• 26 Letters - 12 Notes

    26 Letters ~ 12 Notes
    Artist: Dave Mason
    Label: Out The Box Records
    Reviewed: August, 2011

    Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Twelve notes in the musical scale.  

    Think about those words for just a moment or two.  Pretty much everything can be written or played if you have unlimited access to either one.  One might think that someone like Dave Mason, who has been in the rock and roll world for over 40 years, might have written and played everything he ever thought about writing or playing.  While that might be an understandable assumption, it’s dead wrong.

    Mason’s twentieth album (counting ‘best of’s” and the like), 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes, proves that this rock and roll icon still has quite a bit of relevant things to write and play – and all incredibly pleasing to the ear.  I picked up this 2008 release a few months ago in the lobby of the Granada Theater here in Dallas after catching a phenomenal performance by Dave Mason (read the review here).  I walked to my car and immediately popped the CD into my player.

    Wow!  The music that spilled off of that disc, while relatively new, had the sounds and effect of being timeless – as if it has existed from the beginning of rock.

    Letters is a twelve song project, half of which was either written or co-written by Mason himself.  Two of the tunes, How Do I Get To Heaven (my personal favorite) and You’re Standing in My Light were co-written and written, respectively, by Mason’s former Traffic band mate, Jim Capaldi, who succumbed to stomach cancer in January, 2005.

    The opening cut, Good 2 U, is a showcase of Mason’s signature silky smooth voice and is a crowd favorite during Mason’s performances.  Dave’s guitar playing is as great as ever on this and all of the rest of the tunes on the album.

    Following Good 2 U is Let Me Go, which, in my mind, has many flavors of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower which Mason fans are very well aware of the fact that he played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix cover of that song.  Also a crowd pleaser when performed, this song would be a major hit on radio if radio went back to doing its job.  Just sayin’ . . .

    Pink Lipstick is an incredibly well written, “Dylanly” sung tune that intrigues me every time I listen to it.  I would pay a lot of someone else’s hard earned money to find out who that song is about. I’d wager it’s about some trust fund queen that is merely famous for being famous.  Just a hunch.

    The aforementioned How Do I Get To Heaven is well worth the price of the album just on its own.  As I told Mr. Mason during my interview with him (here), if one could wear out ether like we used to be able to wear down the grooves of vinyl records, I would have worn this song completely out.  This song is one of most beautifully written and performed newer songs I’ve heard in a long time.  If radio would just do what it used to do, this song would dominate the airwaves.

    Another cut from this album that deserves massive airplay is Passing Thru The Flame.  Perfectly played guitar and Mason’s still youthful vocals conjures up all sorts of feelings of nostalgia.  The album closes with Full Circle And Then, a beautiful song of love and rekindling of relationships that is sure to cause you to set your player on repeat.

    You can order or download 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes by clicking on the image above or by going to Mr. Mason’s store at www.davemasonmusic.com. It’s a must have for any Dave Mason and/or Traffic fan.

  • Chad Smith

    Posted August, 2012


    BombasticMeatbatsColor1Ed Roth, Jeff Kollman, Kevin Chown & Chad SmithAs I wrote in my review ofChad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats’,Live Meat and Potatoes, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I absolutely love that album.  I meant it then and I still feel the same way now.  So, I was quite stoked when the opportunity arose to interview the band’s co-founder and drummer (that is, when he’s not beating the skins for his main gig, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees,Red Hot Chili Peppers, or for the super group,Chickenfoot), Chad Smith.

    The Bombastic Meatbats were formed as sort of a fluke. While doing some work withGlenn Hughes, Smith formed the band along withJeff Kollman (guitarist forCosmosquad), much in demand arranger/songwriter/keyboardist,Ed Roth, and bassist Kevin Chown (Uncle Kracker,Tarja Turunen). What resulted was a great rock/jazz/fusion/whatever-you-want-to-call-it band that is delighting audiences everywhere they’re heard.  But more about that in a moment.

    Smith rang me up recently from his SoCal home to discuss Live Meat and Potatoes and the music business in general.  But before cutting to that chase, though, I had to ask a very obvious question:  How in the world did Chad and the boys come up with the band’s name?

    “Well, we’re serious about our music but we have a real loose sense of humor and inside jokes.  But instrumental music sometimes has this stereotype of being ‘serious’, musicians only, lots of notes, and no sense of humor. We are serious about our music but everything else is just the personalities of our group. The combination of us together is kinda goofy – starting from the top – the Meatbats!

    “I don’t know how we came up with it but it’s just part of the fun we like to have.  I think the live CD picks up on that.  We really like to stretch out and have fun with the audience and make them feel connected.  It can be a little intimidating when there’s no singing – nothing to connect to that way. So, we just like to have fun with it.

    “Music is supposed to be fun, for goodness sakes! At least, that’s what I think. I don’t know what other people think but I’m going to play music!  I’m not working music – I’m playingit! To me, I always want it to be fun. Lots of times there’s work involved but, when you’re performing in front of a crowd and you’re entertaining, you present  your art the way you want to and that’s what we do.”

    Back to how the band formed, I asked Chad to fill me in a little more on that story.

    Myself, Jeff Kollman – the guitar player - and Ed Roth, the keyboard player – Glenn was a solo artist after Deep Purple – and, years ago now – he just needed a band to do some gigs here and there and we would play with him. I played on some of his records and helped him produce them.  We’re really good friends and he’s a great musician.  We were just his band.  When you’re waiting around for the singer to show up – sometimes that happens.  They’re not always on time. Maybe it’s because they don’t have any gear to bring.  They don’t have to set up.  So, we would just jam on this funk – whatever it is, whatever we do – and it was just fun and we really sounded good.

    “One of us – maybe it was me – said, ‘Man! We need to come up with some songs, record ‘em and make records!’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, okay!’  That was really it.  And we do!  Next thing you know, a couple of records, a live album, playing gigs, and having fun with your fans. That’s what it’s all about!”

    And has the legendary bassist/vocalist ever returned the favor by playing any Bombastic gigs?

    “He has! You know, tonight we’re playing down in San Pedro which is down by Long Beach and Glenn lives down there. I’m going to call ‘im up and see what he’s doing. I think he might be in the studio. I think he’s playing with some other people but we’ll be in his neck of the woods.  But, yeah, he comes in.  We don’t have a vocalist very often but he does come in and he’s played a couple of times with us. It’s always fun!”

    Most bands don’t come out with a live album until well into their existence.  I asked Smith if it wasn’t a bit of a bold step to release a live CD as a third project.  Before I could even finish the question, Smith was already chuckling.

    “Yeah, I guess, but our songs are, like, seven minutes long. We really stretch them out and we have musical conversations. We take risks. It’s a lot of improvising. Therein lies where the jazz part of it is.  I don’t really think of it as jazz. I just think of it as improvising and playing off each other and listening.  Those are really important things. For me, with any music that I like to play with other human beings you’re interacting with, you have to use dynamics and listen and have musical conversations. So, we do that.  It’s not just a jam band or some jazz situation where you just play the head and there’ll be solos. We have song structure.

    “But, yeah, two records – I don’t know, I just felt that we were playing really good and we had been working and had just done the second record. I was going to go – I think – on a Chickenfoot tour and we were playing a lot at that point.  I said, ‘Let’s record!’ We were doing two shows at the club we were always playing at in L.A. –The Baked Potato – and I think most of the album is from the first night. But, yeah, why not? I think we excel live. I really do.”

    I was curious what Bombastic Meatbats does for Smith, musically, that he doesn’t get from the Chili Peppers or Chickenfoot.

     “It keeps my chops up.  I do a little more playing, I suppose – a little bit more. When you’re in an instrumental band you don’t have to worry about stepping on the singer. You get to play a lot. I mean, I play a lot in the other bands, too, but a little bit more in this one just because the nature of the music. It’s really up to you. You can’t just sit back there, keeping the beat. You have to make it interesting all the time.

    “But, yeah, any musical situation I’m in, I want to have fun and play with people who want to take chances and want to take musical risks and are dedicated to music but also want to have fun. I want to have fun playing music.  That’s the criteria for me and Meatbats certainly meets all of those things. They’re great guys and we’re friends. We get to do whatever we want. I mean, we’re not competing with the Lady Gaga’s and Rhianna’s and Katy Perry’s.  We have a little niche and that’s cool. It’s great to have that outlet for musical expression. I’m so grateful that people support live music and come out and see us.”

    As for where Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats play live, it’s, for the most part, in southern California although he says that, “We have played in other places. We’ve never done a tour. We went to play in Japan and did a ten day tour there. In the states, trying to find venues for this kind of music is difficult – to make money to pay for travel, airplanes, hotels and stuff.  We’ve played in New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and a couple of other places but no tours.  Maybe, who knows?”

    When asked what is planned next with the Meatbats after the activity over the latest album dies down, Chad said, “We’ll probably have to wait until after I get done in April with the Chili Peppers and then we’ll write some more songs. We’ll get back down into the Tiki Room here in my house and come up with some new songs and come out with another record, I think.” And then, with a small sliver of humor, added, “Maybe well do another live album again!” 

    When I asked Chad how he would like to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy will be after he’s left planet earth, after softly chuckling and giving the question some serious thought, Smith said, “That’s a good question. When we were inducted into the Hall of Fame in April, I got a little bit of that then because you’re looking back on your career. It was really cool and we were really honored.”

    Then, Smith’s tone of voice turned very serious as he started talking about what is really important to him.

    “A friend of mine who played bass with Elton John just killed himself a couple of days ago – Bob Burch. All of us – a lot of my friends – are from Detroit. I’m from Michigan. I played with him. I know him. It freaked me out, man.  Just crazy! Young guy, family, kid, what was he thinking to do that?  I mean, anybody but when it’s somebody you know, it really hits home, you know?

    “I just want to be present and I want to be kind.  I want to be loving. I want to be a good father. I want to be a good husband. I want to be a good person and continue to do that. It really doesn’t have anything to do with music. Music is what I do. I know that the music that I play touches a lot of people, as humbly as I can say that. We’re very fortunate and I’m very fortunate to play music that people really connect with.  I’m really happy for that.  It blows me away when people come up to me, ‘Oh, your music changed my life – your drumming. I started a band because of I saw you play’ or whatever it was. That’s unbelievable.

    “But, more importantly, I just want to be a good example for my family and friends who know me and can have a good influence on them.  They can look back and go, ‘You know, my dad was a hard working musician, doing what he loved. He was good to me. He was kind. He gave me a good map.’ That’s, hopefully, what I can do.”

  • Cheap Trick Knoxville 2014

    Cheap Trick
    October 08, 2014
    Tennessee Theater
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Photo by James Patterson


    In my late teens, I clearly remember rocking out to Cheap Trick on the radio, with tunes like “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me,” and “Ain’t That A Shame” dominating the airwaves.

    It was all those memories from my youth that I was thrilled to catch this legendary band at the legendary and incredibly beautiful Tennessee Theater. I love catching shows there because of the acoustics and ambience. To see Cheap Trick perform on its historic stage made it all the more memorable.

    Blasting right out of the chute with, “Hello There,” the crowd was on their feet until the last note of the “Gonna Raise Hell” (the last song of their encore).  Hard. Steady. Relentless. Cheap Trick gave the crowd everything they wanted and more.

    Fan favorites like “Come On,” “Hot Love,” and “I Can’t Take It” followed the opener.  When Rick Nielsen introduced “Go To Heaven Tonight,” he informed the crowd that it was THE favorite of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, which sent everyone into one of the most enthusiastic applauses of the entire evening.

    There was a slightly inebriated gentleman a few seats down from me who, after every song, said in varying tones of his voice, “I Want You To


    Photo by James Patterson

    Want Me,” in a sad attempt to replicate Robin Zander’s immortalized phrase from the band’s live album. I was praying under my breath, “For

    the love of Budokan, would you guys play it so the guy will shut up?”  They did during the last eighth of the show.

    Throughout the show, Nielsen changed guitars, showing off pieces of his unique, historic collection. Equally as unique and intriguing was Tom Petersson’s twelve string bass. As the band was about to slide into “Surrender,” Nielsen throughout a signed, vinyl copy of the bands legendary “Cheap Trick At Budokan”.  Between all four members of the band, the show was an incredible night to remember.

    If you were a teen in the seventies and have never seen Cheap Trick perform live, you really do need to catch these guys. You’ll never forget it!

  • Dave Mason

    Posted July/August, 2011


    davemason2I suppose that, if I could conjure up an uber cool classic rock and roll resume for myself, it would feature such achievements as working on some of the most history making albums in rock, write some of the most memorable songs in rock and play with some of the most iconic figures in rock.

    And, I suppose that if I did such a conjuring of that resume, it would wind up looking much like the life and legacy of legendary rocker, Dave Mason.  For instance, Mason was a member of the ground breaking group, Traffic, having worked on their first two studio albums, Mr. Fantasty and  Traffic  as well as their live album, Welcome to the Canteen.   He played acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s cover of the Bob Dylan tune, All Along the Watchtower on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album.  Though not credited for it, he reportedly worked on the Rolling Stones album, Beggars Banquet. He also worked on George Harrison’s album, All Things Must Pass.

    When he wasn’t helping out his rock and roll friends, Mason was very busy cranking out very high quality and notable hits on his own solo albums – songs like Just for You, We Just Disagree  and even a duet with Michael Jackson entitled Save Me.  In addition to Harrison, Hendrix and Jackson, Mason worked with such rock royalty as Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton.

    I couldn’t possibly have come up with that kind of dream rock and roll resume in my own feeble mind. That’s what makes Dave Mason’s life and career incredibly intriguing, making me wish that I could trade my resume for his.  Since that isn’t ever going to happen without landing me in jail for identity theft, I, like you, am more than content to enjoy Mason’s wonderful legacy that grows with every performance and new tune.

    I had the privilege of catching Mr. Mason’s show during a recent stop here in the Dallas area (the review of that show is here).  The show was phenomenal and, on my way out of the venue, I picked up a copy of his latest CD, 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes (read the Boomerocity review of it here).  While I didn’t get to interview Mr. Mason at that time, the opportunity did afford itself recently to chat about his participation in the Hippiefest 2011.

    Hippiefest is an annual event – a touring festival of sorts – where some of our most favorite artists from the 60’s and 70’s join together for a brief tour to reconnect with fans.  I had the privilege off attending the 2009 Hippiefest tour and had the honor of interviewing the legendary guitarist for Mountain, Leslie West. The tour is always a load of fun and is guaranteed to bring back a boat load of fond memories for those of us who were back in the day and is sure to introduce younger generations to real rock and roll music and legends.

    Hippiefest 2011 begins in August when Dave Mason will join rock luminaries Rick Derringer, Mark Farner (here), Gary Wright (here), and Felix Cavaliere for a musical phenomena that will definitely go down in the history books as one of the best musical values of the year if not for all time.

    When Mr. Mason called me from his California offices, we started off by discussing his participation in Hippiefest. I asked him if he had been involved in any other Hippiefests and if he had worked with any of the participating artists before.

    “No, I haven’t done any others. I’ve done shows over the years with Mark Farner – both with Grand Funk and solo.  Gary Wright – I know Gary from back in my days with Traffic. Gary used to be with Spooky Tooth. I think from purely an audience point of view, it might be one of the better valued ticket price out there this summer.”

    Dave has toured the world many times over in his 40+ years in the rock world.  With so many miles traveled, I asked him what’s changed about touring.  His answer was short and sweet, designed to elicit nervous laughter by the truth of it all.

    “Mad bombers and TSA.”

    I asked him what he missed about touring during the old days, he replied, “No mad bombers and no TSA.”

    The weight of those comments and insights, brief as they were, still weighs heavy on my mind as I contemplate the impact 9/11 has had on the world.

    In 2004 Dave Mason, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, as the original members of Traffic, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Prior to this interview, I asked the CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a comment on Mason. He had this to say about the rock icon:

    “He’s a great guy. He’s one of the most, I think, approachable folks that I’ve worked with here – particularly relative to the inductees but also artist in general. He has a great since of humor and a great spirit of life and playing.  He’s also a great friend of the museum.  What I think is interesting about Dave is – and I mean this sincerely – he’s one of those artists that, I think, has upped his game over the years in terms of great work with Traffic.  A great, significant, individual career. But even now, with this last album – which I gave the last album to all of my board members and they all loved it. It’s an album that is so readily listenable – the quality of his guitar playing and the quality of his singing.  He did not stand still.  The gods blessed him with talent and something that remains with him at the same level he had when he was younger.”

    With that in mind, I asked Mr. Mason two stupid questions: How did that feel and what has that meant to him?  His answers were heartfelf.

    “Well, obviously, it’s nice to be recognized for the work that Traffic did. I was basically only there for the first two albums. I wrote half of the first two albums and there was that Welcome to the Canteen (Traffic’s live album released in 1971). There’s been multiple ‘best of’s’ and more ‘best of’s’.  It was a great time. I was eighteen but, on the other hand, it was not cool because there was – it’s hard to explain it without being ‘sour grapes’ but Steve (Winwood) just made it very difficult to do it as a unit.  It was more his show than it was Traffic’s, frankly. He dictated what was going to be done and what wasn’t going to be done. And the bottom line is they wanted to do Dear Mr. Fantasy.  They go, “Well, we want to do Dear Mr. Fantasty and we want to do it just like we did it when we were eighteen” and I’m, like, “Excuse me? That was a long time ago. Why would Traffic even want to do it the same way?’

    “See, I classify Traffic as one of the original alternate bands.  A lot of stuff we did on stage was jamming. So, to me, it was a question of, ‘Well, let’s just get up there and let’s blaze it out, trade guitar solos and, basically, do the song but give it a fresh approach because it’s open for it.’ They go, ‘No, that’s not going to happen.’ Then I go, ‘Well, I’ll just stand up and play acoustic guitar.’  ‘No, that’s not going to happen. You’ve got to play bass!’

    “I played bass on the original version and I played bass on a song called Dealer. I haven’t picked up a bass or played a bass since I was eighteen and I’m 65 now!  It was like, ‘Guys, it’s not my instrument. Let’s get up and make this happen.’

    “So, that was the problem. It was sort of a bittersweet kind of event, I suppose, for me. Whatever the problem is – and still, to this day, I have no idea; no clue – it was a great opportunity to take that opportunity to actually do one last round with the last three remaining members because it was a year -  year and a half later that Jim passed away. So, there were just opportunities missed there and that’s unfortunate. One would think that you would work past those things but evidently not. That’s just the way it is.”

    While Mr. Mason was offering reflections on his career, I asked him what, of all the questions and interest in his work, what would be the one thing that he feels has been least covered and understood about his work?

    With a laugh, Mason responds. “Oh, gosh!  I don’t know. I think, personally, more from a music business standpoint, I’m just sort of hidden under the radar. I’m as good as I’m ever going to be at this point – of being ‘Dave Mason’.  The singing is still strong. The playing is still there. I’ve always tried to keep my music somewhat timeless and I think that works in a lot of songs. To me it’s either good music or it’s bad music. I listen to all kinds of music. Either I relate to it or I don’t. You know, like everybody, it’s subjective.

    “It’s like, Terry Stewart, ‘When are you guys going to book me up for an induction?’” Mason rhetorically asks with a laugh.  “It’s not like I haven’t done quite a bit in this career of mine and influenced a lot of people and made a great classic album. So, it would seem that he would put me up there for something. But, otherwise, I can’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, wasting my time with that. We go on. Obviously, I haven’t played the huge venues that I used to play back in the 70’s but it doesn’t matter. What we do do we pretty much sell out. It’s still a great audience there and we have a great time playing.”

    What hasn’t Mason done, musically that he still wants to accomplish?

    “Music for a movie. It doesn’t matter what kind of movie. With the way I write, it would probably be for some sort of human interest story.”

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, I picked up Mason’s latest album, 26 Letters 12 Notes, that came out in 2008.  It’s a must-have for connoisseurs of rock and roll in general and Dave Mason and/or Traffic fans in particular.  I love the whole album but I think my favorite cut is How Do I Get To Heaven.  After telling Mr. Mason my honest, positive opinion of the album, I asked him what crowd reaction has been to any of the songs performed off of it.

    “I only do a couple of songs live most of the time – Good 2U and Let Me Go.  I did that album over a five or six year period. The problem is radio is the weak link in everything. So there’s no way for anybody to hear anything new. There’s no DJ’s except if you’re in small, little, local markets you’ll find that occasional station but on a national level it doesn’t exist. It’s crazy. When I do listen to it (radio) – which I don’t – you never know who they just played anyway. There’s no back sell – there’s nothing. It’s just wallpaper for selling stuff. It’s the day music died, you know? Satellite helps a little bit but there’s, what, five or six million members?  You’re talking about a country of over 300 million people here.

    “Back when radio was radio and you had DJ’s, you had songs up there being played, at least you had the opportunity for people to hear it and buy it. That whole thing is nonexistent. The bottom-line is that nobody is really playing anything new by artists like me at all. They just keep regurgitating the same stuff.  Even kids that come to my shows and I talk to about it, they go, ‘Well, we don’t even listen to it because it’s boring – there’s nothing going on.’  So, that whole human component thing was taken out of there. Whether it was to reduce their costs, streamline it or whatever – I don’t know. I have to feel that somewhere down the line it will have to come back somewhere.

    “But that the reason why I think talk radio has become so big, because there’s somebody there. There’s actually somebody there talking – with an opinion so you can yell at the radio or agree with them, whatever.  They’ve taken all of that personal touch – that human touch – out of it (rock radio) and, without that, it’s just wallpaper. But, like I said, I have kids at my shows that get it! They say, ‘Well go to the internet. We’ll look for something else.’ They got it. They go, ‘What’s the second half of the show going to be like?’ and I go, ‘It’s going to be exactly like the first half!”

    I asked Mr. Mason a question that I often ask artists of his stature: What’s been the biggest POSITIVE change, in his opinion, in the music industry since the 60’s/70’s?

    “Basically, because of everything that’s happened, it’s kind of gone full circle. When I started, you made a single. If you got a hit with a single, then you made an album. It was all very singles driven. For the most part, it’s sort of where it’s gone back to. When I say that I won’t make another CD, I’m not going to make another album like that to go out to the market because there is no market.  Basically, that CD might be sold out there in the public about, I don’t know, 12 or 13 thousand albums/CD’s. Most of the stuff I’ll have to sell door-to-door like peddling Encyclopedia Brittanica or Tupperware and doing it at the shows.

    “But the only other way for me, at this point, will be interviews like this. Where I’ve got it set up is I’ve revamped my entire website and I have a recording studio at home and I keep recording at home. There are a lot of great, old songs that I want to re-cut and do a different way. And there’s some stuff that’s new but it’s all going to be available at DaveMasonMusic.com. That’s where you can go if you want to download any Dave Mason music.  I don’t have a lot of stuff up there right now because it’s only been a couple of months since that thing was done and I’m still tweaking it out a little bit. I’m just going to keep feeding it into my website and, hopefully, people will enjoy it. I mean, for a $1 or $1.50 per download for music – that’s the biggest bang you’re going to get for the cheapest amount of money on pretty much anything you buy. You can play it over and over and over again. And the internet is a wonderful tool but it’s a double edged sword. It’s allowed everybody to steal everything. That’s just an odd situation to me. If you can digitize it, you can steal it.”

    As our time was up, I asked Mr. Mason one final question: When he’s stepped off of the tour bus for the final time and Dave Mason has left this building called “Earth”, how do he want to be remembered?

    After several seconds of thought, he responds, “Well, my thing with life before me goes along with my philosophy of everything – not that I’ve always succeeded, personally, but I like to leave things in a better place than I found them. That would be my quote.”

    I’m of the honest opinion that, at least musically, he has done, and continues to do, exactly that.

    You can catch Dave Mason during most of the stops during Hippiefest 2011.  As I mentioned before, it’s an incredible opportunity to relive some quality rock and roll memories.  You can also keep up with the latest developments in Mr. Mason’s career by visiting www.davemasonmusic.com and, while you’re there, you can sign up for his newsletter and check out his store for any music of his that might be missing in your collection.

  • Dave Mason Discusses His Traffic Jam Tour

    Posted October, 2014

    DAVEMASONPhotoCREDITPhotobyChrisJensen 0 0 cropPhoto by Chris JensenIf one were to make a list of attributes of a rock and roll icon, all of the qualifying boxes on that list would be checked under Dave Mason’s name.

    • Great guitarist. Check
    • Songwriter.  Check.
    • Wrote and recorded songs that are part of the soundtrack of the baby boomer generation.  Check.
    • Played with rock’s most historic figures like Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones and more.  Check.
    • Has been – and still is – an actively amazing performer and concert draw. Check.
    • Still putting out great music that people love. Check.
    • An inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check.

    Dave Mason is all of that and more.  An energetically dynamic sixty-eight year old rocker, the co-founder of the legendary group, Traffic, still records fantastic, relevant music and still tours the country - and the world.
    I recently contacted Mason at his California home to discuss his latest album, “Future’s Past,” and his current tour.  This was my second opportunity to interview the rock legend (the first interview is here).  Always warm and engaging, we started off our chat by discussing “Future’s Past”. For the rare fan who might not know the story behind the album, I asked Mason if he would tell readers what motivated him to record it.

    “I have a studio at home. Making a CD or album like we used to, it’s something that I’ve kind of throw out the window at this point. But that being said, music is my life so, when I’m home, I’m always working on something in my studio. Albeit, it may be a revised version of an older song – I have versions of songs that I loved when I was growing up. There’s Eddie Cochran that I’ve done that hasn’t been released. And, then, I have new stuff that I’ve worked on.

    “So, to say that I was consciously putting an album together – I wasn’t. But what I do have, as I said, is I just have a collection of music that I constantly keep making. A lot of it is never in one style, which has presented a problem in the sense that it’s hard to pigeon hole me, musically. Am I rock? Am I ballads? Am I blues? I’m not any one of those. I just want to cover the gambit of songwriting.

    “So, I have a collection of stuff and I had some things sitting there and there was some stuff that I revisited. Like, I did a re-write of that version of ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and, yes, I was going out to do ‘Traffic Jam’ so it seemed appropriate to put a couple of things on that CD from that era. Then, I had some things like, ‘Sad and Deep As You,’ that I put on there that was from ‘Alone Together’ – my first solo album. It was such a strong and powerful version that I felt that it should go on there.

    “So, essentially, I had a mix of stuff that was new and old and, hence, the title eventually becoming ‘Future’s Past’. A lot of my fans who have been following me for years, for them some of that stuff is old material. As an artist, one lives in the hope that there are some younger people that, to them, this will all be brand new material.

    “Music, for me, doesn’t span any age or style. The music’s just good music. Essentially, ‘Future’s Past’ was just me putting together a collection of stuff that I thought was pretty cool and represented some things I was doing at the moment and part of what I do in my shows. Then, I was lucky enough to have a friend send me some stuff from Graham Nash’s art show and one of the things that he had was the cover which is done by Graham. It’s a photograph of me in the seventies when I was at his house in Kauai and he did artwork on it. So, the cover is done by Graham and it sort of seemed to fit perfectly with the title.”

    Record sales for most artists in all genres have been tough over the past several years. Internet piracy is still a problem, DaveMason 94 photocreditbyChrisJensenPhoto by Chris Jensendetrimentally affecting album sales and decimating what we once knew as the record industry.  When I asked Dave what sales for “Future’s Past,” his matter-of-fact answer echoed those I’ve heard from virtually every other artist I’ve had the privilege of interviewing.
    “Well, record sales are pretty much non-existent these days for anybody. We just basically have CDs at the shows.”

    He continued by responding in a way that validated everything else I’ve heard about record sales.

    “Everybody is stealing everything. That’s the easy way to put it. They’re taking it all off of the internet – which goes for literature, as well. All intellectual property is somewhat being decimated by the internet – but that’s been happening for a few years now.

    “For any artist, it doesn’t really matter. I mean, even with Beyoncé and that new record, because a big corporation ordered a bunch of CDs to give away, otherwise, there are no record sales. They’ve just disappeared because everybody is just taking it from the internet. Some people are downloading and purchasing stuff, but for all us artists, a huge part of our life has disappeared. If I was to say, ‘Record sales are great!’ I’d be bullshitting and lying to you. It’s not just me. It’s pretty much any classic artist and any other artist. What would’ve been a big selling record, say, a half a million records or something like that, would now be maybe twenty thousand CDs.

    “I’m not just cryin’ the blues for myself. I’m just saying that’s what’s happening to all of us. People would rather spend five dollars on a café frappe latte mocha than they would spend a dollar on a piece of music that’s going to last them forever.”

    That all said Mason has, obviously, faced the piracy issue head on and has been an early adopter of online marketing and social media engagement of his extensive, global fan base.  One only has to sign up for his newsletter on his website (here) or follow him on Facebook (here) or Twitter (here) to see that he’s mastered the medium. As he remains resilient and adaptable to market changes, I’m sure that we’ll continue to observe Dave implement technology and changes in social media and implement them into his marketing efforts.
    Our conversation shifted to his current Traffic Jam tour and the shows that are going to be held in my home region of East Tennessee.

    “I’m looking forward to playing down there in Tennessee and some other states. I haven’t played these places in years! I’ve played Atlanta but not a lot of other places like Chattanooga and some other places but, I mean, it’s been years and years since I’ve played those places. I’m very much looking forward to playing there and hoping people will remember to come out. The band is great. The show is great. I’m as good at being Dave Mason as I’m going to be .Ha! Ha!”

    As for the current band line-up and what fans can expect at one of the Traffic Jam shows, Mason said, “Alvino Bennett is still playing drums with me. Johnne Sambataro is playing guitar as well and I have a great keyboard player named Tony Patler but he also handles bass. So, basically, it’s just a four piece band and we push out a lot of music for a four piece band.

    Mason said about the show, itself, that, “Basically, the Traffic Jam show runs about two hours and we do it in two sections. The first half of it is pretty much the songs from Traffic days when I was with them. Then we take a fifteen minute break and then we come back and we do stuff from my solo career. Along with it all there’s some visual stuff that goes with it. I’ll BS a little bit and tell some stories. You’ll get a bit of everything but I’m sure that there’s something that I’m going to not do that somebody will want.”

    To that point, I had to ask Dave which version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” he would be playing during the Traffic Jam tour.

    “It will be the way it is on ‘Future’s Past’. Song-wise, I prefer it. I really came up with it because I was doing acoustic shows a year or so ago and I was trying to find a more interesting way to do it acoustically. The original version, basically, only has three chords to it and, so, there wasn’t a lot of places to go, acoustic-wise, with it. I came up with this version, again, I just started messing around with it and we thought it started sounding pretty cool.”
    When I ordered “Future’s Past” directly from his website, I took advantage of a pre-release offer wherein he also sent gave his live album, “Dave Mason Live at Belmont Park 1978”. What an amazing offering! Naturally, I was curious if he had any other goodies in the vault that might be released.

    DAVEMASONPhotoCREDITPhotobyChrisJensen 0 0Photo by Chris Jensen“Yeah, I’m planning on a new CD which comes out at the end of this year or the beginning of next year – I’m not sure, yet. But, yes, we are working on some other combinations like that.”

    Almost as an afterthought, I told Mason that my favorite song of his was “How Do I Get To Heaven” from his “26 Letters, 12 Notes” album, to which he replied, “Yeah, it’s a really beautiful song. It’s an example of something that would have – to our opening conversation – had this been twenty years ago that would probably have been a hit song.”

    As our call was winding up, I asked Mr. Mason what 2015 looked like for him, tour (and other) wise.

    “According to my agents, there seems to be a large demand for Traffic Jam so we may be playing this out through 2015. And, then, I’m hoping in April, to go to the United Kingdom. I’m not sure if it’s going to entail some of Europe but I haven’t played there in over thirty years. That’ll be interesting. After that, we’re toying around with the idea of doing what would be, ‘Alone Together, Again,’ where part of the show would be the whole of the ‘Alone Together’ album. But, at the moment, it seems that the Traffic Jam thing – there’s still venues that still want to do the show so it will probably go through a good part of next year.”

    To see if Dave Mason is going to be appearing in or near your town, be sure to visit his website, DaveMasonMusic.com. While you’re there, be sure to shop around his online store and take advantage of his signed CD offerings. They’re a definite must-have for your own collection and excellent gifts for the music lovers in your life.

  • Dave Mason In Concert - Dallas, 2011

    Dave Mason In Concert

    January 28, 2011

    Granada Theater, Dallas, Texas

    It’s always a treat to be able to catch a show at the intimate Granada Theater.  There’s not a bad seat in the house and the sound is usually pretty good.  Because of that, I was really looking forward to the Dave Mason show that stopped by there last night. And, again, I wasn’t disappointed.

    The opening act, Big Gus and the Swampadelics, is a local band that I hadn’t had the privilege of listening to until last night.  The leader of the band, guitarist Big Gus Samuelson, says their niche is “Bayou Honky Tonk Soul with a little bit of Zydeco”.  I’d say that just about describes this band.  Tight and solid, these boys know how to rock.  If they were a package on the shelf in a store, the label would say, “Tabasco Included” they’re so hot.  Make sure and catch this band if you ever get the chance.  They’re very entertaining with that Cajun cool vibe thing goin’ on.

    After a brief intermission, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dave Mason, hit the stage at precisely the advertised time.  Walking out on stage with his top notch band, Mason straps on his white Fender Telecaster and launched into Let It Go, Let It Flow.  As I watched the predominantly Baby Boomer crowd, you could see by the look on many of the faces they were immediately catapulted back in time, to memories of past friends and fun. 

    All the Traffic/Mason favorites were performed and were definite crowd pleasures.  The Steve Winwood written 40,000 Headmen was one of my favorites of the evening. Mason showed his mastery of the guitar (and the wah wah pedal) with an incredibly moving guitar solo.  The hair stood up on the back of my neck – it was THAT good.  Apparently the crowd felt the same as me as the rewarded Mason with a very warm standing ovation.

    I was amused by the very animated Gerald Johnson, Mason’s bassist.  Watching him perform is worth the price of admission alone. Johnson kicked off the Jimmy Reed classic, Baby What You Want Me To Do.  You can’t help but smile and applaud as he smiles, grimaces and shakes his booty as he enjoys jamming with the band.  Joining in the fun was Johnne Sambataro.  No slouch when it comes to playing guitar, Sambataro blew me away with his intricate, soaring solo that absolutely smoked and brought the crowd to their feet yet again.

    In the midst of his rich repertoire of rock classics, Mason played two amazing tunes from his 2008 (and last) CD, 26 Letters 12 Notes.  The performance of Good 2 U and Let Me Go Play I’m sure sparked a sell-out of the CD at the sales table in the lobby.  You’ll definitely want to order this CD.  It’s great!

    Providing the steady, amazing backbeat was Alvino Bennett on the drums.  The man did some amazing stuff with two sticks and some skins.  Providing hair raising sounds from the Hammond B3 was Tony Patler.

    Mason left the Granada crowd satisfied with the flood of memories his rich arsenal of songs brought them.  How I knew that I especially enjoyed the show is realizing that I would gladly pay to see Dave Mason again.  Soon.

    You can keep up with Dave Mason and see when he’s going to be appearing in your city by visiting www.dave-mason.com.

  • Dave Mason Knoxville 2014

    Dave Mason
    November 09, 2014
    Bijou Theater
    Knoxville, TN

    By James Patterson

    Photo by James Patterson


    For those who enjoyed the sounds of "Traffic", the Dave Mason "Traffic Jam" tour will take you back to those reverberations and not disappoint you.  Dave walked onto the stage in his black outfit and long classy scarf and to the cheering audience said. "We'll do two sets tonight, the first will be songs from "Traffic" and the 2nd set will be Dave Mason tunes."; and with that the band started into "Forty Thousand Headmen".  The enthusiastic  crowd loved it!  Then came the really perky songs, "You Can All Join In" and "Pearly Queen".

    Instead of an audience continually standing, it was like they all wanted to sit and take in each song; then after each song, they stood, clapped and screamed.  One time Mason paused to change guitars and from the audience came the shouts, "We love you, Dave". It was also at that moment that Dave went into some history, complete with a slideshow, of his early years in his home town of Worcester England. Explaining it was there where he had teamed up with his mates Steve Windwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood and formed the legendary "Traffic". And, it was there in a small cottage where they worked on their music creations, a cottage that had no running water or electricity (a generator was used to power their amplifiers).  "Heck we were kids, we didn't care, of course all of that changed", Dave said as he began, "Medicated Goo".

    Mason stated, "Here is a song that I've arranged a bit different hope you enjoy it"; right away he ignited the audience with the beginnings of his long and slow bluesy version of, "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys". Then behind the band with projections on the screen of psychedelic graphics, the crowd screams with the intro of "Dear Mr. Fantasy".

    After the break and before Dave goes into his tunes he has another slideshow and enlightens everyone of the many groups and individuals he has worked with including the many who had faired well recording and having successful song hits from his originals.  One such duo on the screen, with photos and videos, Bonnie and Delanie as "Traffic Jam" played,  "You Know and I Know".

     "And you may remember this song which became a huge hit for Joe Cocker", which Dave also explained he wrote when he was 16 years of age…"Feeling Alright". As the band played other Mason hits like, "Alone Together", World of Changes" and "We Just Disagree" it became apparent that not only did Dave Mason still have his strong and awesome vocals, but his band was instrumentally great and were adding terrific harmonies.  Alvino Bennett, Drums; Johnne Sambataro, Guitar/Vocals; and Tony Paler, Keyboards/Vocals. As always, complimenting any band's sound was the wonderful acoustics found in the Knoxville, Bijou Theatre. 

    Dave, ending his outstanding performance; showing his personable side, said, "I'll see you on the way out, and I'll shake the babies, and kiss the hands!" Laughter ended a marvelous evening of classic tunes!

  • Felix Cavaliere: The Rascal Shares Some Memories & Talks About His Book

    Posted March 2022

    0002 8xI have such a fun interview for you to watch. It is great. As you may know, if you follow Boomerocity very long at all, I interviewed Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals almost two years ago (here). The pandemic had just been underway for just a few short months. I think everybody went home in March and the interview two years ago was in May or June. It was a fun chat with him. He's a great guy.

    Since then, he has written a book that is coming out on March 22nd (you can order by clicking on the book cover photo on this page) that’s titled, “Felix Cavaliere: Memories Of A Rascal”. I read excerpts of it that were provided to me prior to the interview. It’s a very good book. The cover is a photo taken by the late great Linda McCartney. As you'll hear in the conversation, there's just a lot of great stories in there. It really is a heartfelt written book by Felix.

    I encourage you to click the book cover on this page to order your copy directly from Felix’s website or you can get it through wherever you like to buy books.

    Watch the interview, below. Share it with friends. Follow Felix at his website, here. Under the interview video is the press release for the book that will provide you with other details about the book. You can also follow Felix on his website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


    The Boomerocity Interview With Felix Cavaliere


    Click On The Lower Right Of Video Above To Enlarge

    Press Release


    BookCoverClick Above To Order Your Copy - Photo Credit: ©1967 Paul McCartney / Photographer Linda McCartneyNASHVILLE, TENN., February 22, 2022: Music lovers of yesterday and today recognize that distinctive voice and that iconic intro in an instant: One, two, three! Sharing his stories—from his first classical piano lessons in his childhood home of Pelham, New York, through his years topping the charts, and to his inductions into the Rock & Roll, Songwriter, Vocal Group, Grammy and Musicians Halls of Fame—celebrated songwriter and singer Felix Cavaliere is pleased to announce his autobiography, “Memoir of a Rascal,” releasing March 22 via Ingram Spark. Cavaliere’s career, which spans over a half-century, is a testament to rock ‘n’ roll: he writes about being galvanized by the new sound legendary disc jockey Alan Freed bought to WINS radio in New York, the pain of losing his mother when he was only 13, his wild ride with Joey Dee and The Starlighters, taking the stage at the famed Hamptons, New York club The Barge and becoming the King of Blue-Eyed Soul© with one of America’s early rock bands. Few artists can claim they defined a generation; Cavaliere’s message of peace, love and happiness endures in his music and is likewise threaded through his autobiography, a reminder to never stop listening for the world’s beauty.

    “Memoir of a Rascal…From Pelham, NY To The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame” features a forward by famed rock ‘n’ roll deejay Cousin Brucie. The cover is an original photograph by Linda McCartney taken during The Rascals’ New York City’s The Phone Booth concert. Cavaliere’s gregarious writing is enhanced by heartfelt memories of the magic of the Rascals, his spiritual journey and guru Swami Satchidananda’s lifechanging influence, and professional accomplishments like being named to the Musicians Hall of Fame. A bold memoir that touches laughter, loss, lawsuits and love, “Memoir of a Rascal” is a firsthand account of rock ‘n’ roll history from a man recognized as one if its most celebrated artists—but who also sees himself as one of the genre’s biggest fans.

    Fans can also expect Cavaliere’s new album, “Then & Now,” to arrive the end of summer 2022.

    “I know fans have been asking me for years to finish my autobiography,” Cavaliere said. “This is for the fans. It’s a blessing to revisit memories and hopefully my story can inspire the next generation of singers and songwriters.”

    With No. 1 songs like “Good Lovin’”, “Groovin’”, “A Beautiful Morning”, “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long”, “People Got To Be Free” and “How Can I Be Sure”, The Rascals are considered the best ‘blue-eyed soul’ group to come out of the 1960s. For Cavaliere, making people feel good is fundamental to his illustrious career that includes the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and Musicians Hall of Fame. As a solo artist, Cavaliere connected with a new generation of fans with his hit “Only A Heart Sees” in 1979, and in 2008 Cavaliere worked with Steve Cropper on the Grammy-nominated “Nudge It Up A Notch.” In 2019, Cavaliere was inducted into the Musicians Hall Of Fame. Cavaliere is a 2022 recipient of the Free Speech in Music Award presented by Middle Tennessee University and in April embarks on a Legends Live Tour with Micky Dolenz of The Monkees in select markets.

    Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals 2022 Tour

    February 26 | The Casino @ Dania Beach | Dania Beach, Fla.
    March 28-31 | Flower Power Cruise
    April 1 | Southwest Florida Events Center | Bonita Springs, Fla.
    April 2 | Center @ Anna Maria Island | Anna Maria Island, Fla.
    April 8 | Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino | Niagara Falls, N.Y.
    April 9 | Rams Head On Stage | Annapolis, Md.
    April 23 | American Music Theatre | Lancaster, Pa.*
    April 24 | Keswick Theatre | Glenside, Pa.*
    May 12 | Count Basie Center | Red Bank, N.J.*
    May 14 | Patchogue Theatre | Patchogue, N.Y.*
    June 3 | Palladium Times Square | New York, N.Y.*
    June 4 | Lynn Auditorium | Lynn, Mass.*
    June 10-12 | Blue Note Hawaii | Honolulu, Hawaii
    July 16 | Meadow Brooke Theatre | Rochester, Mich.

    More dates being announced soon.

    • Legends Live Featuring Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees
  • Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion

    glennhughescoverGlenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion
    By: Joel McIver and Glenn Hughes
    Publisher: Jawbone Press
    Reviewed: January, 2012

    If you mention the band, Deep Purple, to any baby boomer, you will likely hear instant mouth-generated riffs of some of their huge hits like Hush, Smoke On The Water, Space Truckin’, Burn and many, many more.

    One of the most flamboyant and remarkable members of the band was bass player, Glenn Hughes, who joined the band in 1973, making up what is referred to as the “Mark III” and “Mark IV” band line-ups. To be sure, Hughes made his first mark with his band, Trapeze, but his first huge success happened when he joined Deep Purple. Hughes went on to work with many great artists and bands, as well as doing his own solo work, and is currently thumpin’ the bass with the super group, Black Country Communion.

    After over forty years in the music business, it was high time that Hughes came out with a book to tell his story up to this point. He does so (along with the excellent help and guidance of Joel McIver) with Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion.

    I don’t want to ruin any surprises in the book but I will say that Mr. Hughes is pretty darn lucky to be alive. I wasn’t surprised by the drug use. I was surprised by extent of his addictions and the distance of his fall.

    The book is chock full of entertaining stories from his days in Trapeze and Deep Purple as well as his work (or attempts at work) with greats like Tony Iommi, David Bowie and Gary Moore, to name but a few. Woven within those tales is the story of a severely addicted but incredibly talented artist. I found my stomach turning into knots as I read his many, many accounts of drug-addled living. The vast amounts of money spent and the great opportunities lost can neither be recaptured.

    That all said, Hughes tells his entire story, warts and all, from the vantage point of one who has finally come to grips with his disease and knows his life of sobriety is a rare second chance at life. It’s obvious that he’s now living life to its real fullest, with the love of life, Gabi, and the renewed passion he has for writing and making music. No, he can’t recover what he has lost in the areas of time and money but that only fuels the intensity to make every moment of every new day count. And, while I’m a huge fan of his work and love the stories behind the music, my biggest take-away is the insight Glenn Hughes provides by baring his soul regarding his disease and his sobriety.

    One interesting thing about this book besides the incredible stories: All the photos provided are in the front of the book instead of in the middle or scattered throughout. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse that way – just interesting.
    Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography isn’t just a must-have book for the rock music fan, it’s a must-have book for anyone who wrestles – no, make that “battles” – with addictive demons.

  • Richie Furay Discusses Hand In Hand

    April, 2015

    RichieFuray 7 Reduced Credit Ed ZiehmPhoto by Ed ZiehmIf you’re a baby boomer and listened to the radio, you’re likely more than a little familiar with the iconic groups, Buffalo Springfield and Poco.  Buffalo Springfield was made up of Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer, and Richie Furay. Poco consisted of Jim Messina, Rusty Young, George Grantham, Randy Meisner, and, again, Richie Furay.

    After his stint with these two legendary bands, Furay went on to form his own namesake band that blazed new trails in contemporary Christian music, establishing his mark as one of its influential pioneers. In fact, it was in that genre that I became aware of his work. His former work earned him the distinction of becoming an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The latter provided him his ultimate calling as minister to a flock of Christians in Colorado. Both roles have given him the ability to influence people well beyond the end of his life.

    For this interview, I chatted with Greg Harris (CEO of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is a friend of Boomerocity) about Richie.  He said, “He, obviously, contributed greatly as a member of Buffalo Springfield but also went on to greater public recognition with Poco. Buffalo Springfield is the cornerstone of the folk and country that followed. It’s fascinating how much has grown out of the collaboration of the original band members and, then, the many shoots and branches that grew from their trunk to create an incredible music legacy of its founders. They’re even influencing the Americana genre to this day. 

    “They’re sound – and Richie still sounds the same as he did in the late sixties – is still as fresh and vibrant today as it was then. Have you heard Richie’s new album? Amazing and it proves the point I was just making.”

    Greg is referring to Furay’s recently released eighth solo studio album. It’s entitled “Hand In Hand,” and is likely bound to go down as his best work yet.

    I called Richie at his Colorado home to chat about “Hand In Hand” and other things going on in his life. I started off by asking him what would he tell Richie Furay/Buffalo Springfield/Poco fans about this album.

    “This album is very current from my perspective. I’ve really been thought of as a love song writer, and these songs are EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditeddefinitely love songs. They’re about my love for life, my love for my wife, my love for my country, my love for what the Lord has blessed me with. It’s really all-encompassing. The music is as current and as fresh today as anything anybody could hear on the radio. I do have a certain style of music that I write, but it’s very current today. I just couldn’t be any happier with it. It’s really getting a lot of traction today.”

    As for the feedback on the album, so far, Richie said, “It has been wonderful. Everyone, to a person, that’s heard the music has responded in such a positive way. It’s really blowing my mind. When I wrote the songs, I really felt that I had something special. I think the people that are now hearing this and responding to it are showing me, ‘Yeah, there is something real special about this project’.”

    I have two favorites from the album, “We Were The Dreamers” and “Let It Slide.” Artists can’t really pick a favorite song from their albums because it’s too much like picking a favorite child so I didn’t ask Furay to pick on. However, I did ask which song would he use as a “calling card,” if you will, to draw people to buy the album.

    “It’s really hard to separate one song from the other, because every song is special. ‘We Were The Dreamers’ is obviously the first song on the album, because I think that has to have a hook on it. People are going to listen to it and go to song 2 (“Hand In Hand”), song 3 (“Don’t Lose Heart”), on down the road until you get to ‘Let It Slide’. I think they gotta hear something that’s going to appeal to them. If anyone’s like me, it’s the music first of all. Is there a melody that I can relate to and embrace? Then I want to hear what the song is all about.”

    Richie then gets on a roll about the rest of the album, excitedly telling me about each song. 

    “‘We Were The Dreamers’ is about starting Poco and what we wanted to do with that band. We wanted to make a bridge between country and rock, and I think that proved to be an honest goal as we’ve seen that happen. We see music coming out of Nashville today that took a very strong leap when, back in 1969, Poco was trying to cross that gap. 

    “Then, leading on, I think people are going to find that there’s a lot of interesting music that they built from one song to the next. On ‘Hand In Hand’, they’re going to hear about my relationship with my wife looking back who I’ve been married to for forty-eight years now. We aren’t standing on the Whisky A Go Go stage anymore looking forward. We’re on the stage of life- still going hand in hand, still in love with each other- but we’re looking from a different perspective now. 

    “You get Dan Fogelberg’s ‘Don’t Lose Heart’. I think the question Dan was asking in that song is, ‘Was everything I ended up going through worth it in the end?’ I saw the hope in the Lord, you know: ‘No matter what’s going on, you can trust that I’m still there with you. Don’t lose heart. I’m going with you.’ 

    “‘Don’t Tread On Me’ is a different kind of love song. It’s a song about my love for this country. I think this country is the greatest country in the world. I know we have problems. I know we have things we can improve upon, but it really hurts me when I hear people cutting down and talking about this country in a negative way. We have very positive things that we can be proud of, but we are being divided right now. We’re polarized. We’ve got to start talking and thinking about the blessings that God has given us in this great nation of ours. 

    “‘Wind Of Change’ follows that same line. On the surface, it just sound like it’s about a guy taking a road trip going east. If you look deeper into the song, I think people will understand that I have some problems with what I see going on out east. Hopefully, there will be a change. 

    “‘Someday’ (that features Keb Mo) … Again, I’m just so thankful that during these troubled times I’ve got eleven grandkids. Number twelve is on the way May 1. I’m concerned about the way things are going and what my kids and grandkids are going to have to go through. But I’m very thankful, and I sum it up in that song, that I didn’t have to go alone. My wife has been there with me. I couldn’t make it without her. 

    “Each song, they’re all very important. They all have a special message and meaning. It’s a very universal CD for people to embrace.”

    I asked the Hall of Famer if he considered “Hand In Hand” a CCM disc, secular/Americana or another genre?

    “I think it’s definitely a secular/Americana CD. There’s no doubt about it. I say that because if you go back to ‘64/’65 when Buffalo Springfield was together, there was nothing we called or considered ‘Americana’. Americana became a genre of music later on, and quite frankly, we pioneered that along with country rock ‘n’ roll. I would say this is definitely a mainstream secular project. It has Americana roots all the way.”

    I asked Richie what he hoped people get or take away from “Hand In Hand.”

    “I hope that they’ll take away hope. With my life, I’ve gone through different changes, different struggles, different places where I’ve come to a crossroads in my life and asked ‘Which direction do I go?’ But I’ve always found that there was direction. I will say I didn’t know what that direction was at times, but I did come to find out it was the leading of the Lord. Regardless if this is a secular project, He is still guiding my life as the Good Shepherd. He is watching over me, and I know now who has been guiding me. 

    “In years past, I didn’t have a clue when I would take a step and go in this direction or that direction. Even before I became a believer, in Souther Hillman Furay I didn’t want the guy who was a Christian to be in the band. He had a Jesus sticker on his guitar, and I said, ‘I don’t want this guy in the band. He’s going to stop me from becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star.’ But it was there that God reached out to me. 

    “The Lord is so gracious. At one time, I thought maybe he was taking the musical aspect of my life away. God never takes away something that he doesn’t have something far greater for us. He’s shown me that by allowing me to come back and play music in this day and age, but also be part of a great church family in Broomfield, Colorado. 

    “What I hope the people will take away from this is hope. When they’re not sure where things are going in their life, there’s hope. They can read that in the music and the songs that I’ve been sharing.”

    Some of you might be surprised by my comment at the beginning of this interview that Richie Furay is now a minister. I asked him to tell Boomerocity readers about his ministry.

    “We have a small little church in Broomfield, Colorado, called Calvary Chapel. We are a part of the Calvary Chapel network of churches. When Al Perkins led me to the Lord back in 1974, my wife and I had been married for seven years and separated for seven months. It was a disastrous time in my life, and I had no idea what was going to be taking place in my life. 

    “Things started to change, and I really thought that music was pretty much going to be the end of the road for me. It didn’tRichieFuray 1 Reduced Credit EdZiehmPhoto by Ed Ziehm turn out to be that way. In the meantime, there was a little bit of diversion there, and I said, ‘Lord, what would you have me to do?’ He opened up the doors, and I started a little home Bible study. Next thing I know, people are coming around saying, ‘When are we going to have church?’ I said, ‘You know, we’re kinda having it right now.’ They wanted something else, and as it turned out, we started a little church in Boulder, Colorado. Then we moved down to Broomfield, and it’s been so great. 

    “The Bible says the Lord will give you the desires of your heart if you just focus on Him. I love the opportunity he’s given me to encourage people’s lives with the teaching of the Word of God. I love the way Chuck Smith taught us to really teach the Bible book by book, verse by verse. It’s been real precious. Also, what has been really neat is the support I’ve gotten from a lot of my pastor friends in Calvary Chapel to continue to pursue and do the music I’m doing. Regardless if it has a Christian influence like ‘In My Father’s House’ and ‘I Am Sure’ or my music as it comes out today like this new project which is a mainstream secular/Americana project, the church supports me. The church is right there with me. 

    “Early on, neither I nor the church congregation that I had at the time understood, and I think there was some question about, ‘Can you do both?’ Sometimes, people want to say, ‘How can you go out, do this music, and still be a pastor of a church?’ It all flows. I’ve got a very unique position in life right now. I’ve got a very unique position in having a church but still going on the road, traveling, doing concerts. Quite frankly, when I go into a place to play, we have done worship services with my band. My band is the worship band at our church. They learned all of my music, and we go out. 

    “I’m not out there to proselytize when I go into secular venues. I’m out there to share my life, and the biggest part of my life is the fact that Jesus Christ has saved me and loves me. He has given me the desires of my heart. He gave me the gift of music, so we always get to share with the people regardless. If they hear ‘A Good Feelin’ To Know’ and ‘Pickin’ Up The Pieces’, they still hear. We’re there and we’re sharing this, because we know where the gift has come from. It’s come from Jesus.”

    I always ask experienced artists this question at the end of interviews: Once you’ve stepped off of the tour bus for the final time and are at that great gig in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy is? Richie was asked this, as well.

    “Truly, I want to hear the Lord say ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ He didn’t tell me just to preach within the four walls of a church building. He told me to go into all the world and to proclaim his goodness, glory, and salvation. That’s what I want to do. I sincerely believe in my heart that is being accomplished by the response I get from all kinds of people. People who are believers, people who are nonbelievers, people who are Jewish, people who have no real understanding of faith at all. 

    “They come to me and say, ‘There’s something about you, and on that stage, there’s something that shines. Something that glows.’ At seventy years old, it’s really special to be able to stand up there and get that kind of feedback. I was just answering a person who I don’t even know from Montana who said, ‘I accepted the Lord a long time ago, but I walked away from the Lord. I don’t know why, but I feel the need to reach out to you to help me along and get back on this path’. If I can lead anybody to the foot of the Cross where Jesus’ forgiveness is, that’s what it’s about for me.”

    You can keep up with Richie and order his music at RichieFuray.com or check out his message and his church at CalvaryBroomfield.org.

    Read the Boomerocity review of "Hand In Hand," here.



  • Rob Parissi (2009)

    October, 2009

    latebloomerRemember Steve Martin's first movie, "The Jerk"? For those of you who haven't seen the 1979 hit, it's about a man, Navin Johnson, who is being raised by an African-American family who thinks he'll turn black as he gets older. One of the scenes early in the movie shows Navin trying to dance with the same grace and rhythm as his family. The out of rhythm, staccato-like, spasmodic moves that he called dancing fell woefully short of the mark.

    Have that image indelibly burned into your mind and you'll have a pretty good idea of how I would've looked like on the high school dance floor as a teen. Well, okay, I dance the same way today but that's not the point of the story.

    The point of the story is that there was a HUGE hit on the airwaves in 1976 that fooled us ungifted white-boy dancers into thinking we could actually dance. The song? Wild Cherry's, "Play That Funky Music".

    Now, admit it. When I told you the name of the song, didn't you feel a little spasm in your butt and a tingle in your feet, making you almost want to jump up and dance? I know that you did so don't deny it.

    Well, do I ever have a treat for you! The voice behind that smash hit, as well as the founding member of, and guitarist for, Wild Cherry, Rob Parissi, was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions for Boomerocity.com. Imagine my excitement that the man who played the mean guitar solo in the middle of "Funky" (and gave me many pleasurable hours playing air guitar along with) was going to take the time to chat with me from his home in the beautiful state of Florida. It was a laugh-filled blast.

    Since the fun filled, funky days of the seventies, Parissi has made the move over into the genre of Smooth Jazz/Adult Contemporary. I asked him what influenced him to take the leap from Funk/Rock to Smooth Jazz. Reflectively, he says, "I knew music was going to be my life before I was 5 years old. However, when I was 10 or 11, and taking a serious interest in being a musician, it was the initial influence of Mozart, Henry Mancini, Cal Tjader, Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, artists like that who inspired me to learn. I think I was fascinated by the sophisticated chord changes, which I could hear and play by ear, but I didn't understand.

    "Looking back, what was so interesting to me was the mathematics involved. It wasn't until several years after I started in a rock band after being influenced by the California instrumental surf bands, Bo Diddley, Beatles, AND GIRLS, that I learned my way around key, string, and percussion instruments and started to realize it was all about the math in the arrangements that brings it all together.

    "That's what compelled me to also be an arranger and producer later on. These days, I also engineer all my work here in the studio, so it never ends, which is good in that it keeps me interested and always learning. Besides, robbing liquor stores always kept me on the run."

    Since he mentioned the instruments he plays, I asked him about the kind of gear he's using these days.

    "I've been playing a Fender Strat for over 30 years, primarily, but about 5 . . . . years ago, Gibson started to make a single cutaway model ES-137 Custom in Memphis that I bought without even playing or hearing because I could just see that it was going to be good, and it is. Before the Strat, I used a Les Paul. This ES-137 is a cross between a Les Paul, and a 335. When I'm recording, it's good to have a few different guitars lying around to layer parts with that complement each other. As for amp, in the studio, I play through an old Digitech 2112 rack mount straight into the console that pretty much gives me any sound I'm looking for. When I play out, we have a back line rider that requires rented gear, and I usually can deal with any name brand like Fender, Ampeg, Crate, and Mesa Boogie. As long as it has an overdrive two volume control and footswitch so that I can go between clean rhythm to crank it out mode. I'm also fabulous at playing the radio, and I do it loud and often.

    His new disc, "Late Bloomer", has just been released so I asked Rob how sales have been for the disc.

    "We've only released that CD with word of mouth thus far, and we're just starting to go after radio play at this point, so sales are what anyone would expect from just word of mouth. Ask me that again in about a year. I can tell you that my mom bought one."

    When you listen to "Late Bloomer", you'll be caught off guard by the couple of funk tunes on the disc. I asked Parissi how his new audience takes his funky streak. He answers with a story that gives some background to his answer.

    "Around 1996, I came to St. Petersburg from Ohio and bought a condo on the Gulf of Mexico to spend the winters. As I was driving around one day down here, I found a Smooth Jazz radio station and it was like I was 11 years old again. There was one particular instrumental band from England (Down To The Bone) that I loved, and they were doing jazz changes and riffs to funk beats with the drums and bass mixed way up heavy like dance records. I instantly got it and thought to myself, ‘that's the next place I'm going to pursue' (I always think to myself with quotation marks).

    "Actually, it was like going back to what inspired me in the beginning, only now, I have enough education and experience to know why I'm doing what I am. Even back when Wild Cherry was active and had records on the charts, I spent my down time listening to people like George Benson, Lee Ritenour, and Larry Carlton. So, the jazz thing really never left me. It's just that I realized I couldn't make a living as easy as I could in a rock dance band with top 40 hits on the charts appealing to the masses out there. At this point, I can afford to do what I want and not have to worry about being a starving artist. Basically, I'm just trying to raise enough money to take the family to Dairy Queen."

    With hopes of being able to catch him in a live show, I asked Rob if he was going to go on tour to promote the CD. With no mercy whatsoever, he cruelly dashes my hopes and dreams.

    "I love people and the time in front of an audience on stage to death, and just starting the intro to ‘Play That Funky Music' is a rush to feel and hear the crowd go nuts. But I absolutely hate everything that goes along with it. There's nothing about putting a band together, hiring a road crew, worrying about the gear working, packing 6 suit cases, airports, limos, traveling, or hotels that appeals to me.

    "If I sign with a major label again, one stipulation is that I will not be obligated to tour. I get more done right here writing and recording in my Tampa home studio. If I did decide to tour, it would be by bus, and I'd have it gutted and loaded with a few beds and a ton of recording gear (and 10 cases of wine). I'd probably be recording from the time I woke up till sound check at the next hall. Besides, we spend every weekend at my beach home over on the gulf, so I'm always busy from Fridays to Tuesdays."

    As many of you Boomerocity readers know, there are a lot of people out there who claim to be a certain celebrity or band. You may have even shown up at a venue to see who you thought was going to be your favorite band or artist from the past, only to find out that they aren't who they've been promoted to be. Many of these incidences are the brainchild of unscrupulous promoters trying to make a fast, dishonest buck. Wild Cherry has been "counterfeited" like this and Parissi, who owns the rights to the Wild Cherry name, is vigorously protecting his copyright.

    "In every business, unfortunately, there are always a few slime bags. They don't always wear name tags identifying themselves as "Sammy Slime Bag", so they can be hard to spot. There are a few booking agents that realize that bands who've had major hits, but little visibility, can make a buck for them. Most times, we're talking very small potatoes for all their effort. So, they put together 5 bands, call them Wild Cherry, and send them to little clubs around the country for $750 a pop, which wouldn't even pay for the sound system rental had they actually hired me.

    "One of these genius weasels just happened to try to book one of his bogus Wild Cherry groups in my home town at a friend's night club telling him that I would be there in the band. This kind of person would also dress up and try to go Halloweening at his own home. Anyway, my friend contacted me and we busted him red handed. Since then, the word has spread and it's not so easy for him these days. It's almost like you have to hope club owners approached by these bogus agents would just Google my name and they'd immediately learn that they're about to be burned."

    Call me stupid, but I have to ask Rob, again, (this time, from a slightly different angle), about going on tour. So, I ask him, "Don't hate me for asking this, but, with Adam Lambert doing a tweaked up version of ‘Funky Music', and the song winding up o Guitar Hero 5 (congrats to that, by the way!), are you EVER going to take Wild Cherry on the road again?"

    "I don't hate you, no matter what anyone else says about you, so get that out of your head. It seems that someone on American Idol does that song at some point, almost every other year, and ‘Play That Funky Music' is used in Hallmark cards, mechanical toys, movies, on and on, and a few kinky sex toys. (Okay, I made that last one up) No one could ever imagine how much I appreciate the 'legs' that song still has after all this time, but nothing ever urges me to pull a Jake and Elwood and get the band back together. Besides, it's like I told the guys years ago when they approached me about it: 'Just think about it... we only have one hit, so unless you want to go up on stage and play an hour and a half version of 'Play That Funky Music', forget it".

    Darn! Oh well. I tried.

    In 2008, Rob performed at a benefit for the educational program for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here's what he had to say about the Hall and his feelings about performing at the benefit:

    "God Bless Terry Stewart, president of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. He honestly believes Play That Funky Music should be the theme song of the Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, and probably the rest of the United States. He really is the best thing that ever happened to that place, and not just because he's a fan, but he's a great person who's done more to make the R&RHOF a success than anyone before, and when he leaves, he'll be a tough act to follow. He phoned me a few years ago and asked me to come to Cleveland to do that show, and he also asked me to close the event that night, which was an honor that brought me to tears, as everyone on that show had more hits than my little ‘one hit wonder'."

    I later contacted Terry Stewart and asked him for his opinion of Parissi's work and legacy. His input was glowingly complimentary.

    "Rob's song ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy' is certainly one of the great anthems of music in the past 40 years as evidenced by how often it's played and sampled. Plus, it came right out of Cleveland.

    "We were thrilled to have Rob as a part of our all-star lineup for the 2008 It's Only Rock and Roll Annual Benefit for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Artists and bands come together each year to show support for the Rock Hall's work and to raise money for our educational programs. In fact, our programs have become the most celebrated and award-winning emanating from any fine arts museum in the nation. We greatly appreciated Rob's support and talent. It was a fantastic show that raised nearly $250,000 for the Museum's acclaimed education programs that reach all ages, from toddlers to adults."

    Still in a serious vein, I asked Parissi what the one thing that he feels has been least covered and understood about him and his work.

    "That I'm really a woman named Martha. No, really, I'm not one who feels misunderstood. I'm white, I'm a boy, I sang a song about playing funky music, that's pretty much the whole enchilada. Now, for example, had I written a song with a line like, "someone left the cake out in the rain", I'd probably be in therapy."
    Sorry, folks. I tried to be serious. Honest.

    We later talked about music of the 60's and 70's and what the similarities and differences are, culturally. When I asked him for his thoughts on the subject, he waxes philosophical.

    "Well, one decade contained a "6", and the other one a "7", but they both were followed by a "0". So, you see, there are differences between the two, but the "0" definitely made them similar. Of course, now, we're in a whole new millennium, which is no longer preceded by 19, but 20.

    "So, your question gives me great anxiety and I don't think I'm qualified to answer. In fact, I just took a Valium. Culturally, you had your Beatle hair cut and troll hanging on the car rear view mirror in the 60's, soon followed by the Afro, white Saturday Night Fever suit, and disco ball in those fabulous 70's. I still stop dead and do a split every time I hear "Stayin Alive", even if I'm visiting someone in the hospital. But now days, I have a hard time getting in and out of my new Corvette, so, you tell me. BTW, the Valium's starting to work."

    Okay. So, my take-aways from his comments are: If you hear "Stayin' Alive" start to play while hangin' with Rob, have your camera ready. It's going to get fun.
    Continuing in this same line of thinking, he comments about the positive and negative changes that he's seen in the music industry since the 70's. "The biggest positive change is, that white people no longer suffer from peer pressure to get perms to create the ‘fro' look. The biggest negative change is Kanye West and his tourettes-syndrome-style outbursts at awards shows. Okay, maybe also that Michael Jackson started out black, but then somehow managed to turn himself white. Things like this confuse me, because I knew him when he was black. The farther I go along in this interview, the more I realize that I really do need to get into therapy."

    Since I've lost all hope of control over this interview, I ask him for one of his Valium. He's so cool, he gave me one of his more powerful prescriptions called "Placebo". It seemed to call me down almost immediately.

    Having regained my composure, I asked Mr. Parissi if there is any new talent that has captured his attention. With the Placebo kicking in to full force, I don't mind his answer one bit. "There was this seal I saw at Sea World last week, but that's another story. Actually, I'm still a huge fan of it all, and anybody good gets my attention, which brings me back to that seal."

    As I'm peaking from the gift from Rob, I asked him what was next, CD-wise, from him or the band (still trying to wrangle a Wild Cherry Reunion Tour commitment out of him). "The band's dead, get over it. As for me, I'm gonna keep doing the smooth jazz/adult contemporary thing until people hold a telethon and raise enough money to convince me to stop and get out of the business."

    In all seriousness (no, really), Rob Parissi was a lot of fun to interview. His talent and his sense of humor are very engaging and, while he has instructed me to "get over it" about the band, I still can't help but hope that I'll get to catch Rob and the guys "Play That Funky Music" just one more time.

    Thank you, Rob Parissi, for giving our generation such a fun song to, uh, well, to TRY and dance to!

  • Terry Stewart

    Posted January, 2010


    TerryStewartTerry Stewart, CEO,The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Courtesy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.I’m of the humble opinion really screwed up when they made the movie, “Night At The Museum” back in 2006.  They just plain got it all wrong.  Instead of casting Ben Stiller in the starring role, they should have cast me.  And, instead setting it in the Museum of Natural History, it should have taken place at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Stick with me here because there’s sound logic to my thinking.

    See, through a lot of my life, I’ve had a fantasy of rummaging through the attics and warehouses of such stars as Elvis Presley, Gene Simmons, or name your favorite Rolling Stone.  To be able and go through their items that are tied to major events in their lives would be both awe inspiring and surreal.

    I’ve had the privilege of touring Graceland twice but, for some reason, the staff wouldn’t let me go up into the attic.  For my diverse viewing pleasure, I’ve visited many of the Hard Rock Cafés in the U.S. and Bahamas and stared in wonder at the many artifacts and memorabilia that once belonged to some of my favorite rock stars.

    Next on my Rock and Roll Bucket List is to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame located in the city of Rock’s birth, Cleveland, Ohio.  It is there that one can see an endless array of guitars, clothing, cars, and a mind boggling collection of iconic memorabilia from the royalty of Rock and Roll.

    If one loves Rock and Roll, then the Hall would be considered one of the holy shrines of the genre that must be visited and to which one pays homage.  Not one to just want to merely put a check mark next to the Hall’s entry on my bucket list, I wanted to delve into the behind the scenes mechanizations of the Hall.

    Why?  Because not only am I a fan of classic rock music, I’m a business nerd and, while I will gaze in amazement at David Bowie’s red, thigh high platform boots, I will wonder what the arrangements were to get them there.  I’ll ask myself questions like:  What are the insurance arrangements to have this stuff in the Hall?  How are the artifacts verified and certified?  Boring stuff like that.

    So that I can satisfy my geekiness ahead of time and enjoy my visit to the Hall when I do go there, I thought it might be a good idea to have a chat with the CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Terry Stewart.  I originally contacted Mr. Stewart for comment while writing the interview I conducted with Wild Cherry’s Rob Parissi.  At that time, Terry was kind enough to commit to being interviewed at a later date so that I could pick his encyclopedic mind about the Hall.

    When we recently chatted by phone, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I guess that I had it in my mind that I would have to deal with some stuffed shirt without a sense of humor.  Was I ever wrong!  It became immediately clear why Terry Stewart and Rob Parissi are friends.  Stewart’s sense of humor and love for his work came through clearly during the small talk at the beginning of our conversation. 

    After chatting about his home state of Alabama, Rob Parissi and other items of mutual interest, I inquired about what a visitor to the Hall would see if they were to visit there today.

    “Well, they’ll see our normal, permanent exhibits which are on seven floors and 150,000 square feet of space. These permanent exhibits are pretty much the history of rock and roll. And we have a number of special exhibits.  We have the Motown 50ith Anniversary exhibit right now.  We always have a photography special exhibit such as George Kalinsky, the photographer for the (Madison Square) Garden. 

    “And then we have the Woodstock 40th anniversary exhibit as well as a giant Bruce Springsteen exhibit.  But, you know, the average stay is four to five hours so there’s more to see and do in a day if you really immerse yourself in it.”

    I was curious if there were a lot of repeat visitors to the Rock Hall.

    “Yeah, we have visitors that come a lot but about 90% of our attendance is outside the region.  Those people are coming from 50 states and 100 countries.  They aren’t really big, repeat people.  It’s really a lot of first time visitors.”

    While covering the subject of Hall visitors, the conversation migrated to the recent announcement that the Hall Annex in New York City was going to be closed.  I asked him about all the talk of taking the Annex on the road as a travelling exhibit.

    “Our partners are looking at ways that make sense financially to move it to another town or to take it on the road.  That’s in their hands to come back to us with an opportunity that makes sense.”

    Here’s hoping for a decision that places the Annex, or at ,least a tour stop, here in the Dallas area!

    With responsibilities such as Stewart’s, I asked him if there was any Hall business that kept him awake at night.

    “Well, surprisingly enough, no.  We’re in the best shape, financially that we’ve been in ten years.  We don’t have a big operating reserve that we should have.  But we’re in better shape than we have been.  So, I wouldn’t say that I’m staying awake at night.  I’m always concerned since we really are based on how much money we generate each year.  Every January 1st we start over again.”

    The business geek comes roaring out of me when we start talking about the business end of the Hall.  In addition to the revenue from admission fees, they also have a tremendous store, both physical and online, where one can pick up items such as mugs, clothing, books and pins. 

    As for those last two categories, I tried to appeal to Stewart’s generous side and tell him that I could go broke on my low budget (queue up the violins!) buying the great books and pins offered by the store. 

    His response?  “Feel free too!”

    Putting my business geek propeller hat back on, I asked Terry about how else the Hall is supported.

    “Well, we also have our philanthropy.  We have about 75% 78% of our business earned through the door and the store.  Then the other 25% is membership, individual donations, corporate donations, grant foundations, and government funding.  So it’s a wide mix of money that makes up the rest of that mix.”

    Knowing that many of Boomerocity’s global readers and their companies might be interested in helping the Hall with a contribution, I asked Mr. Stewart how they might donate.  He doesn’t hesitate even one nanosecond to answer.

    “They can do it online or they can do it in person.  There are MANY ways we can take your money! We’ve got levels all the way up to Platinum, Chairman’s Club and all of that.  Membership runs up to $500 and after that you’re in the Donor’s Circle as far as different designations go.

    “We don’t have a lot of programs or shows but we do the American Music Masters in the fall, which is a big deal. We have our induction ceremonies (to be held March 15th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City) and our gala in May.  There are a lot of events here where you can separate yourself from your dollars and do some good with it.”

    Ah!  He brought up the induction ceremony!  Probably the only real criticism that I’ve ever heard with regards to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is every year when the inductees are announced.  This year was no exception.  While some of the names left me scratching my head, I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself.  However, I did want to know how he handled the question that had to be thrown at him at least a couple of million times.

    “Well, it has to be a standard response because I get asked so often.  The fact is that we have a very disciplined, methodical process that we go through to induct performers.  There are 35 members on the nominating committee and 600 who vote.  And the realities are when somebody doesn’t get in, they simply didn’t get enough votes.  That never satisfies anybody but that is the case. 

    “When you don’t have the support on the committee, you won’t get on the ballot.  If you get on the ballot, you have to get the votes from the 600.  BUT, the three other categories, non-performer, early influence and side men, are all done by committee.  I tell people that I think that the people that are worthy will get in.  They may not necessarily get in when they want to or when their fans want them to get in.  As soon as they get passed over for a year or two, people go, ‘Oh, my god . . .’”

    Many huge names in the rock world have visited the Hall of Fame.  What have their reactions been?

    “Oh!  The ones who come here love it!  There’s no issue about that.  They all love it.  They love music.  They love the history of this music.  When they come here and see how we treat it, they’re incredibly endorsing.  I don’t know that we ever had anybody here that didn’t think it was fabulous or inductees that came through.  I’m sure that there are some nit picks, nits and picks that they would like to change but then who wouldn’t?”

    What is planned for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the near and long term?

    Well, we just moved in to our new library and archive building.  We won’t open it until next fall.  So a lot of my focus right now is on finishing the capital campaign to pay for the library and to pay for the redesign of the museum because they’re redesigning about 30% - 40% of it.  That’ll take place over the next two years. 

    “The library is up, staffed are moved in but it won’t be open to the public until next fall and to have enough material to open it up so that people can enjoy it.  There’ll be digital audio and video as well as hard copies of magazines, periodicals and books in the lending library.

    On the short term, those are the two things that I’m going to focus on.”

    How about three to five years out?

    Well, we’re trying to find a way to finance a connector between us and the Science Museum which is next door.  They have a garage that’s highly unutilized and we have no garage.  So, if we can connect and keep it enclosed to get to the garage, we think that it will be very helpful to them and very satisfying to us.  That’s probably our biggest project.

    After that, there may be space behind it in the hill to build enough flexible space to take care of the space that the Science Center and I need.  We need a temporary exhibit hall and we also need some classrooms.  They need classrooms, too, so maybe we can use the same classrooms.”

    Is it just me or are you guys also struck by how ironic it is that rock and roll and science are looking at how they can be partners in education?  Who would have ever thunk it?

    I’ll close this piece with a plea and a bit of advice to the legions of Boomerocity readers that are around this fertile green planet of ours: 

    First, if you or your business is looking for a good cause in the area of cultural preservation to support, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be at the top of your list.  As Mr. Stewart told us, you can support the Hall without ever having to show up (but you’ll definitely want to visit!).  If you’re feeling generous and want to make an online donation, you can click here to make it happen.  Or, if you want something besides a warm fuzzy feeling about your contribution, you can purchase your choice of some great items from the Hall’s online store here.

    Secondly, don’t assume that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame road show will, a) happen and, b) or, if it does, that it will come to a city, town or village near year.  Book a flight and hotel reservations to, and in , the great city of Cleveland, Ohio, and plan on spending a day – no, make that two days – at the incredible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Tell ‘em, that Boomerocity sent you.

    And, while you’re at it, buy a poor guy a book or pin from there, will ya?