MARY GAUTHIER & ALLISON MOORER: A SALVE FOR WHAT AILS YOU

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2015 by midliferocker

Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer_2

By Steve Houk

It’s hard to believe a concert that addresses squirmy topics like homelessness, autism, divorce, alcoholism, suicide and other human struggles could be considered revelatory, elating and ultimately positive for both musician and listener.

But you put Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer on a stage together, and well, that’s exactly what you get. The “Really Depressed Tour” was what I think Gauthier jokingly referred to it as, saying at the show’s outset amidst laughs from both the musicians and the packed crowd,”If you came here to feel better, you came to the wrong place.” But, by show’s end, somehow, some way, we felt a helluva lot better.

On the first date of their short co-headlining stint, two of Americana/folk/country music’s most open and emotional songwriters laid it all out there on the stage and then some, as will most likely be the norm throughout their heralded run. And what they seemed to do for both themselves and their audience was both unusual and miraculous. As they alternated between their own songs on a sparse stage at Jammin Java in Vienna VA, they keenly and clearly illustrated the power of music as a healing force, not only for themselves, but also for their audience.

Allison Moorer (L) and Mary Gauthier at Jammin Java 3-19-15

Allison Moorer (L) and Mary Gauthier at Jammin Java 3-19-15

Both Gauthier and Moorer have had their share of hard times over the years, I mean really hard times, and that’s what has drawn them to one another and kept them close. And it was plain to see that the cathartically powerful nature of their songwriting has been a warm and supporting hand for each of them as they have dealt with their demons and bigtime challenges. But their music also provides us, the consumers of their music, with a method by which we hear how others express their emotions about some damn hard things, and then helps us get some context and often even some comfort in dealing with those things ourselves. It’s a rare gift, and both of these amazing women have it in spades.

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Moorer, 42, has been at her craft about as long as Gauthier, 53, has, even though she’s 11 years younger. Music has been her passion from early on, and her exceptional songwriting and vocal skills have provided her with a solid and substantive if not superstar career. Nominated for an Oscar for best song when she was 26 (“A Soft Place To Fall” from The Horse Whisperer), the clearly weathered but still stunningly beautiful Moorer has endured childhood trauma beyond measure that surely fueled her emotional palette early on, as well as that of her sister, revered singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne. But more recently, a second divorce (this one from Americana legend Steve Earle) and a devastating diagnosis of autism for her five year-old son John Henry have been the catalysts for her own musical exegisis.

And Moorer brought those struggles stunningly to the stage last night, most notably when delivering a heartwrenching rendition of “Mama Let The Wolf In” off her stunning new record Down To Believin’, which describes both her agony and protective instincts surrounding her son’s autism diagnosis. To intro the song, she described in detail the moment the doctor told her what she and her son would be facing, largely alone, which made the song spill out of her and into our laps in all its excruciating glory. She also piercingly and poignantly addressed her recent divorce from Earle with the new album’s title track, a beautiful tune made even more so with an acoustic delivery. It’s a song where you can just taste her sorrow at the end of a marriage, yet with the possibility of her own personal salvation still hanging in the air. And we’ve all been there, so yes, we can feel her pain while doing some healing of our own at the same time. On a less harrowing but no less emotional level, she played a gorgeous version of “Blood”, an ode to her sister off the new record that she has been quoted as describing as “about loving someone unconditionally, and always having your arms open to them no matter what.” Given what the two sisters have been through, it’s more exceptional than ever that they have been able to so eloquently convey their emotions for so long while also keeping it together.

TroubeAndLove_Cover

Gauthier also deals searingly and passionately with pain, suffering and redemption with her quite different, gloriously deep and powerful storytelling, and tonight was no exception. Her style and demeanor is androgynistic and direct yet also beautifully caring and compassionate, with her lilting Louisiana drawl accompanied by poetic and descriptive lyrics. Her latest record Trouble and Love addresses a painful breakup with a partner on nearly every song, and on this night she played three, first it was “False Or True” with the opening words, “Jagged edges/broken parts/where you end/and where I start.” Later, she returned to the ache of moving on without a love on “Another Train”: “I’m moving on through the pain, through the pain, waiting on another train, another train.” The hurt resonated further as she goes on by herself on “How You Learn To Live Alone”, a song covered on an upcoming episode of ABC’s Nashville. “It don’t feel right, but it’s not wrong/It’s just hard to start again this far along/Brick by brick, the letting go, as you walk away from everything you know.”

Gauthier has the innate and rare ability to take pain and her own healing and convey it onto her audience, so they can feel her pain and yes, perhaps heal as well. She also rolled one of her most powerful story songs, “The Last of the Hobo Kings” which makes you think about the pain of others and that one can find true glory out of the dregs. Makes you think. Again.

The pair ended the evening with Gauthier’s tender yet bracing “Mercy Now” which asks for mercy for a swath of characters in the songwriter’s life. Her father, brother, church and country and are pleaded for, but in the spirit of the open arms of healing and salvation that pervades both artists’ work, the song concludes with this oh-so inclusive verse: “We all could use a little mercy now/I know we don’t deserve it but we need it anyhow/We hang in the balance, dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground/And every single one of us could use some mercy now.”

Thanks to the brilliant music of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer, we had an arm around us tonight, telling us, “Hey guys, it’s gonna be alright, I mean, look at US, we’re still standing.”

STEVE KIMOCK & FRIENDS DO JUSTICE TO JERRY…AGAIN

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2015 by midliferocker
Jeff Chementi (L) and Steve Kimock in NYC March 10th on the opening night of Kimock's Jerry Garcia Tribute shows

Jeff Chementi (L) and Steve Kimock in NYC March 10th on the opening night of Kimock’s Jerry Garcia Tribute shows (courtesy Steve Kimock)

By Steve Houk

Just walking by Gypsy Sally’s last night, you only had to glance around, or take a deep sniff, to know what was goin’ down.

If there was ever a crowd on hand that definitively said “Jerry” just by their appearance and demeanor, last night’s sold out crowd at DC’s Gypsy Sally’s was one of those, for sure. From the dreadlocked wish-I’d-seen-the-real-thing youngsters, to the many renderings of Jerry on hats, shirts, coats and tats, to the multiple bunches of 40-60 somethings (mostly guys) who’d seen their share of Dead shows and wanted yet another journey back in time, it was a lovingly dedicated throng clearly elated to be part of a night chock full of Jerry Garcia-tinged music. Oh, and lest we forget that skunky smell wafting down the street and even throughout the venue, which clearly cemented the coveted Dead vibe.

But these packed-in fans weren’t there just to get closer to Jerry, they were there to hear these players do Jerry. On the second night of a short Northeast swing for his Jerry Garcia Tribute show (they play Baltimore tonight), superb veteran (and Grateful Dead friendly) guitarist Steve Kimock led a group of familiar top shelf musicians through a stellar set of tunes that had the Dead-loving crowd swaying, bopping, smiling and singing along like it was 1978. Kimock has done these Jerry-themed shows before, and judging by the performance and crowd reaction, this one had to rate among his best.

From the opening riffs of  Hank Ballard’s “Tore Up Over You” (which Kimock introduced to start the show by saying, “Someone asked us to rock, so we will”) to the Garcia Band fave encore of “Mystery Train,” Kimock and Company once again did major justice to not only the music, but the feel of Garcia’s music. They never rushed the songs along, they seemed precise yet fluid in their presentation. On this night, Garcia’s songs (and those of others like Dylan, JJ Cale and The Beatles) were clearly being performed by a group of musicians who both knew and revered the music they were playing and could reproduce it with pinpoint accuracy and homage to the real thing, while also injecting their own endless supply of finesse to the songs.

Two Dead standards, “Bird Song” and “Sugaree” were first set highlights and most reminiscent of the “scene,” with the latter building slowly from a sweet shuffle to a wailing Kimock guitar-led jam. Keyboardist Jeff Chementi, who has certainly played his share of Godchaux/Mydland/Horsnby riffs many times before, was in typically stellar form, massaging the Hammond B3 with his typical golden nuances. His presence and talent connected the sounds together throughout the evening like a weaver’s thread. Guitarist/vocalist Dan Lebowitz more than competently channeled Garcia’s vocals and provided the most direct path to Garcia’s personality, and as usual, longtime Kimock cohort Bobby Vega held the deep end up wonderfully on bass. And the two pronged drum corps of former Garcia bandmate Bill Vitt and Kimock’s talented son John kept the beats perfectly behind this group of solid vets. But the band is clearly Kimock’s, and he never dissapoints, whether it’s playing Jerry riffs or some of his improvisational masterpieces. His immense talent helps make these kinds of shows way more than just nostalgia revisits, he breathes an energy and professionalism into the music that many other Dead-related bands sometimes struggle to reach.

Set two included Deadhead faves “Bertha” and “Stella Blue” and an always pleasing “After Midnight”/”Eleanor Rigby”/”After Midnight” sequence that elated the already Jerried out crowd, which included Dark Star Orchestra founding member John Kadlecik, who of late as been holding down a residency at the club every Tuesday playing full JGB sets in their entirety. Judging by his Facebook post from this morning that said,”Had a great time seeing Steve Kimock and Friends tear it up last night,” you knew it had to be a good performance to impress someone so deeply familiar with Garcia’s music.

All in all, Steve Kimock has once again used his talent and camraderie to breathe life into the Garcia legend.

Here’s the show.

Set 1: Tore Up Over You – Takes a Lot to Laugh Takes a Train to Cry – Bird Song – Expressway to Your Heart (inst) – He Ain’t Give You None – Sugaree // Set 2: Like a Road – Bertha – After Midnight->Eleanor Rigby->After Midnight – Stella Blue (inst) – Deal // E: Mystery Train

STEVE KIMOCK: ON HIS OWN GOLDEN ROAD

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2015 by midliferocker

By Steve Houk

The Grateful Dead began their amazing journey 50 years ago this year, and thanks to the surviving members, the golden threads of their indelible music have kept on truckin’ ever since, despite Jerry Garcia’s untimely passing twenty years and a lot of tears ago. To honor the Dead legacy as it turns a half century old, remembrances and celebrations abound in 2015, the biggest being three days at Soldier Field in Chicago this July 4th weekend where tens of thousands will dance to the music of the surviving members and friends and deliriously bask in all things Dead.

Steve Kimock’s parallel journey has also been an amazing one, rife with Dead-like discovery, improvisation, experimentation, collaboration and ultimately, an established standing as one of the most talented musicians playing a guitar today, not to mention his esteemed place in the Dead family as both a contributor and close friend for almost as long as the Dead has been around. Kimock will pay his own homage to his friend Garcia with a special tribute tour in mid-March that includes stops in New York, Washington DC and Providence.

But Kimock’s tribute is not part of some bigger Dead 50th celebration, this is his own personal expression of appreciation. He often comes about these things almost accidentally, and the timing here is truly coincidental; Garcia tributes have been an ongoing thing over the last few years, and this one just felt right at this particular time. But there’s an intimacy here that supercedes any bigger celebration, because Steve Kimock knew Jerry Garcia.  So it’s really just about him wanting to pay homage to music by a guy he has played with, respects and yes misses, like the rest of us.

Jerry Garcia jams with Steve Kimock live (photo by Robbi Cohn)

Jerry Garcia jams with Steve Kimock live (photo by Robbi Cohn)

“It’s maybe a bit awkward being it’s the 50th, but we’ve done it before and it just kept sounding better so we thought we’d do it again,” said Kimock from his home in Pennsylvania. “The way it shook out in my life this time is what do you call it, synchronicity, I guess. I’m really just acknowledging a debt more than anything else. Jerry and I really loved each other’s playing and just the commitment to the instrument. He was a hard working guy and he did his homework every day. He stayed on top of it, and he got out the books and he practiced his ass off. He did not just sort of show up and get dosed and suddenly become a guitar player. He worked really really really hard. And when we got to hang out, we had a little cone of silence, nobody would bother us, we’d sit there and bullshit talking shop, you know.”

Clearly, Steve Kimock has walked with giants like the guys in the Dead and others throughout his illustrious career, but he himself is certainly a giant in his own right. He has established himself as a master guitar player and collaborator who can either play the Dead’s tunes like he was born to play them, play his own brand of masterful often improvisationally stunning tunes, or nail killer covers of the music he loves. Whatever he plays, and with whichever machination, he injects a special sound and feel to the guitar that you simply don’t hear or experience very often in your lifetime and that makes every band he plays with that much better.

Steve Kimock arrived in Northern California in the 70’s as a wide eyed Pennsylvania kid who was more than ready for whatever new experiences came his way. And come they did: people there were gloriously experimenting with all sorts of music — folk, blues, funk, psychedelia and other sounds —  and it all spoke volumes to Kimock and his own mixed bag of musical roots.

“I couldn’t have been more than 12 and I think the first person I saw that played the guitar and I went oh my God was when I saw Joan Baez on TV, “said Kimock. “I’m watchin’ her fingerpick and I’m going like, holy shit, that’s cool. On some levels, she kicked my ass. My Aunt Dottie was a folk player on the Philly scene, so there was a whole bunch of that going on. If we had a book full of songs it was like Canadian fishermen laborer ballads, or protest songs from other countries, that was kind of the bag along with the regular Pete Seeger and that kind of stuff. And then of course any guitar player my age grew up strongly influenced by that first generation of the electric guitar playing, and the second generation blues guys like BB King. And nobody wasn’t affected by John Coltrane’s band and Miles Davis, you know, those elements were all there, the folk stuff, the blues stuff, the improvisation. And nobody was unaffected by The Beatles, or me in particular, The Beach Boys, really well crafted pop songs, great tunes, great melodies. Those elements were all in there and then you get all that through the lens of the 60’s San Francisco thing, the pyschedelic thing, you’re kind of deep in it. I felt fairly authentically able to feel right in line with that culture musically.”

Kimock felt the whole musical immersion process was pretty organic, kind of a “when in Rome” type thing, as in you absorb the musical vibe of people whom you associate with, and that’s what happened for him bigtime in San Francisco.

“Bobby Vega said if you walk into a room full of people with a cold, you catch a cold. If you walk into a room full of people playing East Bay funk, you catch that. To the extent that the elements of style are regional, Chicago blues, New Orleans funk, a community of people play a certain way. And when you play with those people and you’re in that area, it’s in the water, it was literally in the water up there sometimes, you had to be careful. So I kind of came up musically in that San Francisco psychedelic rock thing, so all of those elements, you know, quite a few which were already part of where I was at.”

And among those in Northern California who were also finding their way and sampling and creating the musical stew of the time was another group of young musicians who would first call themselves The Warlocks, and then, the Grateful Dead. And Kimock would begin a lifelong relationship with these guys that would see him both embracing and yet sometimes also gently pushing away from the Dead sound. But above all, he recognized and nourished a bond with their music, which with its shared elements of folk, blues and improvisation, drove each of their passions.

“I remember the first time that I really heard the Grateful Dead, where I listened and went, oh s–t, these guys are good, was the Europe ’72 record,” Kimock said. “I was listening to that and I was like, oh my God, where have I been? Kind of immediately there were elements of my own thing, the kinda sound that I like out of the guitar, and where I was at. There was the folk and the improvisation and the blues and everything like that, there were enough similarities there, sort of in a real general way, that people would say hey, you sound like Jerry Garcia or something like that, and I’d be like, no I don’t. Leave me alone. I consciously kind of sort of pushed away from listening to that to kind of maintain some identity. I didn’t learn their tunes and try to do that, I went in the opposite direction with alot of the production and stuff like that, I wasn’t trying to eat off that plate. If there was stuff that happened, like in a more or less parallel development way, then fine. But I didn’t really want to go there, I got it, but it wasn’t like I was going to a bunch of shows. I went to a handful of Grateful Dead shows with all those guys, but it wasn’t like I was a Deadhead exactly. Yet.”

Kimock had a couple major influences he brought with him to his new musical life, and Garcia became one of them. “A whole bunch of what I thought I was trying to do was kinda like a Roy Buchanan thing,“ Kimock continued. “Somewhere in between Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, kinda like a melodic string bending. Still with some heat on it, but not like a shredding level. Just good solid keynote modern interpretation of electric blues. And I heard so much of those shared influences in Garcia’s early stuff.”

KIMOCK

Kimock got to know the guys in the Dead more just by hanging around the same haunts and knowing similar people. “When we landed in Marin County,” he said, “there was a bunch of [guys in the Dead] around. A whole bunch of the initial personal connections came from Howard Danchick who worked for Ultrasound who provided the sound for the Grateful Dead for all those years. He had the Hot Tuna truck at the time, and we’d go past that on our way to our apartment every day. And once, Phil Lesh picked me up hitchhiking in the rain.”

Kimock would start to hone his eventual musical direction right away, even starting with the type of live shows he would go to after he arrived in this new world.

“One of the first gigs I went to was the Merl Saunders Band at the old Waldorf down in the financial district. It was a hip gig man. I was so young and I stood right in front of him and he had the full headdress on, and he’s playing the tenor saxophone through the Echoplex and stuff, my mind was so blown. I was completely transformed, I’d never seen anything like it, it was like going to see John Coltrane or somethin’. I was just like shocked out of my little Pennsylvania skin and we hooked up shortly after because he lived right there.”

Before finding success with his own band Zero, Kimock would join a band featuring former Dead members Keith and Donna Godchaux. “That was really the first time sittin’ and pickin’ with any of those guys. Zero kind of emerged from the ashes of the Keith and Donna band. They were a great band, it just didn’t last very long, Keith dying tragically in that auto accident and all.”

Steve Kimock and his band Zero circa 1992 (photo by Bob Minkin)

Steve Kimock and his band Zero circa 1992 (photo by Bob Minkin)

Through the years, Kimock has established himself as one of the Dead’s surviving members’ most coveted players. And he reveres his time learning from, playing with and eventually teaching his friends in yet another collaborative environment.

“I grew up paying attention to the people that I was playing with,” Kimock said, “and how they played. You just try to learn from that. The cool thing about getting to work with any of those guys in the Dead and to hang with them, and trying to understand what they understood, is that there’s a whole bunch of what they did musically that was really off the page, those guys knew how to manage a certain kind of energy and create certain kind of spaces, and you can’t learn that from a book, you have to actually go to the guy and sit there and glean what you can. But musically they were enormously successful and influential.”

Kimock is clearly a master of collaboration having done it his entire career, and finds himself still bouncing between different feels and sounds. After this Garcia tribute run, he will do a few shows during the New Orleans Jazz Fest with Bill Kreutzmann and other buddies as Voodoo Dead, and then following his recurring teaching presence at Jorma Kaukonen’s music camp in Ohio, he’ll return as Steve Kimock and Friends at a May gig with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros honoring Wavy Gravy’s 79th birthday. Kimock takes the aspect of collaboration to heart as part of an ongoing learning experience, for him and his fellow musicians.

“I think you just have to take the responsibility seriously,” Kimock said. “There’s a couple things that you have to do as a musician. You have to practice, you have to listen, you have to study, you have to teach. You have to do all those things. If you’re approaching that with any respect, and you love what you’re doing, with all those different people, like the recent stuff with [Bob] Weir for example. I love the people and I love the music and I take the responsibility and the opportunity seriously to try and be there for the right reasons. It’s just about coming at it with the right attitude.”

Steve Kimock (R) joins Derek Trucks (L) and Warren Haynes onstage with the Allman Brothers

Steve Kimock (R) joins Derek Trucks (L) and Warren Haynes onstage with the Allman Brothers

Kimock has also jammed with another band he reveres, The Allman Brothers, including one incredible tale about a phone call one night sitting at home. “Dickey apparently had fallen off the wagon before some big Bill Graham event at the Fillmore, and the phone rang, and the voice on the other end said ‘Steve Kimock? And I said yeah, and she said ‘Steve Kimock the guitar player?’ and I’m like YEAHHH, and she says ‘Can you play a gig right now?’ I was like, what do ya mean? She said, ‘Just get in the car with your guitar, right now, and drive to the gig and play.’ And I’m like, for WHO? And she says, ‘The Allman Brothers.’ And I say I’m gettin’ in the car! The Allman Brothers were hugely influential for me so it was pretty cool, Duane Allman, he was so free with his playing, what a beautiful player. I missed your first call because I was practicing the bottleneck. I’ve been playing the bottleneck since I was like sixteen and as I was waiting for the call, I think something snapped in my brain, I think I’m starting to get it like 40 years later or something!”

Kimock is clearly more than proud when he speaks of his 25 year old son John who will join him on drums for the Garcia tribute shows and has played with him many times before.

“He couldn’t even walk when he first started playing,” Kimock said, “he was pulling pots and pans pout of the cabinet and beating on ‘em with spoons, and never looked back. He’s so good. There are no blessings higher than my first born who I just bonded with, that he found his path in the music. And I didn’t push him into it or anything or sit there and watch over his shoulder, I just did my best to encourage. It really shows me that musician’s kids, just growing up in a musical environment and having some musical lineage, just how valuable that is. It took me forever being out on my own with not whole lot of any kind of support to get going. Seeing the progress that John has made partially because he wasn’t impeded as a youth to play, like nobody wanted me to play guitar, you know, get a job at the steel company. Johnny’s got a gig now with Mike Gordon’s band, that’s a big deal.”

Steve Kimock and Bob Weir (photo by Rich Saputo)

Steve Kimock and Bob Weir (photo by Rich Saputo)

Steve Kimock may be best recognized by many for his collaborations with surviving members of the Grateful Dead, but with all of his various machinations and the wide scope of his talent and his ever effusive musical mind, he is so much more than that. Yet he is never reluctant to laud the band that he has run alongside with for basically his entire career, especially their bespectacled leader.

“It didn’t start that way, but now, I’m probably the most closeted Deadhead musician on earth. Having to play that material with whoever the surviving participating members were, having to get my nose rubbed in that book, and listening to music like that, the stuff is just brilliant. So unbelievably good it’s just like humbling. Really incredible catalog, great playing, great tunes. These guys have given us so much, so much beautiful music to so many people, that if I can nod to that, and just give a nod to those people because all those guys in those bands were friends of mine and I’ve played with them in whole bunch of different bands. They’re like family. As for the Jerry shows, being I’m not gonna be able to do this forever, I thought, well, now’s a good time to tip my hat.”

MARY GAUTHIER: MAKING BEAUTY FROM THE BEAST

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2015 by midliferocker

Mary Gauthier’s songs of pain and hope help others who’ve been there.

By Steve Houk

Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer play Jammin Java on March 19th (courtesy Jack Spencer)

Mary Gauthier plays Jammin Java with Allison Moorer on March 19th (courtesy Jack Spencer)

For a songwriter, writing a love song is arguably a good bit easier than writing about something real difficult, or gut-wrenching, or downright agonizing. The energy and fortitude and pain and guts it takes to dig down deep into a very dark place and come up with not only brilliance but healing properties is the mark of a real special someone.

Mary Gauthier humbly breathes that rarified air. She could probably write a beautiful heart-shredding song about a paper bag, but her trademark is raw, no bull, pain infused, yet hope-laced roots/Americana/countryesque music, and she writes it not just for the hard-fought exorcism of her own demons, but also to let others know, hey, you’re not alone, I’ve been beaten down, too, so let’s sit by the fire and talk.

“I think I understand that whatever the hell I’m goin’ through, particularly the hard stuff, it’s a human situation, it’s not just a Mary Gauthier situation,” Gauthier told me during our recent conversation. “And because I get that, that the universal happens inside of all of us, I get it that it’s the artist’s job to convey that to people who don’t spend their life making art, but who are consumers of art. Artists articulate for people things that are hard to say. Now I see it as my job. This is what I do. That doesn’t make it easier to do, but it makes it a viable thing to aim for, just to get to the hard stuff to say, and say it in a way that everybody can hear it. I mean, that’s what Hank Williams did.”

And it’s not a stretch to say that Williams would have dug what Mary Gauthier is doing. The almost 53 year old New Orleans born singer songwriter has had her own share of hard times — her first years in an orphanage, bouts with booze and drugs, even a little jail time — but she came through it all the wiser, and began a musical journey that has seen her become one of the world’s most revered, emotionally honest songstresses to come along in a long time. She didn’t write a song until she was 35, and in the almost 18 years since then, she has joined a small group of truly miraculous singer songwriters who bare all, a group that is becoming increasingly rare as music continues down the clogged road of one hit, mass appeal successes.

Gauthier (pronounced Go-Shay) knows that what she and other miracles like her are best at is to tell stories that matter to people in their heart and soul, that hit home and stay there. I mean, anyone who’s had one of their tunes chosen as one of Rolling Stone’s saddest country songs of all time (“Mercy Now“) clearly knows what she’s doing in that vein.

“I think that’s what singer songwriter’s job is, it’s very different than being a pop star,” Gauthier said. “A pop star’s supposed to entertain. We’re supposed to entertain, but we’re also supposed to resonate. A pop star’s supposed to be somehow more sexy, more interesting, more able to dance, more beautiful in the spotlight. And for a singer songwriter, none of that is important to us. First of all, we don’t dance (laughs). Second of all, most of us are not classically trained vocalists or guitarists, so we’re just kinda winging it. So what the singer songwriter tends to do is to be a heart and soul barer, a troubadour so to speak. And there’s not many left because there’s not a lot of money in it. It’s a calling. And it has to come from a place outside of you. You sign up for it not based on career trajectory, but based on this voice that won’t let you do it any other way.”

But Gauthier is much more than just a powerful and soul baring singer songwriter, she’s a teacher of songwriting, and these days is doing it not only to help budding songwriters to learn the ropes, but to use it as a healing tool. Case in point, her passionate involvement with Songwriting for Soldiers, which is, well, just what it sounds like: working with veterans who have both some level of songwriting aspiration and some deep trauma they need to unleash. A recent experience she shares in depth on her website is that of a young soldier who had fought in Iraq who told her that, among other things, that “my soul hurts.” Gauthier got him to open up about his experiences and the two wrote “Rifles and Rosary Beads” which you can hear here. Go ahead, play it, you won’t soon forget it, and then keep reading.

“What I know to be true is that songwriting helps heal trauma,” Gauthier said. “And so I teach people to find the thing that the song is trying to get them to say. Usually the songwriters are afraid to say it, because it makes them so utterly vulnerable. And yet if the artist is no longer willing to be vulnerable, then we’re f—ed. Because there’s nobody left, there’s nobody left. So I teach them to get out on a limb and say it, and then look in the eyes of everyone in the room, and see the resonance. That their embarrassing or traumatic situation turns out to be quite universal, and that the people who are listening are grateful to have been in the presence of someone brave enough to talk about it. I love it, and there’s not that many people teaching this angle of songwriting.”

(courtesy Mary Gauthier)

(courtesy Mary Gauthier)

And trauma abounds on her latest record, the staggeringly honest and powerful “Trouble & Love”, which is another example of Gauthier taking her personal pain and throwing it out there for all to see, in the hopes that it not only gives her some freedom from the pain, but can give someone a salve or at least a common voice as well.

“The songs are about a particularly difficult breakup that I went through,” said Gauthier reflectively, “but even though the subject matter was painful, there’s a lot of hope in there too. Bettye Levette recorded one of the songs on the record, it’s called “Worthy,” and she made it the title track of her new record. And so she’s out there on the road with this record called Worthy, and she talks about this track “Worthy,” and she says, ‘You know at my age’…she’s 70…’you’d think I wouldn’t have to claim that I’m worthy, it’s embarrassing, in a way, to do it. And in another way, I have to do it.’ And that’s kinda how I feel, it’s embarrassing in a way, and in another way, it’s like well, I’m just a human being, and I don’t pretend to have understood my self worth until I nearly lost everything.”

Gauthier’s open yet subtle presence as a gay woman in her personal and professional life has also enabled her honesty and creative emotion to flourish, and GLAAD felt the same way, honoring her with a nomination for Outstanding Music Artist in this year’s GLAAD Media Awards. Gauthier is deeply honored, and is also glad herself that the experiences of the LGBT community are getting more exposure, as evidenced by the recent success of the Netflix produced series “Transparent”, which was created and is produced by friends of hers.

“I’m blown away by it, and that my friends are behind it is jaw dropping to me,” Gauthier said with obvious pride. “I’ve known Faith [Soloway] since 1990, and I worked with her and [Transparent creator] Jill [Soloway] on the Misspoke America pageant. They got their finger on the zeitgeist right now, they’re very very very good. I thought the whole story was gonna be about [Jeffrey Tambor‘s character] and his coming out as a woman later in life, but it’s not, the story is equally about all three of the kids, and their narcissism and their inability to get their shit together, how all three are just so f—ed up, and they’re f—ed up in the exact same ways me and my friend’s are f—ed up! You recognize the shit that they do, it’s like, Oh God, this almost hurts because I’ve done that and I know where this leads. The character’s are so recognizable. You’d think that just the whole father coming out as a woman would suck the story away, but it doesn’t. They are amazing writers.”

Joining Gauthier for a short run in March, including a date March 19th at Jammin Java, is longtime friend Allison Moorer, a respected singer songwriter in her own right, and who, along with her sister, stellar award-winning singer Shelby Lynne, experienced the kind of horror no children should ever have to endure, the murder suicide of their parents. But the memories of that trauma bonded Moorer and Gauthier, just as Gauthier bonds with her audience, through shared experiences.

“I first met her when she was with [ex-husband] Steve Earle,” said Gauthier. “We’ve both had, well, I hate to use the words similarly traumatic experiences, but we both have struggled in similar ways. And our songs reflect our struggles. I really admire [Allison] and her sister, I think they are hugely resilient people, and it’s an honor for me to be able to roll down the highway with her. I think she’s a real talent and a beautiful, beautiful person. And to come out on the other side able to create from it, to take the beast and make beauty from it, that’s what a true artist does.”

Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer perform March 19th at Jammin Java, 227 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180. Tickets are available here

BETH HART: SURVIVING TO SING

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2015 by midliferocker

One of music’s most powerful voices defines the word survivor.

By Steve Houk

Beth Hart appears March 2nd and 3rd at The Birchmere (photo by Greg Watterman

Beth Hart appears March 2nd and 3rd at The Birchmere (photo by Greg Watterman)

POUR ME A DREAM

AND PLAY ME A TUNE

AND I’LL GET ALONG

JUST AS LONG AS I HAVE A SONG

You might say “having a song” saved Beth Hart‘s life. Sure, there were other things that brought her back, but it was always the music that steered Beth Hart home, that gave her a purpose, a second chance, maybe even a third, if you’re counting. Music has constantly beckoned her from the edge of disaster.

Hart’s new record, “Better Than Home,” due in mid-April is, well, different than past Beth Hart records. Here, she was challenged to really open up, to put aside more broad landscapes and some of her trademark blues riffs and get up close and personal, to speak honestly about the hardest things, and also some of the most joyful, in her life. And given how the album sounds, pouring her heart out just might have injected a once monstrously promising career with real promise once again.

“It’s good to tell the truth, and to search for it and to try and find it and open up I guess,” Hart says with her typical candor and honesty. “That’s what the challenge was, and I think there was some good healing in that. So hopefully, other people will feel the same.”

After years battling demons that surely would have conquered others, Beth Hart is the quintessential survivor. She has been in the depths of despair, but luckily for her family and her fans, she came out into the light on the other side. But it wasn’t easy, not by a long shot. Once a hugely promising talent looking at a future paved with almost certain success, she found herself beaten down by addiction and alcohol, but it wasn’t the same old story of a rock and roll lifestyle bringing her down. It was the destructive habits that were fostered early as a result of untreated childhood mental illness, as in no relief to help get her through, that started her on a devastating path.

“I wish I could say it was part of the [rock music] culture,” the open and affable Hart said recently as she was preparing for a tour that will bring her to The Birchmere on March 2nd and 3rd. “But the honest truth is that I have an illness, I’ve had it since I was a really young kid. And I didn’t come up in a family where anyone believed in taking medication from a doctor. So I started self-medicating at 11, I had to take something, so I found different types of drugs that I liked, and alcohol, and I also found an eating disorder that helped me numb out, and then being with men that were really really abusive. All different ways that I kinda found to numb my head.”

Given her raw, natural talent, Hart was able to plow her way through the morass of addiction and self-release her first record in 1993, the same year she won a nationwide Star Search competition. She was signed by Atlantic Records and put out two albums until the bottom fell out, for the first time. It was the pressure that comes with the territory that made her unable to face impending fame, a pattern that would follow her for years.

“I’ll never forget when Atlantic Records sat me down and they told me, hey, [1999’s “Screaming for My Supper”] is one of the best records anyone’s turned into this label,” Hart confided. “You’re gonna be a star this year, we’re gonna take this record and shove it down everybody’s throat, get ready. And I remember, thinking in that moment, like it was yesterday, that it was not a good thing, it was a horrible thing, being terrified. I mean, I knew I couldn’t be [wasted] all the time and work on music. I think what happened was I had never had that amount of pressure on me, so it made my mental illness go through the roof, full blown manic. I take medication for my illness today, but everything I’m on is completely non-addictive, it has to be because when you have chemical imbalance you cannot take [stuff] that’s addicting because it throws your chemistry out even more in your brain. But back then, I got ahold of something that made me really high, and yeah, it calmed my mania, but it was highly addictive and I just went out of my mind.”

Atlantic then chose to let Hart go, through an act of kindness, or to dodge a bullet, she’s not really sure, but would like to think it was the former. “They said, you know what, buh bye, you’re outta here, we’re letting you go, you’re gonna die and we’re not gonna stand by. And maybe the honest to God reason is ‘cuz I didn’t sell enough records and they thought, [screw] this girl we’ve had for two records. But I think there was a bit of real compassion there, I really do.”

After getting cut loose, Hart desperately tried to get help, but nothing really worked. Her ongoing odyssey and struggles included spending a night in jail, and Hart thought this was the wake-up call she needed. At least that’s what she thought.

“I did go through a handful of rehabs, a handful of psych wards,” Hart said, “and nothing was really helping. I totally denied being bipolar, I totally denied taking the medication and then I ended up in jail for one night. My brother’s ex-girlfriend came to bail me out. I’ll never forget walking out, and she looked me up and down, and she said, ‘Oh my GOD, what happened to YOU?’ And that was it. It was really amazing, it just like scared me straight. Something clicked. For a minute at least.”

Hart was able to get it together enough to wrangle her career seemingly back on track and put out another record, “Leave the Light On” in 2003, even discovering some new found fame abroad in countries like New Zealand, and also Holland where she became a cult favorite thanks to her album and subsequent concert DVD. But because of the haunting wrong medication issues, she never felt quite right, she remained on edge and was just not herself, and eventually the ever-present demons that thrive on pressure cascaded down upon her. After she made her next record “37 Days” in 2007, the bottom fell out once again.

“After five years, five months and six days of being sober, “Hart said, “I lost my mind completely and went back in the hospital. I mean outta my mind, this time was the worst. It was [because of] taking on more pressure, and my illness came back full blast. That was actually a great gift when it happened, because I was for the first time confronted with [the fact that] this isn’t about being an alcoholic or drug addict, dude, this is about being mentally ill.”

Hart survived the hospital stay, but she was still not right. “I get out, I’m on all this medicine they got me on and that’s actually really making me nuts. And I had to tour in two weeks. I couldn’t remember how to play the piano. at all. I couldn’t remember one thing and I got hundreds of songs in my head, I always remember what I got in my piano, but I couldn’t do one thing.”

Hart seemed like she was on her last legs. But life can often turn for the better with one serendipitous move, and that move happened and no doubt saved her life.

“My psychologist that I’d been with for so many years said to me, I want to turn you on to someone that’ll get you straightened out I think,” she said. “This guy just hit it out of the ball park, like unbelievable, he put me on something and my whole life began to change. Because once the medicine helped with the mania and slowed me down and helped me, I started being able to focus on how I want things to shift out and change in my career, and was able to look at things that I could have never ever done before because it woulda caused me so much anxiety. Before, just the pressure of doing a show and making an album was intense. Now that became easy, and then I could take on things that were really important.”

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart (courtesy Joe Bonamassa)

Since coming back from the brink, a few times actually, Beth Hart has thrived. A succession of collaborations with bluesman Joe Bonamassa reignited her passion and introduced her to his already established audience. And in 2012, she got the offer of a lifetime when old friend Jeff Beck asked her to join him for a song honoring Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center Honors. Before, this might have been too much to handle, but not now. Hart totally nailed a powerful rendition of one of her favorite songs, Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” in front of not only Guy, but members of Led Zeppelin and the President and First Lady. It was as if the unrealized promise of years past had coalesced onstage. “It was amazing, in my heart I felt like myself instead of having that dread that I’ve always had over every fricking opportunity ever. I just felt so excited and happy.”

Beth Hart back at her piano (photo by Greg Watterman)

Beth Hart back at her piano (photo by Greg Watterman)

Hart’s new record “Better Than Home” seems like the perfect album at the perfect time. A chance to confront the past head on while also knowing the worst is behind her. But it wasn’t easy to open herself up that much, and let those demons dance around her head for awhile. “I really resisted, because those types of songs, it’s just more painful,” said Hart. “You just gotta dig harder for me to get into that stuff, but I did it anyway. It’s a very narrative record about life and survival and family and marriage and love and fear and all of it. It’s just kinda what things have been like for me in these last handful of years, it’s very personal. But I just said I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna go for it.”

And go for it, she did. With a new album, a new home and a new lease on life, Beth Hart has been to hell, but she’s back and appears better than ever. And given her kind soul, she wants her story to resonate with others who, like she did for so long, may feel lost and unsure of how to climb out of the darkness.

“When you’ve had an opportunity in your life to have struggled so horribly and then to have found a new way to live that really has helped you to enjoy your life so much better, and not live in absolute terror and shame all the time, you wanna talk about it. You know that you’re not the only one. But it’s so great and exciting to talk about that, because you want to get it out there to people. you know?”

Beth Hart performs Monday March 2nd and Tuesday March 3rd at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA. Tickets are available for both days here and here

MIKE RUTHERFORD: THE RELIVING YEARS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2015 by midliferocker

(courtesy fanart.tv)

The founding member of legendary rock band Genesis looks both back and forward. 

By Steve Houk

 

Mike Rutherford was surprised. Stunned, really.

I mean, you’d think an internationally respected rock musician and founding member of Hall of Fame rock band Genesis might not get surprised by too much these days. But as he was preparing to put together his memoir, he made a truly stunning discovery. And it would be the catalyst for changing not only the way he felt about his difficult relationship with his father, but the way his incredible life story would be told.

“I found an unpublished memoir (of my father’s) a few years ago, so this memoir is really a story of the band, and my life and my father’s life,” Rutherford told me from his home in England. “What surprised me was actually I learned alot about his early life, like how much he traveled the world. His father was also in the Navy and he’d been in similar places like Japan, America and Canada, like I had. You find out your lives weren’t that different. You both traveled the world alot away from home, trying to juggle and make work come to life, and home life work in between. And then sort of working with a team, his on a large ship and me with four guys on stage. But there’s more similarities than you think.”

Mike Rutherford, 64, has nothing left to prove. Genesis is in the permanent upper pantheon of great rock bands, and his lofty place in rock history is secure. But for him, there is more to do. So in addition to participating in a recent Genesis documentary, and resurrecting memories for his memoir (called The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir, now available here and everywhere), Rutherford is also resurrecting his “other” band Mike and the Mechanics, starting with an American tour, their first since 1989, that kicks off at the Birchmere Friday February 28th.

It was in a fleeting moment about four years ago when Rutherford was tinkering around that he realized that maybe the Mechanics still had some juice. He thought after Paul Young’s death in 2000 that it was the “end of an era,” but as he began to write some songs, he could hear the Mechanics in the tunes, and something sparked.

“I was writing some songs and I thought, they sound like Mechanics’ songs, what am I gonna do? “Rutherford said. “So I went back to the Mechanics and I said well, I’ll write some songs and record them and then see, which I did. I knew one thing this time, the Mechanics work with two singers, an R & B voice and a rock voice. We did the album and then more importantly we toured a bit (in the UK), and I was very impressed how well the songs went down and how good the live set was with the audience, because of the songs and the band. So I thought, well, we’ve toured a bit, and the last three years we’ve toured with the same band. In Europe and Africa and other places. And it’s really sort of, got a strength to it, from the first few shows to where it is now. And I just thought, well, we should come and try America, do a sort of tryout tour.”

Mike and the Mechanics 2015 (L to R: Tim Howar: vocals, Mike Rutherford, Andrew Roachford: vocals)

Mike and the Mechanics 2015 (L to R: Tim Howar: vocals, Mike Rutherford, Andrew Roachford: vocals)

Mike and the Mechanics had a nice run in the 80’s when Rutherford formed the band during a break from Genesis. They were more of an album band and rarely toured, but even without live support, songs like “All I Need is a Miracle”, “Silent Running”, “Word of Mouth” and the autobiographical “The Living Years” found the band FM airplay and gave Rutherford a new outlet for his creativity and saw him as more of a true band leader. It was also after two less than satisfying attempts at some true solo work, when Rutherford realized he does better collaborating on songwriting as he did so well with Genesis and still does with the Mechanics, than going it alone.

“I always co-write. Sometimes you know, on some days, maybe the song is three quarters done, and to finish, to get the last bit to make it really work, it needs someone else in the room. And sometimes you write from scratch too that way, and it’s great. I enjoy the process really.”

Genesis circa mid 1970's (Clockwise from bottom: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel (courtesy pixshark.com)

Genesis circa mid 1970’s (Clockwise from bottom: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel (courtesy pixshark.com)

Speaking of collaboration, as he looks forward to getting his Mechanics back in gear, Rutherford is also able to look back at his creative days with Genesis — a groundbreaking band that has sold over 130 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall in 2010  — with much fondness and appreciation. And doing a memoir and participating in an BBC documentary provides one with ample opportunity to dig deep into the vault of the mind and harken back. So what were some of his most special memories of his time with Genesis?

“Having looked back the last couple years, alot more than normal, there are three moments that really talked to me as pretty special,” Rutherford recalls. “One was ‘Supper’s Ready’ (from the 1972 album Foxtrot) which wrote itself. It was the first time we found something that really worked together like that, the first long instrumental piece with myself and Phil and Tony. The next moment was probably Trick of the Tail (released in 1976) actually. That first few days writing, we coulda gone over and coulda gone under, but the first day of writing with myself, Phil and Tony actually, it took off. And then the last two or three albums with Phil and Tony, we just wrote it with no ideas at all, walked in day one with a blank bit of paper, not single idea in my head, plugged the gear in, and just kicked off. And it just worked every time, and the writing just flew out of the box.”

book cover

Finding his father’s hidden treasure of recollections enabled Rutherford to tailor his own memoir into a look back at both family and band, and also how the tumultuous times back then contributed to the birth of his future-legendary rock and roll career.

“What makes it relevant is (telling) the story of (Genesis) against this huge social and cultural change in the 60’s, and the English, old traditional, country empire days with all the rules and regulations, it was kinda due for a change. And our parents, after two world wars, were stunned, and shocked, and tired, so we suddenly appear with long hair and guitars and drugs and it was a huge left turn and change of values in the UK. And the story of Genesis against that background is I think what is much more interesting.”

So with a new memoir, a Mechanics run and a treasure trove of amazing memories with Genesis, Mike Rutherford has alot to be thankful for. But right now, he’s looking at this upcoming US tour  —  18 dates that will mix Mechanics tunes with a few Genesis nuggets — with perhaps a kind of excitement and nervous anticipation he hasn’t felt in a good long while.

“It’s a bit like England three years ago,” Rutherford said. “When you first come out there, everyone’s keen to see you, but it’s a little slow to get it going until you go out and play somewhere, and you’re good, and they talk about it. It’s like building a band again. Ironic at my age I’m doing this again, but it’s worked over here, and it’s fun to do.”

Mike and the Mechanics perform Friday February 28th at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22305. For tickets, click here

DEREK TRUCKS: FROM ONE ERA TO ANOTHER

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2015 by midliferocker
Derek Trucks with wife Susan Tedeschi; their Tedeschi Trucks Band plays the Warner Theater Feb 20 and 21 (courtesy Mark Robbins)

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s Tedeschi Trucks Band plays the Warner Theater Feb 20 and 21 (courtesy Mark Robbins)

Derek Trucks says goodbye to one legend and continues to hone his own.

By Steve Houk

From what I hear, it was one helluva way to go out.

The road had almost gone on forever, but to everything, there is a season. The Allman Brothers Band had been basically going full steam ahead for 45 years, with a few typically acrimonius and disruptive Allman Bros pit stops along the way. But from their debut record in 1969 all the way up to their final show at the Beacon Theater in New York this past October 28th, it had been one of the great tenures in rock and roll history. And now, it was time to walk away with a dignity and grace that befit a band like theirs, while they still could.

They had decided before the last show to have no guest players, something they had done basically every Beacon show prior. They wanted just family on stage. Maybe only one guy had the name Allman, but there were true brothers everywhere you looked onstage that night, boys who became men together, bidding a fond farewell to the only band some of them had ever known.

all

The final Allman Bros. lineup after just finishing their last show ever, Beacon Theater, NYC, 10/28/14

 

And one of them, who had been around this clan for his entire life, all the way from his early childhood to standing on that stage that night at 35, was Derek Trucks. Whereas his real Uncle Butch, his adopted Uncle Gregg or drummer Jaimoe had been there since their early twenties, Derek had been part of this thing since he was old enough to teeter, stand and walk, not crawl, around the stage. He began to dazzle Allman Brothers audiences on the slide guitar when he was barely a tween, and since officially joining the band in 1999, had became a revered mainstay in the family business, a true and loyal member of Southern rock royalty. And damn if it didn’t all wrap up exactly the way he and the rest of the family wanted it to.

“In true Allman Brothers fashion, it didn’t get there cleanly,” Trucks said with a hearty laugh from the road where his Tedeschi Trucks Band is, again, ready to begin another tour. “It was just a cluster f–k all year, like somebody saying one thing, somebody leaking another, it’s just like, what is wrong with you people? But the last handful of shows really were about as good as I could have hoped for, or better. The last two shows were special, and the last one especially was. I mean, it was everything you would plan it to be if you could. So yeah, in the end, it did what it was supposed to do and I wouldn’t change any of that. That’s a heavy legacy to uphold, and there’s no reason to let it end on another note. The last show being Duane’s, kinda the ‘anniversary,’ it felt right.”

But as the Allman Brothers slowly ride off southbound into the red orange sunset of rock immortality, Derek Trucks is galloping furiously along, full stride, his new band of brothers (and a sister, er, wife) alongside, going the other way. In fact, right now he’s at the pinnacle of his own career and is arguably the Allman Brother that is poised for the most ongoing success. The band he started with wife Susan Tedeschi only five years ago has become a force to be reckoned with in top clubs, theaters and festivals across the world, with Trucks’ now trademark slide guitar mastery continuing to dazzle accompanied by his wife’s ever-stronger blues-soaked vocals, and an absolutely killer band.

I mean just this month, Bob Dylan personally requested Derek and Susan to play one of his songs at Dylan’s MusicCares tribute, even though, as Trucks said,  they were poised to take some much needed time off. “We talked about really blocking out time and not wavering from it, and that was one of the calls we got, and they’re like, ‘They’re doing this Dylan tribute’ and I said, ‘Well that’d be great but…’ and they’re like, ‘Well, Dylan requested you and Susan to do this specific tune,’ and I was like, well how do we…there’s no way to not do that! Some things…you just got to do.  Beyond that, it’s an honor to even be in the conversation, and the fact that it came from him makes it doubly so.” Trucks clearly arrived a long time ago, but you know you’ve really made it when that happens.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band prepares to hit the road for yet another tour. (courtesy Mark Seliger)

The Tedeschi Trucks Band prepares to hit the road for yet another tour. (courtesy Mark Seliger)

Yes, The TTB is conquering the world, but all good comes to those who wait. Trucks knows better than anyone that seasoning yourself on the road is what makes good bands great, and the recent time on the road together has caused his band to really gel.

“I think the band in the last year and a half, two years has really found itself,” Trucks said. “It’s found its sound, it’s just gotten better musically from show to show. It just takes time, ya know, it takes gettin’ out in front of people a handful of times, you just gotta keep doing it a high level. We’re not gonna be the type of band that’s an overnight sensation, there’s not gonna be a hit that propels the band. It takes energy and it takes hittin’ the road, it takes every night gettin’ up and delivering it, and that’s what the band likes to do. The more we hit the road and the more we dig in to new material and write tunes together and play other people’s tunes, the better it gets. It’s kinda the course it has to take to grow. We just have to get out there and beat the pavement.”

And beat it they have, spending many months globetrotting their eleven piece tribe around the world spreading the magic of the TTB sound. After a late winter to late summer US swing this year that will include a coveted main stage slot at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, they’ll go back over the pond to play Paris, London, Copenhagen and Berlin, among other European stops.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band at The Beacon Theater, NYC -  Sept 21, 2013

Writing new music is what keeps bands fresh, and the TTB is no exception. Trucks and Co. have an album’s worth of new material they’re just busting to play live, but again, patience is a virtue and those songs will see the light of day when the time is right. Timing is everything to Derek Trucks.

“I’m thinkin’ end of the year, early next year it’ll be done and out there,” Trucks said. “We’re pretty far into one right now, it kind of just happened by accident. The beauty of having a studio (at home) is when you’re down there to write tunes or rehearse the band, it can easily turn into a recording session. So that’s what we started doing and everything felt so good and was sounding good that we kinda rolled with it. There’s about ten new tunes that we’ve recorded and we’re trying to decide how many of them we want to play out. Because if it’s eight months, ten months from now before a record comes out, you don’t want to wear (people) out before the record comes out. When the album drops, you wanna be able to play these tunes as if they were just written. It’s kind of a tough thing because when you record a tune that feels really good, you wanna just play it immediately. So  we’re having to exercise a little band self-discipline by not airing out every tune on the record.”

Now that the Allman Brothers experience has ended for Trucks — “I booked a one-way ticket out,” he says, either accidentally or on purpose paraphrasing an old Brothers classic —  he wants to devote all his time to the TTB. That’s with the phone ringing alot asking him or Susan to contribute to a record. And they often pick up the phone, collaborating with the likes of Herbie Hancock, JJ Grey, Roseanne Cash and others. But Trucks just wants to focus on one thing, finally, and hopes he can make that happen all as his legend grows.

“Really for me, this being the first year without the Allman Brothers on my plate, “said Trucks, “unless it’s something (special), I mean, there are some opportunities with musicians I respect or friends or things you just can’t turn down. Outside of that I really wanna keep it to just this. I look forward to having a year where you wear one hat, and then you take it off and go home, and then you put it back on.”

And when I tell Derek Trucks to keep that ever burning rock and roll flame alive and that I’ll see him in DC in a couple weeks, he says, undoubtedly with that wide Derek Trucks smile, “Beautiful man, we will do our best. We’ll try to keep this train rollin’ down the road.”

The Tedeschi Trucks Band performs Friday and Saturday February 20th and 21st at the Warner Theater, 513 13th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004. For tickets, click here

Steve Houk writes about local and national music luminaries for WashingtonLife.com and his own blog at midliferocker.wordpress.com. He is also lead singer for the successful Northern Virginia classic rock cover band Second Wind plus other local rock ensembles.

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