An interview with Bernie Worrell
Bernie Worrell, April 19, 1944 – June 24, 2016
Musicians on Music - A Platform Where Artists Speak
Marcus Miller (sax)
An interview with Bernie Worrell
Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for "Damn", and makes history, as this heavy award generally goes to contemporary classical music and jazz music.
Pulitzer Prize-winning music:
A bit more info on the award:
We started our Virtual Artist Assistant last year and we are happy to say that we have been able to help a large number of artists with their social media since.
We are now able to offer new clients our services.
Can we help YOU?
Remembering Don Myrick's wonderful contribution to music and tragic passing over at the hands of a police officer.
Donald Myrick, April 6, 1940 – July 30, 1993
For three years now we have given out the Music Journalist of the Year-Award. And we intended to do so this year as well. This award is given to a journalist for work done in the previous year. And during the previous years the nominations for the award have been up to par with the expectations for quality that you need to be able to find in a music journalist receiving this award. However, this year, after putting the artist jury together, we find that the nominations this time around are a bit too weak. We don't give this award out for the sake of it, or whatever. It is intended to highlight quality journalism about music, and should we start giving it out no matter what that would decrease the value of the award, of having received it and receiving it in the future. It does actually go to someone who in our opinion has produced great articles about music, or it doesn't actually go out at all.
We would like to thank you so very much for your nominations. The journalists you nominated gave YOU something as you read them. That certainly is an achievement in of itself.
Find out more about the award and the recipients in the previous years here.
At the behest of Ra Alumnis Trombonist/composer Craig Harris, who was moving on to other musical pursuits and was thusly providing Sunny with a 'trade off' by bringing Sun Ra fresh musicians to assage his departure as a steady member of the Arkestra.........an audition was arranged for myself, Tenor/Baritone saxist Kenny Williams and trombonist Henry Mitchell...all proteges of Makanda Ken McIntyre and recent graduates of the African American Music program at State University at Old Westbury.
The auditon took place at Studio WIS....151 West 21st Street in Manhattan ....the Jazz Loft of Prof Warren I Smith (founder of M'Boom.... the percussion ensemble headed by Max Roach). who mentored promising Old Westbury graduates.... incorporating them into his Composers Workshop Ensemble. Rehearsing and performing in what along with Sam Rivers Studio Rivbea was the first and the last of the 'Jazz Loft scene in NY from the 60s to the 90s.
Knoel Scott Quartet live
Sun Ra arrived and sat at the keyboard...launching into Cherokee...the litmus test for Jazz musicians.
Admittedly both Henry and Kenny were un-intimidated musically and sailed through Sunny's progressions....
As for.myself ..then and to this day a Charlie Parker sycophant....I found myself totally daunted as Sunny would change the chords each time around...playing alterations and harmonic substitutions that left me totally amazed and frustrated as I feebly attempted to negotiate my way through his chord alterations...........this was jazz at a level far beyond my bebop licks.... though i thought i knew Cherokee quite well.
Sun Ra then began to speak of what it meant to be a member of the Arkestra.
'This is the Creator's Band.......and I work for the Creator.
So if you want money, fame or fortune you dont want to work with me.
If you want Money, Fame or Fortune this is not the band for you.....
As I recognized Sun Ra as the return of Pharoah, the personification of the Black Gods of Ancient Egypt.....this proclamaition was a call.................
Kenny, a Grover Washinton disciple asequaly undaunted and was eager to join............Henry was working at the Apollo Theatre with Ray Chews Band and was not interested in such noble pursuits
For myself, I had already made membership in the Arkestra my life's dream from the moment I heard JAZZ IN SILHOEUTTE in Makandas office during my studies at Old Westbury.
Sun Ra told me to be at Variety Arts Recording Studio on 42nd Street at 6 ave the next day. That morning me and Kenny joined Sun Ra's marathon occupation of Variety Arts Studio.....from 10 am to 4 am five days a week..............an ongoing session which spawned the Albums.....Sleeping Beauty, Omniverse, Strange Celestial Road, UFO, Nuclear War and a number of others.
That first morning Sun Ra sat at the piano and began playing over some previously recorded tracks as myself, Michael Ray, June Tyson, Danny Thompson, Jacj Jacjson, Thomas Hunter, maybe Elo Omo, Kenny, John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, were gathered around the piano with our instruments. Sunny began playing something outer-worldly and nodded to me.
I was on Baritone Sax and looked at Michael in stupor.............what key? Mike mouthed the word PLAY!!!!! And I played my first solo with Sun Ra on our second meeting......recorded as part of an extended intro to what was titled Seductive Fantasy on the UFO album.
No, I had no idea at all of what was going on.....Sun Ra would tell me later:
I don't want your musical knowledge, your bebop vocabulary or your musical training.................I WANT YOUR SPIRIT.......spirit sound.
During subsequent days and nights at Variety Arts Sun Ra would let Mike Ray coach us through the recording of the vocal tracks o UFO, and On Jupiter.
Sun Ra believed that the way to get to the public was with vocals and would sight the popularity of Louis Armstrong as an example.
You've got to reach people...singers always reach people..............I remember him saying.
Singing has added a more intimate aspect to my presentation and expression.
The inclusion of vocalese and spoken word in my performances has enabled me to continue Sun Ra's clarion call for the continuance of Jazz Tradition...........
They tried to fool you....I'm here to school you..... about Jazz...........It don't mean a thing...if it aint got that swing..
A beautiful capture of the Sun Ra Arkestra in Rome 1980
My plans for 2018 include the completion of KSQ's debut Album.............'Stardust' and signing on with a company to release it as well as launch KSQ on a promotional tour.
Music to me is the embodiment of Gods Love..............as Art Blakey said ...to wash off the dust ..of everyday life.
Music is my offering to the Creator and to the people of this planet.
Music is my testament to the beings of other worlds that there is more to this planet than death and destruction
Music is my reason for living.
Psalms :151 is what music is to me.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
Lightnin' (Sam) Hopkins answering a question
Lightnin' Hopkins, March 15, 1912 – January 30, 1982
Music is life. People don’t realize that music is the only universal language that we have. Music helps people feel better, and music can heal people.
From Day 1 my life was all music. It was the whole thing, and there was never any doubt about what I would do in life. My father was a famous gospel performer and there were always famous musicians coming to our house. For me that was natural, something I took for granted.
Lonnie Liston Smith "Summer Nights"
Working with the greats taught me that they were serious about what they did. I grew up listening to Art Blakey, Max Roach, Miles Davis. I then moved to New York hoping to work with as many of the greats as possible.
Art would never show up for the rehearsals. When we were done he would just sit down and play.
Playing with Roach was often about dealing with different times, like 5/4.
Miles was the icing on the cake. He was a genius on and off stage. If you played with Miles Davis you went to the Miles Davis University, and you were ready to form your own band after that.
These artists made me stronger, more secure in my own self. Especially Art did. And Miles was about something that is hard to find today: You had to create something new every time you played with him.
My first album with The Cosmic Echoes’ happened because Bob Thiele wanted to produce it and because I had a lot of great musicians around me. By the time of our second album, Expansions, I was writing lyrics. I had done a lot of studies and expanded my mind. We played a jazz/funk that a lot of people had never played or heard. We all came from a jazz background. But when people heard the music they thought “That’s it!”.
People should listen to a song I did called “Astral Traveling” (from the album with the same title). I’m really proud of that recording. I had never played a Fender Rhodes piano before, but there was one in the room. I sat down and played and this cut just came from the Gods. I call it the 21st century blues.
We discovered new talent along the way. I first heard Marcus Miller play when he was 15-16 years old for example. Talent – it’s a thing. You listen for their inner being, their soul. You’re not listening for their technical skill. That’s not music – people don’t realize that. If you think of singers their song in many cases really come from inside. It should be the same with an instrumentalist. Sometimes just a lot of craziness comes out of course.
"A Garden Of Peace"
People sampling my music is actually great. When I came up we used to go to each other’s houses and discover music we hadn’t heard. Now kids discover music through samples, and go back and find out about the artists. That they sampled “A Garden of Peace” surprised me. At the time I just wanted to create something beautiful with that song, with all the chaos that was going on in the world. Years later Jay-Z wanted to sample it, and it’s on his “Dead Presidents II”, and on Mary J. Blige’s “Take Me As I Am”.
Young artists of course need to learn their craft – they need to learn their instruments. And they need to listen to a lot of music, and to go back and listen. I think that the young artists now are more on the business side than we were. We got to the business side of music the hard way. The business of music drives me crazy ever since I realized that someone else owns the masters, and perhaps it’s someone who’s not even in music.
My plans for the year include playing with The Superstars Of Jazz Fusion, featuring Roy Ayers, Ronnie Laws and myself.
Lonnie Liston Smith live a New Morning
LONNIE LISTON SMITH is a musician and composer from Richmond, Virginia. After working with a number of luminaries in music he formed his band The Cosmic Echoes in 1973. They released many successful records on several labels. Lonnie Liston Smith also appears on many albums with Roland Kirk, Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri and Miles Davis, among others.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
A few of the reasons why we need to remember James Reese Europe, presented in this excellent video:
What in the world do we mean with our headline? Certainly there is nothing artists – great personalities and individualists in many cases – can learn from a fast food chain?
Regardless of how you feel about fast food, or if you are vegan, there are things to actually pick up from McDonalds if you are an artist…
There are so many aspects to an artist’s career, and not in the least these days. And guess who is trying to do most of the work involved most of the time? The artist. In the current climate especially. An artist is like an entrepreneur who just got started in this sense – and remains in that start-out position through most of his career – in a lot of cases. The fresh entrepreneur has to do everything himself. And he probably started his entrepreneurship because he is truly accomplished in something, which is at the core of his longing to be ‘his own’. This is his skill, a skill that made him start a business. So now he is selling this skillfulness of his, which means that he has to do a lot of other chores, and it is likely that performing his skill becomes one of the many chores, and there is a major threat that the fun of devoting himself to his core capacity is at risk. There is a major risk also, that he gets very tired as time passes or even burnt out. A reason why many new businesses fail isn’t that the entrepreneur wasn’t able to sell his expertise or his goods, but that it all becomes too much for that one individual in a way that eventually will make him less brilliant at performing the skill he started the business for in the first place.
So perhaps the fresh entrepreneur, or the artist, is wise enough to hire some help to do some of the chores that take up most of his days and nights. This too is a risky situation. Because perhaps the hired help doesn’t really do the job they were intended to do in a way that the artist is pleased with. Perhaps he doesn’t recognize himself in the marketing campaigns, perhaps the gear isn’t set up the right way, perhaps he is always running between flights. So what happens if there is an area that the artist has trouble with after hiring someone to do it for him? It will be a worry for him. It will remain on his mind. He will double-check it, and if it’s not done right, he will wind up doing it himself even after having hired help, or he will at least keep trying to make adjustments that better fit his needs – spending a lot of time working around the hired help. So even if he has people now, who do things to help out, what they are assisting with still is time consuming to the artist, and still remains in his thoughts in an unpleasant and energy-consuming way. He may choose to end the relationship with the hired help and go back to doing it all himself again, to regain control.
Once McDonalds was a new company. What did they do differently? Like Michael E. Gerber points out in his book, “The E Myth”, McDonalds doesn’t actually sell hamburgers. They are selling a concept and a franchise model.
At the core of a business concept the question of what a company wants to be is the first question. This question is also present in the answers to all aspects concerning a business. And if an artist isn’t actually selling music, but a concept – that persona that he would like for people to think about when they think about him, who does he want to be? That would partly answer how everything concerning his career should be set up, in the same way.
Like at McDonalds there could eventually be a manual for how the chores in the artist’s career should be done. And instead of spending a lot of time explaining to one person after another how he wants things done, in a myriad of situations and with a plethora of details, the artist could simply give the manual to the people he works with.
Thinking in terms of a franchise model, one that has a manual and can be easily copied, a manual that can be picked up by just about anyone who comes into contact with the artist for professional reasons, is a time-saving way of working for an artist, and one that gives him control regardless of who he encounters. Working on The Manual alongside his music is something an artist could contemplate. Perhaps a little know thyself could – just as an example – be added to the manual, with instructions as to how to deal with things when the artist himself knows that he sometimes is a little tardy for appointments. Perhaps the manual will instruct people who work with him when they can tell him to step it up, if his idea of concept is that he is a professional who is on time. And perchance – just as another example – the manual has sections where the instruction is to stay away under all circumstances from aspects that the artist never wants any meddling with. Et cetera.
The manual is a far bigger document than a rider, and could over time include all the aspects of the artist’s career, as if it was a franchise model, though it is not. Michael E. Gerber truly points out the merits in thinking of any enterprise as one even if it isn’t. And suddenly it wouldn’t quite matter as much who the hired help is at times, and further the manual will bring them clarity too, because who wants to see their work be unappreciated? Isn’t that the situation where many professionals start to dream of running their own…band? As an example? Being without the boss who doesn’t value their work? And off they go to take the trip described above, the one of doing everything themselves or hiring people who may not do things the way these new band-leaders want things done…
McDonalds will be the same everywhere thanks to the manual, thanks to the franchise model, which in fact is what they sell, and we are all in the clear about what they are regardless if we are customers or not. And that is how a business – or a career – sails the smoothest.
Rodney Aleshire tells his story
I got my first guitar for Christmas 1987, started in my first band 8 months later, and was in 15 working bands over the next 28 years.
I never held a 'real' job for long.
My biggest gig was opening for Blackfoot at a bar in West Virginia in mid 90's. Got very close to recognition in 2008 Nashville with 2.2 (Double Doose).
I was heard and invited to jams with Jerry Foster and Waylon Payne. Played in a band up until a month before the accident
On new years eve 2016/17 I offered to put off a 2 inch mortar firework that detonated in my left hand, instantly blowing off the ring finger, and mangling the top 2/3rds of the middle finger. My thumb was nearly blown off my hand, and about every bone in my palm was either broken, had moved, or was just gone. I was hospitalized for 6 days.
I was home about 2 hours before I put a slide on my pinky and very gently hit a few blues licks.
I knew right away though that my shredding days of learning Dimebag, Hammet, and Wylde were gone. Depressed for about the next 11 months, I played piano and surprised myself with being able to sound decent in a quick amount of time. I kept writing songs. Today it has been 14 months and I'm starting to get comfortable with my limitations.
I have no strength in my squeeze so my thumb rarely touches the neck, my fingers "float". The hardest part has been training my finger sockets not to move like I spent so many years training them to do. I hate buttons, zippers, and shoe strings the most. I've about adapted to everything else - like not holding things in my left hand. I can't judge my grip so I end up dropping things all the time.
I sold my acoustic, the only guitar I owned at the time, because I was sick of seeing it in the corner being neglected. But honestly, I never stopped.
After about 8 months, I got a 3/4 scale Yamaha that I have sinced named "Me'a".
For everything I lost, I did find one thing I never had before. I want to say a voice to sing my originals, but that's not quite right because I can't stand my voice, and still can't quite convey what I hear in my head for vocals, but I did find the "comfort zone" enough that I will actually sing my own songs in front of people now.
I've played a few shows in New Mexico with a very good response. I even played for about 45 minutes one time before I asked a couple if they thought my mangled hand was a sore sight. I got the greatest compliment I have ever been given "- OH MY GOD! I didn't even notice they were gone!". I never thought I would hear someone say that, and it's only been 14 months since the accident.
Rodney Aleshire is a guitarist born in 1972.
Find a little more HERE
Natalie Cole talks about music important to her.
This annual award, which was presented for the first time in 2015 for work done in 2014, is now open for nominations!
We flip things around a bit at Musicians’ Corner. Usually when you read about music in the media what you read was written by a journalist. On this site artists write and speak about music with minimal journalistic involvement. Usually it is journalists who express opinions about music and musicians in the media. On this site musicians are about to express an opinion about music journalists – in the form of giving an award out! Yes, usually when awards are given out they are given by journalists to artists…
With this award we want to encourage accomplished journalistic work about music. It is of great significance to us all, to artists as well as to music fans.
Who among music journalists dug deeper, was in the right place, expanded your horizon, did the best interviews, took you back, described this art form and the world through it, in 2017? Who among music journalists deserves an award for outstanding work last year? In your opinion? Let’s have it!
We are open to nominations for the award until 4/1/2018. You are welcome to nominate a music journalist you read, listen to or view, a music journalist you work with, and if you are a music journalist you can nominate yourself too.
Please nominate using the form below. Include the name of the journalist/s you nominate and links to journalistic work by the nominee/s. The recipient will be selected by an artist jury based on the shortlist of journalists that YOU provide through nominating. This Award is given for work done in the previous year.
To read about the Award, and the previous recipients and juries, please visit the Award section on this platform.
Randy Weston pays tribute to James Reese Europe and releases as new record.
Music is life itself. Without music our planet would be dead. Music is our 1st language.
I travel all over the world but I speak Music to people, not Japaneese, not Chinese, German, etc.... MUSIC!
Randy Weston "African Cookbook" (1972)
The original Music comes from the Universe. Mother Nature is the original orchestra: sounds of the birds, the thunder, babies being born : their 1st cry is music. Mother Nature is always improvising .
I do not know about computer music. I listen to the ancestors – they left us great music – a legacy: Duke, Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Thelonious Monk etc..
The whole concept of Music began in Africa thousand years ago in the Nubians Civilizations. Everyone should read these books: “Egyptian Rhythm” by Moustapha Gadalla, “Golden age of the Moor” by Ivan Van Sertima and “100 Years of Negro in show Business: The Tom Fletcher Story” by Tom Fletcher.
My History about James Reese Europe in the late 1940 is that I went to a night club in Harlem named Lucky's, and I met the owner there: the great pianist and composer Luckey Roberts, I was young amateur pianist.
He told me how James Reese Europe Championed black Music by organizing African American Artist on every level. He formed the Clef Club – the first Union of African American Musicians.
His was the first black orchestra to play Carnegie hall with his 1912 Symphony of Negro Music with 10 pianists.
The great Eubie Blake told me that James Reese Europe gave us a statute of professional Musicians, and he inspired me to organize the African American Musicians Society with Melba Liston, Ray Bryant, Sadik Hakim Nadi Qamar, and John Handy
While living in France I went to some cities where James Reese Europe played for the French and American Soldiersduring the first world war, Paris, Aix les Bains, Grenoble, Chamberry, Lyon – bringing Music they never heard before, that lifted the Spirits of the soldiers and the French people.
Randy Weston at Jazz à Vienne
My New double solo Piano CD called SOUND was recorded on Nagra DII digital at Hotel Montreux Palace during the Montreal Jazz Festival 2002 and have decided to put it out by my Label "African Rhythms " and take me back to my solo career in Europe .
Randy Weston's new release Sounds
Randy Weston is an eminently legendary pianist and composer, born in 1926. After serving in WWII Weston began his career in music and was voted New Star Pianist in Down Beat Magazine in 1955. Highly decorated and honored since, Weston was based in Morocco for years, where he also ran his own club. He has been releasing records since 1954, and in 2010 his autobiography "African Rythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston" was published and celebrated as a highly important piece of work to the story of jazz.
February 10th, 2018 Randy Weston celebrates the legacy of James Reese Europe at The Kennedy Center. Find out more about that HERE.
And find out more about Randy Weston and his new release HERE.
Music is therapy. Music is meditation. Music is an exercise in discipline.
But most of all music is freedom.
Music has the same color as the air. You can close your eyes but you can’t close your ears.
If you play it well,that’s the only thing that matters.
Kat Dyson performing at the She Rocks Awards in 2017
Being a young Southern girl I of course had to learn to play the piano. The boys got guitars and drums and it seemed much more fun. They were out on the porch playing,having a ball. I wanted one! My mother got me a guitar, and not long after she passed away from an aneurism...And I will play guitar until I leave this world.
We didn’t have a piano in our home. I grew up in a small rural neighborhood with a great piano teacher, and I had to go to practice at the teacher’s house. The boys were learning and listening to records and radio.The guitar just seemed far more accessible.
The first time I played a gig and made money in a club is where I realized that I could have fun AND get paid. “I can do this and make money?” I got much more than my weekly allowance. I’m the oldest of seven siblings so I fell in love with the group dynamics of a band.After high school,I went to university and formally studied classical voice and guitar and music education.
The professional female musicians I've worked with share a similar feeling as I did growing up playing music-that they had to be twice as prepared,driven and focused to be taken serious in the music industry.I think we,as women, bring heart and soul and patience, and there isn't a big of competition between us. We are focused yet enjoy playing. Our hearts and ears are open and open for suggestions as well.
A lot of organizations will hire a woman for the optics. If she looks good the- wow-wow!! You have to look good in the industry, but you need to know how to play too, although some organizations may not care about their skill set.
Sharing an anecdote or two I was working with Colin James, who was a protege of Stevie Ray Vaughan He traveled to work for SRV saying “I’ll be your tech for free,just teach me...At one point. I was backstage with Colin and an incredible group of artists at the end of a festival, and among them was B.B. King. He shook my hand and my hand disappeared in his gigantic hand. He let my touch Lucille. He seemed to have telephone wires on that guitar. You had to manhandle that thing. He was about make a speech at a college where he was to be honored, and he asked me 'What am I going to tell them'? perplexed by the invitation.He was so down to earth and so gentlemanly . I asked him “Don't you know who you are to us? He was talking to me like a daughter...supercool!
I was introduced to Bernie Worrell by Felicia Collins. The recording session with him was like a big party, but he was cool and serious ..and so focused, with a spirit so free. He said “Do what you feel – just make it funky!
Kat Dyson performing with Prince and The New Power Generation in 1996
I am selective about answering Prince questions.Usually I can sense if they come from a good place or not.
When I first met him,he asked me who I listen to. I told him that I listened to Jeff Lee Johnson and John Scofield ,for example at the time, and to Wes Montgomery as a constant go-to,melodically.
The Emancipation album was finished by then, but after we had worked together for a while he let me record a guitar part on The Love We Make, and he didn’t change a thing about it. He trusted my voice ...
What he did on stage depended on his musical vision for each tour and changed constantly. He rotated instruments,as he mastered many. Every band had a different make up and purpose.
At one point he asked me what I thought he should add to the set we were working on.i suggested adding an unplugged section;just sit with a guitar and do a few songs...He laughed and responded that that would be so boring, but a while later..he finally did it, and people loved it, and he wound up doing a lot of it.
He was influenced as an artist at a time when iconic artists entertained and big productions dominated live concerts. Over the years I think he started to get the message that people simply wanted to hear his music,any way he wanted to present it...in a grand way or in an intimate setting...
Rocksugah performing at the She Rocks Awards
Right now my band ROCKSUGAH will be the house band at the She Rocks Awards 2018 at the NAMM Show with Divinity Roxx among others, which we do every year. After that I will do a special Valentine’s show with Gary Taylor and Najee before I go on tour with my Italian boss Zucchero. In March I’m doing the Black Women Rock event (BWR)in Detroit,which is run by Jessica Care Moore.It honors women of color in rock and alternative music. This year we will honor the great Nona Hendryx, whom I can't wait to work with again.We will also bring BWR to the West Coast in May. In April,I take part in the Prince celebrations in Minneapolis .
FIND OUT MORE HERE
Classic O'Jays "Back Stabbers"
The O'Jays inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 - William Powell posthumously.
Photo Hans Speekinbrink
Music to me is life. Music is spirituality. Music is me telling a story. I believe in a creator and in carrying a message. I believe in reaching out to people with an open heart and mind. Not everybody has that.
We all learn by going back. We don’t listen to our parents until we see what they talk about. If you get lost you go back to the basics and realize that it doesn’t matter how modern a building is, it still needs a foundation or it will fall down.
Alvin Queen drum solo
I had a brother who was five years older than me, and I wanted to be like him. I came up in the church, where what the week had been like was unloaded by the church-goers on Sundays. My brother joined the school band, which was a marching band, and it was all about marching parades. I joined when I was old enough. When I was walking with my mother I once saw a kid who was playing the drum set in a store window. I asked if I could go up there and play the drums, and I went for three or four lessons for the store owner, Andy Lalino, before my mother said that we couldn’t afford more lessons, at which the Mr. Lalino said that I could stay around and help him out with chores – and that he would teach me to play the drums for free.
I got schooled in church and schooled on the bandstand. You don’t tell an older person what to do – they guide you. Then you turn into the mentor as the years go by. School teachers never had the bandstand experience. I have so much to share because everybody I met in my career left me something. I am getting ready to do more work in Europe and Japan, and I’m taking a bandstand workshop to schools.
It’s hard to be in the mentor generation. It is hard to look at old videos on YouTube where I’m the only one who is alive now. Not long ago they were all alive and my phone used to ring a hundred times a day.
You can’t read your way through jazz. The only place where that works is in a big band-setting. Jazz used to be music that people danced to. Then John Coltrane opened the door. It was a door that came from an era of freedom of speech, and freedom of speech is also where music comes from, and I was there when the door opened.
Alvin Queen and Ruth Brown
I came up in New York. I have worked with so very many over the years. Among the many, just to mention a few, Ruth Brown used to call me “Queeny”, among the numerous who used to call me. Randy and Michael Brecker were very close, very, like family – among the very many who were like family. I go all the way back to Harlem with George Coleman, among all the people I go back with. I still speak to him now and then, and we still have a record in the can that we haven’t released. Initially I was a kid playing with many greats not knowing who they were really. To me they were ‘just musicians’, except Ruth Brown because my mother was a fan of her’s. And some of the people I played with in my younger years hadn’t had their break yet, so no one knew who they were at the time. I got an early job with the Horace Silver Band, where Billy Cobham was the drummer before me, among the early jobs I got. I auditioned among ten drummers and got the job, which I had for four or five years. We did well and toured California. I have of course also kept working with many great artists since I moved to Europe.
After my years working in New York and touring, I was living in Boston for about a year when I got a call to come to Montreal, where I was the house drummer at Rockhead’s Paradise, and anytime that artists came to play there I played with them. I left Canada a couple of months before my visa expired and moved to Europe after that.
Alvin Queen "Mighty Long Way" off the album with the same title (2008)
I am based in Switzerland, and I see it as the center of Europe. It’s easy to get around from here, and I was always international and not local.
Once there was something called the American Dream. That all changed. They go for young people in the USA. They don’t sponsor mentors. I made the move to Europe in the 70s, when many artists came to Europe, because Europeans were more open and accepting, and music got more exposure here. I took a lot with me from my life back in the USA. I got the calls I used to get coming over here. And I made so much money here that I started a record company, and started recording artists that the US had stopped recording. I had nineteen productions on the books when I couldn’t make the switch to making CD’s because of the costs. The download market is difficult and rough as people steal. It’s rough and the same for good musicians and bad musicians.
I have had a Swiss passport for fifteen years. I used to have to do double tax returns as a foreigner, and spent $ 1600 a year for sixteen years on that. I did give up my US citizenship after 66 years. As you may have seen I was denied entry into the US when I last flew over there. Right now the process is on hold but many had a reaction right away, and I feel good about it now, waiting to see what will happen. I don’t want to fly 8000 miles just to turn back. But I’m not looking to work in the US and my family there is dead.
My plan for 2018 is to keep moving forward.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
Alvin Queen's music is available HERE
We are a few days into a brand new year, and a few years into the story of Musicians’ Corner, Musicians On Music. We would like to wish all of our contributors, visitors and friends a pleasing and exciting 2018.
We live in times when a lot is possible. However, much that was once likely no longer is as easily probable. In music we can truly see how the world has been changing, and also how these changes call on us all to change our ways of doing things. We can think what we will about the transformations. Many of them are here to stay regardless of what we think, and we can either interpret what they mean to us individually and apply them to our own journeys, or be left behind to a degree, by the people who did. We can see how being lost with these novelties can cost an artist who isn’t able to move with the times. Looking back twenty-four hours a day, looking for an infrastructure perhaps, that is no longer there, is not going to keep a career going. For those who started their careers in music during these changing times, the flow of inventions is often a natural part of what life looks like.
Music is the ancient expression of the soul. That it perhaps should consider what a new app on the market can do, every two weeks, is in many ways an absurd impracticality. Yet, artists are always creative, and these days vision can endlessly find new features to be innovative through, and new formats through which to express that primal phenomena, coming from the individual experience.
What we all know as ‘music’ is much the result of the recording industry taking shape. In the history of mankind that is a fairly new phenomenon. Today the gate-keepings of taste in music have lost much of their influence and anyone can go direct to market. This may have many artists worrying about likes and followers, but if you create what does come from you that is in fact your brand, and people who do in fact like it have the chance of finding it, if you put it out there – and you may ask yourself why you should worry about people who don’t like it. They are not your people, not your audience, and to please them you would have to change what you do, that is change your brand and lose yourself in your expression. You can do that of course, but will it make you happy?
In this sense these times call on artists to be honest with themselves about who they are and what would give them a sense of fulfillment. It is a question that has always been there, but is put to artists more directly and abruptly now, if they consider it or not. A few decades back it might have been about working with an act that didn’t play their music but paid well. This is of course still is a problem for many artists. Now the question may also be present any time they pick up their instrument – if they consider the question. Boiling it down artists can make exactly the sounds that come from their inner beings, get these to market, and find precisely the people who vibe with them. And they don’t have to worry about anything else. Artists can also easily get lost in the competition for likes and shares from a general public that will never connect with what they truly are as creators.
To a large degree the mass media still moves with the old times, giving space and light to the acts that come through the diminishing system, while the customers are getting increasingly savvy about finding their music without the help of the journalists’ edited content. And the journey that artists take through these times, and the struggles they may have taking that ongoing voyage, is also often left out by the mass media, regardless of it frequently being the story of music now.
Music saw an amazing golden age through the recording industry, an industry that in of itself in many ways failed to move with the times when the times moved – which is the reason for its reduction. We currently live through the many years, when we are losing artists and creators daily, from that golden age of musically heightened expression. These are painful years for the music-loving population of this planet. The sense of loss is difficult for many, and hardly described on a general level by the mass media. When historians look back on the 20th century there is little doubt that the part that music played in shaping that century will shine through, and that some of them will be interested in finding all the information they can get their hands on about the luminaries of this art-form. This is a time to scurry for music journalists, so that as much of that information as possible is gathered before it is lost. The information can be retrieved through the artists from this golden age who are still with us, who will remember things differently, perhaps influencing each other on remembering some things wrong at times, which is why many have to be interviewed many times about the same things, so that the important details that may change the entire stories aren’t lost. The information may also be found in technology that may be lost to the future, as the technologies of the future will be others than those of the past.
All in all it is an intense time for anyone who wishes to take part in describing music. On Musicians’ Corner artists speak. You find no journalist getting in the middle of what artists say here. Here fragments of all of the above come through in the articles. You find articles from artists reaching out to their audience here, artists commenting on the changing times here, artists sharing memories of important moments in their careers here. And all of it matters greatly.
We hope that you continue to enjoy the material on this platform!
David Bowie gets philosophical in this interview from French tv.
Photo: Marc Mennigmann
This year has been a crazy year for me, with my film RUMBLE: The Indians who rocked the world opening, winning at the Sundance Festival and being showed at film festivals all over the world – and with the release of my first Gold record in a long time, Chubby Groove, which I made with Koshi Inaba.
Inaba/Salas with "Overdrive" off their hit album Chubby Groove (2017)
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World - official trailer (2017). Stevie Salas was an executive producer for the film, which was directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana.
It began with me producing tv in Canada in 2006, and a few years ago I started working on my film. 2017 has been a year of touring with the film since it opened, of speaking at my film, and of getting standing ovations and awards for it. HBO have bought it, and it’s on PBS and Amazon Prime. Simultaneously I have been working and touring with Koshi Inaba, who is the biggest ever selling artist in Japan, with over a hundred million records sold. He called me saying that he was uninspired and burnt out, and he asked me if I would come over and write some songs with him. So I flew over to Japan, and I started putting 80s styled funk-tracks together like I did when I lived in London as a kid. We recorded all over the world, and the album features Bernard Fowler and Taylor Hawkins. It was released in January and had sold Gold by March. We also played sold out-shows after that, and stadiums in the summer.
Classic Stevie Salas: "Start Again"
In 2018 I plan on writing for a new Stevie Salas album. I got a phone call from Warner Bros Europe. I might perhaps release something in a limited edition for cool radio stations etc. I am also working on a crime drama for television with Kevin Munroe.
In ways the entire situation with record companies in general, and with social media as something that needs to be figured out for promotional reasons, has me feeling uncreative. Mostly I feel really bad for young people. There is no artist development anymore. When I started out you could be creative and it was encouraged. Record companies developed artists. They would say ‘Take this money and go work with Thomas Dolby, and see what you come up with’. What kids put out now is what would have been demos back then. There is so much crap out there and you can’t wade through it all to get to the good stuff.
A classic combo of great musical chemistry: Stevie Salas and TM Stevens, kicking up a jam together
TM Stevens, whom I worked with a lot (and one of the artists who truly kicked off this platform, Musicians’ Corner) was a force of nature and an elite musician. He had the kind of career where you had to be a musician first to even walk in the room. When I made my first album Joey Ramone walked in the studio, Miles Davis walked in the studio, Bernie Worrell walked in the studio and played on the album. You had to be able to handle being in the same room with anyone and working with anyone, without any preparation. TM could play anything, and make it sound just right, and still make it sound like TM Stevens. That is true mastery. He played on my songs, such as "Tell Your Story Walking" , where TM’s bassline is huge
CHUBBY GROOVE Inaba/Salas is available HERE
"When We Were the Boys: Coming of Age on Rod Stewart's Out of Order Tour" by Stevie Salas with Robert Yehling is available HERE
TM Stevens has contributed two articles to this platform, one of which is his information-packed filmed article "Straight Music Talk". Musicians' Corner and all of our friends are eternal fans of this amazing artist, and will always be humbly grateful for his insightful and generous contributions to this site.
Support TM Stevens: BUY TM STEVENS' MUSIC HERE
The Pointer Sisters live 1975, opening with their rendition of "Salt Peanuts", and taking the audience on a small tour around a music universe.
Music is so many things!
Mostly to me, it would be it's ability to communicate to everyone around the world. A global language that speaks to every human.
What it can do to you and how it effects someone in the most individual way is amazing.
Patron Saint O'Thieves off The Rumjacks' 2016 album release "Sleepin' Rough"
What I love about touring is being able to travel to places around the world and meet people in cities and countries I never thought I would ever get to see. Experiencing different cultures every day and play music everyday...love it!
Bassist Johnny McKevley from The Rumjacks
There's not much about touring that I would say I hate. You miss your family and loved ones a lot and that can be hard. It's REALLY tiring.
Touring is a lot of fun, but it's extremely exhausting at the same time, and it's not from too much partying, I promise...
The Rumjacks live in 2016
2018 going to be a very busy year! We have a U.K. tour planned at the start of February, a few summer festivals around Europe, then we are knuckling down and working on our fourth LP, to be released later in the year.
2018 will also be our 10 year anniversary...so lots of touring after it's release as well.
The Rumjacks' smash hit An Irish Pub Song with 36 million plus views on YouTube
THE RUMJACKS are bringing their celtic punk to the world from their home base in Sydney, since the band was formed in 2008. Two EP's, three albums and many, many gigs around the globe later they show no signs of slowing down. The band are: Johnny McKelvey, Frank McLaughlin, Gabriel Whitbourne and Adam Kenny.
The Rumjacks' latest album "Sleepin' Rough"
A nice tribute video to the Mothers of Invention - singer
Music to me is a wonderful catalyst, and a lift of surprise that makes you react with emotion.
If it doesn’t move you it’s not for you – or it’s bad music.
There is a reason why there are different flavors of ice-cream.
Dave Kelly performing the utter Robert Johnson blues classic Crossroads
We are currently touring with The Blues Band, and we have a new studio album, which we recorded in July. We are just now talking about the sleeve with the record company.
We were hoping that it could be released this year, but it looks like the release is going to be at the beginning of next year.
Dave Kelly's Going Home, off The Blues Band's first album "The Official Bluesband Bootleg Album" (1980)
I sing on four songs on the new album, Paul sings on four, and Tom and Gary sing on two each. One of my songs is Skin Game Blues, which was originally recorded in the 60s. We do a rocky version of it on this album, and we are playing it live at the moment. I also do a song that I wrote with Lou Stonebridge, called Hot Dog (Looking for a real cool cat), Muddy Waters’ Still A Fool, and a song called Get Right Church, which has some nice harmonies. So – those are my four.
The Blues Band live with Get Right Church in 2017.
As a kid my parents had a radiogram with a record player on top. I used to stand on a chair for hours listening to music. My sisters bought rock n roll albums, and I was into skiffle with Lonnie Donegan. I traded my electric train set for a four string guitar. It was of course a tenor, which I didn’t realize then. I didn’t know that guitars had six strings, but the four-string suited my hands better at the time.
I got a tutor from the jazz scene, but he didn’t teach me any chords. I wanted to sound like Chuck Berry. I met someone through my sister who helped me with the skiffle basics. My sister Jo Anne and I played and sung together, and we usually won the talent contests we were in. Bob Dylan came on the scene and I had already heard Woodie Guthrie.
I took the journeys of the discs, to a record shop in central London, which for example sold transcription discs. That shop was a honey pot for local musicians, and everybody used to come there to congregate. I heard Robert Johnson’s music. I went to see The Stones. I learnt to tune guitars through chords, and picked that up in a day.. It is a classic era for me.
I don’t really have much to do with the British music industry. There are small labels of course. We are with a German company. Germany is a good market for us and for me solo. Last year we found some tapes from a show we played in 1991, with a fifteen piece band, and we released it as a double CD this year (“The Blues Band – The Big Blues Band Live Album”), on our label. I think that it was originally recorded for radio.
I also worked solo in Germany. My sound engineer revealed to me that he had recorded all my gigs in the 80s there, so I released some of these recordings as an album (“Dave Kelly Solo Performances Live in Germany 1986 to 1989”) last year. I do quite a few solo shows, and I am working with Maggie Bell in April and October next year - and with Christine Collister over the summer. I am slowly recording my new solo album, which will have a lot of instrumental music, and it won’t all be blues.
The Blues Band live in 2015
Dave Kelly is a blues singer, guitarist and composer, with a large back catalogue of solo albums to his name, and one of the members of The Blues Band, which was formed in 1979 and have been going since.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
The Blues Band's most recent release is available HERE
'Dave Kelly Solo Performances Live in Germany 1986 to 1989' is available HERE
Note: We never heard from Dave Kelly on an okaying of this text. It is what was taken down during our talk with Dave Kelly. This is unlike ALL the other texts on this site, which were either written by the artists in the articles and/or edited/okayed by the artists in the articles. We did hear from Dave Kelly upon sending him the article stats though, so he didn't seem to have any reservations to the text. It is just different to all the other material here, which is why we make this note.
Music is everything to me.
It is life, not just a form of entertainment.
Music is the sound of my mother's love, the wind, the sunshine, the rain, children's laughter, joy, heartache, and pain.
It is a friend, comforter, motivator – and it is an instrument for love, and compassion.
Vasti Jackson performing his Hurricane Season, which can be found on the 2007 release "Bourbon Street Blues: Live In Nashville"
Being nominated for a Grammy for my CD "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" - and having two CDs nominated for the Grammy in the same category (Traditional Blues) in 2017 - was a wonderful and very exciting surprise. Bobby Rush's "Porcupine Meat" CD won. Of which I am the Musical director, and featured guitarist.
A fragment from Standing On The Corner from Vasti Jackson's Grammy-nominated "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" CD (2016)
People are surprised that I made an album in homage to the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers. But the main thing to know is that Jimmie Rodgers was influenced by the African Americans that he spent time with in Mississippi. Before he became famous he performed in black face, and sang blues songs in tent- and vaudeville-shows. He has the word “blues” in more that twenty titles of his songs, and said that he yodeled the blues. After listening and studying I realized that the soul of Jimmie Rodgers is the blues.
My new album is “The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)”. It was released in August of this year - and it is a microcosm of my life through music.
Accolades are nice, but they aren’t the reason I am a musician. I come from a musical family, and we did it for love. Jobs you do for money. I became a professional musician at thirteen years of age, although I didn’t make a conscious choice to be a musician. It was what we did.
Contrary to popular belief blues musicians aren’t always touring. I don’t observe that people in the genre are working all the time. That is a choice, if so. Many tour from April to November, and take time off during December and January. The tours are well organized, and I go to Europe two or three times a year.
Vasti Jackson live with Robert Johnson's classic Terraplane Blues
Blues is a popular subject among film-makers for documentaries, as blues is about the subjects of life, and survival. Africans in America went through slavery, and still contributed so much to America's greatness. There is also the spiritual aspect that fascinates people - that of good and evil - of Robert Johnson and the crossroads. For a long time it was illegal for African Americans to play a drum in America, because of their ability to send messages to other slaves, as the European Americans did not know what the Africans where communicating.
People feel the bass drum pattern of the shuffle being close to the heartbeat, and this is the rhythmic foundation of the blues.
I have been part of film productions about the blues, and they are opportunities for dialogue, for informing people of where this music comes from. The blues is the classical music of America. And there is such a thing as the art of the blues. The cultures of Africa and Europe collided, and Mississippi is the "Garden of Eden" of the blues. The blues is the foundation for all popular music. All countries no doubt have their songs of woe, but the African Americans expression (The Blues) has been - and is - embraced throughout the world.
Helping others through my music is important to me. The Playing For Change Foundation has given me a greater reach to connect with children through music education. We have started fifteen schools in twelve countries in ten years, and we are expanding annually.
Momma, a touching ode from Vasti Jackson's 2017 album-release "The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)"
The 2017 offering, available HERE
Remembering the great Dizzy Gillespie on his 100d birthday.
Music is feeling. It is another realm of life on this earth. Music is faith and the healing of generations.
And – music is power!
I was running tracks through my adolescence and was going to be in the Olympics. I took part in the trials, and was very promising. What I brought from the athletics, to my journey in music, is stamina and the energy to move around. And I learnt to not give up from sports.
I always listened to music while training – all kinds of music was playing. I knew that I wanted to be a singer.
I moved to Portland all by myself, unafraid to be vulnerable by the time of my first album release, Embrace Me (2006). The record was about life lessons and my first experience at releasing my own music.
By the time of the release of my album The Unexpected (2014) Prince had taught me so much about myself. He instilled confidence in me. He was my supernova, and he pushed me beyond my limits. From the very first rehearsal I had with him, when he told me that he could easily replace me, to push me, to all the talks we had on the phone, he expanded my mind.
Our new album, First Things First (2017), is a fresh awakening. We (Roadcase Royale) wrote the album in such a short space of time, and it was such a great collaboration between amazing writers. I want to be in the studio all the time now! Nancy Wilson is a true earth angel, open to all sounds, and she is pushing me as a writer.