Best of 2016: Interviews

In 2016 alone, I’ve interviewed more than 140 artists; that’s nearly half the number I interviewed in the decade prior to this year. I hope 2017 will be at least as busy; I find my conversations with creatives extremely rewarding. I’ve learned a few things along the way, and one of the most important realizations for me (on a persona level) is that I find great value in taking to anyone who is passionate about his or her chosen creative path. I felt that before, certainly, but it has truly hit home as I’ve ventured farther and farther outside my relatively narrow areas of interest.

I’ve also gotten the opportunity to re-interview several artist whom I’ve talked to in the past; those experiences have been especially rewarding, because there was some kind of baseline, a way to pick up where we left off. While these days I’m almost always working against a deadline, I seldom miss the opportunity to “go deep” when it feels right. And here’s a little tease: sometimes the best material hasn’t found its way into the published stories. Yet.

Some of my favorite interviews from 2016 include:

Bill Maher – The comedian/commentator is one of the most outspoken people in public life. At the risk of getting political – something I readily do in life but largely sidestep in this forum – I am concerned about what people like him will face in the next four years. He’s articulate and funny, as one would expect.


Roy McCurdy – The renowned jazz drummer was a key component of Cannonball Adderley’s band in what turned out to be its final years. I spoke at length with him about that period, and that conversation informed not one but two liner note essays I wrote for first-ever CD reissues of Adderley’s The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free and Music, You All.

Edgar Winter – Another liner note project I did was for a 2CD best-of set by Edgar Winter. Edgar remembers everything, it seems, from those days. And while he pointedly did not wish to “dish dirt,” he had a lot of great stories to tell. Across two epic-length interviews with me, he did just that.

Sonny Rollins – This one is definitely a career highlight for me. Jazz legend Sonny Rollins patiently answered my questions during a lengthy interview (and fairly long follow-up). We talked about most everything, but his deeply philosophical approach to life was at the center of his every answer. It was a deeply moving experience for me, ans well as an honor. And it was a heckuva lot of fun as well.

Derek Trucks – This interview fell in my lap, and was very last-minute. But Trucks was yet another extremely articulate and thoughtful interview subject. He’s been around for years, of course, but I predict much more of value from him in the future.

Paul Stanley – Last fall, I had the honor of presenting some of my writings at a small “salon.” In addition to reading a couple essays and reviews, I decided to share one of my Q&A interviews. To my own surprise, when I reviewed my recent archives for one of the more generally interesting ones, my conversation with Kiss’ Paul Stanley rose to the top. I consider myself fortunate to have turned down an interview with Gene Simmons; what I ended up with was far better than that could have ever been.

Paul Vo – This ended up being more of a conversation and less of a traditional interview. In fact I had a feeling it would go that way; I went in with the shortest list of prepared questions I’ve ever used. Vo is the inventor of several groundbreaking musical devices that are unlike anything that’s come before, and which are far too nuanced to describe here. That story will appear here on Musoscribe in January.

Esperanza Spalding – There are few artists as fascinating as Spalding. Her concert in Asheville may well have been the most unusual show I’ve ever witnessed. She’s dazzlingly talented, and as articulate as one might guess.

Fantastic Negrito – As I wrote in the intro to one of several features based on my interview with him, Fantastic Negrito has a story so unusual, if it hadn’t happened, Hollywood would have had to make it up. Stunning live show, too.

There were many others of note, too. But the above rank among my most memorable conversations in the past year.

See you in 2017.