Article Search...

Mary & Randy Travis Talk About Their Marriage & "Fool's Love Affair"

Posted July 2020

HyperFocal: 0Photo by Robert TractenbergEarlier this week I had the privilege of participating in a group ZOOM call to chat with Mary and Randy Travis about his first single since 2013 entitled “Fool’s Love Affair”. In the course of the call, I asked Mary and Randy a question about their marriage that is, obviously, the polar opposite of the premise of Randy’s new single. The video of that exchange is on this page. Below is a run-down of the new single. Please check out both . . . and share it with a friend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANDY TRAVIS DROPS “FOOL’S LOVE AFFAIR” ON THE 35th ANNIVERSARY OF “ON THE OTHER HAND”

Marking the 35th Anniversary of Randy Travis’ first radio single, “On The Other Hand,” the Country music icon and famed actor releases his first never-before-heard single since his 2013 stroke, “Fool’s Love Affair.” Recorded as a demo, the song was stuck in storage until one of the writers, Charlie Monk, discovered it and sent it to Randy and longtime producer Kyle Lehning to bring up to 2020 standards. Country fans have long awaited the chance to hear the Country Music Hall of Fame member’s voice - which Rolling Stone calls "distinctive" and "influential" - on a new song. And though he still deals with aphasia and cannot record, Randy is bringing them just that. Download and stream the song on all digital retailers here.

In 2017, Garth Brooks said to Rolling Stone: “Think about it: when is there ever, in any format, an artist that has come on the scene that has turned a format 180 degrees from where it’s heading, back and made it bigger than it ever was? That’s impossible. I’ve only known it to happen once, ever and Travis would be the name I’d stick on it.” Of course, he was talking about Randy’s effect on country music in the mid-'80s with “On The Other Hand,” “1982,” “Forever and Ever, Amen” and more.

Fools Love AffairClick Above To Download Your Copy of Fool's Love Affair Now!Billboard's Tom Roland announced the song on Monday, with, "the tone is rich and reedy, the delivery is steady and understated, and the emotion is convincingly resigned."

The song has already seen early unprecedented support from the music industry. Fellow country artists have shared sentiments on social
media. Spotify has featured "Fool's Love Affair" across various major playlists including Hot Country, New Boots, Wild Country, Forever Country, and more. Apple Music has featured on Hot Tracks and a special promotion on Randy Travis Essentials. Major radio conglomerates Cumulus, iHeartRadio, Townsquare, Entercom as well as SiriusXM and countless more Country radio stations have featured it throughout Wednesday morning. WSM 650 AM, the radio home of the Grand Ole Opry, have a special hour of Randy Travis programming planned and featured the song on Coffee, Country and Cody.

The Tennessean called the song "a classic ballad tinged with steel guitar and carried by the warm croon that sold millions of albums and helped shape a generation of country stars to come."

The song was produced by Kyle Lehning and written by Keith Stegall, Charlie Monk, and Milton Brown. 

Travis’ impact on country music has been long-lasting. Countless artists credit him as an influence and inspiration in their music and career. His legacy is cemented in history as a member of the Grand Ole Opry (1986) and the Country Music Hall of Fame (2016) and his music will undoubtedly continue to impress both listeners and artists for the rest of time.

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown Ain't Done Yet

Posted July 2020

Savoy Brown Hi Res PR Color Photo by Juan Junco CroppedPhoto by Juan Junco CroppedThe video to your right is of a recent interview with Kim Simmonds, guitarist and founding member of the legendary British Blues-Rock band, Savoy Brown. It is our second interview with the blues icon. Our first interview took place eight years ago (here).

Savoy Brown will release their exciting new album, “Ain’t Done Yet,” August 28th on Quarto Valley Records. The CD format of “Ain’t Done Yet” can be pre-ordered from your favorite music sources. “All Gone Wrong,” the album’s first single is currently available at http://smarturl.it/3eu4t3.

The new album follows their critically acclaimed 2019 release, “City Night.” Bruce Quarto, QVR founder and CEO said, “Quarto Valley Records is honored to continue working with Savoy Brown on this second QVR release, “Ain't Done Yet,” which is now one of my all-time favorites. It’s full of great energy that is the trademark of all their blues-rock music. Everyone who hears it will immediately agree that Savoy Brown ain't nowhere near done yet.”

“The new album continues the approach I’ve been taking with the band this past decade,” says guitarist/singer/songwriter
Kim Simmonds, who formed the band in 1965 in London, England, and is one of the longest-running Blues-Rock bands in existence. “The big difference with the new album is the multi-layer approach I took to recording the guitar parts. It’s all blues-based rock music. I try to find new and progressive ways to write and play the music I’ve loved since I was a young teenager.”

Simmonds has been the group's guiding hand from the first singles released in 1966 through this newest effort, Savoy Brown’s 41st album. On the new record, Simmonds (guitar harmonica, vocals) is joined by his long-running bandmates Pat DeSalvo (bass) and Garnet Grimm (drums).

“Ain’t Done Yet” was recorded at Showplace Studios, Dover, New Jersey. Simmonds produced the album and worked closely with studio owner and engineer Ben Elliott. It’s a studio he’s used many times before and it has a rich history of blues-rock musicians recording there, including Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Leslie West.

KimSimmonds012“This is the sixth album I’ve made with Ben Elliott since the 1990s, and on previous ones I’ve had various guests join me, including Hubert Sumlin, Lonesome Dave Peverett and Duke Robillard,” continues Kim. “Shortly after making “Ain’t Done Yet,” Ben Elliot died. I have dedicated the new album to him. It will be the last album recorded at Showplace Studios.”

Energetic blues has been the calling card of the band from the beginning, but Simmonds infuses the 10 tracks on “Ain’t Done Yet” with a new spirit and vitality - plus some serious guitar chops - in a variety of styles and roots sounds that transcend the Blues-Rock idiom. “I emphasized song content on the new album, and left room for band improvisation,” he admits. “For instance, there are two acoustic-based songs and also two six-minute songs where I’m able to stretch out on guitar solos.”

“Ain’t Done Yet” kicks-off in high gear with the album’s first radio focus track, “All Gone Wrong”. “I’ve always liked ‘All Gone Wrong,’ and it’s one of my favorites on the album,” declares Simmonds.

The three-piece line-up of Kim Simmonds, Pat DeSalvo, and Garnet Grimm has established itself as the longest-running consistent line-up in the band’s history, now going strong for more than 10 years.

Please give this interview your attention and feel free to share it with your friends!

You can keep up with Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown at SavoyBrown.com.

Mark Farner Talks About Dying, The Pandemic, & Losing A Son

Posted June 2020

markfarner0005Nine years ago next month, I interviewed one of the voices who commanded a significant chunk of the soundtrack of my youth: Mark Farner, formerly of the iconic classic rock band, Grand Funk Railroad. During that chat, Mark was straightforward and didn’t mince any words when it came to speaking his mind whether it was with his relationships or his view of the world.

When the opportunity recently presented itself to chat with Mr. Farner again, I jumped at the chance and knew that it was going to be another candid (to say the least) conversation. In the last chat, Mark spoke extensively about the care he and his wife, Lesia, gave to their son, Jessie, who was totally paralyzed from an accident. Since that conversation, Jessie, sadly, passed away. As our conversation began, I started off by expressing my belated condolences on their loss.

“I thank you for saying that, Brother Randy. And you know, he's whole now. This is the only way we can really, in this earthly present tense, you know . . . what we are right now in this bone suit. . . because when you lose your child, it's like you have that big hole and it's. . . I heard it described very well as being "love with no place to go." And that's what it is. You love them but you can't show them. But we know he is whole. Now he is back where he came from.”

It was at this point that Mark shared a jaw-dropping story.

“I visited him when I had my pacemaker put in. I died, I left and I fought coming back, man. I come back into my bone suit kicking and screaming, five years ago. It was I think it was 2015 October 23. And my wife and I were at the Renaissance Center. We stayed down in Detroit; went down and did some PR, did some radio stuff. We got up in the morning and Lisa was in the bathroom washing her face and getting herself ready to go. She said when she stepped around the corner to check on me, that my arm had shot up in the air and my body was convulsing and going through some really weird stuff.”

“She got the paramedics and she called the front desk, they got the paramedics and they got me over to Harper in Detroit. I markfarner0013Mark Farner During The Grand Funk Railroad Daysdied on the emergency room table because they had me hooked to an external pacemaker and they hit me with so much voltage, it was like they plugged me straight into the wall. That's what it felt like. It hurt. Oh my god, it hurt. I died. I went right on into heaven. I was. . . I knew all things. I even, in that state of being, I even had the resolve of knowing what the purpose of these Earth years was all about. I didn't bring that back with me. However, when I did come back into this bone suit, I don't know if I got fit back into it quite the way I was when I left because now I can play slide guitar. I never touched the slide before. And one day here just a couple years ago, I slid a little bottle thing on my finger - it was like a medicine bottle - and I started playing it by just putting it on my little finger and I was making chords and still had that little medicine bottle on there and playing it with my pinky. And I'm going, ‘Where did this come from?’ I'm looking at it, I'm thinking, ‘Wow! I got it. I can play slide.’ I never played it before. Kinda crazy.”

Perhaps channeling some Johnny Winter?

“Yeah. I'm telling you, I don't know, but, back when we were doing Guitar Gods it was like. . . What's his name? The Canadian guitar player? Drinkin' Whiskey, Smoking Cocaine, or something like that? He took his own life. Ronnie Montrose . . . Ronnie really got the slide down just before he left his body. He was playing some slide, man. Really playing and I was admiring it. So, being that he's already checked out, maybe I got a little Montrose. . .

I knew that Mark was on a Montrose album that was released after he passed so I asked if Farner and Ronnie were close.

“We were when we were doing that tour. We were just like brothers. It was just like he knew me. I knew him. And we were cut from the same cloth. But I had no idea of his troubles. And, God rest his soul, he was a great man; a great musician. So, that's what I remember about him - my friend.”

Since we were in the midst of the pandemic when Mark and I talked, I asked him how it was affecting him and his.

“The "scam-demic" has been talked about quite a bit on public radio here in the state. And Governor ‘Witchmer’ has really kind of just popped up there and she's a talking head. But this is not coming from her. All these directives are coming from who she serves. This is not that woman. I keep that in my mind so I can't, like, bash her or anything. I just give her little jabs now and then because, you know, she didn't clear what she proclaimed as this. . . the lockdown. She didn't clear that with the senate here in the state. In order for it to be official, the Senate has to approve it. They shot it down, and she did it anyway. So, I don't give her any kind of cooperation, okay? I'm unlocked. Yeah, I did do one of those GoFundMes as Mark Farner's, mid-Michigan Flood Relief. You know, and I'm doing whatever we can do to help our brothers and sisters in the state here. But it's really, this thing, this lockdown, Brother Randy, it has messed with us. It has really messed with us. People are kind of . . . they've got cabin fever and their husbands and wives are fighting each other. I mean, crazy stuff going on. Crazy stuff.”

Our conversation switched from the pandemic to his 50th Anniversary in music. I asked him What thought 51 years ago when he was recording Grand Funk Railroad’s landmark hits, putting it out there, and performing it. Did he think it would have the kind of legs after all these years?

“Well, you know, as a songwriter, every song that you write - to you - is a hit. I mean, why the hell are you writing it if it's not a hit, ya know? So, in our mind, songwriters, we write hits. We think they're hits, you know, or we wouldn't believe in them enough to finish them. But, this whole process of the deregulation, you know . . . and the FCC, back in 1995, gave the ownership of all our - well, not all, but nearly all of our - terrestrial radio stations to the corporate conglomerates who control the playlists and who control the news, the fake news. It makes sure that the people are getting the narrative that they want to jam in their heads, in every open orifice on 'em, you know, to keep this myth going.

markfarner0001“But the music back when I was writing, you know, it was played on the radio, which was controlled by local families. There were patriots - grandfathers and grandmothers; moms and dads - people with a moral conscience over what our children were seeing and hearing. And until 1995, we had that safeguard, but that safeguard was removed under the deregulation of the FCC. Prior to the deregulation, you get on seven AM, seven FM, seven television stations, and you were limited to that ownership of seven to prevent a monopoly.

“Well, when they deregulated, guess what? Duh. We got monopolies. Holy crap! We don't have any influence on the people in radio anymore - terrestrial radio or satellite radio. I mean, you might find something that kind of sounds almost like it's friendly and real, but most of it just sounds plastic and fake. Just think of the minds it's coming from. The creative process has kind of stagnated. It's stalled out when the ownership switched hands from the people to the corporate conglomerates and the ones who fund the world and the countries of this world. Those families, they are controlling it all, those families. But the music, I hear some really good stuff, you know, people pass to me. Today, people are still writing it. You'll not hear it on the terrestrial stations. You might hear it on a YouTube channel or something or somebody sent you a link to. . . they were out in the club, you know, and videoed this song and it was killer. It certainly isn't in ‘lamestream’."

I was curious about what Farner was hearing from fans and the crowds now when he goes out and performs after all these years?

“Well, there's a lot of veterans that come to my shows and I always, when we play it live, it always goes out to our troops and to our veterans. We also put in kudos to our first responders, to our police and fire department, to the EMTs. It's something that everybody is concerned about. You're just so eat up with everything else that life is throwing at you. You kinda gotta sort it out and say, ‘Well, what am I gonna spend my time on that's gonna be meaningful and do something, mean something when you're finished doing it?’

What is Mark seeing in his crowds demographically?

“A lot of the fans bring their children. The older fans bring their kids, bring their moms and dads. I had - I think he's one of markfarner0004the oldest World War II veterans left alive - 94 years old - last year when he came to the show at the casino. His son brought him - a veteran - and I just, when I see people like that, my heart goes out, my love goes out to them. And the thing, for me, the exciting part is, his son brought him because he thought enough of my music to bring his dad to an experience, a Mark Farner's American Band show. That speaks volumes about. . . the young people that are showing up. I'm telling you, teenagers that are rocking with me, and especially when we do South America, oh my gosh! They come out by the thousands; the young people fill the places up and they rock American-style. They love me down there because I am who my songs say I am.”

With the pandemic affecting tours and live entertainment, I asked Mark if he had further plans to mark the 50th anniversary of any of his other Grand Funk Railroad work.

“Well, if I'm ever involved with anything like that. . . of course, I'm left out of all of the GFR decisions, corporate and everything, even though I wrote 92% of the music, that those guys are. . . Can I say shamming? Seriously? How can they say that they're Grand Funk without the guy that wrote and sang 92% of the stuff? It's just integrity, and there ain't much in this world anymore, brother. Seriously.

“The truth is, Don Brewer came to me after we had finished constructing the song in the studio. And I, I told them, I said, ‘You know, this song needs a cowbell.’ He didn't own a cowbell. I said, ‘It really needs a cowbell.’ He says, ‘I'll just hit the bell on my cymbal.’ I said, ‘No, dude, you need to get a cowbell, a real cowbell.’ And he says, ‘I'll pick one up tomorrow on my way to rehearsal.’ I said, ‘No, pick up six of them and let's pick the best sounding one for this song. We got to get something that's close to being in tune.’ It was like, man, that that cowbell fit that song so well. In fact, it was voted number two in Rolling Stone out of the top 10 cowbell songs. It's number two, only to be superseded by Honky Tonk Women.

“Yeah, but I forced that little cowbell thing. And I taught Brewer the drum lick that opens that record. He wasn't hearing it and I'm saying, ‘No, you got to kick it with the bass drum.’ The double kick is on the bass drum. And he finally he says, ‘Man, I can't do that.’ I said, ‘You can do that! Yeah, you can, man, are you kidding me? If anybody can do it, you can do it.’ And he finally did it. And . . .all the harmony stuff, all the guitar stuff . . . But he came to me after we were done with that session, Randy, and he says, ‘Mark, I've never had 100% right credit on any song. Do you mind if I take it on this one?’ I said, ‘Go ahead, Donnie,’ because, you know what? I'm a nice guy, and I'm not going to be. . . I'm not going to stop being a nice guy because I get screwed over. Jesus didn't stop being nice. And you know, he's just got to hang on to what you believe in and people try and steal it from you and try and discourage you from hanging on to it. But you just got to hold on through all things.”

markfarner0006The last time Mark and I spoke, he spoke at length about the relationship with the band. With what he just said, I said that I took it that things really haven’t changed much over the last nine years.

“No. In fact, they took me to court. They sued me over Mark Farner's American Band. They wanted me to stop using it and I had already applied for and received a trademark. That's my trademark. And it's obtained legally, through an attorney, my music attorney in LA. They got their asses handed to them, actually, in the courtroom. All of this stuff that they've been kind of throwing at me over the last 20 years and all these threats - they're gonna cancel my shows and all this stuff - I changed my name to get away from that; to stop using the ‘formerly of Grand Funk Railroad’ because that's where they would get me every time because there's always an internet violation and it was always a third party. It wasn't the party who read the contract and knew the contract and read the rider to the contract. It's some person at a radio station or someplace that they're making up an ad for this and they're just putting on what they want to put on. So that's how all the violations happened. Over the years, that stuff has just been going and coming and coming.

“Well, finally, that was turned around with this decision in federal court and they got beat. They were shot down. Everything they tried to do to me or put on me was shot down by the judge. It was just a no-win for them. And it kind of knocked the wind out of their sails there, which they need. They really needed that because I'm not going to lay back and take this anymore. This is just abuse. Why? Life is too short. Why people have to do things that are retaliatory and they burst in anger . . . and why all that debt has to be put on someone? I don't know if it's because they're hurting so bad that they think hurting someone else is going to relieve that pain in some way. I couldn't tell you, brother. But I am not a psychiatrist. Something in the milk ain't cream. . .”

I’m not naming any names but other groups besides Grand Funk Railroad have also experienced similar kinds of dissension. I asked Mark why he thought that was.

“Well, like I said, when the ownership of the terrestrial stations changed hands and all that stuff started, the people lost their markfarner0007byBrad ShawPhoto by Brad Shawinfluence. So, we are suffering from that corporate mindset that doesn't fit the family. It really does not fit a family structure. But people are bamboozled - they really are - with. . . fake news. People buy that, Brother Randy; they buy into it. And if they buy into a lie, what does that do for their credibility when they're speaking to someone else? And what if there's a bunch of them? This whole thing of the two parties and the hatefulness that's back and forth - that would have never occurred if the deregulation of the FCC wouldn't have occurred. If the families, the patriot families, still owned our terrestrial stations - television and radio - we wouldn't be under the pressure and this dark shadow of debt and indebtedness to an invisible monster. You know, that's all fairy tale crap, man. Jesus is bigger than all of that. That's unconditional love and we are made of it.

“We've been convinced of all this other crap that enters our mind and we've had to adjust our thinking for the situation we've been thrown into. And all of a sudden, you're reacting and life takes over. You can't hardly get to your heart anymore unless you go into your prayer closet. And that's hard to get to with all the commotion and noise in the flesh going on, you know. That's where it's really started - back then when they deregulated. And now it's like we’ve got the mind of the monster that we are reacting to. And all these puppets like ‘Witchmer’ here in Michigan that are anti-American, anti-constitutional. . . Anybody that's anti-gun - just think of this - if you're anti-gun, you're anti-constitution. The Constitution says that that gun is necessary for the freedom of speech. It's necessary. And nothing's going to change that. No matter how they lie and try to say, ‘Oh no, it's not necessary. We'll protect you.’ Oh, my God, forget it.”

As Mark Farner fans already know, after he left GFR, he enjoyed a successful career in Contemporary Christian Music. I asked him if he planned to re-enter the genre with new music.

“No. I'm open to my heart, what's coming into my heart. I've got a completely different view of the church now that I've died and came back to life, I'm telling you. You just have a different take on life in general. And the debt-consciousness that prevails in society is changed. When you start going to a church, all you do is you take on the church's debt consciousness. It changes from the world to the church, but there's debt consciousness and it's contrary to the word and contrary to reason.

“When you say unconditional love, there's nothing that love can't accept, can't pure, you know, can't change. There's nothing because it all came from there. It's just those evil people who have been planning this New World Order horse crap. They control the wars; they control the issuance of currency to all these various countries, not just the United States. Debt of the Federal Reserve issued to Mexico, Canada, South Africa. They issue to India, Japan; they issue to so many countries because they jumped in there and bailed them out when they were down on the ropes. And this is how these "banksters" operate.

markfarner0008byBrad ShawPhoto by Brad Shaw“But all the countries that they are issuing to will vote the same way they vote when they have that UN meeting and they say, ‘We're going to disarm all the countries.’ Everybody that's beholden to them is going to vote the same way they vote. And in 28 states here in the United States, there's like this big push to protect Israel, because now it's against the law to be critical of Israel. I mean, this is in 28 states and the President signed something to this effect. It wasn't the same thing that the states were signing but, why is that? It infuriates me because my mother's people, my grandmother's people, the Cherokee Nation should not be criticized. The Lakota Sioux should not be criticized. My Navajo brothers and sisters should not be criticized. Do you hear me, Randy? There's a lot of people that deserve that status if we're going to give it to anybody. There's a lot of people in front of Israel that. . . as consideration as Americans - there is a lot more people here, and this has to stop. I see it as. . . it's kind of chicken crap. It's like, this is cowardice to tell me I can't criticize you? Forget you. I got a First Amendment. It's called the Constitution of the United States of America, and the freedom of speech and that's where I stand, brother.”

What’s on Farner’s radar for the next year or so?

“We're gonna release the 2017 video of Santiago. It's ‘From Chile with Love - Mark Farner's American Band’; and we're markfarner0001working on another video with. . . Did you see the "Can't Stop" video, the YouTube "Can't Stop" . . . the same producer and same people are getting together; they want me to put my head together with them and come up with another video. And that's going to be within the next couple of months here.”

With our chat wrapping up and still getting my head around his back-from-death story, I asked Mark how he hoped to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy will be.

“Oh, yeah, you know, dying and coming back will definitely change your life around. Reprioritize. I want to be remembered as a farm boy with a big dream to save the world with a song and my guitar and go out there and spread love, peace; be used of the Great Spirit to make people smile and to bring light to the darkness. Because when I go to the prisons and play; when I go to the local jails and the drug rehabs and the juvenile detention centers and the prison camps that I've gone to, I'm taking the light. And, I'm telling you, it's not because I think I'm cool or anything, I think Jesus is cool. I mean, this light don't go out. This is the light we all come from, and it's real and it can't be put out. This is the rivers that flow from the throne, and that's what I want to be remembered as . . . that I'm a pusher of love, that I'm that guy on the street pushing love.”

Keep up on the latest with Mark Farner by visiting his website, MarkFarner.com.

Joe Louis Walker Talks About the Pandemic and His New Album

Posted July 2020

Joe Louis Walker Cropped  To the right, you will find a video of sorts of a recording of our recent interview with blues great, Joe Louis Walker. It was our first interview with Joe and it took place while he was on the road somewhere in the state of New York. Consequently, the audio is a little less than desirable but you can still hear what all Joe has to say.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joe Louis Walker, here’s a bit of background on him courtesy of Joe!

Joe Louis Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner celebrates a career that exceeds a half a century. His new album Everybody Wants A Piece cements his legacy as a prolific torchbearer for the blues. Looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, “I’d like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues. Sometimes I feel I’ve learned more from my failures, than from my success. But that’s made me stronger and more adventurous. And helped me create my own style. I’d like to think that when someone puts on one of my records, they would know from the first notes, ‘That’s Joe Louis Walker.'”

Always an artist deeply expressive lyrically, Walker continues to write and Listen to the Joe Louis Walker Interview Above sing about themes that are universal. On “Black & Blue” he talks about a love affair that’s falling apart, but there’s an effort to keep it going. He offers, “The lyric ‘Let’s find a quiet place, A place out of town…We Need to talk this thru, Be honest & True’ says it all in trying to save the relationship.” He cites the title track as a composition that might not have a deep meaning, but in presenting the thought, “Everybody wants a piece of your love,” offers a double entendre that speaks for itself. With a deep history and background in gospel, Walker looks towards Wade in the Water” as an instant all-time favorite. He reveals, “The inspirational lyric ‘The water is deep, the water is cold, it chills my body, BUT NOT MY SOUL” is expressing my belief that the spiritual will carry you through when the physical can’t.”

This time out, Joe has brought on Paul Nelson to produce his album which was recorded at his famed Chop Shop studio on the east coast. Nelson is a Grammy-winning guitarist/producer who was rock/blues legend Johnny Winter’s guitarist, and who also appears as guest guitarist on two tracks on Everybody Wants A Piece.

A true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. Walker’s 1986 debut album Cold Is the Night on HighTone announced his arrival in stunning fashion, and his subsequent output has only served to further establish Walker as one of the leading bluesmen on the scene.

Born on December 25, 1949, in San Francisco, at age 14, he took up the guitar. Just two years later, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene, playing blues with an occasional foray into psychedelic rock. For a while, he roomed with Mike Bloomfield, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Walker even made a brief pilgrimage to Chicago to check out the blues scene there. In 1975, burned out on blues, Walker turned to God, singing for the next decade with a gospel group, the Spiritual Corinthians. When the Corinthians played the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Walker was inspired to embrace his blues roots again. He assembled the Boss Talkers, and throughout the 1990s merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk, and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities on recordings released by Polydor/Polygram. These albums feature Walker’s collaborations with a diverse group of first-rate artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Walker has steadily released recordings since the turn of the millennium, and recently signed to Provogue / Mascot Label Group.

NPR Music has called Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, “I’d really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music. But play, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s no right or wrong way. Just the way you wanna express yourself. And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF.”

Follow Joe Louis Walker at his website, JoeLouisWalker.com.

DISCOGRAPHY

2020 – Blues Comin’ On

2019 – Joe Louis Walker - Viva Las Vegas Live (Cleopatra)

2018 – Journeys to the Heart of the Blues (Alligator/V2) 2

015 – Everybody Wants a Piece (Provogue Records)

2014 – Hornet’s Nest (Alligator)

2012 – Hellfire (Alligator)

2010 – Blues Conspiracy: Live On The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise (Stony Plain)

2009 – Between A Rock And The Blues (Stony Plain)

2008 – Witness To The Blues (Stony Plain)

2006 – Playin’ Dirty (JSP)

2004 – New Direction (Provogue)

2003 – Ridin’ High (Hightone)

2003 – She’s My Money Maker (JSP)

2002 – Guitar Brothers (JSP Records)

2002 – Pasa Tiempo (Evidence Music)

2002 – In the Morning (Telarc)

1999 – Silvertone Blues (Polydor/Polygram)

1998 – Preacher And The President (Polydor/Polygram)

1997 – Great Guitars (Polydor/Polygram)

1995 – Blues Of The Month Club (Polydor/Polygram)

1994 – JLW (Polydor/Polygram)

1993 – Blues Survivor (Polydor/Polygram)

1992 – Live At Slim’s, Volume Two (Hightone)

1991 – Live At Slim’s, Volume One (Hightone)

1989 – Blue Soul (Hightone)

1988 – The Gift (Hightone)

1986 – Cold Is The Night (Hightone)

Pam Tillis Is Looking For A Feeling

Posted June 2020

PamTillis2020HeadshotByMattSpicher croppedPhoto by Matt SpicherLike many of you Pam Tillis fans, I first became aware of her music in 1991 with the release of her album, Put Yourself In My Place. Being a fan of her famous dad, the late Mel Tillis, it was easy to become a fan of Pam’s. Talented, beautiful, and engaging, she made lifelong fans the world over.

Pam has a new album out entitled, Looking For A Feeling, that, once again, knocks it out of the park with great, well-written, genre-blending, and stretching songs that will have you slapping the repeat button on your media player countless times.

The new album afforded me the opportunity to chat with Pam recently for the first time. Connected by phone while she was out and about in the Nashville area, first and foremost to be talked about was how the recent tornadoes and the current pandemic were affecting her.

“The only effect in my neighborhood So, you know, when I go anywhere in my neighborhood walking or going to the store, whatever, I go by a considerable amount of damage. And there's been some of my favorite businesses impacted and then the crazy thing is that it rolled right into this pandemic. And so it's just been - pardon my French - a ****storm.”

Bringing our conversation to the subject of her new album, I shared with Ms. Tillis how much I love it and how great the songs are.

“I just I'm so thrilled to hear that kind of comment, because I kind of, I don't know, I guess in some ways unintentionally, but in some ways intentionally. I kind of live in my own little musical bubble a little bit. You know, I was on the road all the time and I get - it's funny, sometimes I'll get tired. I’m funny about listening to too many other artists, like when I go in and make a record, I don't want to listen to too many current artists because I don't want to be influenced. I've actually heard a couple of other people say that I want to be, I want to be unique and I want to, I want to try to do my own thing, but I did kind of pull from my influences of the past.

“But anyway, I worked really hard on that record and you don't know ever know how it's gonna be received. I was actually pretty nervous about it because it isn't like everything that's in style. It's just me doing me. I've been really thrilled with the reviews but it’s frustrating to not be able to get out there and promote it live. I think it will perform great live. I really do. I’ve some of it a little bit. I did have one concert with my trio and that was good. But, you know, it would just be so great to just do the whole record with the band. Hopefully, it'll find its way into people's hearts.”

I asked Pam which song on “Looking For A Feeling” would she point to as a calling card for the whole album.

“Wow. Well, I really love, ‘My Kind Of Medicine’. I really love, ‘Burning Star’. I think those things are kind of indicative of the breadth of the record; you know, the span of it.”

When I shared with Pam that I love, ‘Scheme Of Things’, ‘Looking For A Feeling’ and ‘Karma’, she chimed in:

“That’s great and it's funny, there's two songs on the record that are actually kind of polarizing. People either love ‘Karma’ and they go, ‘Oh, this is so catchy and I love it.’ Or they go, ‘Why is this song on this record?’ I have these songs and I'm like, ‘I'm not gonna wait till I think - sometimes you just gotta go with it! I mean, it's not a concept album. It's just a snapshot in time. I mean, it's always nice when everything perfectly flows and relates to each other. Every album’s not like that. As long as it felt strong, I went with it and that song is a good recording and I think it’s some of my best vocal work so I put it on there.

Pam said this about the feedback on the album, so far:

“A lot of strong, strong reviews. People are going, ‘This is genuinely good.’ I don't know. I mean, I always try to do the strongest record I can do but this one seems to have - people seem to think it's really credible and relevant. Everybody can tell that I didn’t phone it in.”

When I told Pam that the album cover was hot and that a lot of guys would likely purchase the album just for its cover. She laughed and said:

“Either that or Oreo cookie sales will go up! Ha! Ha! If it was the old days with radio, I’d send out a CD and a pack of cookies with it. Ha! Ha!”

As for what’s on Pam Tillis’ radar for the next year or so, she shared:

PamTillis2020HeadShot2ByMattSpicherPhoto by Matt Spicher“Honest to God, nobody knows. Nobody really knows. I feel like if you want to hang with your career, you find a way to connect. All bets are off; all guarantees are off. I’m wondering if even some of the smaller venues would become a thing; like where it would really be - I mean, we're talking about really select audiences. Or if there would be a thing where they would let people come in like at outdoor shows and they have little dots and you just stay on your dot. I just don’t know.”

At the time of our chat, there were rumblings about shows at drive-in theaters to which Pam said:

“Well, we’ve got parking lots. Why not set up there? They're just trying to figure out like the bathroom situation. I talked to my agent this week, and he mentioned that and I'm, like, ‘Wow!’ but you know, it's gonna take some figuring. To tell you the truth, I know our culture - we always try to live at warp speed but it's gonna take a little bit of time to figure this stuff out .”

Because Pam has a unique perspective of the music business not only based on her career but also on that of her dad’s, I asked her what she thinks the best and worst changes she’s seen in country music.

“I would definitely say that the protection of intellectual property got away at a certain point. The record companies and the performance rights organizations really let the songwriters down. They didn't get out in front of the streaming platforms. You know, you can't stream a video game for nothing. You got to go out and buy it. There are people that say, ‘Why should I pay for music?’ They act like it didn't take anything to write a song. You devote your life to writing songs. You write 1000 songs to get one good one. They just don't understand what goes into making art. I feel bad for the new artists because you know and now, until we can get back to working on the road, just the way the business deals are structured for new artists, the record companies want half of their merch or all their merch and they won't have their songwriting publishing, what's left of it. I mean, it is just really challenging for new artists; really, really hard. So, I'd say that those two things are the worst things.

“The best is there's a good side to all the technology. You can reach more fans. You can have an instant impact. Country music's bigger than it's ever been. I mean, it's so popular. It truly is America's music. I think that, in some ways, radio can be real restrictive creatively. But if you think about it, the boundaries are getting pushed creatively. A song like, ‘Down the Old Town Road’. I mean, that's, that's really defying genres. It's combining different genres in fresh ways. I think that's very positive.”

With that, I asked Pam what she would do to fix the music business if she was made Music Czar.

“I would make sure that songwriters got paid. I think that you know, even if they met people halfway with these streaming platforms, it would be a PamTillis 001game-changer. Pay people something! I mean, it's just hardly anything. It's just shocking.”

Wrapping up our fascinating call, I asked Pam Tillis how she wanted to be remembered and what she hoped her legacy would be.

“Wow. Well, if you're talking to artists to artists, it's a little different than the way you might phrase it to your fans. But to put the best, to give your best is, is an act of love. And to make music that has integrity and has meaning to people, that's a big deal. To make a song that means something to somebody and they've made it part of the soundtrack of their life, it’s a reason people show up at your concerts. And the things that they say to you about, you know, “You were my first CD I bought or my first cassette I bought, or, I wore this record out’. When it becomes a part of their life, that that's just an amazing thing to get to be a part of. And, you know, you can't let go to your head because it took a team to get you there. It took all the musicians that played on your record and all the songwriters that you co-wrote with or recorded with, you know? It’s very much a group effort that got you there. Just the willingness to show up in the world in that way. There's sacrifices involved. I learned that from having a famous daddy. But to just give your best and to really care because, just like this record, there's so many times I could have just taken the easy way out on something. And I didn’t. I just couldn't do that.

“I do some mentoring. There's a school here in Nashville - in Franklin - where I work with young people that want to be an artist. And that's one of the very first questions I asked them is, ‘Why are you doing this? What's your motivation?’ It's really important because, so often, it can be a parent pushing you into it, or peer pressure; something that you've seen somebody else do. You might be emulating somebody. As a young person, those are good questions to ask. And as an old person, those are good questions to ask. I ask myself, I'm like, there's a lot of - I call it noise that’s being put out on a daily basis. It’s like, does anybody need more of anything, you know? So, I have to be really clear on that.”

What is definitely clear is that Pam Tillis is still putting out great music worthy of our attention, in addition to our listening libraries, and airtime on radio. You can order Looking For A Feeling by clicking on the album’s icon. Keep up with Pam by visiting her website, PamTillis.com. Be sure to catch one of her shows should she be performing near you. If you do, tell her that Boomerocity sent you.