when she was a teenager in St. Louis. As she was learning the nuances of singing and performing jazz, she worked with some huge names in genre like Miles Davis, Herbie Mann and Stan Getz before making the move into rhythm and blues. I wondered what pulled her away from jazz and into R&B.

    “Pretty much just my youth. I was a young girl in an area where there were no white girls singing like I was. I mean, I didn’t ever jazz sung. In my world, there was just me. I felt like I was groomed by most of the heavy weights. I was told how to behave. That’s why I was never eager to behave like everyone was behaving in California. I had to learn how to say the four letter words. They wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I had to practice it in the mirror! I had to learn how to do ‘raw’.

    “I wasn’t an angel, don’t get me wrong. I was a li’l rebel all along and an outgoing kid. I was called ‘difficult’. I was a cute little girl until you tried to make me do something I didn’t want to do. Then I became ‘difficult’. That’s how it was put back in the day.

    “So, anyway, I knew that I was different, no doubt. My naiveté has just kept an angel over my shoulder and nothing really bad that I haven’t been able to survive has happened to me. My life has progressed along. That was my background – just like my church upbringing. I have that little angel on my shoulder – and the devil. It’s not a cartoon to me – it’s real! But it’s not scary-spooky, either! It’s just the devil and I’m stronger than that devil. So, there! 

    “When I was doing something wrong, I really had a guilty conscience about it. Whereas, other people didn’t because know that they were doing anything wrong. They didn’t have the God in their life that I had. Anyway, that kept me alive so I just moved on. I just moved forward. I just took it. Isn’t that weird looking back at it? I was only eighteen in California – to make it!”

    When I asked Bonnie if she gained any insight into racism and other issues from the African-American community as she worked in their world, she shared the following insights:

    “I was only fifteen when I was with the Ikettes for a week on the road. They had taken me beyond state lines into Kentucky and all around there. I lasted only a week because of the racism once they (the crowd) found out I was white so I had to come back home. Yeah! It got bad!

    “Nevertheless, it was a lifetime of lessons that I learned. I was with all adults and they all took care of me. I was a little kid and no one abused me. No one has ever abused me! Maybe I have an angel on my shoulder!”

    “You were talking about writing songs back in the day – back to making songs up, see, I didn’t know about publishing and writing and royalties. I knew you got paid but, breaking it down, I had no idea. I only went through eighth grade. So, all that ‘making songs up’, I didn’t even know there was money behind it until after Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. That was such a painful experience that I just pretty much stayed away from it after that. 

    “Then, when I came back here to Nashville, I mean, it was like I had too. I had to go write and I had to make that money. I had nothing. The publishing and everything had been taken away. I had no income. So, I had to and it was the most humiliating, humbling, scary – I felt inappropriate doing the second most intimate thing you can do with a strange man. There I am. I’ve never met this guy before. ‘Hello. Now, go write a song and you’ve got from ten to three o’clock to do it. Try to write two. Here’s a story. Write a song about it.’ That’s not me. That’s how my experience was. I didn’t know it. I would usually have to take them to a musician so that they could put them down because I don’t play enough guitar or piano, either one, to really, actually put it down myself. Then, they would tweak it for me and build it for me and then we’d write a song. So, I call myself a co-writer. I usually write with somebody else, although I have done ‘single writes’ but they blurt right on out – blurt out all at once.

    “But, as far as sitting down in a room from ten to three, it was horrific for me. But I did it! I did it for, like, two years! I hate it! I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to write from ten to three with a strange person about strange things. I write too intimately. It’s like I said, I don’t ‘write’ them, I make them up. They come through me and it’s painful, sometimes, to tell just anybody that. I’d rather stand on a stage by myself and tell five million people than to stand in a room and tell five. Scary.”

    That last comment sparked a question that I hadn’t intended on asking. The concept of being comfortable on a stage with ‘five million people’ staring at me isn’t exactly one that gen’s up a sense of comfort to me. I asked Bonnie why it is that some folks are more comfortable on a stage, facing a huge crowd, than they are in more intimate settings.

    “Because, amongst five thousand people, you can walk out, stand on stage and completely disappear and let your avatar do the work. You leave your body – you surrender your body or your avatar to whatever being – I’ve actually stood next to myself and gave myself cold chills and said, ‘Did I just do that? No, your avatar did. You just surrendered it to me and God came through me and did the work – whoever or whatever.’

    “Amongst five people, it’s so hard to disappear. I mean, I’ve got it now. I can disappear amongst one. It doesn’t matter. When I say, ‘disappear’, I’m saying, ‘my ego, my id. The thing that gets in my way gets out of the way and allows me in. Make sense? It’s safe in here.”

    In 1968, Delaney and Bonnie signed with legendary Memphis record company, Stax Records, releasing their first album, Home, the following year. They were assisted by some great artists such as Leon Russell, Bobby Whitlock, Booker T. Jones, Isaac Hayes and many other musical icons. Because Stax was predominantly an African-American label, I asked Bonnie what it was like for them playing for that label.

    “ . . . things that were going on in those times were in the most positive ways because I was so unique. I was like a little strange monkey. ‘Look at the white girl sing! Can you dig her? She’s GOT to have black in her somewhere!’ They just embraced me. They did – all of the black people. And, I was so young, I would walk around – I was a big girl for my age and well developed – and people thought, ‘Wow! How did she get so brazen?’ Well, I didn’t know I was in danger! I didn’t feel any danger. I felt like I was a glowing light.” She said with a laugh. 

    Continuing, she adds, “Fast forward to when I went to California and met Sly Stone. Wow! I’m twenty years old and I meet my first black militant guy. He had no designs on my ugly white ass other than to make a fool of me in some way. I didn’t know that, though. I had no idea of this. I’m totally color blind! ‘Hi, how ya doin’? Blah, blah, blah” and I sing and it went weird. See, Sly embraced me. You could see through it. Black people saw me. Black people ‘see’ me, I should say, because their demonstrative expressions go with my personality. I am a very loud and demonstrative person. I feel like I’ve made lemonade out of lemons by embracing the black expressions. It’s given me wings.

    “I never even considered that they might think that I ripped them off. It never crossed my mind, ever. How do you rip off feelings? All of my black friends, peers and mentors, they all totally supported me. Etta James calls me ‘Negro’ and I wear that as a badge of merit! She does think there’s blackness in me somewhere!

    “But, seriously, I never run into it (discrimination). Sly is as close as it came and we wrote Don’t Burn Baby together. He and Sam embraced me. That’s who my singing partner was before Delaney. I was dueting R&B with Sly and the Family Stone.

    “With Delaney it was the whole opposite way. He was doing the Shindogs – a Beatles cover type band. Delaney knew all about being famous and all of that kind of stuff. I knew nothing about it. I was just totally a front blues, young woman. Very purist. Judgmental. ‘Yeah, you white guys!’ They had an all white band!”

    When I asked Bramlett if she felt out of place with the Shindogs, she came right back with her characteristic confidence by saying, “I felt that they were out of place, actually! That’s the way I’ve always been. I’ve never been out of place. Everyone else was! Ha! Ha!”

    I knew that Bonnie first met Delaney as she was touring as part of the act, Sam the Soul and Bonnie Lynn. I asked her to tell me about meeting Delaney.

    “They (the Shindogs) were the house band. They were supposed to back me and Sam up but they didn’t want to. They didn’t want to back any girl singers up. I told them that they could just follow me for the next three weeks. I took the opening act who later became Three Dog Night. I’m not an easy act to follow. I wasn’t then, either. I came full-on, guns a blazin’!” She said with her infectious laugh.

    I had read that she married Delaney Bramlett about a week after she met him. As I use that information to set up my next question, Bonnie very politely corrected me on that erroneous factoid.

    “We knew each other but I was mad at him. ‘How dare you back up Donna Loren and not me?’ Of course, the first night they heard me sing, they changed their mind. I told them where they could get off and that they could follow me for the next thirteen days. And they did and we wiped them out every time. When I got off stage, the room got up and left and all of the Shindogs’ girlfriends sat there and watched them.

    “Anyway, little did I know, during all that time, Delaney was blown away by me. He went and got Leon Russell and said, ‘Come and hear her sing!’ He’s bringing all these people in to hear me. I don’t know it. I’m just singin’ my butt off.

    “So, at the end of my three weeks, they still worked there. They had to stay there. So he (Delaney) asked for my number and I gave him the name of the hotel I was staying at. It was like a Holiday Inn called The Magnolia Inn and there was a trillion of them! He calls everyone of them until he found me. He came over and never left.

    “It was very romantic. Very cool. Very righteous. We had so much in common musically but also spiritually – our religion and our upbringing. It was like we were perfect for each other. And when we sang, it was absolute magic from the first note we ever hit together until the last one.”

    Since church was an important part of her life, I asked Bonnie what Delaney’s religious upbringing was as compared to hers.

    “Christian. He was Christian. I think they went to Sunday school and church and prayed. But mine was over the top!” At this point, she speaks metaphorically about the women in her family and religion. I promised not to repeat it but I will say that she had me laughing about it until I cried. Bonnie definitely has a humorous view of things – even serious subjects like family and religion. I guess that’s why I love the lady so much.

    After we both quit laughing and could catch our breath, I picked up on Ms. Bramlett’s comment about the magic between her and Delaney and my observation about the obvious, unique chemistry between them.   Almost before I could finish my sentence, she excitedly asked me if I heard the recently released box set by Rhino Records entitled, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends on Tour with Eric Clapton. For the rock enthusiast, it’s a must have. It’s comprised of four discs that houses 52 tracks delivering over three hours of previously unreleased performances. Other performers jamming with Delaney and Bonnie are Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Tex Johnson and Rita Coolidge.

    Bonnie gushes with enthusiasm as she says, “Oh my word! I can’t believe it! I played Gimme Some Lovin’ with Bobby Whitlock while I was driving? I had to pull the car over. I-had-to-pull-over! I stopped the vehicle because I was rockin’ so hard, I was a danger on the road! I really had to pull over. It blows my mind! It’s so awesome. Try to get it!”

    As I said at the beginning of this piece, during her years with Delaney, they worked with some of the most iconic names in rock history. From the outside looking in, there seemed to me that they had a sincere camaraderie among all of the rockers back in those days. I asked Bonnie if they fostered it or did it foster them. In other words, who-drew-who into all of that?

    “Well, you know what? I’d like to think that I had a little something to do with that strictly because I never was famous and I’d come from East St. Louis where everybody fits in with everybody. It would’ve been rude for an artist to walk in and you not ask them if they want to play. I mean, people bring their own mouth piece and they walk in with their instruments in a soft case which right away says that it’s coming out of the case – they want to play. Anybody that carries an instrument in a soft case plays it. It doesn’t sit around a lot. It’s not safe – if it’s in a soft case – to just sit around. So, you could tell who’s who by what case they carried.

    “I think I brought that to the table because at that point in time, everybody was really pretty much doing their own songs. So, not everybody new it, right? So, we always did a couple of songs somebody could sit in on. How that manifested, I don’t know. It was totally agreed upon. Although it was my accustomed behavior – and I thought I brought that to the table that it would be kind of rude not to ask them to play – I brought at least that. But I think that the rest of it fostered us.

    “I tell you what Delaney brought to the table on that. It wasn’t exclusive that you had to be a star; you just had to want to play. If you were the young gun in town and you showed up at our concert and you came in and said that you wanted to come in and sit in on the jam song, you were welcome on that stage. He didn’t care if it was Eric Clapton or Joe Schmoe. It didn’t matter to Delaney. He brought that.”

    I asked Ms. Bonnie if that sense of community still existed or has it changed.

    “I don’t know. I haven’t been able to get into that kind of camaraderie again. Delaney and I wanted to be like Laurel and Hardy. We wanted to be united at all times and when we would be divided, it would be private and personal. No matter if I agreed with him or not, I would stand by his side and he by mine. We never made decisions apart. Sometimes the time would come when the other one wasn’t there, something offensive would happen – even if we didn’t agree with each other, we would talk about it together. We’d fight about that later. In public, we would stand united. That’s how I think the camaraderie came about because we did that. 

    “We fought. We’re infamous for fighting, don’t get us wrong. But, boy, don’t try to step in between us because we’ll both be on ya! That’s us! Too bad that the band had to see us fight but we were married. I wasn’t just a singer in the band. That was my husband, you know what I mean? We were all living together on the road. There was no privacy so we fought. 

    “Delaney wasn’t used to women behavin’ like me! They (other women) minded him. He batted them beautiful brown eyes and sang a pretty song with that southern accent and women would go to the enth degree for that man and I would not move a muscle. I would just hit my note and sing right with him. I would not ‘mind’ him. I wouldn’t mind my mom. I wouldn’t mind my dad. I still don’t mind. I just don’t mind. What can I say?”

    Referring back to her earlier self-description, she adds, “I’m difficult!”

    With the release of the box set, I asked Bonnie if there was any chance of any sort of reunion with any of her old friends. Alluding to some extenuating legal procedures that still need to run their course, she offers, “I wish this (current legal processes that must be cleared first) would be over so that we could do that. We’re trying to put something together . . .”.

    Suddenly, Ms. Bramlett stops and corrects herself.

    “I say ‘we’ – how dare me take credit for anything other than being supportive of Michele (Bramlett). She’s the one that’s worked her buns off trying to put something together that would allow a reunion of some sort to happen. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

    After a marriage has been dissolved, especially a marriage with the infamous fights that she referenced earlier, Bonnie is the epitome of class and grace as she addresses what she would ever have to say about Delaney in a book she’s planning on writing.

    “I’m not going to say or write anything about my husband who fathered those three beautiful girls. I will not do that. It’s not in me to do it. Delaney and I didn’t even get a divorce for 25 years because we didn’t want to spend our money – our children’s inheritance – on lawyers fighting each other. Those were our dreams for our girls.”

    I was struck by what Bonnie just laid on me. In a day and age (even back in the 70’s) when parents seem to think more about their own desires and not about the potential impact of their actions on their kids, Delaney and Bonnie made sure their actions did not negatively impact their minor children. Let that one sink in for a few minutes. That truly speaks to the pureness of their parental hearts.

    Later in the conversation, Bonnie shared more insight into the total selflessness of the family’s arrangement that spoke to the love that the Bramlett’s had for their girls.

    “When I married Delaney, Michele was five years old. We started picking her up on the weekends. That’s why Patty (Stanley, Michele’s mom) and I are so together because we always cared about the best for our girls. We even got a house together when the girls couldn’t be separated so that we could do it. I couldn’t take care of them by myself and she couldn’t take care of them by herself, so we just did it together. The daughters needed to be together. They were in church at that time. They could’ve been on the street doin’ crack but they were in the Open Bible church. They were doing the ‘alternative proms’. They were being good girls and they needed each other. Delaney was calling the youth pastor ‘Jim Jones’ because they were learning stuff and then they would go home and see what Daddy was doing and they would go, ‘Oh! Wrong, Dad! Sin!’” The memories of those times bring a motherly laugh to her voice.

    My pre-interview research of Delaney and Bonnie reminded me of several things I had forgotten about regarding their career together. One such thing was their performance at theTexas International Pop Festival in 1969 – two weeks after Woodstock. The location is a mere 20 minutes from where I now live. They performed on day two of the three day festival. Others who performed that same day were Santana, Chicago Transit Authority, Sam & Dave, James Cotton Blues Band, Led Zeppelin, Incredible String Band, B.B. King and Bonnie’s old friend, Herbie Mann. 

    I asked Miss Bonnie what her memories are of that festival and if she got to connect with Mann. She starts off by sharing how she and Herbie Mann first met.

    “We met at the Quartet Trade Inn back in the day. He had come to the Trade Inn, across the street from where I performed and I would come in and sit in with them. It was a sit-in thing like that. It wasn’t like we were butt bumping friends. So, when Delaney and I were playing in Central Park, Herbie Mann’s apartment was nearby and he could hear us. He, quick, got his clothes on and came down and on-stage, jamming with us before that song was over. We’ve got pictures of it. So, by the time we got to the festival, it was kind of cool.”

    “Let’s see, who landed in the helicopter (at the festival)? Oh, it was Led Zeppelin! I saw them land in a helicopter and I was so impressed. I had never landed in a helicopter and I wanted to then. Now, I don’t want to but I wanted to then! They were way bigger than us. We were doing good to have the bus! Ha! Ha!

    “The first time we played with Led Zeppelin was at the Fillmore East. I went right into their dressing room and said, ‘Which one of y’all is Led?’ I swear to gawd I did! We called them (the WWI airships) dirigibles! What do I know about a ‘zeppelin’?” 

    After we quit laughing and had wiped the tears out of our eyes, we continued chatting about the Texas International Pop Festival with me asking if that was the largest crowd she and Delaney performed in front of or were there bigger ones.

    “Oh, yeah, bigger, bigger. Toronto. TheAtlanta Pop Festival was humongous. I don’t know if that was bigger than ‘Texas’ or not but, you know, big or bigger? After the first 20 rows, it’s just an ocean of people. I don’t know. There were a LOT of people there! It was outdoors. Dontcha just miss the outdoor festivals? Talkin’ about bein’ an old fogy, man, I’d bring my rockin’ chair out there and listen!”

    Earlier, Ms. Bramlett downplayed her skill and contributions in the area of songwriting. However, her hand in songs like Superstar (the song that Bonnie proudly reminds me that Ruben Studdard sang to win American Idol) have contributed heavily to allow them to stand the test of time. I asked her why she thought those songs have the “legs” that they do.

    “They’re simple, pure feelings that everybody has. Not stylized. Not ‘word merchanted’, you know? It’s just pure. ‘Don’t you remember you told me you loved me’? Wow, does that cover a lot of ground! 

    “All the kids on stage (that she’s worked with), they want to learn the classics! They don’t want to learn what’s going on right now. You got me. I don’t know. I don’t listen to what goes on (musically) right now because I keep hearing the same song over and over.

    “I’ll tell you what I think. This is coming to me and through me right now. I’ve never said this before. This is amazing. Because we were ‘audio’ as opposed to ‘visual’ back then, we didn’t have video to dictate to us what the song was about. The song could be about anything YOU wanted it to be about. So, it was all an ‘inside job’. We did our own videos in our head and connected. ‘Strawberry Fields” were strawberries – at least, to some of us! Ha! Ha! To other folks, ‘Strawberry Fields’ represented Seconals. 

    “We have the freedom of mind. We still control the music in our minds. It was still our music. Now it’s their music and we get to listen to it. That’s the difference: kids want to own music again. They want it to be theirs.”

    Bonnie Bramlett witnessed a lot of changes in the music business over the years and also helped foster some of those changes. I asked Bonnie, as I do almost every iconic artist I interviewed, what the biggest positive change she’s witnessed in the business.

    “The women in the business. The powerful women. Writers. Singers. Men have always towered. I call them the golden stallions – Waylon and the boys – they’re the wonders. The girls? They’ve just been few and far between. Now, a lot of them want to sing ‘cookie cutter’ style and they’re all alike. But, if you see something workin’, you want in the door! You’ve got to go in familiar but once you get in the door, then you take the music – you take them somewhere. But there are a lot of them that aren’t going to take us anywhere. There’s a few out there that are. The chick that does The House That Built Me? Miranda Lambert? Ah! Miranda Lambert! Girl! She’s like Billy Joe Shaver!

    “That’s an amazing song and the one before that, as well! White Liar? Oh, my word! She’s got a great sense of humor. She’s got an incredible depth. She’s going to take it somewhere. I truly believe that and she coupled up with another one who just has fun. He’s going to take it somewhere. But these guys can write by recipe. They can write like that. You can’t slam it. It’s what’s happening.”

    At this point, Bonnie dropped a heavy opinion on me that caught me by complete surprise.

    “Rock and roll is going to die, okay? That’s the truth. We say, ‘rock and roll will never die!’ Yeah, it will.”

    After sufficiently sobering me up with that comment, she continues sharing her thoughts about some of the new talent that are out there, “But, another girl that’s a monster songwriter is Maia Sharp – Randy Sharp’s daughter? Oh, my word! Get her work! She wrote this one called Sober. I have got to cut this song. It says, ‘Sorry, but I’m just a little bit sober.’ It’s about the struggle of becoming sober and being in a sober body. You don’t know how to really do that. Nothing is hurting you now but you want to medicate because that’s what you’re used to doing. It’s such a phenomenal song! The fact that she can communicate that . . .

    “I just did a song on my last CD – my ‘swan’ CD – that’s called Some of My Best Friends. It’s about some of my best friends are black; some of my best friends are gay; some of my best friends are gone and I still miss them. It’s a song of feelings that no one wants to really touch. The industry would never cut that song. That’s why I pretty much knew that it was my swan song.”

    I asked Bonnie the flip side of my previous question: What’s the biggest negative change that’s happened in the music business?

    “Oh, the fear level. Oh, my word! You can smell fear in the air here (in Nashville). Even if you have a hit record, you’re terrified that you’re not going to have the next one to be one. There is so many of them and some of them aren’t going to make it. Some of them aren’t going to last. For some, it’s going to kick their butts and hurt ‘em bad because they don’t know how to be famous.

    “Now anxiety, on the other hand, and stress, you need that in order to accomplish things. It’s okay to be stressed to a degree. It will make you work. A bow is stressed and you let it go and an arrow will go a thousand miles if you want it to. That’s good stress. We have to have it and know how to use it and the adrenalin instead of feeling fear and stage fright. It’s never going to go away so let’s turn it into something else. Let’s turn it into energy. Turn it into performance. Trust me, that’s what I have to teach. I can show you how to do that.”

    Reverting back to the subject of stress, Bonnie continues, “I’m so blessed! I mean, I could tell you a nightmare story but so can everybody else. I’m certainly wasn’t that Mexican mother who was tryin’ to raise five kids by herself and she doesn’t speak English and she’s trying to make it in Nashville. THAT’s a hard life. I had my stressful times but they were in a limo, okay? Don’t cry for me, Argentina!

    “Believe me, I have a sad story but who doesn’t? You can’t go on that. We survived that. We’re seeds we will grow!” She concludes, again, with her infectious laugh.

    I asked Bonnie what she would do, if she was made Czarina of the music business, to fix it.

    She giggles as I ask her and her answer reminded me of what Liz Phair said when I asked her, basically, the same thing. “You know what? I just don’t think it needs fixin’! I think it’s in change and change is very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it will fix itself. It’s the arts! It’s music! It’s in a transition, if you will, because of computers and communication and all this stuff – it’s in technical knowledge – we’re in a serious transition and I don’t think there is a fix. So, we just have to see what it changes into. We just have to go with it.

    “If we have to make our own individual records and sell them individually one by one and get our own dollar, well, maybe that’s what we have to do! But it’s doable! You can do it! The only thing I hope doesn’t change is the enthusiasm of the young people and artist - that they will have dreams that they’ll one day change the world – and they can! If you don’t believe me, listen to Eric Clapton!”

    I shifted the conversation back to when I first met her in 1981 and the release of her contemporary Christian music (CCM) album, Step By Step. Because of my very little bit of background (and a whole lot of interest) in that business, I was very curious what her experience was like.

    “They slammed that door right in my face. They slammed that door tight!” Then, quoting an old gospel song, she continues, “‘Just as I am’ is not true – in the music industry – being Christian or not. I was told that I didn’t talk enough like a Christian. I’m from five generations of gospel singers, okay? I can do the ‘gospel speak’ if they wanted to hear that. Only, it’s just not how I spoke and that’s not the message that God chose me to carry. My message was, ‘Go learn the language. They can’t understand you. If they don’t understand what you’re saying, learn their language back out on the streets.’ On that gospel album, that’s my message. That’s my ministry. I fought and I fought. I’m rough. I am rough as a cob, no doubt about it. I’m not going to be having high tea with you anytime soon, probably.

    “Nevertheless, I’m a messenger. My message comes directly from God, when it comes, and it comes out of this avatar’s mouth. If I’ll stand aside and let it come out, it’s a good message. It might be a little rough around the edges but maybe the person that needs to hear it needs to hear it in a familiar voice. That’s mine. That’s all I can say for it. I will not make excuses for my message. I don’t wear a mask. I don’t have a mask. Therefore, you get to see me warts and all. I’m one of the good guys.”

    Almost two hours had flown by as we both realized that our schedules dictated that we wrap up our chat. Before we hung up, I had to ask Bonnie if she - back when she and Delaney were writing and singing those classic songs – had any idea in her mind that they were creating history that people would say, “Hey, these two need to be in a Hall of Fame”.

    “No. Not me. I don’t know, maybe Delaney did. I can’t really talk for him because his head was in a totally different place. No, I wasn’t thinking that way. My whole thing about the Hall of Fame – bless their hearts – the girls want that for their daddy. I guess that’s what Delaney wanted, I don’t know. That’s not what I want. I don’t care about no ‘hall of fame’. If they ever make a ‘Hall of Great’, I’m all for me in it. But the Hall of Fame? Eh.  But, you know what? I’m backing these girls!

    “You can read any interview I’m in, I quack about that famous stuff. People say, ‘you’ve done all that stuff, why aren’t you famous?’ and I tell them, ‘Well, I guess I’m just lucky!’ I worked really hard not to be famous. So, the Hall of Fame is the last place I want to be. Nevertheless, if my girls want Delaney to be there, there’s hardly a way that he can be without me. So, whatever. I’m supportive of Michele and what she wants. I’d do anything for her on this because it’s so important to her and her sisters. And, you know what? I believe that Michele can pull it off if she wants to pull it off and I’m going to support her with everything I have.”

    Incidentally, if you would like to add your voice to the rising chorus of voices, asking that Delaney and Bonnie be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you can submit your petition by clickinghere.

    Running parallel to the induction campaign is a documentary by Jaesen Kanter (with Michele Bramlett) about Delaney and Bonnie. The film is entitled Matilija Magic and details the history and impact of the Bramletts while rock and roll history was being made as well as how their influence is still being felt today. As is often the case with independent films, financing the film is always a challenge. Consequently, Jaesen and Michele are still looking for contributions of any size to help finance the project. Those donors, large and small, are making their valuable contributions by visitingwww.matilijamagic.com. 

    In the spirit that made Delaney and Bonnie legendary among their musician friends, the proceeds from Matilija Magic will be directed to a related project that Michele Bramlett is heading up: The Poor Elijah Foundation. Its charter is to help musicians to learn the ways of the music business as well as develop strong business ethics within the music industry. According to its website,PoorElijahFoundation.org, “Through mentoring, workshops and seminars, PEF will take the working musician and educate them in various aspects of the music industry, e.g. engineering, management, publishing, money management, contract negotiations, and musical education to elevate the art of the artist fostering skills to become more proficient in their craft. PEF also provides financial relief to the working musician.”

    With such an aggressive mission, I asked Bonnie what mistakes she would have avoided had the foundation been around when she was starting out in the business.

    “Hopefully, it would’ve taught me how to count my money, for one thing. There’s more to counting than rhythm. It can teach how much money you are capable of making because I didn’t even know there was that much money, never mind that I made it! Therefore, I didn’t miss it. It was easy to steal from me. I got my first royalty check three years ago.”

    As the second hands were ticking their last seconds we scheduled for our chat, I ended the conversation with a two part question: How did Bonnie hope Delaney would be remembered and how did SHE want to be remembered?

    “I hope Delaney is remembered with his guitar, singing. He was so charming. He would pick up a guitar and just charm you and he would make everyone feel, individually, like they’re the most important person in his life. He would make you feel like you had all of his attention for that time. I want them to remember him with his guitar, singing - the most charming individual and when he sings you his songs, you’re just all there. He had the smile that would never stop. When he was good, he was very good. He was that. I want everyone to remember good things.

    “I want to be remembered the same way! Hopefully, I’ve done good. Hopefully, remember my good and forgive my bad, please?”

    www.bonniebramlett.com

     

  • Chuck Leavell Interview 2011

    Posted January/February, 2011

    Photo Courtesy of Chuck Leavell

    The Allman Brothers. Don McLean. Bonnie Bramlett. Marshall Tucker Band. Charlie Daniels. Sea Level. Aretha Franklin. Chuck Berry. Dion. Gov't Mule. The Black Crowes.  Eric Clapton. Larry Carlton. George Harrison. Rolling Stones.

    How would you feel if those names were on your resume in some form or fashion?  I can tell you that if my resume had those names, my head would swell to twice the size of Texas.

    Chuck Leavell’s resume includes those names and many, many more. When you add to that the credentials of an expert forester, conservationist, author, husband, father, and grandfather and you get an idea of who the man really is.  All of that and, yet, his head retains its normal size and shape.

    How does he do it?  I don’t know but my head did swell just a little bit when I had the good fortune of posing a few questions to the legendary keyboardist.  I pursued an interview with Leavell after reading his 2004 book, Between Rock and a Home Place. As a huge Rolling Stones fan, I, of course, knew about of Chuck’s monumental work with the band and with his own band, Sea Level.  I just wasn’t aware of the huge volume of other work he’s associated with.

    I was also aware of his conservation work – especially at his beautiful home, the family tree farm known as Charlane Plantation. The plantation, in the family since 1932, was inherited by Chuck’s lovely wife of 37 year, Rose Lane, after the passing of her grandmother.   After working their way out of onerous inheritance taxes, Rose Lane and Chuck have developed a thriving, successful tree farm that also hosts hunting and other kinds of retreats.

    It was about Charlane Plantation that I opened the discussion with Leavell, asking about what were the latest developments at the farm.

    “We are always working on our place. My wife, Rose Lane, says it means ‘job security’ for me as I will never get done! Currently we have a good bit of maintenance going on. We’ve just started renovating the exterior of our horse barn, the upstairs of which serves as Rose Lane’s art studio. We built the barn some 18 years ago using lumber that was taken from our own trees . . . mostly ones that were dead or dying… and it’s time to polish it up some.

    “We also just finished renovating an old tenant house into a nice guesthouse. We’ve built most all of our structures out of our own wood, and most of the renovations we’ve done to our existing structures as well. It’s quite a good and special feeling to look at them, walk through them and say… ‘yeah, that came

    Chuck Leavell With Grandson, Miles - Courtesy of Chuck Leavell

    from our own grounds’ . . . and to think that our grandchildren and future generations will be saying ‘our grandparents (or great-grandparents) built that back in 1990’, or whenever we built or renovated any particular structure on our place.

    “Of course, we’re always working in the woods, too. We did some light thinning of a few areas last year that had yet to be thinned - sort of like weeding the garden. We probably touched on 150 acres or so, opening the stands up to a slightly wider spacing, which will help the trees left standing grow much better and faster. It also helps encourage natural grasses, weeds and legumes to grow better underneath the stands, making it more attractive for wildlife.

    “We are in the middle of our hunting season, and January and February are booked pretty solid with our traditional southern quail hunts. I’ve been working some new dogs, which I love doing…so there has been quite a lot going on.”

    When I asked if he was the Ted Nugent of Georgia, Chuck’s response polite but direct.

    “With all due respect to Nugent, he’s an ethical and expert outdoorsman, but he’s a bit radical for me. I try to take a more gentle and gentlemanly approach to our hunting. As far as what we offer the public, it’s again, the traditional southern quail hunts, from November through the end of February. We have the jeeps, dogs, excellent guides and have a top notch and top class operation. We have several comfortable accommodations. Our lodge was built about 8 years ago, again, with our own resources and we renovated a historic 1830’s home back in the early 90’s that we use as well.

    “Rose Lane directs our staff in terms of the food, etc. and we have lots of repeat clients year after year. During the off season, we offer ‘retreats’ from time to time. Since Rose Lane is an excellent artist, some of these are centered around art. But some folks like to come just to be in the country, take a tour, walk our nature trail and such. We enjoy sharing our place and meeting new people, helping them to understand and appreciate nature and conservation issues. It makes for a good balance with our ‘other life’ of rock and roll.”

    Leavell wrote in his book, Between Rock and a Home Place, that, because of the predatory nature of our rich Uncle Sam’s inheritance tax code, he and Rose Lane had to sell off a big chunk of the original plantation.  In the seven years since that book was published, I asked if they were able to re-purchase the property.

    “No, that property was in another county, about 50 miles from us. It was about 300 acres of land that Rose Lane’s grandfather had passed on down. It was heartbreaking and really hurt to have to sell it, but we didn’t see any other way out at the time. While we’ve never recovered that tract, the good news is that through the years we have been able to acquire more land, much of which was adjacent to us. Rose Lane inherited about 1100 acres back in 1981 and we now have about 2500 acres, 1800 that is contiguous to her inheritance.”

    Before shifting my questioning to his other conservation endeavors, I asked Leavell what their long term plans for Charlane were.

    “We will continue to manage it as best we know how, and to share it with others through our hunts and retreats. Of course, I would love to continue to expand it, but it’s getting really hard to do because of how expensive land is. While the housing market across America has been hit hard as we all know - and prices for normal housing has dipped - that has not been the case for most timberlands, agricultural lands and recreational lands. It takes a lot of resources to purchase these kinds of lands and to maintain them. But I’m always hopeful that we can find select opportunities. We all know that old phrase, ‘land rich and cash poor’. That applies to a lot of landowners I know. I don’t think anyone would be impressed with our bank account but I’d rather have the land than bits of paper.”

    Chuck is a self-taught forestry expert, having begun his studies while touring with The Fabulous Thunderbirds.  Since then, he’s gained much respect and notoriety as an expert in forestry and conservation, having been award many awards and acknowledgements.  He’s also written two books on the subject with a third on the way.

    Before venturing into the finer points of this field of his expertise, I swallowed my pride and asked Leavell what the difference was between a conservationist and an environmentalist.

    “It’s a good question. I like to think that we are both. The definition of conservation is, in part, ‘The action of conserving something, in particular protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife; the preservation, repair, and prevention of deterioration of archaeological, historical, and cultural sites and artifacts; and the prevention of excessive or wasteful use of a resource.

    “In a nutshell, I think it means to be wise and careful with the resources that you have - to practice a sort of sustainability. I tell people that trees are an organic, natural and renewable resource. We all use things that come from trees every day of our lives - wood furniture, our homes, musical instruments, books, and so many other things. As a conservationist, I want to use this resource for these many fine things but I want to make sure that I am doing it in a way that is conserving the resource - that is, in a way that will assure me it will always be there.

    “As for the word ‘environmentalist’, the definition in part is: A person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment . . . who considers that environment, as opposed to heredity, has the primary influence on the development of a person or group.

    “This can get a bit complicated, and the ‘catch’ is how far you take the second part of the above definition. I certainly care deeply about our environment and want to keep it healthy and vibrant. But when it comes to making certain decisions about what to do with our lands and how that affects us as humans, hard choices have to be made from time to time. We all have to have places to live, to work, for our kids to go to school, etc. So, while it might not be the best thing for our environment to build such structures, or to build more highways, rail systems, expand airports and such, it’s inevitable that we are going to do it. We have to make compromises.

    “Actually, this is the subject of my new book, Growing A Better America, that will be out in mid March of this year. It’s about making careful and thoughtful choices about how we are going to grow. We have 310 million people in our country now, and predictions are that we’ll have 400 million around 2040. There are about 6.8 billion on the planet, and predictions are to have 9 billion by 2045. We are going to have to make some critical choices about accommodating that kind of growth, and how that will affect our environment.

    “My book talks about ‘smart growth’, and looks at positive models of community design, community expansion and such. I get in to energy issues; transportation issues; keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible; preserving natural areas when possible; the importance of green spaces in our metropolitan areas and much, much more.

    “I know that’s a long answer, but I think it’s important that people have an understanding of these things.”

    Chuck Leavell With The Rolling Stones - Courtesy of Chuck Leavell

    As a direct result of Chuck’s incredible accomplishments in conservation and forestry, he co-founded The Mother Nature Network and serves as its the Director of Environmental Affairs.  When I asked what the latest developments are at MNN, he answers with the same kind of pride as he does when speaking of Charlane or his musical work.

    “MNN has been a phenomenal journey for me. My partner, Joel Babbit, had the idea to build the site and asked me to participate. He has had a life long successful career in public relations and advertising, serving really big clients like Coca-Cola, Dell Computer and others. We’ve been friends for a while, and he came to me one day saying that his clients wanted to get out to the public over the Internet all the things they were doing to “green” their businesses. And by the way, these companies and all the companies that are sponsors with MNN are doing some great things in that regard.

    “Anyway, Joel did not feel comfortable with any of the existing environmental sites in terms of placing ads and getting messages out on behalf of his clients. After discussing it in depth and doing a lot of research, we looked at each other and sort of said at the same time: ‘should we build it?’ So, we did.

    “Through Joel’s connections, we raised commitments of up to ten million dollars to get started. He resigned his position as CEO of GCI, a huge firm he was heading up, and we went to work. We hired really talented and dedicated enviro-journalists, website developers and other staff and opened our offices in Atlanta. We launched in January of 2008 on a wing and a prayer. Since then we have grown from a ranking of something like number 7,200 on the list of environmental websites to be the number one most visited independent environmental site in the world.

    “I have to give credit to our incredible staff.  We have really great folks - about 25 at present - working for us. Joel and I are elated with the progress. The last numbers I had are that we are getting over 2 million unique visits a month, and about 12 million page views per month and still climbing each month. We actually became profitable towards the end of last year, which is quite amazing for any website in 2 years time. We thought it would take at least 5 years to get into the black, so we’re thrilled.”

    With public discourse often dominated by subjects to protecting and preserving the environment, I asked if there is anything that keeps him awake at night from a conservation perspective.

    “There are a lot of things that I’m concerned about. I described some of that in talking about my new book, but in terms of forestry alone, I have many worries. One is that we have seen a great deal of our industry move offshore in the past 10 years or so. This is for many reasons. Like so many other industries, companies find that labor is cheaper in other countries; there is less regulation in other countries; less cost for construction, cheaper land and so forth.

    “I’m not suggesting that we should do the same thing some of these countries are doing, because some of their practices are not good for the environment and somewhat suppressive on their labor force. But any way you look at it, it has caused a huge drop in US forestry markets. What people have to understand about this is that to a degree, it’s ‘use it or lose it’. In other words, if folks like me and so many other family forest landowners don’t have a decent market, there is no good reason for us to keep our lands in trees. So when that happens, families begin to sell their lands. They can’t afford to pay the taxes, the upkeep, etc. and they are backed up against a wall. I’m not saying it’s that bad at the moment, but if the markets for wood keep going down it will definitely get that bad.

    “Other concerns include that tax structure for forest lands, the uncertainty of biomass and carbon markets, the pressures of growth and development, outbreak of diseases and insects, severe weather events and more.”

    Before moving my questions to music related subjects, I asked Leavell what homeowners, or those who don’t even own a home, can do to green up America and the world from a forestry perspective.

    “Anyone can plant a tree. There are many programs around the country where they give out trees to people. Plant a tree in your yard, your neighborhood, your school, your church. I also encourage people to conserve. Turn out the lights when not in use, set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, drive less when you can and walk or bike to work. Talk to your neighbors about keeping your parks in good shape. Consider buying Energy Star appliances when you need to replace your refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, whatever. I give a lot of these and much, much more in Growing A Better America.

    Chuck Leavell has played keyboard for the Rolling Stones for almost 30 years. As I said at the beginning of this interview, he has also played with other of the biggest names in rock. What many people may not know is that he has also produced several solo albums and is working on a new solo project. I asked Chuck about the album.

    “The working title is Back To The Woods and it is a tribute to pioneering blues piano players from the 30s/40s/50s era. Most of the songs come from artists that are little known: Little Brother Montgomery, Skip James, Leroy Carr, Jesse James and others. I did do a very early Ray Charles track called Losing Hand, and an Otis Spann tune called Boots and Shoes, but those would be the two best-known names.

    “I’ve been recording it up in Athens, Georgia, at Jim Hawkins’ studio. Jim was a principal engineer at Capricorn Studios back in the 70’s and actually built Capricorn in part. He has a nice, comfortable space in Athens now. I used Chris Enghauser on stand up bass and Louis Romanos on drums - both live in Athens and are great players. So far I have Danny Barnes (renown banjo player and guitarist), (guitarist) Bruce Hampton and Randall Bramblett (Sea Level, Traffic, Steve Winwood, Levon Helm and Bonnie Raitt, among others) as guest artists, and have some commitments from others, including Keith Richards. I’m about 80% done with it and hope to finish it by March. No release date yet, but probably May or June.


    In describing his solo work, Leavell says, “Well, I am first and foremost a piano player. That’s what most of my own CDs center around. I might throw in a bit of Hammond B-3 or Wurlitzer now and again, but it’s mostly piano. In terms of style, I’ve been influenced by a wide range of great players, and I think my style reflects that. You’ll hear tinges of blues, rock, jazz, and country, but hopefully you’ll say ‘that sounds like Chuck’.

    “It takes a long time to develop your own sound and style as a player, and hopefully I’ve done that. I don’t think of myself as some ‘master’ player - just an honest one. I do my best to paint pictures with the notes I play - to project emotion, color, and feeling. That’s about the best I can do to describe myself. Perhaps descriptions are best left to others.

    Early in his book, Between Rock and a Home Place, Chuck shared how his late mom talked to him about how he played his music, leading him towards how to inject various feelings into the sounds he produced on the piano. When I asked Leavell if he still feels that she still “speaks” to him today in how he plays today, his reply was short, sweet and from the depths of his heart.

    "Every day, in every note I play."

    From a fan’s perspective, it’s hard for me to think that, with the musical resume that Chuck has, there would be anything left that he hasn’t done musically. However, I had to ask him what he hasn’t done that he would still like to do.

    “Fortunately, I’m still getting calls to work with other artists. I still love working with those I’ve worked with in the past, but also like the challenge of working with those I haven’t. Recently I recorded with John Mayer in NY for a week. Fantastic session, fantastic artist. I hope I get another round with John some time this year. Next week I record for about 10 days with Martina McBride. So, I just take it one day at a time and hope the phone keeps ringing! Of course I’ll continue to do my own stuff as well. I know the Stones have been contemplating their options, but they have not come to any final decisions, so we’ll all have to wait on that. I can tell you that I’m ready when they are.”

    Photo Courtesy of Chuck Leavell

    Later, Chuck said about his contribution to the Mayer disc, “It was mostly Hammond B-3, but I did play a bit of Whurly and a pump organ on a couple of things. John is an amazing talent. He wrote three of the songs we did right on the spot. He’s got tremendous and infectious energy.”

    I don’t know what on earth possessed me to do this, but I dropped some names from Chuck’s musical past and asked him to share what comes to mind regarding his thoughts about the following musical greats:

     Ray Charles: “The MASTER. Probably my main influence.”

     George Harrison: “One of the sweetest guys on the planet. Truly as great a humanitarian as he was a singer/songwriter/performer.”

     Duane Allman: “Changed the direction of the electric guitar with his slide playing. Never got to know him personally, but always admired him and heard him play many times. Unquestioned and unbridled passion in his playing.”

     Eric Clapton: “Well, he’s Eric Clapton, isn’t he?! Eric likes exploring, changing, experimenting and I have always appreciated him for that. He doesn’t rest on his laurels and isn’t afraid to try things.”

     Gregg Allman: “In the top five of the greatest blues singers ever. A good friend. A survivor.”

     Ronnie Wood: “Effervescent, fun, diversely and multi-talented. Made me feel at home when I came into the Stones, for which I’m forever grateful.”

     When asked if there is any talent that is commanding his attention, Leavell shares that, “I’ve been listening a bit to Grace Potter (and the Nocturnals) and like her stuff. Not complicated, but with deep soul.  I like that. I honestly haven’t been to many concerts in the last couple of years, so can’t say much about live performances I’ve heard. I played with Keith Urban on the Jimmy Fallon show, and have come to really admire his artistry. I’m trying to learn a bit of mandolin, and have been listening to some bluegrass players. Love Chris Thele, Doyle Lawson, Sam Bush. I don’t listen too much to contemporary radio much these days, so I’m not the best person to ask about hits on radio.”

    Since he’s seen a lot of changes in the music business, I asked Chuck what he thought it was going to take to save the business.

    “Man, that’s too deep for me to get into, but I will say that if something isn’t done to improve how musicians and artists are paid for downloads and preventing illegal downloads, it’s going to be a tough future. The genie is out of the bottle, and I don’t know if it will ever be back in. We’ve lost a lot of control over how our recorded music is sold.”

    Wrapping up my time with Chuck, I asked if we were going to see him on the road with anyone any time soon.  While I wasn’t hinting for some advanced info about a Rolling Stones tour, he does comment about it at the end of his answer: “I have very few select solo shows booked - playing Macon at the Cox Capitol Theater Jan 22nd with the Randall Bramblett Band, and a gig at the Wheeler Opera House on March 12th. Other than that, I’ll be promoting my book and finishing my CD as well as doing the sessions I have booked. Nothing to report at present on Stones activity.”

    After the interview was over, I reflected on the vast, rich body of work that Chuck has.  From his iconic keyboard work on the landmark Allman Brothers tune, Jessica, to the Stones, Clapton and many others, I just ran the music through my mind and smiled.  Like the beautiful trees of Charlane Plantation, Chuck Leavell’s work shades our entire musical landscape with the beauty of his work.

    You can find out more about Chuck, his music, his books, and his conservation work at the following websites:



    www.chuckleavell.com      www.charlane.com      www.mnn.com

     

  • Delbert McClinton

    Posted November, 2014

         

    I was first turned on to Delbert McClinton almost thirty-four years ago when the Texas born singer came out with his smash hit, “Giving It Up For Your Love.”  I mean, who can forget his memorable performance of that song on Saturday Night Live with the lovely and talented Bonnie Bramlett singing backup for him?  Absolutely amazing!

    Still recording, touring and performing for fans all over America, the man’s music is as fresh and relevant as ever.  I recently caught up with Mr. McClinton by phone to talk about his current tour, the music business and his plans for the future.

    Answering my question regarding how things are in his world these days, Delbert dropped a bit of a bombshell on me regarding his health.

    “Well, I had a triple by-pass in April. It was successful. I didn’t have any heart damage. I knew something was wrong. So I listened to my body and they caught it. I had a ninety-five percent blockage in the main artery. He told me that I was just a breath away from being dead. So, that happened and that’s great. I’m back and totally recovered and ready for another fifty years.”
    Naturally, this all begged the question as to whether or not this experienced changed McClinton’s perspective on life, relationships, career, content of songs or anything else.

    “Yeah, it’s a life-changing event regardless of how it goes down. Like I said, I was very lucky. I was already in the process of recovery before I really even knew what I had. I mean, it happened so quick!  Heart surgery these days, they make it seem like it’s no more difficult than changing a tire on a little girl’s bicycle. I went in there. They operated one day. I was walking around on the third day. On the fifth day, I was out of there with big ol’ heart shaped pillow to hug and, boy, I was glad to have it! It becomes your best and only friend for a short time – especially right after surgery because, if you cough, you need to have a pillow to hold you together. Ha! Ha!

    “But, you know, that didn’t go on for long. It was just a matter of just a couple of weeks. And, yes, it did change my perspective on an awful lot of things. First of all, you realize that it doesn’t always happen to someone else. That’s a pretty big game-changer when you have to face the fact that you almost died from it. It gets your attention. But, at the same time, I feel – I don’t feel twenty years younger but I feel a whole lot better! My voice is better than it’s been since I was a teenager. I don’t know. I could go on and on about the aftermath of having heart surgery but the bottom line is I’m sure glad I didn’t die! Ha! Ha!

    “I mean, I don’t mind dying. We’re all gonna die. But I wasn’t ready to die. Of course, few people are but I was certainly aware of the fact that, hey! I’m in trouble!  So, it changes the whole way you think. I feel more at ease now because I know I’ve had something done that I corrected a major mess. Other than that, I’m relatively healthy. Life is good and I’m moving on.”
    Putting a pleasant, humorous bow on the subject, Delbert said, “That’s the main thing that’s happened to me. That’s this year’s big deal. Ha! Ha!”
    Another reason why I wanted to interview McClinton was I had learned that, as part of yet another busy touring season, he was going to be playing in my area - at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tennessee. I asked if he had performed there before.

    “Oh, yeah, I’ve played at the Bijou before – several times! I love old theaters and that’s a good one!”

    I asked what if McClinton’s performances have changed due to his surgery and what can fans expect from shows during this tour.

    “It has changed but as far as trying to describe that, I don’t know how I would do that. I can’t not be different because something major occurred! I can breathe deeper than I’ve been able to breath in years. I don’t know, man, I don’t know. It’s all still pretty supernatural to me, in a way. In the last three years, my saxophone player had a heart attack while we were on the road and died after got him to the hospital. Then, my trumpet player had a heart attack on a day off while we were out. We took him to the hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and, after several hours, the doctor came walking out and said, ‘Everything’s fine.’  I saw him before he went in there and he looked awful! To see somebody walking after you’ve seen somebody that you just knew wasn’t going to make it . . . and he did!  He’s back and healthy.

    “You know, you gotta live every minute like it’s the last. It can be over at any second - like blowin’ out a candle. That’s how easy it is. So, with that in mind, I’m having a lot of fun because I nearly wasn’t here! Ha! Ha! I don’t want to ride on that because I’m not the only one in the world who’s ever had heart surgery but you asked me what’s going on and that has occupied my every thought for the last several months. I’m just a very fortunate guy. I’ve got a lot more music in me. I’m making preparations now for another record. I’ve almost got enough songs to do a double album. We’re in the process of putting that together.”

    Is keeping the road fresh and non-monotonous a challenge for Delbert?
    “Well, it doesn’t necessarily wear me down. I love to go out and make music. I hate the hotels. I hate the goin’ there. If I never walked into another hotel room in my life, it would be too soon. They’re all the same and it comes with the lunch, you know? If you’re gonna do this, that’s where you’re gonna stay.
     
    “I don’t work as much as I used to. I usually work two to three days a week. That’s hard working but it takes up four days a week – with the comin’ and the goin’. So, I’m at home ‘bout as much as I’m on the road and I like that. I don’t spring back as quick as I used to. I’m real good for two or three nights but if I’ve got to do five or six nights a week – I won’t say I couldn’t do it but I sure as hell don’t wanna do it because it’s a young man’s game out here doing this. I’m so fortunate that I have a career that allows me to not have to work all the time. I’m sittin’ pretty, man!”

    When I asked McClinton what has changed, positively and negatively, about touring, he replied, “The road never changes. It just never changes. Every time I go back out, it’s just like I left it. Fortunately, again, I have a band – we’re all really good, close friends. Nobody’s a jerk. We don’t have to baby sit anybody. Nobody’s an abuser. We’re all adults and we enjoy making music. That’s the premier thing that we do.

    “I spent a lot of years – a lot of ‘em – being that guy, myself. But that was a long time ago. I’ve got no time for fools or jerks. There’s no room for that. When you’re closed up in a tube with a bunch of guys, one sour apple can screw up the vibes all the way through the place and nobody needs that kind of behavior. But there are an awful lot of jerks out there. It’s a skull orchard out there and they’re just dumb as a rock, a lot of ‘em and you just have to deal with that, you know? I’m certainly not sayin’ everybody but there are those the shade never comes down and says, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t do. Maybe you shouldn’t say that.’ So, you’re on a pivot, ready to get out of the way all the time with some people.

    “An example of the kind of people I’m talking about: We played in Vegas once and the shortcut back to my room was straight through the

         

    casino. I kinda closed my eyes and turned invisible and headed off through the casino. Some woman at a slot machine saw me. ‘THERE’s DELBERT!’ Running over there and grabbed me and was hollering at everybody, ‘Look! I got Delbert!’ You know? That’s just really squirrely. Ha! Ha!”

    Our conversation shifted over to the state of the music business and record companies in general.  McClinton’s comments echoed what I’ve heard from other great artists.

    “I don’t even think that there are such things as record companies any more. The thing that’s so incredibly difficult about it - and I don’t know how in the world they’ll ever stop it because you can’t. A good friend of mine is a writer and that’s pretty much all he does is be a songwriter. He’s written a lot of hits for people. Two years ago, his income went to one quarter of what it usually was because, once you record a song now, the minute you let it out, everybody’s got it. Anybody who wants it has got it. You can’t make any money. The only way to make any money is go perform.

    “As far as making records, so many bands today give their records away just to create a fan base. Fortunately for me, I’ve got a fan base – a fantastic fan base. They’d take a bullet for me. That’s pretty special. I would hate to be a young guy trying to start out in this world today because, in the first place, I know anybody who starts out in this has the biggest dreams in the world. So many of them have confidence that will just scorch everybody else. But that’s not enough, unfortunately. You’ve gotta have more than that. The want-to is ninety-nine percent of it. The being-able-to is the other ninety-nine percent of it. It’s a hard way to make a living.

    “Back when I started doing this, everybody in the world wasn’t in the business. But, today, it’s unbelievable, man. Everybody’s in it and, as hard as I try – well, maybe that’s not the right words because I don’t try that hard. I don’t listen to an awful lot of the new music. I’ve got a young daughter and she brings music around for me to listen to. But she grew up with me and I’d been feeding her Hank Williams and Ray Charles so I think she’s going to be okay. She’s got a good head on her as far as music goes.”

    As our chat shifted gears, during the transition Delbert quoted Bob Dylan: “A lot of things get in the way when you try to do something right.” Both of us being Dylan fans, we chatted about the legend for a few minutes.

    “It pisses me off every time I hear him say something because I go, ‘Damn! I wish I’d said that!’ He is the guy and always will be. He’s a phenomena that will keep people forever wondering, ‘What the hell?’ His word-smithing is just phenomenal!”

    Still on a roll, talking about other great songsmiths, Delbert segued into talking about another artist.

    “A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a Johnny Mercer CD that Clint Eastwood did called ‘The Dream’s On Me.’ I grew up listening to Johnny Mercer. He wrote ‘Moon River,” ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘G.I. Jive.’ He was the voice of the Forties! He’s another tunesmith that puts words together that’s just unbelievable!”
    McClinton then drew a comparison to today’s talent.

    “I was reading an article here a while back. I try to stay away from things like this but Kanye West was running his mouth again. I think, ‘My god! How can anybody be so self-centered and stupid?’  He seems to think he’s God. He said that. I read that he said he’s a god. I’ve already had most of my life and I know where that heads to. It heads to a lot of really confused, uninformed, ultimately pitiful people. Not always but that’s the route, when you go to thinking that you’re the only one, that’s when they start heading for that brick wall. That ol’ brick wall is abrupt. I hit it three or four times and it’s a hard one to get past. First of all, you’ve got to admit that you’re wrong. For a lot of people, that’s a difficult thing to do.” 

    I’ve counted 28 studio albums that Delbert has recorded n(ot counting compilation albums). I’ve listened to his latest CD, “Blind, Crippled and Crazy” and absolutely love the amazing, “Just When I Need You The Most.” I said as much to McClinton, to which he responded, “I agree. I agree. And that record did absolutely nothing (sales wise)! It got a lot of great reviews. I think it was a great record. It was a lot of fun. Glen and I always have so much fun singing together. When we went back to do this, it was like we’d never stopped. We do it so naturally, it’s just like fallin’ off a log. We don’t even have to try to sing together. We don’t really sing harmonies together. We just sing different parts together. Because of it, it makes everything go up on two wheels every once in a while which I think is exhilarating.”

    You’ll recall that, earlier in the interview, Mr. McClinton mentioned that he planned on going into the studio in the near future. I circled back to that comment and asked him if he had any idea how he was going to go with it.

    “It’s going to go every which way. I’ve been writing with some different people. Al Anderson and I have written two or three songs together that are of a Dixieland style which is really, really cool. We’ve got three good songs, at least. My bass player and guitar player have been working together and we’ve got four great songs that are different for me. I don’t play anything real well. I play the pull and jerk method on the guitar – just enough to do my songs. But when I sat down to write with these guys, they are professional musicians. They know more than three chords. So we sat down together and started pushing stuff around and it enabled me to sing and play like I don’t ordinarily get to. When I write songs, I usually don’t write them with more than about three chords. Ha! Ha!

    “So, stretching out in this way has allowed me to explore whole different areas of vocal style because, now, I’ve got somebody to write with that can bring that to the table, you know? So, we’ve been having a lot of fun doing that. And I’ve just written a lot of songs over the last several years. The other day I was lookin’ and I think I have sixteen new songs. If I had about twenty, I’d put out a double album. We’re working on that and it might just happen.

    “But, in answer to your original question, it’s going to be varying, different styles, from blues to jazz to a kind of New Orleans/Dixieland kind of thing. So, so far, that’s a bunch of the feel that’ll be on this record.”

         

    When I told Delbert that I love the blues and how he sings them and that I can’t wait to hear the new album where he’ll sing some more, he replied with the humor that he peppered our chat with by saying, “Well, you’re gonna have to.”
    What hasn’t Delbert done that he would like to do, career-wise?

    “Make a s*** load of money.”

    There’s that humor, again.

    “Nah, I’m just kiddin’. I’ve got no reason to complain. I’ve done very well. It took a long time to get there. I didn’t make any money in this business until I was fifty-one years old. So, the last ten or twelve years, for me, have been premier time as far as me being a stable commodity and that’s a great place to be, man. I work as much as I want to. You can’t beat that! Ha! Ha! It’s as good as it gets!”

    In answer to my question about who he would like to work with but hasn’t yet, Delbert replied, “I would’ve liked to have sung with Tina Turner. I think it would’ve been great fun to do something with her. But I don’t know, any more, you know? I really don’t. I have, all of my life, been singularly obsessed with what I’m trying to do that I miss so much music in my life. I would not recognize a Grateful Dead song. I know everybody else in the world lived and breathed by the Grateful Dead. I don’t know anything they ever did. I mean, if you played me something, I would recognize it. But, as far as knowing who they were and what they did? No idea. And there are so many people that just went right past me for whatever reason.

    “The only reason I bring that up is that I think it’s unusual that I was so preoccupied with I’m not even sure what. I was preoccupied with what I was trying to do that everything else went by like a sign on the highway. I can’t talk to anybody about music, about who played that lick, about who did this except in a small area of music. I spent my whole life living in this area with soft edges.”

    Is there anyone relatively “new” that’s catching McClinton’s attention in the music world?

    “The last person that I remember hearing that really pulled me out of wherever I was and got my attention was Maroon 5. Fantastic! Fantastic band! Adam Levine, he’s an impressive guy. You can’t not recognize that those guys are doing well and bringing something new.

    “Here’s the other and this will probably blow your mind. It blew my mind. Lady Gaga is amazing! You need to check her out because she is real talent. There’s just no denying that, if you give her a chance – I mean, good god!  She’s a power house, man! She and Tony Bennett did an album together and it came in at number one! Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. They are number one! He is amazing, of course. Since I’ve become a fan of hers – I’ve not heard the record yet but I have no doubt that it’s great.”

    I had read that Delbert McClinton hosted the “Sandy Beaches Cruise” each year and asked him to tell me about it.

    “This January will be the twenty-first year we’ve done it. It’s one week in the Caribbean with singers, songwriters, pony tricks and fire eaters and such and the music never stops. It goes from ten-thirty or eleven in the morning to five-thirty in the morning. People can sign up at 1-800-Delbert or Delbert.com.”

    As to what is on McClinton’s career radar for the next year or so, he says, “Ha! Ha! Well, for the next year, I’ve got a record to make, which is always exciting. As far as whatever else, if I could just keep doing what I’m doing right now until I don’t want to do it any more, I’ll be a big winner.”

    When Delbert steps off the tour bus for the final time and has gone to that great gig in the sky, how do he want to be remembered and what does he hope his legacy will be?

    “Oh, man! That’s just fantasy, isn’t it? Well, when I hang it up, I hope it’s because I’ve dropped dead on stage because that would be the best way in the world to go out. Of course, you can’t pick that. I don’t know how to answer that question because it could be a real sappy answer if I’m not careful and I don’t want to have a sappy answer. When I’m done, I’m done. The last thing in the world I’d want to do is to have to answer questions like that anymore.”

  • Delbert McClinton - Knoxville 2016

    mcclinton delbert2016Photo by Randy Patterson

    Delbert McClinton
    Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN
    December 9, 2016

    For the third December in a row, it was a privilege to catch the great Delbert McClinton and his well-seasoned band at the historic Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s almost become a personal Christmas tradition, of sorts. In fact, by now, it’s almost like heading over to Delbert’s house and listening to him and the band light it up musically.

    Each and every musician was superb, including McClinton’s harmonica playing – which never fails to be top-shelf. The guitarists played off of each other as effortlessly and fluidly as Richards and Wood or Perry and Whitford. Long-time sax player, Dana Robbins, still blew the crowd away with her incredible playing. Judging by the crowd's reaction, to each of her solos, it wouldn’t have hurt their feelings to have listened to her all night (not to discount the rest of the gang, of course). Being the class act that he is, Delbert gladly shared the spotlight with all of his band members – much to the crowd’s delight.

    Fans were thrilled to hear many of their favorite hits as well as a couple of tunes from his soon-to-be-released (January 27th) CD, Prick Of The Litter (he’s accepting pre-orders now). McClinton devotees will no doubt purchase tickets for next year’s show as soon as they’re available. If you’ve never seen Delbert McClinton in concert, you’re missing out on a real treat. You can learn moreof what’s going on in Delbert’s world by clicking on over to Delbert.com.

  • Delbert McClinton - Knoxville, 2015

    Delbert McClinton

    December 4, 2015

    Bijou Theater

    Knoxville, TN

     

    Photo by Randy Patterson

         

    Delbert McClinton’s Friday night show at the Bijou Theater was one for the record books. 

    Opening act, Alysa Bonagura, has become a new favorite of Boomerocity. Consider her one of music’s best kept secrets. If you know her work nowhere else, you will most likely have heard her “I Make My Own Sunshine” that was used in commercials for Lowe’s. Hear that song once and it sticks in your mind (and brightens your outlook) for quite awhile.

    Check this girl out and keep an eye on her.

    When Delbert hit the stage, he and his tight band hit the audience with entertaining energy. Fun, engaging, nostalgic, McClinton often had the capacity crowd on their feet and dancing. 

    As always, McClinton gave the crowd what they wanted by serving up all sorts of favorites and with an energy that would’ve given the uninitiated the impression that the songs were new and fresh to him and the band. 

    A new Boomerocity favorite by McClinton is a tune he released back in 1997, “Sending Me Angels” and has now been bought and downloaded into the Boomerocity jukebox from iTunes.

    Of course, you never go wrong catching a show at the beautiful and historic Bijou Theater. There’s not a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are magnificent. 

    If you’ve never seen Delbert McClinton in concert, you’re missing out on true musical genius and one of the most fun nights you can ever experience.

  • Delbert McClinton Knoxville 2014

    Delbert McClinton
    December 5, 2014
    Bijou Theater
    Knoxville, TN

    Photo by James R. Patterson

         

    One of the artists who has been on my concert bucket list for a very long time has been the great Delbert McClinton. What a personal thrill it was for me to be able to not only catch this legendary performer in concert Friday night, but to meet him in person. He's as gracious and personable in person as he is on stage. The man is a class act all the way.

    Yeah, I was a little star struck.

    Delbert and the band were a tight, well-oiled machine, delivering a string of familiar tunes from his long, impressive career and the crowd loved every second of it. They showed it buy being on their feet from the git go.

    The audience cheered Delbert through songs like “Old Weakness,” “New York City,” “Right To Be Wrong,” “Going Back To Louisiana,” “Leap Of Faith,” and his huge hit, “Givin’ It Up For Your Love” (my personal favorite).

    I don’t know if this was staged or spontaneous but a group of about ten women climbed up on stage during “Givin’ It Up For Your Love” and started dancing with Delbert and the band. It was a hoot to watch.

    If you ever get a chance to catch one of Delbert’s shows, I encourage you to do so. He will not disappoint!


  • Larry "Fuzzy" Knight

    Posted July 27, 2014


    As I interview many great and notable people for Boomerocity, I am always amazed and the stories that they have to share – almost nonchalantly. The greatness that they’ve attained, been involved with or brushed up against boggles my mind.

    As I interview these people, I typically craft and groom the piece in a give and take narrative. Once in a great while, an interview happens where I pretty much turn on my recorder and listen to what an artist has to say with very little input from me.  My recent interview with former Spirit bassist and current bottom man for Blowin’ Smoke Rhythm and Blues Band as well as for the new group, Sky Kings, is one such interview.

    Fuzzy is a wealth of rock and roll history and knowledge with each and every one of his stories absolutely fascinating.

    For this interview, I’d like to take the uncharacteristic approach of putting into writing the feel of being on the phone with Fuzzy as I was. With only a very few exceptions, this interview is almost all Fuzzy.

    As our conversation began, I asked how things were and what all is going on his Fuzzy’s life.

    “Everything is good. It’s all good. I’ve been busy on a bunch of music projects. I have a concert this Saturday with the eleven piece ‘Blowin’ Smoke Rhythm and Blues Band’ that I’ve had for eighteen years – going into our nineteenth year real soon. I also just released another project that I produced, played bass on and wrote half the songs. The band is called ‘Sky King’ and that’s doing very well with regards to our initial exposure and reviews we’ve been getting. They’ve been very, very positive and I’m appreciative of that.”

    As if that’s not enough to keep a guy busy, he continued by saying, “I’m getting ready to edit and put out a live ‘Blowin’ Smoke’ album that was recorded very, very late last year out at Harvelle’s. And, then, I have plans of going in also this year and start a studio album with Blowin’ Smoke and we’re going to start laying tracks – again, this year – for new Sky Kings songs.

    “So, the plate is full! Ha! Ha! I’ve got my ears open for other creative opportunities. I like to work and I love being in the studio . . . and I like to produce, as well. All of those things are on the table and, for Sky King, I’ve been talking to a friend of mine. He’s a film director and he’s working for a company in the film industry right now. We have never put a video out, yet, on any of the songs for Sky King. My overall project for Sky King was to create a video for every song because the CD itself happens to have a theme even though that’s not real popular in today’s CD music. Kids seem to like to download a song. But when we created the CD, it was a concept CD.”

    “I have a long music history. It’s really been my entire life. I have seriously been into music since third grade in school. They gave us some music aptitude tests. I remember my teacher contacted my parents and said, ‘Your son should be in a music program in school.’

    “So, they gave me a cardboard keyboard to take home. I would bring it back and forth to classes. You can’t hear anything on a cardboard keyboard. So the teacher asked my parents, ‘Would you buy this kid an instrument so that we can teach him some music?’

    “In those years, we lived in a small apartment so a piano wouldn’t have even fit in the place that we lived in. So my mom and dad took me down to the local music store. I wound up playing violin. I played violin, believe it or not, all through what was left of grade school, junior high, high school and even into college.

    “By learning orchestral music and reading music, and transposing and being a listener and developing my ear, it’s how I got into being a professional musician. I would say that I owe my start to the school system in St. Louis, where I’m from.”

    On the heels of those comments, Fuzzy shared what and who his earliest musical influences were.

    “When I was fourteen and fifteen years old, I listened at night time to a black radio station in St. Louis called KATZ/Sweet Sixteen. Every night that you would

    listen, they would broadcast live from some black night club in St. Louis. Nobody listened to this station except black people. I was probably the only white kid in St. Louis at that time that listened to it.

    “Listen to this – these are the people they were broadcasting live every night: Albert King, Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Milton and a couple of other guitar players that were popular in the St. Louis area that never became famous like these guys. By the time I was sixteen, I had already talked my mom into taking me to another music store – because I didn’t have enough money saved up – and she bought me a 1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar and a 1963 Fender Jazz bass, which is the same bass that I play to this very day. It’s been around the world umpteen times with me.

    “So, being the kid that I was, I started sneaking into the black clubs with my friends so that I could see these people play. By the time I was seventeen years old, I was already playing with all of them. I would get gigs playing either guitar or bass. They were blown away. I was, like, the only white person in the night club except any friends that I brought with me and we always played in black clubs.

    “In those years – I was born in 1944 – I’ll be seventy October 21st. The Blowin’ Smoke Band is nothing more than the music that inspired me when I was a teenager in St. Louis. By playing with all the black groups, I used to be invited and taken to Masonic halls and places where people like Ray Charles and Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding and James Brown – I could go on and on – they used to come into the city to play, they would play in black venues only. The bands that they brought with them always had horn sections and there were back-up singers and dancers, an emcee and a lot of people would also perform before the star hit the stage.

    “The Blowin’ Smoke Rhythm and Blues Review is a similar style show. I have four horn players in that band. I have three black female lead singers. I sing lead. My guitar player sings lead, also. There’s a four piece rhythm section to the band. We are an eleven piece band. I gotta tell you, Randy, it’s not easy – especially in today’s music market – for an eleven piece band to survive. But the fact of the matter is, we’ve been together almost nineteen years now and we play all the time. I’m very proud of the format because I know that there are a lot of young kids that really have never seen anything like what we do. I get a chance to talk to them when we perform – after we’re done – and they always come up to me and they’re, like, flabbergasted. They go, ‘Damn! I’ve never seen anything like this before!’

    “As the icons pass away – we lose James Brown and we lose Ray Charles and that style – there are a few people that are kinda getting into it. I like Sharon Jones and the Gap Band. They’re actually doing old R&B and blues and doing it well and selling records. That’s the way of the music world. Everything comes around sooner or later.

    “Anyway, that’s how I started. I started playing the blues and R&B in St. Louis. I had my own groups there. My very first group, believe it or not, was called, ‘The Galaxies’. Then I had another group called, ‘Larry Knight and the Upsetters’. When I had that band, I recorded a record – in those days there were no vinyl albums. There were only 45’s that were being put out. I was signed to Golden World Records up in Detroit which is now a subsidiary of Motown. A producer came down to St. Louis and into a studio and I recorded a record called ‘Hurt Me’ that I wrote. The flip side I also wrote called ‘Everything’s Gone Wrong’. It actually became a hit record in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. I had a regional breakout. It was late 1965. It was up on WLS in Chicago and KXLK Radio in St. Louis. It got into the top ten and things were going really fantastic. I thought, ‘Wow! This is it! I might make it!’

    “At that time, another record came out of St. Louis that was very popular, which was a band called Bob Kuban and the Inmen and the name of the song was called ‘The Cheater’ and it actually got up on the big charts. He came out to California and was on the Dick Clark Show and the shows that were like that at that time. I was right behind them and I got this fateful letter in the mail that ‘You are drafted and you will be going to Vietnam’.

    “I did and I served fourteen months in the Vietnam War, unfortunately. I lost two years of my life and two years of almost the most influential period in music. I was away from 1966 through 1968 and that’s when the Beatles were really ripping it up. Music was changing into rock and roll and English rock. And it’s funny. It was all rooted in the blues and the old blues guys!

    “So, when I got out of the service, I immediately went on the road with a band – within two weeks. I tried to get my head straight and tried to catch up on what was happening and what was going on in the business. I put another band together called ‘Pax’. That’s the Latin word for peace. I had a three piece blues/psychedelic/rock band with a gal by the name of Gracie Dumas – a singer who used to sing with Ike Turner – as my lead vocalist.

    “We were doing a lot of gigs around the Missouri and Illinois are at the time. Barry Goldberg from the Electric Flag came into St. Louis and one of the black DJ’s took him out to a gig to see us perform. Barry was blown away and took us into a studio in Chicago. To this very day, I’ve got those five recordings. We did five songs that he produced. He gave me his address and phone number in California. He lived in Topanga Canyon out here. He said, ‘You bring me your band to California. I’ll guarantee you a record deal, I’ll be the producer and we’ll see what happens.’

    “So, four months later I poured everybody into a van and we drove across the country and I got all the way out here and went to Barry’s address in Topanga Canyon to see him. Unfortunately, when I got to his house and knocked on his door, somebody else answered and said, ‘Barry’s not going to be back for at least six months’. I asked, ‘Well, is he on tour?’ and the guy said, ‘No. He’s in rehab for heroin addiction.’ He and Buddy Miles – there was a whole bunch of guys in Electric Flag that were pretty wasted back in those days.

    “There I was in California. I had no one. I had not one contact other than him and I didn’t know what to do, where to go, where to play, how to make a penny. Believe it or not, it launched me on the second part of my professional career which became phenomenal.

    “The band that I brought to California, of course, we were playing gigs and we had a booking agency and we were surviving. But this is very interesting: One day, as I was driving in the valley – San Fernando Valley here in L.A. – I saw a marquee and it said, ‘Delaney, Bonnie and Friends’.

    “I grew up in St. Louis with Bonnie Bramlett. What was even more interesting is that they had just come back from their UK tour. That was when Eric Clapton was playing with them, and George Harrison, Leon Russell – they had the greatest band in the world. Eric Clapton took the Delaney and Bonnie rhythm section – he took the band away from them, basically – and he started Derek and the Dominos.

    “So, when they came back to L.A., they had picked up some local musicians and were playing this club that was only a few blocks from their home where they lived. I thought, ‘I grew up with Bonnie! I gotta go see her!’

    “I went into the club before they started playing and I wrote a note on a napkin and I asked the waitress to take it backstage. She did and Bonnie came screaming out from the back room, jumped on my table, knocked the drinks over and we hugged. She said, ‘You better get up on the stage and sit in with this band!’ I did. I had my guitar with me that night and I played the blues.

    “When the night was over, Delaney asked me if I would like to go out on tour. He said that they were leaving in ten days and he gave me two reel-to-reel tapes and said, ‘This is our show. Learn it.’ I never even got to rehearse with the whole band. I just went over to his house a couple of times. I was with Delaney and Bonnie as their lead guitar player until the band broke up. They divorced and that was the end of Delaney and Bonnie.”

    Later in our conversation, Fuzzy had more to say about Bonnie Bramlett.

    “Bonnie and I are two months apart in age – actually, one month apart. Her birthday is less than thirty days after mine. She has always – from the very, very beginning back in our high school days – always has been a phenomenal singer. Before Tina Turner was popular, we played in an area in St. Louis called Gaslight Square where they had places like how the Peppermint lounge was big in New York City? They had the Butterscotch Lounge and all of these various night clubs on this one strip of about two blocks. It had all of the old gas lamps that were in St. Louis back in the old cobblestone/gas lamp time. I played in every club on that street and so did Bonnie. There were times when we played with each other and with different people. We were always friends and new each other well.”

    Picking back up on Fuzzy’s early days on the California music scene, he said, “During that period – even before that – I was very lucky out here in L.A. At that time, you could walk into a record label like Capitol Records or A&M and you could put your name up on a board there and say, ‘I do session work’. I was very lucky in that I met a drummer whose sister was the secretary of the president of Capitol Records. So we got hooked up with a lot of artists who were recording for Capitol and we became studio musicians. I did a lot of demos for them and albums for them. I played with guys like Jim Rose, Chi Coltrane – the list goes on and on.  I was buzzing about L.A., playing recording sessions and doing gigs with everybody. Then I was with Delaney and Bonnie.

    “I met Randy California and Ed Cassidy from Spirit in those days. The music community in back in the late sixties/early seventies was a beautiful thing. People from all different kinds of bands could get together and play and jam; get kinda stoned, high, trip out and all that kind of stuff. But it was really a great time!  It was through us playing together with Randy California and Ed Cassidy, the same thing happened. After we played a couple of times, Randy said, ‘I want you to join my band. We’ve got some gigs that we’re gonna do as Spirit but I’m also working on my first solo album called ‘Kapt. Kopter’. I got to record tracks with him on that. We went to Europe as Spirit. I stayed with him from 1970 when we first met all the way through 1980-81 – about ten or eleven years. I guess I have about eight or nine different album releases under the name, ‘Spirit’, with Randy California and Ed Cassidy. We toured Europe and lived in London for about a year and a half. Went to every country, every city in every country in Europe.

    “Miles Copeland actually produced an album for us, ‘Live at the Rainbow Theater’, during that period. The Police were opening shows for us for six months. They hadn’t even recorded ‘Roxanne’ yet. They were doing punk rock and people were booing them off the stage. As soon as they got into that reggae feel and incorporated it into their songs, they took off. It wasn’t long before we had to open shows for them! That’s the way it works in the business. It was great and I even got a chance to work for Jefferson Airplane’s organization.

    “A friend of mine – a drummer – was already up there in San Francisco. The Airplane, at that time, was putting their own record label out called ‘Grunt Records’, to be distributed through RCA - their original label.  They had signed all these people and they had signed the Kaukonen’s solo albums – Jorma and Peter Kaukonen.

    “So, I had a call while I was down here in L.A. and they invited to come up to San Francisco. They just wanted to hear me play. They sent me a ticket and I flew up there. They offered me – I remember this because, to me, this was the most money in the world – they gave me a twenty-five thousand dollar advance to move up to San Francisco and record for Peter Kaukonen. I did his ‘Black Kangaroo’ album.

    “I did a whole bunch of artists that they had signed. I even did one with Marty Balin – one of his first solo albums. Jack Bonus and some other people. I was like a studio bass player and we were opening shows with Peter’s band for Hot Tuna which his brother, Jorma Kaukonen, was the guitar player in. It was pretty wild and things were going great. I loved it up there. I had a house in Mill Valley in the Redwood Forest. Everything was a dream, almost.

    “And then Randy (California) called me from L.A. and said, ‘You gotta come back. We’re gonna go to Europe again. There’s TV shows we’re gonna do and a whole bunch of stuff’ and I said, ‘I’ll be right back. I’ll see you as soon as I give them my notice and pack up my stuff’. I moved back to L.A. and rejoined Spirit again. That went on all the way through until 1980/1981. Then I got involved in many more projects from that point on.

    “Eventually, I got to the point where I was missing my roots. I wanted my roots back. I plaid rock and blues. I’d done a little bit of everything, so far. I felt that

    Sky King: Garth Farkas, Fuzzy Knight and Walter Morosko

    it was time to do this R&B review band. So, eighteen or nineteen years ago, I started Blowin’ Smoke. It did phenomenal. We played all the big blues festivals out here. We did the Monterey Blues Festival a couple of years in a row. The San Diego Blues Festival. The Doheny and the Long Beach – all the great blues shows and we’re still together. It’s almost a miracle to be able to hold an eleven piece group together. If you can make it two years your lucky, let alone nineteen. I feel sort of like John Mayall. He had some great guitar players and great singers over the course of the years but the legacy just goes on – to continue. I’m gonna keep it going for as long as I can.

    “Sky King is different – all original music, only. It has influences of R&B, blues, folk, jazz and rock and roll all mixed together. It’s none of any of those. It’s just a hybrid. I call it alternative rock/R&B/blues. Ha! Ha! Whatever that means!  All I know is that it confuses everybody. They don’t what category to put it into. But the music and the performances of all the players is phenomenal – a work of art!  I’m very proud of the CD and very proud to be the producer of the music. I worked on it a long time and I feel real good about it.”

    Everybody has seen the news about the lawsuit that Randy California’s estate has filed that alleges that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant used Spirit’s “Taurus” as the foundation in writing “Stairway to Heaven”.  I asked Fuzzy if he had any thoughts or insight into the matter.

    “This is also very interesting because in 1971 I was playing with Randy. That’s when we were recording the tracks for the Kapt. Kopter album – his first solo album. I remember when he first heard a Led Zeppelin album when it first came out – the Stairway to Heaven album – I think it was in ’71. I remember him saying to me – he said, ‘Did you hear this album by Led Zeppelin?’ I said, ‘Not yet’, and he said, ‘Oh, when you do, listen to this track. It sounds like a sound I’ve already written. Not the whole song but the introduction to it sounds exactly like the song, ‘Taurus’.’ 

    “He used to do that every once in a while on tour. He would bring out his acoustic guitar. Sometimes it would segue into ‘Nature’s Way’ or whatever. He never, at that time, accused them of stealing it. He just said that it sounded really similar to his song. But, if you think about the music business itself and how artists influence other artists – especially old blues people – a lot of rock and roll players have used blues formats or blues licks to write songs. If you do a descending scale – a lot of people have used descending scales. When I listen to the Black Keys’ new CD, the very first song reminded me of Pink Floyd. I was thinking more of the Pink Floyd than I was the Black Keys.

    “To be honest, I don’t know if there’s any validity in a law suit like that. I think that if Randy really believed that he had been ripped off – the people that I know who knew his financial status have said that he never had enough money to sue them. I don’t know if that’s true or not but he never went after them. I think he would have been happy if they had actually it and had used it, if they had used it and said, ‘Well, we were influenced by Randy California of Spirit.

    “Now, according to Mark Andes – the original bass player – in 1968 while I was still in Vietnam, he said that Led Zeppelin came to the United States and had opened shows for Spirit and that they had heard their music and liked the music of Spirit and they probably heard Taurus. Maybe it was in the back of their mind from what they heard. Maybe they heard it on stage and liked what they were doing and just decided, ‘Oh, we can do something similar’, you know? I don’t know if they’re willing to say, ‘Yeah, Randy influenced us so we’ll give him a little credit.’ 

    “As far as the money and all of that is concerned, I don’t know. But, if it was me, I probably would not sue them. What I would do is I would have a legal person contact them and ask them was Randy California an influence for this song – just to see what they would say. To see if they were honest thirty or forty years later.

    “From what I was told, there’s a statute of limitations – they would only be qualified to receive three years’ worth of current royalty. The only reason that all of this shit came up to begin with is because Jimmy Page has been re-mastering or re-digitizing all of the original recordings and they’re all going to be coming out again in a new updated sound format. If he decided not to do that then none of this would have come up.

    “It’s been said over the years a bunch of times – I’ve heard this story many times – and the fact of the matter is if that’s what his family wants to do – that’s what his sister wants to do – more power to her. I don’t want to enjoin any suits. I wasn’t the writer of the song. There’s only one guy in the band that matters. It’s not Spirit, it’s Randy California. He was the writer. He actually wrote the song, Taurus, for his step-dad, Ed, whose birthday – he was a Taurus. That’s why the song came to be to begin with.”

    As we discussed the overlap of musical influences by way of style and structure, Fuzzy said, “Well listen to this: Okay, Randy – at the age of fifteen and a half – played with Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in Café Wha? in New York City. Now, over the years the style that Randy played live in concert, you would almost think that you were listening to Jimi Hendrix.

    “This is a very interesting story. I’m going to tell you something that I think may blow your mind. Ed Pearl in L.A. – way back in mid-sixties/late sixties – had a night club called The Ash Grove. It was very popular out here. It was like The Troubadour but even more popular at the time. He would bring in all these old delta blues men. I mean the original delta blues men. He would feature them at the Ash Grove. These people, when he brought them in, did not live in hotels when they were brought out here. They stayed at Ed Pearl’s home. Randy, at that time he was already playing guitar, would go and hang out at his uncle’s house while these blues men lived there while they were doing these shows in L.A.  Almost every single one of them would sit down with Randy and show him their acoustic blues style of playing. He incorporated all of that into his style.

    “When Jimi met Randy, it was by accident in what I think was Manny’s Music in New York, and Randy was sitting in the music store playing his acoustic guitar and Jimi heard him and was astounded by this young white kid playing this authentic style acoustic blues. That was how he got invited to join Jimi’s band in the village at that time.

    “Jimi Hendrix could probably – if he were alive today – say, ‘Well, Randy’s playing in his songs, they sound a whole lot like my stuff.’  That’s what artists do. You should be more flattered. There’s a rip-off somewhere. Like, when George Harrison did ‘My Sweet Lord’. Remember that law suit that developed? That was chord for chord of a whole song! It wasn’t just like a twelve bar intro or an eight bar intro. There was a big difference. You take the entire chord progression of the song and write different words over it, I would say, yeah, you’re sort of treading on dangerous ground when you do something like that.

    “By the way, you know, it was Jimi Hendrix who gave Randy his name, ‘California’. When he was in Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, there were two Randy’s in the band. One was from Texas and the other one was from California. You can guess which one was which. To distinguish between the two, he decided that Randy Wolfe would be Randy California so that the right guy would answer when he had something to say.

    “But as far as Randy is concerned – and Led Zeppelin – I think that it would just be a matter of if they want to be gracious and either say, ‘We didn’t do’ or ‘Yeah, we were influenced by what we heard’. Who knows?

    “Like I said, I know Randy for years and years and  years and he’d heard, ‘Why don’t you sue them?’ and he never did. I would think that if it was that important to him – and believe me, he could’ve used the money, I know that because he used to spend every dime he ever made to go back into the studio and record. That’s all he liked to do was write songs and record in the studio. But he never did (sue) so I guess, maybe, it didn’t matter that much to him. If it did, he would’ve done it. 

    My last question for Fuzzy is one that I usually ask veterans of the music industry: When you’ve stepped off the tour bus for the final time and you go to that great gig in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you wish your legacy to be?

    “The main thing is that it’s the music that counts, the messages in the songs that you write and that you record, those things do positive and happy and healing things to humanity. It’s not for one person; it’s for every single human being. It’s the same when you go and play a gig. I do not care if you play in front of a half a million people if you’re playing for twenty people in a night club. The whole idea of being there and doing what you’re doing is that when you’re done at the end of the night, you know that you’ve given a hundred and ten percent of what’s inside of your soul – your spirit – up there on that stage; that you’ve played the best that you can play and that you hope that, when the people that experienced that moment with you, that they go home feeling better than when they got there to begin with. That’s all there is to it.

    There’s nothing else that I can add. I want it to be positive. I want it to be happy and, hopefully, if they’re having a bad time, maybe even healing. I would say that’s what I want people to remember.”

     

  • Leslie West Discusses Soundcheck Hendrix, and More

    Posted March 2016

    Photo by Justin Borucki

         

    One of the most talked about performances at Woodstock (but didn’t’ get to make it on the movie) is the eleven song set by Mountain. At the time, the band was mostly noted for it’s cover of the Jack Bruce tune, Theme for an Imaginary Western, as well as blistering guitar solos by the bands founder, Leslie West.

    In the years that followed, the band continued to blaze musical trails, ultimately releasing eight studio and three live albums. It’s signature hit became “Mississippi Queen” that has been heard all over the world and used in movies, TV shows and commercials. 

    Leslie West also simultaneously launched a successful solo career, marked by fifteen solo albums – sixteen when you include his new monumental effort, “Soundcheck.” It was for “Soundcheck” that I recently contacted West by phone. In fact, I called him on the 45th anniversary of the passing of Jimi Hendrix. I was curious about your thoughts about him.

    “Well, it was really sad. He died at almost 28 years old. I’ve since become friends with his sister, Janie. She came through New York recently – within the last year. They’re doing a documentary on the Atlanta Pop Festival – with Jimi there. They were interviewing people that played it. She’s such a sweetheart.”

    Circling back to Jimi himself, West continued:

    “Too bad he’s not still around. I have very fond memories. I played with him at a club in New York at, like, one in the morning. Just me and him. Him playing bass and me playing guitar. In fact, on MoutainRockBand.com – our website – there’s a picture of Hendrix playing bass and me playing guitar that night. It’s not the greatest picture but you can certainly see that it’s him and me. 

    “He went WAY before his time. Yeah, that wasn’t a happy day.”

    Bringing the conversation to Leslie’s new CD, I asked him how many solo records this mad for him.

    “I think it’s sixteen solo albums, believe it or not. I think. Somebody wrote that the other day. I started to count them but I feel really tired so I’m not going to start to count. Ha! Ha! The good thing is this one I’m really proud of. The sound is great and I’ve got some good people playing on it.”

    When he says, “some good people,” West is referring to people such as Queen’s Brian May, Peter Frampton, Bonnie Bramlett, Jack Bruce and Joe Franco (via some resurrected studio tapes). When I said that having such a stellar group of artists willing to play on his album certain said a lot about the respect he has amongst such big names, Leslie said:

    “On the ‘Going Down’ track with Brian May, a friend of mine was producing at the time and he got us all together. So, when I was doing this album, nobody had ever heard it, I don’t think. The song was written by Don Nix. Don sang it originally. But when we listened to the masters of it, he didn’t use Brian’s solo. Somebody else finished producing it even though my friend started it. 

    “So, when me and my engineer heard it, I was playing the solo on the first half of the song. There was a break and then Brian played the solo on the second half on out. We put it together and it was great! We’ve got Max Milton playing the intro on piano. I get really excited. That’s probably my favorite guitar song to jam on of all time.”

    As we talked about the songs on the album, I mentioned how unique his treatment of the old song, “You Are My Sunshine,” was in its contrary delivery.

         

    Photo by Justin Borucki

    With a chuckle, Leslie shared the background to that version.

    “I gotta give credit to Sons of Anarchy because I heard somebody doing it on there. Instead of the major key that the sounds so happy, it was in a minor key. I said, ‘Boy, I think I can really do a very, very ‘funerally’ – funeral dirge – some kind of sad version of it.’ 

    “I called Peter Frampton because I’d done something with Peter the year before. I said, ‘Peter, I’ve got a version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ that I’d love for you to play with me.’ I sent it to him. It really came out great. I’m really proud of it. Between the two of us – I think I started out playing the first solo and he played the second one. After the break in the middle, he plays the first solo and I play the last solo and we play the last line together.

    “I’ve known Peter forty-five years – something like that. Even though we’d toured together, we’d never actually played together. He had this tour last year called ‘Frampton’s Circus’. He invited me to play a couple of shows on it. It was the first time we had ever played together. Now we’ve played together twice.”

    After working with them on this record, are there any more plans to collaborate with any of these people in the future?

    “Well, there’s a young guitar player – Jim Cook – a blues player. He’s going to be opening for me in New York when I play B.B. King’s. I play a track on his album. I think the kid’s gonna be something special. I’m looking forward to that.”

    Having worked on all of the Mountain and solo records that he has – as well as appearing on many of his friends’ projects – I asked West how “Soundcheck” was different for him.

    “It’s not so much different than the last one I did, ‘Still Climbing,” because that was only two years ago. The machines and everything else – every two weeks there are new things to try out. We’re pretty much on ProTools. The secret to making a good album is a good engineer. I can just play and Mike can edit where I need editing. Putting songs together is a lot easier now that it used to be years ago.”

    As a “calling card” for the entire record, Leslie offered his choice of song:

    “The first cut, ‘Left by The Roadside to Die’. It starts with a synthesizer. I actually played that part on the guitar and had my keyboard player start to play it. So, right off the bat, I guess you’d expect to hear a guitar from me. This, at least, you hear that synthesizer come on and then I start playing some slide and it gets heavy. It shows some different phases of what I can do in one song. I would hope that would get you to listen to the rest of the album!”

    The best of the best guitarist are sought after by the various guitar manufacturers. It’s no surprise that Leslie West has a signature line through Dean Guitars. When asked how that line was doing, he said:

    “Great. We ran about five models. From very expensive, to the middle, to very inexpensive so everybody can play it. Even the less expensive ones have great graphics on it. The newest model is the Leslie West Peace guitar. It has my logo. The logo looks like a peace sign but, if you look closely, one of the lines on the circle is left out so it looks like an LW. It’s a black guitar with a silver peace sign on it. It looks great! It’s been a lot of fun. I mean, I feel sorry for Jimi Hendrix. He’s dead and he never had a model while he was alive.”

    Photo by Justin Borucki

         

    Jimi Hendrix came up in the conversation about signature guitars when West started talking about what a Hendrix signature model might be.

    “They were upside down Stratocasters. They weren’t left-handed. He would take a regular Strat and just re-string it. A guy like Albert King, he used to turn the guitar upside down and play it backwards. I don’t know how the hell he did that! He had the big Flying V and just turned it upside down so, where the fat E string would be, he had the little, thin E, first! I wondered how he stretched the strings that far. 

    “The first gig we ever did was with Albert King. Fillmore West. Mountain’s first gig. I watched him play. I had been trying to develop my vibrato and stretch the strings. I wanted to stretch them as much as he could. When I found out that he was doing it from the opposite way, it made it a lot easier. I didn’t see that until I watched him. I wished that I had saw him before. It would’ve made my life a lot easier and simpler!”

    Circling back around to Hendrix, again, Leslie said:

    “Yeah, if Jimi was still around, I kinda know what his Strat would be like.”

    Our conversation turned to another great, legendary guitarist – one who recently passed away and who, like West, played at Woodstock: Johnny Winter.

    “I was on Johnny’s last album. ‘Long Tall Sally’. And Johnny played on my last album on the song, ‘Busted, Disgusted or Dead’. My engineer mixed Johnny’s last album and got a Grammy for it. We (Johnny) were pretty close. I actually helped Johnny get himself straightened out, drug wise. He didn’t die from drugs, man. He just died of natural causes. He wasn’t doing to well, health-wise. Neither was I, but, somehow, I’m still around!”

    That last comment gave me the opportunity to ask Leslie how he was doing. As some of you may not know, West has had some serious health problems over the last several years – including the loss of a leg - so I asked how he was doing. His initial remark blindsided me.

    “I was going to ask you, Randy: Did you find it (his leg)?” 

    Then, on a more serious note, he added:

    “My balance is terrible and I haven’t been able to use the prosthetic so I have to sit in a chair to play, unfortunately. But it hasn’t stopped me from playing. That’s a good thing. In rehab, they put me in the parallel bars with the prosthetic leg and made me put the guitar on. I put the guitar on and they wanted to see how long I could stand and play the guitar without falling. I didn’t last thirty seconds. 

         

    Photo by Justin Borucki

    “I said, ‘You know, this isn’t going to work on stage. I don’t want to be worrying about falling when I’m trying to play.’ Even though you have a prosthetic, it feels like an alien to you.”

    Then, after sharing more about his adjustment to losing his leg, he said:

    “Life is precious, Randy. Thank God for the guitar, right?”

    I know you have many more years of work left in you but when you finally do go to that great gig in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy will be?

    “When the time comes, and they cover me with dirt and grass, to all my critics that didn’t like the way I played, they can kiss my big . . . “

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out what else he said. 

  • Michele Bramlett

    Posted June, 2010

    I’m fascinated with people.  I like to know what makes people tick and why they do what they do.  More importantly, I like to know peoples background and their upbringing because this gives tremendous insight into what makes those people what they are today. This is especially the case with famous people.  Even more recently, I became interested in the lives and background of children of celebrities.

    One such person that I recently had the privilege of interviewing was Michele Bramlett.  She is oldest daughter of late rock legend, Delaney Bramlett and wood carver/folk artist, Patty Stanley.  You’ll know him as the male half of the 60’s rock duo, Delaney, Bonnie and Friends.  You will know Michele as a successful and renowned painter in her own right and fascinating to chat with.

    Early in our conversation, I told Michele that I read that, as she was growing up, she heard some pretty big names jamming in her dad’s home. I asked her what are her earliest thoughts of Delaney. Michele’s response is very reflective and seems almost therapeutic to her as she shares her thoughts.

    “Earliest thoughts? Wow, that’s a hard one. You know, moms and dads seem to have always been in the child’s mind.  One of my first memories is being on the set of “Shindig”. Joey Copper looked after me when dad was working. I remember dad taking me to ‘Small World’ at Disneyland. I remember we loved that ride so much we just kept getting’ on, over and over, and didn’t ride on any other ride in the park!

    “I remember lots of dad’s ‘friends’ sittin around our kitchen table, backyard, front porch playing and singing as us kids played and danced. ‘Uncle Eddy’ (actor Edward James Olmos) and ‘Stuff’ (Little Feat bassist, Kenny Gradney) lived next door. I remember sitting at the piano with Leon (Russell) and watching him play and being intrigued by his long white hair and beard.  Bobby “Yityock” ( we couldnt pronounce Whitlock) and George, Eric, on and on.  I know all of this now but understand that to us girls, these amazing artists were just friends who played music with dad . . . and Dad and Baba (the name Michele called the legendary Bonnie Bramlett, who Michele lovingly refers to as her “other mom”) were just our dad and mom.”

    Michele’s childhood memories continue to flow out of her like quickly flowing streams of consciousness.

    “Sweet Duane Allman, my dad loved him so. Dad was devastated by his death and I remember the ‘feeling’ at the house was dark for a long time. I remember the moment my other mom, Bonnie, graced my life. She would brush my hair and talk to me about deep and beautiful things. She and Dad took me on a trip right after ‘we met again’ . . . we were staying in a motel and Baba (that’s what I call her) and I were jumpin’ on the bed. BIG FUN! We laughed and laughed.

    “I remember going to Mississippi to see our kin...my papa had horses, and my dad was a great horseman (Native American way). I was beggin’ dad and papa to ride one of the horses. He kept sayin’, ‘no ‘Shel, now honey they just got fed’. They finally, after much pouting, gave in but made me SWEAR not to ‘run that horse’.

    “So what did I do? YEEHAW and took off runnin’! Darn horse took me right under a clothesline, caught me under the neck. The horse kept goin’ and I did a flip and landed slap on my back. Bonnie came runnin’ out and scooped me up and took me in the kitchen. My dad walks in and says, ‘Now honey, you know you got to get back on that horse’. To this day I am grateful for that life lesson.”

     As if to put a beautiful mental bow on a treasured box of memories, Michele summarizes her childhood thoughts by sharing what she learned from her dad, her mom and Bonnie Bramlett.

    “My mom, Patty, taught me how to love. My dad taught me how to live. My Baba taught me how to look for and find me.”

    Bramlett is a phenomenal painter, I told her as much while asking her if ever pursued music before finding her sweet spot in painting?

    “WOW! Thank you so much . . . but I credit Mom, dad, Baba, my sissies (Suzanne and Bekka), and the Great Spirit...I am just the “paintbrush”, you know? No, I never pursued music. However, from an early age until we lost him, Dad had us girls in the studio doing ‘backups’ (first recording was on “California Rain”). My sister, Bekka, embraced the music and her singing and songwriting will blow your mind. My sister, Suzanne, is an incredible makeup artist. I have always drawn and painted. I was always visual. I used to ‘play’ in my drawings.”

    While on the subject of Michele’s art, I asked her to tell me more about her work, how her business is going, who some of her customers have been.

    “I have been very lucky, and so very grateful, that I have been able to make a living at my art, my expression. I love the response from people. I love connecting another soul with mine in a way that perhaps that soul can say ‘Oh I’ve been there’, or, ‘OOOhh, I know what that feels like’.

    “I have painted for Kenny Loggins. He owns two originals, ‘Conviction of the Heart’ (inspired by his song of the same name) and ‘Little Red Wolf’, and a master print. Billy Joel owns ‘Woman At His Piano’ . . . (and there have been) many others. I have been, as I said before, very lucky.

    I asked Michele if she minded sharing what she was currently working on.

    “Right now, I am working on a collaboration piece with the digital artist, Jaesen Kanter. The art and the embracing of collaboration is another one of the ‘lessons of life’ I learned from my dad. This is a special piece in that it conveys the infusion of art and music that was gifted to my daughter and I from dad.

    “I have just finished a piece called “Poor Elijah” for the foundation we are in the process of setting up to honor our dad and I will be “unveiling” that soon. I have just finished illustrating a book for Victor Forbes of Fine Art Magazine titled ‘Long way ‘round’ . . . CD art for Coco Carmel Whitlock’s CD, ‘First Fruit’.

    “I commission portraits. I have been exploring painting me, my art on the bodies of my subjects - combining my subjects (clients) energy with mine and painting “body art” on the subject. I am getting a great response! My world of art is growing and I am loving every minute of it!”

    Bramlett mentioned the Poor Elijah Fund, which I am somewhat familiar with.  I asked her about it.

    “The Poor Elijah Foundation is starting to take shape. My sisters and I, with the help of some very dear and special friends Maria Angel Schaefer, Jaesen Kanter, and Lisa Marvin started the foundation to honor dad and his contribution to the music world.

    “The Poor Elijah Foundation is dedicated to assisting musicians in need develop strong business ethics within the music industry and providing financial relief to the working musician aspiring to learn and who does not qualify for assistance from charities that require long term and/or professional establishment in the music industry. Through mentors, workshops, and camps, PEF will take the working musician and educate them in various aspects of the music industry e.g. engineering, management, publishing, money management, contract negotiations, and musical education to elevate the art of the artist fostering skills to become more proficient in their craft.

    “Since we are at the beginning stages (waiting for 501c3 status) contributions cannot be ‘written off’ yet. I, and others, will be holding fundraisers and will be offering art, CD’s, and other items through my website and my personal Facebook page with proceeds going to help the foundation get on her feet. Once we are federal, people will be able to contribute thru our website (which is now under construction).  Right now, www.poorelijahfoundation.org will take you directly to the “Delaney Bramlett deserves induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facebook page”(the induction of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends).  The induction is what started this huge and beautiful wave - the movement to induct our parents. We will be putting on fabulous tribute concerts so stay tuned!

    Michele’s father passed away unexpectedly while recovering from what should have been routine surgery in December, 2008.  The way the human mind works, events – even major ones – from that far back can seem like they happened both a hundred years ago and yesterday.  I asked Michele how she has been dealing with her grief since the loss of her father. Her answers are insightful to those of us who haven’t yet lost a parent and familiar to those who have.

    “I have good days and bad. The hurt and the missing does not get any better, I don’t care what they say. I guess I’m just better at “feeling it”.  I miss being able to call my dad . . . ask him about things. I miss his late night phone calls from the studio – ‘Wanna hear a new purdy song, ‘Shel?’. I would sit and listen for hours to all his ‘new stuff’ and he would tell me stories and I would laugh and laugh. He was really funny and had great ‘delivery’.

    “I miss watching Gunsmoke and The Andy Griffith Show and old westerns with him. This whole amazing process of the induction movement, the foundation, the tribute concerts, the outpouring of love and support from his fans, the huge amount of love from within my family - my mom, my other mom, my sisters - has been my saving grace. My heart is healing.”

    Placing myself in her shoes, I suspect that, when grief hits in waves, I would draw from my treasure chest of memories to dwell on and derive some comfort from.  I was curious how, specifically, she coped with the grief and if there was a particular memory that she draws on to get through the pain.

    “I talk to him. I cry to him. I holler for him. To get thru the pain I play his music and listen to him sing.  The ‘kitchen table’ memories are most soothing. That kitchen table was the center of the Bramlett family. And Mamo, Oh-h-h-h, Mamo (pronounced “mammaw”)! I miss her so much! I close my eyes and see his sweet smile smiling back at me.”

    I asked Bramlett about her Mamo.

    "Mamo is dad's mom. She lived with dad ever since I can remember. She was the hearth stone of the Bramlett home. She took care of us when the road called. She took care of everybody . . . cooking for all the musicians who were at the house all day long. She made the most delicious sweet tea you ever tasted – ever! She, like daddy, had her place at that famous kitchen table. Mamo Bramlett is famous among all of the ''friends" and then some. Southern and sweet, Mamo always had an open door policy. Everybody was welcome.
    She was ALWAYS there.  We lost Mamo 9 months before we lost dad. Oh, I could go on and on about Mamo. She was something very, very special. One of the Great Spirits favorites. I just know it.”

    Michele continues with memories of her dad: “I think of riding horses with him at the ranch. My favorite was “night rides” out on the trail. He had a great way of sittin’ a horse and he would sing so pretty out on those rides. I think of him rockin’ my daughter, Dakota, when she was a baby, on the front porch swing and him singing to her. He loved his 2 grandkids so much: Dakota, my daughter, and, Jack, my sister, Suzanne’s, son.”

    In responding to my question if she and her sisters help each other out through the tough times, Michele’s answer is quick and enthusiastic.

    “Absolutely! We are all we have. We ARE the Bramlett family. They are my life and I am theirs, always - in ALL WAYS.  We talk to each other and cry together and play Delaney and Bonnie music and dance and sing our heads off.”

    In an earlier comment, Michele mentioned the drive to get Delaney and Bonnie inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It’s a very long and tough process for talent to get inducted to the Hall.  With 35 members on the nominating committee and 600 members who vote, Hall induction is incredibly challenging.  With that in mind, I asked Michele how the induction process going.

    “The induction is going great!  We have over 6000 ‘members’ who have joined our cause on Facebook. We have a website that you can print, sign and mail your nomination directly to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    “We are in the process of interviewing ‘Friends’ for a documentary and what a  journey THIS has been. To name a few, Miss Bonnie (of course), Billy Burnett, Kenny Loggins and Jimmy Messina, Dave Mason, Kenny Gradney, Greg Glen Martin, Spooner Oldham, Michael Allman, Paul Williams, Mentor Williams, Paull E. Rubin - on and on and still filming!”

    Ms. Bramlett is clearly a driven woman on a serious mission, always promoting her cause.  Who wouldn’t?  That’s her daddy!  She’s a convincing salesperson as she promotes the related websites.

    “Here is the link again to the Facebook induction page (hyperlinked here for formatting purposes).  People can support our cause by going to the page and joining.  GREAT PEOPLE, GREAT MUSIC, GREAT PICTURES AND VIDEOS!  The website where people can get the Induction Letter to submit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in support of D&B is www.inductdelaneyandbonnie.com. The inductees will make the final nomination. We need their support as well!”

    After our interview, I reflected (as I often do after interviewing someone) on our chat.  Michele clearly, dearly loved, and still loves, her dad.  To us, he is a rock icon who brought us all countless hours of entertainment. To Michele, Delaney was her dad who just happened to sing for a living.

    While we have him on one kind of pedestal, she and her siblings clearly have him on a completely different kind of pedestal; one that all fathers should be aspire to be placed on.  We get there, in our children’s “Dad Hall of Fame”, by being fathers that take time for their kids, whether they’re young or adults.  We get there by creating fertile environments for incredible memories that fill the treasure chests of their minds.

    Michele Bramlett is obviously and rightfully proud of her dad’s work and accomplishments. However, notice that it’s having the “kitchen table” moments, the horse rides and the times on the front porch or watching TV together that she reflects on and draws from.  Those are the lessons we can all learn from.

    Michele Bramlett’s art can be seen at her website, www.bramlettart.com.  If you would like to support her and her family’s efforts to get Delaney and Bonnie inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you can download the Induction Letter from the family’s website, www.inductdelaneyandbonnie.com.

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

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