To date, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of conducting more than 250 interviews. This year alone I did nearly fifty. And while it’s risky to pick favorites – I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single one – a few stand out from the rest. Here are five of ’em.
I’d been a fan of his work for years, but somehow had never gotten round to scheduling an interview with the Sacramento-born Anton Barbeau. But as plans firmed up for a trip to Europe with my wife and son, I saw a perfect opportunity to sit down with Ant on his adopted home turf: the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. His album Magic Act (set for release in 2016) is one of the focuses of the interview, but we discussed a great deal more than that over coffee.
He was a child prodigy who worked with his dad (the great bandleader Johnny Otis), Al Kooper, Frank Zappa, and others. But he faded way after a string of amazing (if idiosyncratic) albums. Unlike, say, his contemporary Sly Stone, Shuggie Otis is back in a big way. Shuggie doesn’t grant many interviews, so this one was quite a score for me. The feature originally appeared as a cover story in Stomp and Stammer magazine, with photos that my wife and I took when we saw Shuggie in concert.
I like to tell the story about the time Karl Walinger and his group World Party forced my car off the road. In 2015, I got the chance to interview him, not to mention to see him live onstage for the third time.
Torn eschews the term avant garde when describing his music, but there’s no denying its spontaneity and experimental nature. I chatted with him ahead of his 2015 house concert, an intimate gathering like few others.
This one took some doing, but thanks to a mutual friend who gave me the home phone number of the soul-jazz great, I enjoyed one of the most enjoyable (and important) interviews of my career to date. Les McCann is funny, candid, inspirational, and one helluva musician.
I look forward to 2016’s interviews; I’ve already lined up a few that I’m bursting to tell you about. But…not just yet.