Orleans, formed in Woodstock, New York in the early Seventies, found success in the middle part of the decade with “Dance with Me” and “Still the One.” Founding member John Hall left in the late Seventies, scoring a Rock Radio hit with “Crazy (Keep on Falling)“ with his John Hall Band in 1981, while the rest of Orleans hit with “Love Takes Time” in 1979.
Hall became a US Representative for New York’s 19th Congressional District from 2007 to 2011. He documented all of this in Still the One: a Rock n’ Roll Journey to Congress and Back.
Now, Hall and his band mates in Orleans have put together their first-ever holiday album, called New Star Shining, which even features former lead vocalist Larry Hoppen on a couple of tracks.
We chat with John Hall about piecing the album together over email while COVID was raging, and the origins of the songs, some of which date back over 20 years. He also talks about the story behind “Half Moon,” a song he and his ex-wife, Johanna wrote for Janis Joplin.
Sue Foley has been putting out music for the last 30 years, issuing a remarkable 16 albums in that time. She hails from Canada, but spent her formative years in Austin, soaking up the scene and playing with a host of legendary artists. She’s won a Juno Award, many Maple Blues Awards, and most recently, A Blues Music Award in 2020, garnering the Koko Taylor award in the Traditional Blues Female category.
When the pandemic hit, she grabbed her musicians and hunkered down in a Texas recording studio. The result is Pinky’s Blues, named after her pink paisley Fender Telecaster, it’s some of the rawest, most immediate music she’s ever laid down. She’s also hitting the road to play the album for the people.
Foley talks about working again with her friend, Jimmie Vaughan, on the song, “Hurricane Girl,” doing some interesting music videos for the song, and how she’s put together some basic guitar instructional videos that are available on YouTube.
Back in 2013, photographer Lisa S. Johnson released 108 Rock Star Guitars, and it was a unique book. She photographed some of the most hallowed guitars in history from the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards. But, she went a step further, often zooming in on a worn fretboard, or flipping the guitar over to see sweat stains on the back of the body. By focusing on each guitar as a piece of art, it gave us a deeper appreciation for both the instrument, and the artist who played it.
Now, Johnson is back with another fantastic guitar book, Immortal Axes, Guitars That Rock from Princeton Architectural Press, and she’s captured some great ones, among them, the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, Duane Allman’s Les Paul, Kurt Cobain’s smashed but repaired Strat, even John Lennon’s acoustic that he played during his “Bed In For Peace.” The 388, full color, hardback book is out from Princeton Architectural Press and would make a great gift for any guitar enthusiast.
We talked how Johnson tracked down many of these guitars, including one of her idols, Joan Jett. Plus, we talk Peter Frampton, who wrote the foreword, and Suzi Quatro, who penned the Afterword, and how the two are related.
Artwork in music is mostly an afterthought these days. A small, thumbnail photo shows up when we stream a song from our phone. But, for decades when vinyl was king, album covers played a crucial role in the success of a record. Think about what Sgt. Pepper or Led Zeppelin IV or Dark Side of the Moon would be without the packaging.
Bob Heimall was responsible for creating some of the most iconic LP art from artists like the Doors, Carly Simon, Jim Croce and John Lennon, and he showcases it in his book, Cover Stories – Tales of Rock Legends and the Albums That Made Them Famous.
He talks about taking a job with Elektra Records and almost immediately dealing with Jim Morrison and the Doors. He also tells us how he helped Carly Simon, who was a brand new artist at the time, develop her image. He also talks about having to put together albums from Jim Croce and John Lennon after both passed away.
Jefferson Starship has gone through a lot of changes over the years. First, rising from the ashes of the previous Jefferson Airplane, it was a vehicle for Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and David Freiberg.
Over the years, and numerous lineup changes, the band scored many hits, like “Miracles,” “Count on Me,” “Find Your Way Back,” and “Jane,” which was co-written by Freiberg.
The band is currently out on the road in support of their brand new album called Mother of the Sun, and from the band, we welcome David Freiberg and vocalist Cathy Richardson.
We talk the new album, which features several nods to the past, including a brand new song, “It’s About Time,” co-written with Slick, and another song written by former vocalist Marty Balin. The album also features a live version of “Embryonic Journey,” a song dating all the way back to the Jefferson Airplane days.
Chris Hillman is one of the unsung heroes of popular music. Starting out as bassist for the Byrds, the band was part of the American answer to the Beatles, electrifying the lyrics of Bob Dylan on “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but showing they could write trailblazing material of their own in songs like “Eight Miles High.”
Hillman introduced Gram Parsons to the band and their all-country Sweetheart of the Rodeo was the result. Hillman followed Parsons to the Flying Burrito Brothers, also took part in the Stephen Stills-led Manassas, recorded some solo records and eventually found surprising success on the country charts with the Desert Rose Band in the 1980’s. Hillman chronicled all of this in Time Between – My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother and Beyond from BMG Books, now out in paperback, and as an audio book, narrated by the author, from Random House Audio.
He talks about recording little snippets of songs he was involved in exclusively for the audio book. He also tells us about a pivotal session he did with Hugh Masekela that helped give him confidence as a musician. And, he discusses the anniversary concert for Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
Before the mid-90’s success of the Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan and Tobi Miller were part of the Bootheels, a quartet led by bassist/vocalist Luther Russell. Although the group’s time was short – they only played a handful of gigs, they left behind some incendiary music – documented in 1988: the Original Demos from Omnivore Recordings.
Russell later formed the Freewheelers before joining Big Star drummer Jody Stephens in the Those Pretty Wrongs. Bootheel drummer Aaron Brooks would later work with Moby, Lana Del Rey and others.
We chat with Russell about the crazy circumstances that led to the forming of the band, how their rehearsal space evolved into a small, but packed-out concert venue, and why the Replacements were such a huge influence on the group. He also talks about upcoming projects, both solo and with Stephens.
New England singer/songwriter Dar Williams has been putting out music for over 30 years. She’s played with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ani DiFranco and Joan Baez, among others. She’s also written several books, including What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities – One Coffee Shop, Dog Run, and Open Mic Night At a Time.
Her latest album is her first in six years, called I’ll Meet You Here. We talk about the inspiration for many of the songs on the record, including “You Give It All Away,” which deals with the current state of streaming music, and “Today and Every Day,” which talks about the little things we can do save the world. She also revisits a song from her very first album, “You’re Aging Well.”
Tito Jackson is part of one of the most talented musical families in history, the Jacksons. With the Jackson 5, their first four singles for Motown Records all went to Number One, including “I Want You Back,” and “ABC.”
After leaving Motown in the mid-Seventies, Tito began showcasing his multiple talents, writing songs, playing guitar and keyboards on many albums, especially those of his family members. But, it wasn’t until 2017 that he put out his first solo record, Tito Time.
Now he’s back with a brand new project, Under Your Spell, and it’s star-studded affair, with contributions from Stevie Wonder, Joe Bonamassa, George Benson, Eddie Levert and more.
We talk with Jackson about the project and how he coaxed legendary producers Gamble and Huff out of retirement to pen one of the songs on the new record. He also tells the story of how, as a young boy, he broke a string on his father’s guitar – an act that got the ball rolling for the Jackson 5.
Donna Loren was a fixture of the 1960’s. She was chosen as the Dr. Pepper girl after a nationwide search, and appeared in numerous TV commercials over a span of five years. She also starred in several Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, including Beach Blanket Bingo, where she sang her signature song, “It Only Hurts When I Cry.”
Loren was a featured vocalist on the weekly music show, Shindig! and shared the stage with many popular artists of the Sixties. She was signed by Capitol Records and released several singles, was a guest star on manyl TV shows, like Batman, the Monkees and Gomer Pyle, and even designed her own clothes. She did all this before walking away from show business to raise a family in the late Sixties. Whew!