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  • Sass Jordan Talks Blues, Booze, and Bowie

    Posted March 2020

     

    sass jordan5 CropIn the first year of Boomerocity, I had the privilege of interviewing an extremely talented artist from Canada, Sass Jordan. She was so much fun to interview, that I just knew that I would be interviewing her a lot more in the future. However, that didn’t happen.

    What the heck happened? Was it something I said?

    I recently got to interview her for the long-coveted second time and it was more fun than it was all those years ago. Incredibly talented. Vivacious. Funny. Smart. Perennially beautiful. All the things that Sass has been known for her entire career. It’s tempting to repeat what all she’s accomplished in that career. However, I do encourage you to read what I originally wrote about her in my first interview with her, here.

    One thing I will say about Sass from the git-go is that she loves to laugh and her laugh is infectious. If we all could learn to laugh as much, as hard, as heartfelt, and as often as she does, we’d all be happier and the world would be a much better and brighter place.

    Because Sass has a new album out entitled “Rebel Moon Blues” (and let me tell you: It’s un-friggin’-believable! Order it now if you haven’t already. It’s a phenomenal disc!), I scheduled a call to chat with her about it. I called Ms. Jordan at her home in a little village outside of Toronto. Her exuberance was immediately evident.

    “I'm in Toronto under five tons of snow. But the good news is in one day I'm going to Barbados and I cannot wait! Oh, my God. I can't wait. I'm like, over this! Wow! I don't exactly live in the town. I make it like a thing to not live in cities anymore. Ha! Ha!

    “I live in a village north of there. If I said the village, nobody about it. It's close enough to Toronto. You know what I mean? When I fly in and out, it's always from the Toronto airport.”

    We dove right into discussing her new album with me asking if I counted correctly that “Moon” is her eighth album to date.

    “I have no idea! Ha! Ha! I guess I need to look at my catalog and count. I'm not kidding. I don't know. Yeah. Maybe that could be right. That's it. Who cares? It doesn't even matter, does it? It doesn't even matter. It certainly means nothing to me. I don't give a crrrrap one way or the other! But, yeah, t's the most recent and for some reason, it really seems to be hitting a nerve with people are just getting the most wonderful feedback from them and making me very, very happy. I had so much fun making it. You know, we made it last June - almost a year ago!

    “It was supposed to come out in September. Then it was October. Then it was November. Then, it was like, forget about it! Maybe next year! It was one of those. So now it's finally coming out in March. And all the people that have been getting it to review or what have you - or interviews - it's just such a powerfully positive response!

    “One of the main things I'm hearing is, ‘Why didn't you do this earlier?’ To which I reply, 'I just didn't.' I didn't think of it. It never occurred to me. And then somebody asked me to do it and I told them to go sit in the field because I wasn't having any part of making a blues record. Like, what do I know about that? And then, these things happened and I - and Derrick, who produced it, said to me, 'Why would you not want to sing a song like Still Got The Blues by Gary Moore? It sounds like a song you would've sung or written anyway.’ I could not argue with that in any way shape. Not to say that I could write such a great song, but I'm just saying it's definitely not a far reach from what I really do right now.

    “Then it was like, okay, so let's get into stuff that I used to listen to. For example, Leaving Trunk by Taj Mahal. When I was 13 years old, I had that Taj Mahal record on repeat. I just played it over and over. I'd turn it over because it was vinyl. Play it over. I turned it over. That's what I did with all my favorite records, including the Bowie stuff - like Ziggy Stardust and all that. This music just found its way into my blood and into my bones and into my cellular memory. And, so, it completely makes sense that, now, 50 or 40 or how many ever years because I can't count. Now that it had this time to sink in or, you know, age like a fine wine, now I'm ready for it to come out of me as a celebration again. Everything I do now - this is my promise to me - is I don't do stuff if I don't really love it and enjoy it and have fun with it and feel uplifted by it and feel like I am expressing the highest part of me. I don't do it anymore unless that's what's happening. And it really made me feel that way. I'm so, so happy that I've had the opportunity to do this and I intend to do more of it.”

    sass jordan6That opened the door to delve into the blues and the state of the blues today. I mentioned that the genre is experiencing a good, strong resurgence wherein people are really appreciating it. I reiterated to Sass that we need people like her who know how to deliver blues. That all said, we also are seeing a deluge of blues being released that is “smooth” – which, while it, too, sounds great, it’s not what the blues was intended to sound like. So, for Sass to have an album like this come out, it’s refreshing. It has the grit and the grind in it to where you can almost smell the whiskey; you can practically hear the creak of the floors in a chitlin joint somewhere. It just the way blues should be played and that's how Sass delivers it in ‘Rebel Moon Blues’.

    When I said all of that to Ms. Jordan, I capped it all off by asking her which song from the disc she would point to as the calling card for the entire album. She replied:

    “First of all, just let me say thank you for what you just said. Because, wow! You SO hit the needle on the head. I’ve heard some stuff from an artist who is enormously well respected and excellent, by the way, at what they do. And they're a blues artist and they've won tons of awards etc., etc., etc.. I was peripherally aware of them. I didn't actually really know who it was but it was mentioned in an article with me that somebody sent and I saw this artist and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, wicked! Let me go look this up. This sounds like this must be really cool!’

    “I found it on YouTube and played it. And although it was really well done, it was exactly what you just said: too clean. It didn't sound like the blues to me, you know? Even though this is a highly respected blues artist, it was clinical, almost. It was the antithesis of what I would consider to be the blues. It's the other thing that you just mentioned that I want to say something about as well. as he was saying that it seems like the blues is having a renaissance in this time and I would say that's actually probably true because people are tired of the bullshit and sick of the complicated, lying, fake nonsense in the news, in music everywhere. And to go back to something so simple and so pure and that taps directly into an emotional state, I think that that's what the appeal of it is.

    “As far as what song on this record, I would consider to be the calling card for this record. I don't really know because each sass jordan live1song - I think you can use any of them, to be honest. But I really don't think one of them was a miss and that's the first time I've felt like that about a record I've made in a long time. Actually, ever.

    Sass Jordan: It's not predicated on image as stuff that's more contemporary now. It's not that all of it's bad. There's a lot of good stuff that's coming out now, as well, as far as I'm concerned, in a newer type of music - hybrid stuff. There's a lot of great stuff out there. It's not all bad. Under no circumstances would I say that. But there's just such a preponderance of this fake news type news. Like it's fake people, fake freak sounds, fake instruments; too paint-by-the-numbers. It's just like, oh, enough already. I was just adding on to what you said there, I guess, you know, but I also wanted to just make the point that I don't think everything is terrible at all. There's a lot of good stuff and a lot of honest, real artists, as well. Blues and non-blues. We can't paint everything with the same brush.”

    In the course of our meandering, music-themed chatter, Sass threw this little aside into the mix:

    “The person I want to work with - but I don't think - I don't even know what the heck they're doing now, and it has nothing to do with any of the kind of music we've been talking about. The person that I would really love to work is D'Angelo. I have no connection that I know of directly into that world, but I would love to do some musical stylings and stuff in that way. I just loved that music. Love, love, love, LOVE!”

    Circling back around to Sass’s new CD, I asked how long it took to make it.

    “Well, really, to record it and everything, it was like three days - four days. There was there was really no overdubbing that happened at all except maybe just one word here. Like I hadn't been close enough to the mic or something, but we just did it live so it was like, boom, boom. And it's my live band that I use, Champagne Hookers. So, we're all on the same page, basically.”

    As for a tour to support it, Sass told me:

    sass jordan4“Absolutely! The first dates that I've got coming up are in May or the beginning of June in the Netherlands. I've got a string of dates in the Netherlands. And, right now, the agents and the management peeps are working on as much as they can, trying to find a blues festival and stuff like that that we can be a part of this time, because, you know, this is gonna stretch on for a couple of years. This is like the very beginning of it all because the record isn't coming out until the 13th of March.

    “When Mike Garson asked me to do this Bowie Celebration thing, I thought, ‘What the heck? Why the heck not? You know, I love Bowie and I adore Mike.’ And you know this will get me into some markets, albeit not doing my own music, but at least showing up so that some people know I'm alive and into to some markets that I haven't been in for 20 years. So, it makes sense, you know, in every way.”

    Then, Ms. Jordan came out of left-field and hit me with this . . . well, “shot”:

    “Well, you know, I have a whiskey coming out. I'm not kidding. I got a whiskey coming out! You'll never believe what it's called: Rebel Moon Whiskey! Ha! Ha! Oh yeah. I'm super excited about that too. It just makes all the sense in the world. And it's funny how it all happened at the same time.”

    I asked Sass about her participation in the Bowie Celebration Tour.

    “It's Mike Garson's thing. Mike Garson played with Bowie for like 40 years. He was in so many of his bands. He was like the one stalwart member that remained throughout most of Bowie's bands. Bowie maybe had a couple of bands without him. His piano playing is such a signature sound on so much of my favorite Bowie stuff when I was 13 rocking out in the living room with my girlfriend, Vickie, parents’ living room. Vickie and I listening to David Live from the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. We knew every single note on that record and it was Mike Garson on keyboards. At 13 years old my first concert I ever saw in my entire life? Diamond Dogs by David Bowie! The opening band was the Edgar Winter Group. Crazy!

    "Anyways, so, what happens is, when they do this show, it's all alumni from different bands that Bowie had over the years - all people that played in them at some point or another, except for the singers, obviously, because he was the singer. The singers are the only ones that were not in Bowie's bands, per se. Some of them might have sung with him. I don't know. So, whenever they go into a new market, they'll often ask somebody who is from that market to come up and do a couple of songs with them as a guest.

    “So, when they were in Toronto. Bernard Fowler was singing with them. And it's Bernard who said to Mike, 'We should get sass jordan live0Sass to come down and do a couple of songs.' It's because of Bernard. Bernard's the one that got me in. For the past two years, when they came to Toronto, they asked me to come and sing a couple of songs with them, which I did, and that was the end of that. I never even thought about it for two more seconds. It was a big thing for me because I loved Bowie and I still do. So, getting to perform some of those songs, it never occurred to me to do any of the songs in my show. You know what I mean? Because, why? But anyways, 'Why not?' is another good question. It just never came up. So, I got to do the songs with these people and it was wonderful.

    “Then, out of the blue, about three months ago, Mike called me and said, 'Sass, we're doing this five-and-a-half-week tour in the states and Canada in March-April and I'd love you to do it with us.' I'm, like, 'What?' I said, 'I really don't know. I don't know if I can do that' You know, 5 1/2 weeks, that's a long time to commit yourself to something that isn't necessarily your thing. 'Okay. Let me see.'

    Anyway, when I found out that the record was coming out March the 13th, I didn't have any other shows booked up until then. Everything just sort of fell into place like it was meant to happen. It just flowed. I said, ‘Sure. I guess I will do it.’ And then at the very last minute, about two weeks before, Mike, calls me and goes, 'Sass, one of the guys that was supposed to be doing Europe and Israel with us has dropped out. They can't do it. Can you do it?' And I'm like are you ****ing kidding me? Like, thanks for the warning. Thanks for the notice, bro!’ But I couldn't say no. Well, I love playing in Europe and I've never been to Israel so, what the heck! Let's go! But it was, oh my god, it was a relentless, intense experience. REALLY intense.

    “But what's so spectacular for me about doing this show is the audiences freak out! (Singing a line from Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream') 'Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!' They freak out and it is absolutely mind-blowing. It really is and it's just so overwhelmingly moving and touching and it happens every single night, which is a testament to the power of music and his music in particular.

    sass jordan live4“I tell you, it's like you see people of all ages, not just older people my age, that you would think are the ones that know his stuff. No! Like people of all ages and crying, singing every word, dancing, flipping out. It's just intense. Awesome!

    Wrapping up our chat, I asked Sass what she hoped her legacy would be and how she wants to be remembered when she steps off the tour bus of life

    “Well, there's funny saying - and thank you for asking: I don't care. I literally do not care because I won't be here! Anyone and everyone is invited to think or talk or forget about me. I absolutely, 100% just don't care! I won't be here. It's irrelevant to me in every way. It's like, you know. It's like if I manage to amass a fortune by that time, I'd like to leave it to whatever organization or charity that I choose closest to when I make that transition. But other than that, who gives a poop? I don't!

    “I thought about it. I thought about it, too, because, you know, I have been asked stuff like that before. You just think about it, as in your life, you think about it. But I think I don't believe personally much in death, which is a weird thing to say. What I'm saying is it's like you don't die. Your body does. But you go on. I've got no doubt about that. I'm more interested in the adventures I'm gonna be getting into in the future rather than what happens in the past because it's all subjective, anyway. It's somebody else's opinion.”

    Then, with that infectious laugh, she concludes: “It's me pontificating yet again. I appreciate the question.”

    Keep up with all the latest with Sass Jordan at her website, SassJordan.com.