Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Interview:--> Larry Sneegas ("Carnival Of Souls" / Actor - Prod Mgr.)

"I love the dead before they're cold."
~ Alice Cooper ~

The film "Carnival of Souls" doesn't want to take viewers on a non-stop deathtrip...rather it tries to slip a few tabs of Oxy into the beverage for a much...slower...ride.
Quietly creeping on little dead feet.

And in 1962, director Herk Harvey, along with a small cast of part-time dreamers with cash flow resembling an after school special ...somehow pulled it off.

And Larry Sneegas, actor and production manager for the film, played no small part in making sure Herk's vision succeeded.  Bearing a delightful resemblance to "...Vacation's" Cousin Eddie...Larry Sneegas was the "go-to" guy when things needed done.

53 years later, "Carnival Of Souls" is still reveling in cult status...being enjoyed by both critics and film-lovers alike.

Larry Sneegas Interview - October 2015

Casey Chambers:  I've seen "Carnival Of Souls" more times than I can count.  I'm going to touch on a few things, but first I want to ask how you got involved with the film.

Larry Sneegas:  Goodness sakes. (laughs)  Well, I had been working for Centron which did a lot of educational productions.   Films like "Why Study Science?" "How To Become A Better Listener," "Why Be A Doctor?"...that sort of thing.  I was involved in all of those productions in various capacities, because I had started there when I was five.

Herk  Harvey, the director of "Carnival Of Souls", worked at Centron as well.  So, by the time "Carnival Of Souls" came around, we had worked together so long that he just let me help cast the production and find locations.

Most of the film took place in and around Lawrence, Kansas but we did a few scenes in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Herk and John Clifford (scriptwriter) were coming back from a meeting in California and saw the Pavilion there in Salt Lake City.  They thought it was an interesting place and decided to work it into the movie.

"Carnival Of Souls" Trailer (1962)

Casey Chambers:  The opening scene is wonderfully shot.  In fact, the entire film feels so odd, yet strangely ordinary at the same time.  Like the way black and white dreams often are.  How did that opening scene go down?

Larry Sneegas:  Well, I found the girls that were in the opening hot rod scene next to us.  And kind of a strange thing happened.  The day we were going to shoot the bridge scene, the little car didn't show up.  So, I had to hurry and find a phone somewhere and found out the guys driving it down had a flat tire.  And they lived in Lecompton (KS).  I got the tire sized, bought one, drove it out there to'em....and I changed the tire for them just to get the car into that scene.

Meanwhile, people were waiting for their chance to go across the bridge and to watch the whole scene happen.  And we had to have licensed people around to watch the destruction of the railing on the bridge...and then of course, its reassembly. We couldn't leave it that way.  It really was an active bridge. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  And it was your character's car-window parlay with the girls that set the whole story in motion.

Larry Sneegas:  It was all just ad-lib...trying to get the girls to race.  They didn't particularly want to, but as the light changed we both sped off.  We passed them on a one lane bridge, which was not a good idea.

The original premise was that our bumpers hook.  Our back bumper would hook their front bumper...and as we tried to get back on the regular would pull them into the rail and off the bridge.  That was how the accident was supposed to have happened.

Casey Chambers:  It's a big scene and fun to watch.  And the film absolutely has a strange and surreal feel...even before the opening credits.  Just eerie.  But bumper-hook or Kansas doubt, the girls lost the drag race.

Larry Sneegas:  Yeah. (laughs)  And another thing about that scene was...we had to have two cars that looked alike.  The one that actually went off of the bridge into the river didn't even have a motor in it.  We didn't want to ruin a car dumping it into the water.  Just the shell of one.  And luckily it sank.  We weren't sure that was gonna happen, 'cause the Kaw River isn't that deep.  My guess might be nine feet deep in the very center during high season.  It was in the spring. And by golly, it did.  It sank. (laughs)

And that was a real good thing too, because theoretically, as the rest of the movie progressed...people were searching for the car the whole time.  Like the river was really deep and the current strong enough to carry it off somewhere.

Casey Chambers:  You also make another appearance later on in the film.

Larry Sneegas:  Yes, in the scene where we run down the steps to go find them and the footsteps run out in the sand and disappear.  I went up to the Creative Dance Studio at The University Of Utah and asked if anybody would like to be in a movie.  And the whole dance team signed release forms to be dancers in the ballroom of the Pavilion.  So, that's how we got the ballroom full of dancers.

Pavilion Ballroom Dance

And the weird thing about it, I had asked the dancers that came out of the ballroom to all dress in black.  And they did.  But then, I couldn't find a black top.  My multicolored sweater looked like a multicolored sweater even in black and white.  Which is really kind of sad, but it worked out okay.

Casey Chambers:  That whole ballroom scene is a creep dance.  Spooky-weird.

Larry Sneegas:  Yeah, well one of the reasons is...I climbed to the top of the Pavilion and we shot through the portal on the top of the roof.  It was a heckuva climb and there wasn't much up there to hold onto.

I held Reza Badiyi (asst. cinematographer) from falling onto the floor of the place.  Did the same thing in a scene where Reza's shooting out the window of an apartment in front of the little white house on 6th street.  In fact, a piece of broken glass came out of the window pane above Reza's head.  It was coming down on him and I put my hand out and stopped it.  It cut my fingers, but it kept him from getting his head cut off.  It didn't make it into the movie, but it was interesting.

Casey Chambers:  Alright!  You're Batman!

Larry Sneegas:  (Laughs) Yeah, it was really strange.  Oh, and Herk Harvey was also the silent face character who kept haunting Mary (Candace Hilligoss).  And every time he appeared, he was encouraging her to come join them...because she was really dead.

Mary (Candace Hilligoss)

In fact, here's an interesting story.  I went to New York to cast the lead for the movie and Sidney Berger (actor) met me there because he was from Long Island.  I thought I had found someone that sounded and looked the part of a relatively young, attractive girl-next-door type.  And we would have cast her, but she didn't want to work on a production outside of New York City.

Then Candace showed up and Sidney thought she was great 'cause she sounded like he sounded...from New York. (laughs)  When we picked her up at the airport, Herk was in the front seat with me...and Sidney was in the back seat with Candace. And the two of them were just going on like they'd been neighbors their whole lives.

Herk almost had me stop the car, turn around and take her back, because he didn't want the lead to sound like she was from New York.  But Candace was able to cover up the accent really well in the film.  I'm not sure what happened to her or where she finished up.  I do know she went back to New York.

Casey Chambers:  So you went to New York to cast?

Larry Sneegas:  Yeah, sure did.  Centron was using a New York production house to develop some film from other projects.  I took a chunk full of their stuff out to be processed and while there...I helped cast the lead in "Carnival Of Souls".

Casey Chambers:  Workin' the pink machine. That's a nice gambit!  Now, you mentioned Sidney Berger earlier.  He was another good actor in the film.  How did he come into the whole thing?

John (Sidney Berger)

Larry Sneegas:  Sidney was one of the first actors at KU to get his doctorate.  This was when Dr. Goff was still in charge of the department.  He was a good actor.  Now here's one of the interesting things about that movie and Sidney.  When he was staring at Mary in the bathroom through the back corner of the door...the eye he was using was his glass eye.  He couldn't even see out of that eye. (laughs)  What a deal!

Casey Chambers:  That's hilarious!  I'll have to go and give the DVD another spin.  Do you remember your first time watching the movie with the public?

Larry Sneegas:  Yes, it was at The Granada Theater in Lawrence (KS) with a full...almost a full house.  It was just a big "thank you" to Lawrence for helping support the movie.  Herk did the whole production for $36,000.  You can't even do credits for $36,000.

One of the reasons he was able to do that...was some of the main people, like the cinematographer Maurice Prather and Reza Badiyi...agreed to work on the production for points that would be paid back as the movie made money.  Herk also put his house up as collateral.  His wife objected to that.  She didn't care much for the picture at all.

Right after the film was released, Herk sold the picture to a man to release it with a Lon Chaney Jr. picture ("The Devil's Messenger") in hopes of it traveling across the south on the drive-in circuit and making some money.  It didn't work.

Early movie poster

The man took the money from the film, sold it to a guy from Europe, and then he took off to Brazil...with the money.  Herk didn't get a dime.  And neither did the investors.  The only time they ever got any of their money back was when the picture came through Europe as a foreign film.  It came back to America and played the midnight circuit in New York, and was a big hit.

In fact, when George Romero made..."Night Of The Living Dead"...reporters asked what inspired him to make the movie.  He said, 'Oh I watched "Carnival Of Souls" one night in New York.'  Everybody asked him, "What's "Carnival Of Souls"? (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  And now "Carnival Of Souls" is praised by critics and film-lovers the world over.

Larry Sneegas:  Yeah, it is.  And there were people that were paid and got some money.  I got paid $250.  I took my money and bought a 1955 Studebaker that I drove for seven years.   (laughs)  So, it was profitable for a lot of people.  But profitability in those days is a lot different than what it is now.

"Like a lost episode from "Twilight Zone," it places
the supernatural right in the middle 
of everyday life and surrounds it 
with ordinary people...and it's possible that it plays
 better today than when it was released."
 ~ Roger Ebert

Casey Chambers:  What was going on in your life before you became involved in making this movie?

Larry Sneegas:  Well, I was real close to graduating from the University of Kansas in Theatre Design.  The major part of the design work was in lighting and I had done stage lighting for the Santa Fe Opera Company for their shows during the summers of '61 and '62.

Now, the summer of 1960, I had started dating my wife while on a USO tour doing "Brigadoon".  Thirty-five shows in seven different countries.  It was part of Eisenhower's People-to-People Program.  And it was the first American musical presented in downtown Seoul, Korea.

And I remember we also did the same thing in Taiwan in front of 1500 national Chinese soldiers.  It was a very strange show.  The general had a microphone...but we didn't.  He was interpreting the performance as we went along.  So right in the middle of a love song like "The Heather On the Hill"...the general would come in with..."Ting ti yi tay ah!".  And he was so much louder than we were. (laughs)  So, it was an interesting experience.

Casey Chambers:  I can see how that would throw you off your game a touch.  And then, after "Carnival Of Souls" was completed and all the hoopla was over, what did you do?

Larry Sneegas:  Well, I went down to Pensacola and got commissioned.  My 'D' in high school algebra didn't carry me through trigonometry to coefficient lift under the wings.  I hadn't gone down there to design aircraft, I went there to fly'em...but my math skills weren't helping me much in ground school.  So after my fourth student pilot disposition board, I joined the fleet in the Pacific.  They made me the assistant oceanographer on a survey ship.

I finished up my surveying in the Philippines.  Went to Hawaii.  Then went down to South America and surveyed the mouth of the Orinoco River leading up to Ventuari River.

Ships kept running aground because they were drudging out the channels for the freighters to follow.  They were dumping it on the south side mouth of the river and the tide was carrying it right back upstream.

It took about two hours to determine where they should dump it, but we were there for two months.  Then I went to Seattle and surveyed outside the Juan de Fuca Straits to help the submarines coming out of their base navigate underwater.

Sub coming up in Juan de Fuca Straits

The interesting thing about all that survey that now, for $4.00, you can buy a chart showing the topography of the entire earth taken with infrared photography from 250 miles out in space.  And it will show all the hiccups and glitches in the earth's surface.  It is so magnificent.

Casey Chambers:  We're living in the future, for sure.  And you still call Kansas your home?

Larry Sneegas

Larry Sneegas:  Yeah, we live in Lenexa, Kansas, sure enough.  I sing with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and also sang with the Kansas City Chorale for several years.  I had to stop because I was working nights for awhile with American Sensory...and it paid more. (laughs)

I was putting three kids through college and that worked out fine.  Oh, and I also helped produce the theater in the park productions for 18 years at Shawnee Mission Park.  Now I have nine grandchildren.  My three kids are all still in the area and so are my grandkids.

Casey Chambers:  Very cool.  Sounds like a full life well lived.  I really want to thank you for sharing all of these stories and spending the afternoon with me.  It's been a lot of fun and I do appreciate it.

Larry Sneegas:  Oh, you are welcome.  And thank you.

"I Love The Dead"  -  Alice Cooper - "Billion Dollar Babies" (1973)

Good stuff.   And Happy Halloween!

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Interview:--> Randy Jackson (Zebra)

" we know
just what the journey's for."
~ Zebra ~

If I were to put together a list of just a few of the most underrated bands (to emerge out of the eighties) that I've had the pleasure of cranking through my stereo speakers or melting my headphones...the oft-forgotten Long Island trio...Zebra...would definitely be on it.

Their self-titled debut was one of the fastest selling albums in Atlantic Record's history. And their studio albums, four at the present, have all received high praise.  Yet more often than not, while sitting in a pass-around circle discussing merits of really good bands,...Zebra seems to get low-balled.

Never an easy band to quite pin down.  Zebra was heavy rock, for sure.  Soft metal-prog, perhaps.  Occasional flashes of Zep and glimmers of Rush can be heard, but comparisons are never fair.  Toss your label tags in the bag, they'll only get in your way.  Zebra were smart, fresh, and consistently on their game.  They were a bit of all these gorgeous sounds. And like all of our favorite under-appreciated bands we hold so dear...they deserve better.

Randy Jackson Interview - September 2015 

Casey Chambers:  Zebra's self-titled debut was one of the most under-rated albums of the '80s.  How did you guys hook-up to form the band in the first place?

Randy Jackson:  When I got out of high school, I was working at a bar in New Orleans called The Library.  Felix Hanemann (bass, keyboards) worked at a little clothing store next door.  One of the guys I was working with was in a band with Felix at the time called Shepherd's Bush...and they needed a guitar player.

So I joined Felix's band and we played together for about a year.  And when that band broke up, the manager of The Library said he knew a really good drummer who had just moved to New Orleans from California.  I went down and met Guy Gelso in French Quarter.  We got together.  Started rehearsing a little bit.  Felix joined us a couple months later.  And that's how I met them.

Randy Jackson, Felix Hanemann, Guy Gelso

Casey Chambers:  When did you guys decide to make the jump to New York?

Randy Jackson:  We had been playing for two years at that point.  That was 1977.  Actually, it was in late 1976 when we made the move up to New York.  We felt we'd have a better chance at getting exposure to record labels if we moved out of New Orleans.  We could have went to Los Angeles but we knew some people in New York.  Had some connections on Long Island.  Our first gig up here was on New Year's Eve...1976.

Casey Chambers:  You're in New York.  New Year's Eve.  First gig.  That had to have been really exciting.

Randy Jackson:  Yeah...and it was also really, really, cold. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Was it difficult making the transition to The Big Apple?

Randy Jackson:  Y'know, we weren't in Manhattan.  New York City is certainly a completely different place than Long Island.  Long Island was really kind of an easy transition for us.  It was the suburbs.  I didn't find it too much different from what I was used to in New Orleans.  It wasn't that rough.

Casey Chambers:  Tell me about one of the clubs you enjoyed playing in those early days.

Randy Jackson:  On Long Island, we played a place called Hammerheads in Levittown.  It had two stages.  One on each side of the room.  They kinda face each other.  Usually, they would have two bands playing.  We actually opened for a lot of bands in that place.  We opened up for Twisted Sister there.  I remember we played with Leslie West.  So we got exposed to a lot of people very quickly by opening up for all these bands.

Actually, we became great friends with Twisted Sister.  When we eventually got our record deal, we were managed by the same manager and it was like a healthy rivalry here on Long Island with Twisted Sister and Zebra.

I would talk to Jay Jay (French) probably once a week.  He was always wanting to know how we were doing.  How many people we were drawing.  'Cause the scene was really, really good.  Everybody was doing...if you were a musician and you couldn't make money back then in Long Island, you better just hang it up.  Because there was a lot going on.  The scene was just real healthy.

Casey Chambers:  Excellent.  Can you remember the first time hearing Zebra on the radio?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, it was up here in New York.  It was from a demo that we had made.  It was on a station called WBAB.   Probably like in 1979.  And the radio station had a program director named Bob Buchmann.

He really liked the band and had us give him our demos.  And he started playing some of our songs on a show called "Homegrown" and they just went right into regular rotation.  We didn't even have a record out yet and we were getting played.

"Take Your Fingers From My Hair" - Zebra / "Zebra" (1983)

I remember the first time I heard us.  I was on my way home from a gig.  It was really, really early in the morning.  We used to play 'til 4:00 am sometimes and I was driving back to Long Beach when I heard it.  And y'know, I don't even remember what the song was now.  It might've been, "Take Your Fingers From My Hair".  It could have been that one.  But I do remember hearing us and it was very exciting.

Casey Chambers:  So how did Zebra score its deal with Atlantic Records, anyway?

Randy Jackson:  We had made a demo for Atlantic and they turned us down the first time.  It was the same demo that the radio had been playing.  Our manager at the time tried to get us a deal, but Atlantic thought the stuff was dated. They weren't that thrilled with it.

But then a couple of years later, a guy named Jason Flom from Atlantic was visiting WBAB...and Bob Buchmann told him they should really be checking this band Zebra out.  The station had been getting all these requests for us and five of our songs were the top ten requests at the station.

Jason was brand new with Atlantic and he was pretty impressed.  He took that information back to Doug Morris, the president of Atlantic, along with our tape...and from there we got signed.  The same tape they had heard before.  It was just different people at the label who were hearing it that time.

Casey Chambers:  Different ears. The business plays with loaded dice sometimes, doesn't it?  What were those songs on the demo?  Did they all make your first album?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, they did.  We had "Who's Behind The Door". "Take Your Fingers From My Hair".   I think "One More Chance" was on it.  "As I Said Before" and "Don't Walk Away".

Casey Chambers:  That's a pretty strong hand.  Now your first two albums...."Zebra" (1983) and "No Tellin' Lies" (1984)...were both produced by the legendary Jack Douglas...who had worked with artists like The Who, vintage Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, John Lennon to name just a few.  How cool was that?

Randy Jackson:  It was exciting.  We needed to get a producer and Jack was at the top of our list.  He had started out as an engineer and played bass when he was younger.  So he had touched on all these things throughout his career and was able to do a lot for us.  And he was a lot of fun to work with.

He had just gone through that whole tragedy with John Lennon getting killed.  He and John had had a great working relationship over many years of recording together.  I'm sure he was still kind of shell shocked.  It was 1981 or '82 when we got our record deal and we finished it up in '83 so...he was just coming out of that.

Casey Chambers:  I bet.  With a good producer there's quite a bit of give and take.  Add a little, take a little.  An extra set of fresh ears will do that.  Did you guys find it difficult to let go?

Randy Jackson:  It was good and he had some good ideas.  I remember particularly...there was an end keyboard part on "When You Get There."  It was something that I wouldn't have been able think of.  You can hear it in the background.  And there was a couple of little arrangement things he wanted like on "The La La Song" singing over the riff was kind of his idea.

We had a different version where we played a whole other section.  Jack wanted to take the section out, so the song ends the way it does on the record.  That I didn't agree with.

I think the song would have been nicer if we had left the end part the way we had it.  The song was long anyway, so that didn't really make any difference...and the end part was cool.  People still ask us to play it, even today and we do.

Jack brought some good ideas.  He really got the band tighter...added some little things to the arrangements for the songs.  Shortening up a bit here and there, his editing was just great.  When you're in the middle of it, it just goes so quickly.

Casey Chambers:  One of the standout tracks from your debut is the epic..."Who's Behind The Door?"...a beautiful and powerful song about "the quest".  How did that song come together?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, I was in Texas at my grandparent's farm, which is right outside of Dallas.  And I had some guitar parts that I had written in open open G.  Just a whole bunch of stuff on different cassette tapes.  And I was a big fan of "2001: A Space Odyssey".

The farm was way out in the country and it was quiet.  I didn't have a phone.  There weren't any distractions.  The song had some religious air here and there in the lyrics, as well, and in a roundabout way, that was the biggest influence on the song.  And I think between the open tuning and melody ideas along with the theme from "2001"...I came up with "Who's Behind The Door?".

Casey Chambers:  Music videos were the flavor of the times and Zebra had a number of entertaining clips.  Did you have any favorites?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, the video thing was just starting when we came on the scene.  I think my favorite one as far as the video goes is "Wait Until The Summer's Gone".  I think it's just because the way it was cut.  The way it looked.  The set design.  It was cool.  It was slick.

"Wait Until The Summer's Gone" - Zebra / "No Tellin' Lies"

The guy that did it...his name was Marty Callner.  He had a lot of experience already working for HBO.  I mean, he had been in the business for awhile.  But this was kind of new to him, too.  He had a lot of great ideas.  So when you watch that video, although we did have quite a bit of influence, that's Marty Callner you're seeing there.  He's got his stamp all over it.  He's a master at what he does.  I really did like that video.

Casey Chambers:  Another good one pulled from "No Tellin' Lies" (1984) for our video-viewing pleasure was "Bears."  Just a killer tune.  That's the one where it shows you guys out in a forest...

Randy Jackson:  Yeah. (laughs)  Again this was Marty Callner and he put it together.  The only problem we had with this one was that the script required that we have a bunch of bear costumes.  And the girl who was in charge of getting the sets ready and all the costumes, didn't do it.  So we didn't have any bear costumes.

He was just shaking his head and said we're shooting in an hour.  How are we gonna do this? (laughs)  In L.A., if you're renting stuff, you gotta reserve it days or weeks before.  So she scrambled in the morning to get some bear costumes and all she could find was one that looked like Dancing Bear from Captain Kangaroo. (laughs)

"Bears" -  Zebra / "No Tellin' Lies"

So we kind of had to rewrite the script from what it was...and I don't even remember what the idea of it was in the beginning.  We just took what we had and rewrote it right there on the spot and shot it.  And it worked.  Our road manager was in the bear costume.  We all had a good time doing it.

Casey Chambers:  Did Zebra ever have the opportunity to perform on television?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, there was a show called "Rock 'N' Roll Tonight" that we did.  I think it was on NBC.  We went out to Los Angeles and did that.  It was during the first album and we did some songs from that record.  I think..."Who's Behind The Door?",  "Tell Me What You Want", "Take Your Fingers From My Hair", and "One More Chance" were the songs.

Casey Chambers:  So this was a show where you could stretch out and play a set.

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, but it was always with another band.  On the night we did the show, there was...I don't know...I can't say who the other band was.  You'd know who they were if I said it, but it's not coming to me right now.

"Tell Me What You Want" (live) - Zebra on "Rock N Roll Tonight" (1983)

We would play a song and then the show would take a (commercial) break.  They'd come back and they'd have the other band doing a song.  It was in front of a live audience, but they would film it the week of the show.  So they might film it on Wednesday and run it on Friday.

Casey Chambers:  In 1990, Zebra released a killer live album..."Live"...which never fails to shake off the dust on the speakers. But you guys also released another tasty little "live" nugget culled from one of your earlier performances for the "King Biscuit Flower Hour."

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, we did.  The one you're talking about was done here on Long Island at Hofstra University.  The was our crowd.  And I think it was during our second album.  It gave us a chance to...well, we knew we wanted to get in there and do as good of a job as we could.

After it was recorded, we went in and had the opportunity to mix it 'cause we recorded it in 24 track.  We had Jack Douglas come in and do the engineering and the mixing on it.  And we got some pretty good stuff out of the sessions we did.  I was happy with the way it came out.

"3.V"  (1986)

Casey Chambers:  Zebra is a great band to see live.  Do you remember the first rock concert you went to?

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, it was 1964.  September 19.  In New Orleans.  It was The Beatles.

Casey Chambers:  No way!  You actually saw them, huh?

Randy Jackson:  Yep.  My parents took my brother and me to see The Beatles.  I was nine, my brother was eight and the Beatles had just come on the scene.  A girl from down the street had brought a Beatles record down to me.  I think it was "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There."...the 45.

My parents had bought us the two Beatles albums that were available at the time.  "Meet The Beatles" (1964) and "The Beatles' Second Album" (1964)  Maybe their third album was out at that point, too, when we actually saw them.

They were coming out with, like, three or four records a year. (laughs)  Four albums a year!  And I thought this was what was normal.  Little did I know this was just completely abnormal for any musical group.  And I didn't really know what I was seeing then...but I loved it.  "Huckleberry Hound" was what we did before that. And then this rock band just took over the whole thing.  It was exciting.  I'll never forget it.
We saw them at a stadium in New Orleans.  It was actually in a high school football stadium right in the middle of City Park.  There was a lot of teenage girls.  They rushed the field and broke through two lines of police to get to the stage.  And that was when The Beatles kind of stopped.  That was the end of it...the end of the show and they left the stage.

The Beatles in New Orleans (1964)

Casey Chambers:  Those black-and-white images of teenage girls crying themselves shitless is insane.

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, it was the real deal.  We were kind of up in the stands on the...stage right.  And there was a family right in front of us and I guess they had brought their 15 or 16 year old daughter.  And she had just lost her mind.  She was trying to get onto the field and her father was holding her back.  Not letting her go.  And she was screaming and crying and I'm just looking at this going...this looks like a lot of fun!

"Zebra IV" (2003)

Casey Chambers:  In 2003, you guys released your last studio album..."Zebra IV."  It's a firestick, and arguably your best.  One of those underrated rock gems that begs rediscovery.  Yet you guys had been away from the studio almost 17 years before striking the matches again.

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, there was a lot of time in-between the third and the fourth record...but we never did stop playing.  We'd always been playing live.  A few of the songs we had already worked into our live set.

And the rest of the songs, the ones that were written more around the time the record was released, are heavier than the ones on our third album.  Songs like "Arabian Nights"  ..."Why"..."Angels Calling."  We had less keyboards and more guitars.  I thought it worked and I'm proud of it.  We play a lot of it in our shows and fans like it.

"Arabian Nights" - Zebra / Zebra IV (2003)

Casey Chambers:  It is a very good album.  And you guys are still slammin' the bam on the road!

Randy Jackson:  Oh yeah!  Zebra will be celebrating the band’s 40th Anniversary at the Patchogue Theater in New York, the day before Thanksgiving.  On December 12th, we'll be at The Sanctuary in Dallas.  Also, on December 13th, we're looking forward to rockin' the Wildley Theatre in St. Louis.  And fans can always check our website for more details.

Casey Chambers:  Those are gonna be some great shows!  I've been to the Wildley Theatre and it's a wonderful venue.  Randy, thanks so much for hanging with me today.

Randy Jackson:  Yeah, no problem at all, Casey.  Thanks a lot.

Zebra's Official Website
Randy Jackson Facebook

"Who's Behind The Door" - Zebra (1983)

Good stuff.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Interview:--> Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy)

"The second time around is never the same."
~ Eric Bell ~

Directly responsible for the rise and popularity of Thin Lizzy, not to mention coining the name for the band, guitarist Eric Bell will forever be remembered.

From his joyous barn-raising guitar crankage on "The Rocker" his definitive gentle and anthemic bar-bellowing "Whiskey In The Jar"...the "vagabond rocker" who provided the guitar fuel was loved and admired by fans and peers alike.

But after Thin Lizzy's fantastic 3rd album "Vagabonds Of The Western World" (1973)... Eric, who was struggling with personal demons I won't rehash, simply walked away.

For the longest time I had simply lost track of Eric Bell, until stumbling upon a wonderful little gem..."Lonely Nights In London" that he had recorded in 2010.  Always a big fan, I was really fortunate to catch up with Eric and talk about the music.


Casey Chambers:  Good to talk with ya, Eric.

Eric Bell:  Casey, can I call you the "Wichita Lineman?"

Casey Chambers:  Absolutely! (laughs)  Eric, I forever became a fan when I discovered your guitar work all over Thin Lizzy's..."Vagabonds...".  And it's still one of my all-time favorites.

Eric Bell:  Sure.

Casey Chambers:  One of many highlights from the album is your "modest" guitar announcement delivered on..."The Rocker."  Exciting...and still fresh meat.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, thank you.  That was a new sort of chord I learned. (laughs)  I was trying it out.  The start of "The Rocker" has that chord in it, which I don't think I'd ever used before.  It's a different voicing.  It's in A.  A Major but it's a different sorta shift.

I'm trying to do things like that at the moment.  It's like going back in time really.  Y'know, the Beatles started that song, "A Hard Day's Night" where George Harrison hits that strange G-11th chord.   'Baiiiiiiiiiiiing! It's been a hard...' (singing)

Casey Chambers:  It almost startles ya, doesn't it?

Eric Bell:  Yeah.  And then Cream did it with another song..."I Feel Free."  There's a jazz chord that Eric Clapton uses at the start of that song.  E7 with an added 9th or something. (laughs)  So it sorta seems to go on.  And then I did it with "The Rocker."  Sorta hit this pental chord.

"The Rocker" - Thin Lizzy / "Vagabonds Of The Western World" (1973)

We recorded "The Rocker" live because Philip (Lynott) asked me, 'Eric, what way do you want to do this?'  I said, 'why don't we try it like the way we play on stage?'  I think that was the second take.  And that's the one we used.

Casey Chambers:  The second about that!

Eric Bell:  Yeah...yeah sometimes the things do work, as you know.  Sorta quite easy.  And other days when it's just like wading through treacle. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  That song was recently featured on a soundtrack for the movie, "Rush" (2013).

Eric Bell:  That's right.  About the racing car driver.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I have had people tell me that "The Rocker" was used.

Casey Chambers:  Your last studio album was..."Lonely Nights In London." (2010)  It's a bluesy-rock offering which is a real gem to spin.  It rocks...but there's also moments of comfortable weariness to the sound.  I find myself reaching for it a lot on late-nighters.

Eric Bell:  Oh thank you.  Yeah, that was recorded in Bernie Torme's Irish guitar player from Dublin who used to play with Ozzy and some other pretty big names.  And he had a studio in England that was in the middle of nowhere.  I ended up recording "Lonely Nights In London" there.

And it really was out in the sticks. I had to stay out there overnight and it was like a bed and breakfast. (laughs)  Yeah, the album was pretty good.  A lot of what I recorded live, y'know, like the way I'm bound to play on stage was just done as a three piece and I just basically started playing.

Casey Chambers:  Well, it turned out great.  And I especially enjoyed the songs that speak of quiet desperation.  The title well as "Belfast Blues" both capture the rabbit.

Eric Bell:  The song "Belfast Blues" is about growing up, leaving school and joining the real world.  I had a lot of trouble trying to work the 9 to 5 job and I had a lot of 9 to 5 jobs. (laughs)  I always found it very strange and absolutely detested them.

And I got very depressed over it.  I started practicing the guitar very hard, putting a lot of work into it...but my family didn't see me having any future as a musician, y'know?

At that point in time, I didn't like living in Belfast and I left with an Irish showband and went to Glasgow, Scotland as a full time musician.  And that's what that song is all about.

"Belfast Blues" - Eric Bell / "Lonely Nights In London" (2010)

Casey Chambers:  There's a very nice YouTube of you performing that song on Eastside Sessions.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, that was real good because it was at The Strand.  Sort of a, what would you say... an old fashioned cinema. One of the old cinemas still going in Belfast.  It hasn't got 9 small screens.  It's got the one huge screen.  And a balcony and big scarlet curtains that close over the screen.  It's a really nice place.  And that's where we recorded that.

Casey Chambers:  In the mid '70s, you recorded a couple of albums with the Noel Redding Band (bassist - Jimi Hendrix Experience).  The second album..."Blowin'" (1976)...was recorded here in the States down in Texas.

"Blowin'" - The Noel Redding Band (1976)

Eric Bell:  Yeah, that's right it was.  I think it was a place called Sugar Hill Studios.  It was where The Big Bopper recorded "Chantilly Lace."  So a few well known people had recorded there.

Casey Chambers:  Well, any studio with a musical history has to be a good thing.  Was this the first time you had recorded in America?

Eric Bell:  That was the first time I was ever in the States.  I missed going there with Thin Lizzy.  And going to Japan and Australia.  So my first tour in the States was with Noel Redding.

I didn't like most of the music in The Noel Redding Band.  It didn't feel right.  It didn't feel natural.  'Cause I was so used to playing with three piece bands and Noel's band had a keyboard player which was quite heavily pushed.  A lot of keyboard playing.  And I didn't know sometimes how I'd fit.

Eric Bell, Noel Redding, Les Sampson, Dave Clarke

Casey Chambers:  One of the songs from the album was "Love And War"...a song you wrote while with the band.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, I was actually just starting to write complete songs then and I didn't really know what I was doing. (laughs)  Dave Clark, the keyboard player and songwriter...he had no more songs at that it was just the management asking me, 'Eric, do you have any songs?'  And I came up with "Love And War"'s not great but y'know, it was a start.  I was trying to write songs.

"Hold On" - Noel Redding Band / "Blowin'" (1976)

(editors note: Could not find a YouTube of "Love and War" anywhere.  Does anyone have one?)

I co-wrote a lot of stuff with early Thin Lizzy.  Like Philip, he would play me a song that he had written and I'd sort of change quite a bit of it...put in new chords and all sorts of riffs and little fill ins and things like that.  And I think doing that actually helped me to start writing songs.  I'm much more into the songwriting now.

Casey Chambers:  Thin Lizzy's definitive version of "Whiskey In The Jar" has grown to become a powerful and emotional anthem. And your gorgeous guitar work is all over the "Jar-o."

Eric Bell:  Oh, thank you. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Whose idea was it to record this one?

Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Phil Lynott 
Thin Lizzy

Eric Bell:  That was a complete fluke.  We were...Thin Lizzy...was rehearsing in a pub in London, which we used to do every week if we weren't out playing.  And on this particular day there was nothing happening.  We tried to work on some original songs but the mood wasn't there.

So Phil had started messing about with these...these silly songs and at one point he started singing "Whiskey In The Jar." (laughs)  Myself and Brian (Downey) started playing along with him just out of boredom more than anything else.

Our manager (Ted Carroll) came in at that point with a new amplifier for me to try out and as we were looking at the amplifier our manager asked us, 'What was that song you were playing just before I came in the door?'  Philip said, 'Ahh we were just messing about, Ted.'  And Ted said, 'Yeah, but what was it?'  Philip said, '"Whiskey In The Jar".'  And he basically talked us into recording it.

We already had a song for an A side called "Black Boys On The Corner" but we didn't have a B side.  This was for our first single with Decca Records.  Anyway, we went in and recorded "Black Boys On The Corner" and then everyone asked us what we wanted to do for the B side.

"Whiskey In The Jar"  w/Gary Moore and Eric Bell
(Tribute To Phil Lynott - 2005)

We were sort of talked into trying "Whiskey In The Jar", so we went out and did it.  And it took me forever to think of the guitar parts.  It was just unbelievably difficult.

Casey Chambers:  You worked it out and that song opened up a lot of doors for you.

Eric Bell:  It did.  Yeah, it really did.  And we weren't prepared for it in a way, y'know?  But it certainly started to pave the way for Thin Lizzy.  There's no doubt about it.

Casey Chambers:  And I saw the appearance you guys made on "Top Of The Pops" doing that song.

Eric Bell:  Yeah. (laughs)  It's very funny you should say that because one of my ambitions as a young musician was to be on "Top Of The Pops"...which I thought I would never ever do.  I mean how do you go about it?  A sort of an unknown musician from the backstreets of Belfast wanting to go on "Top Of The Pops" is like...What?!'  And it happened and it was just...I couldn't believe it.

But I was just going through a bad time in my life at that point.  So if I appeared on "Top Of The Pops" now, I would be very very excited about it.  But then, I just wasn't.  Philip was.  Philip was over the moon about it.  And so was Brian.  But I was just going through this thing in my life and it wasn't such a big deal.

Casey Chambers:  Was that the first time you had appeared on television?

Eric Bell:  No.  My first time was with a showband from Dublin. (The Dreams)  We recorded a song written for us by a pop group called The Tremeloes.  They used to be very famous in the late '60s in England.  And they wrote a song for us called, "I Will See You There."  And somehow our manager got us to appear on a TV show in...I think it was Hamburg.  Anyway, y'know it was a German television show and we were just miming to the record.  That was the first time I was ever on TV.

"I Will See You There" - The Dreams (featuring Eric Bell) (1967)

Casey Chambers:  Do you remember the first album you ever bought?

Eric Bell:  The first album I ever might have been The Shadows or Lonnie Donegan because I was completely nuts about them.  I absolutely loved'em.  I still do.

He was the first guy that I ever heard that was was just so exciting.  There was a lot of very square music being played on the radio, y'know?  'I'm a pink toothbrush, you're a white toothbrush' type of thing. (laughs)  Very strange songs but they weren't great.  And when you're 14...which I was, 14 or just don't want to listen to the same music your parents listened to.  But that's all there was.

And then one day I heard this record called, "Rock Island Line" by Lonnie Donegan and I just...y'know, my life changed once I heard it.  It was just unbelievable.  But Lonnie Donegan...he interested everybody in England.  John Lennon. Keith Richards. Eric Clapton.  All the top guys.

"Rock Island Line" - Lonnie Donegan (1955)

If you look on YouTube Casey, you'll get all of this amazing black and white footage of him playing live.

Casey Chambers:  I absolutely will.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, it's really worth seeing.

Casey Chambers:  Any chance you'll be heading into the studio again soon?

Eric Bell:  Oh, absolutely.  I did this blues sorta gig about nine months ago in Manchester for Andy Quinn.  And after the gig he asked if I'd be interested in doing another album.

So about two months ago, I went in and recorded five tracks which are basically finished...but they have to be remixed.  I was gonna finish up another five tracks later this week but I got the news his daughter had taken ill.  So I plan to finish up recording in about three or four weeks.  I'm trying to go for an atmosphere of moods in the songs.

Casey Chambers:  That's gonna be some good stuff to look forward to.  Let me know when the album wraps so I can add a link for readers to get their ears on it.

Eric Bell:  Oh yeah, sure.


Casey Chambers:  Well, I think I've taken up enough of your time, Eric.  Thank you for all the great music you've made and thanks for hanging out with me this evening.

Eric Bell:  Oh, you're welcome, man.  You're the "Wichita Lineman."

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, I'll own it. (laughs)  Keep on bringing the sounds, ok?

Eric Bell:  All right Casey.  And thank you very much.

Good stuff

Casey Chambers
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Interview:--> Byron Berline (Quintessential Bluegrass Fiddler)

"How country do you want this?"
 ~ Byron Berline ~

So you pick up an instrument and there's just no telling where it might lead.  The sound of the fiddle can quickly fill your chest with joy from a thousand endless summers...and just as quickly break your heart with tears from a thousand goodbyes.  All from a single draw on the bow.

Byron Berline is a homespun memory-sparker.  Sure, he can "Orange Blossom" the bejeezus out of your ears all day long.  That's a bluegrass given.  And if you want, he can saw off an elbow-bending solo that demands you either hang on or fall off.  He does it.  But even better are the beautiful fills Byron lends to a song...adding just the necessary shine without changing the intent.  Sounds easy...but it ain't.  From Bill Monroe to The Rolling Stones...Byron Berline has padded his resume quite nicely.  He's a solid definition of a cool fiddler breeze.  And he has led a pretty extraordinary life.


Casey Chambers:  Byron, you received an invite to play on The Rolling Stones' song..."Country Honk" off their classic album "Let It Bleed."  Would you tell us a little bit about how this rock coup went down?

Byron Berline:  Well, I had just gotten out of the army.  I had been playing with Bill Monroe.  I was down in Louisiana and was lucky enough to get into special services, so I was able to keep playing the fiddle.

The day before I got out of the army, Doug Dillard called me and wanted me to come out to California and record with Dillard & Clark on their second album.  And so I did.

"Polly" - Dillard & Clark / "Through The Morning, Through The Night"  (1969)

While I was there, I ended up doing a few other sessions and things and they asked me to move out there and join their band.  I thought, 'Well, better than going to Nashville and back to whenever I played with Bill Monroe.'  Which I thought I was gonna do.  Just go back to Nashville.  So I said, 'Okay, I'll move.'  My wife, we were married at the time, we moved to California.

It was there I met Gram Parsons.  He was playing with The Flying Burrito Brothers at the time.  And little did I know, he was hanging around with The Rolling Stones.  Especially Keith Richards.

He was trying to get them to record more country sounding stuff, y'know?  So when the Stones decided to recut "Honky Tonk Women"...they thought about putting a fiddle on it.  So Gram recommended me to do it.

And I'll never forget.  I had gone back home to get my furniture and stuff for us to move out to California and I got a call at my farm in northern Oklahoma.  They called and asked me to come out there.  I said, 'Well, I'll be out there in about six days.  Will that work?'  And they said, 'No, you have to be out here tomorrow.'

So, they flew me out from Oklahoma City.  Phil Kaufman, who was their roadie at the time, picked me up at the airport.
We went up to this house on Doheny Drive in Hollywood and they were all hanging out up there.

We went down to Elektra Studios on La Cienega Boulevard that afternoon and I listened to the track.  They said give it a try and see what I could do with it.  After I went over it a couple times in the studio, they said, 'Come on in, 'Line'.  I thought...oh, they don't like it.  They're gonna send me home. (laughs)

So, Glyn Johns and Mick Jagger said, 'We think it'd be good if you went out on the sidewalk and recorded  your part.'  They put a microphone and a speaker outside where I could hear the track.  By this time, all the members of The Doors had shown up.  Bonnie Bramlett was there.  Leon Russell was there...which I didn't know who he was.  They were all just standing around, while I'm playing this track out on the sidewalk in front of the studio.

"Country Honk" - The Rolling Stones / "Let It Bleed" (1969)

I went through it about five or six times.  And the last time I went through was getting about dark bow slipped a little bit.  And they said, 'That's the one we like.'  I said, 'Did you hear the bow slip?'  They said, 'That's alright. We liked that.' (laughs)  And that was that.

I went back in the studio and Keith and Mick were there doing some vocal overdubs.  I got a little bored with that, I guess, and asked if I could borrow a car.  I wanted to go see Doug and Rodney Dillard.  I knew where they were and they weren't too far away.  So they gave me the keys to a limousine and I took off and picked those guys up.  We went down to The Troubadour Club like we were somebody. (laughs)  I remember Rodney saying 'Let me drive.'  We're all smoking cigars and looking important, yknow? (laughs)  It was funny.

There was a guy taking pictures of that whole session but none of them have surfaced.  Not one picture except for one of Bonnie Bramlett looking out the window at me during the recording.  You can see that on Facebook.  But that's how that all came about.  That was one of the first sessions I did when I was out there and it really helped me a lot.

Casey Chambers:  I'd say that was about as good a start as one could ask.  You also became associated with another iconic entity when you got a little face time on an early "Star Trek: TNG" episode. (for those keeping score, it was...S1-E5 "Where No One Has Gone Before" ) How did you make it onto the Enterprise?

Byron Berline daring Riker to get his trombone.

Byron Berline:  Well, they were looking for a violinist or fiddle player.  Anybody who could hold a fiddle and look like they knew what they were doing with it.  I got a call from an agent who asked if I could head down to Paramount Studios and audition for a "Star Trek" scene.

I went down there and the first thing they want to do is look at you and see how you would look in one of their uniforms as a crewmember.  They didn't even ask to hear me play or anything.  They just wanted to see what I looked like.  So I went home and later that evening they called and said, 'Be here early in the morning for makeup.  You got the part.'  And the guy that played Riker...

Casey Chambers:  Number One...Jonathan Frakes.

Byron Berline:  Yeah...he recognized me and said he'd seen me play with The Flying Burrito Brothers in New York City one time.  And he was telling everybody on the set. (laughs)  I thought it was pretty cool that he was into that kind of music.

It took all day long to do that scene and they had an amazing set on that show.  You could get lost on the set.  It was so huge.  It was exciting.  It sure was.  A lot of people saw it when it first aired and said, 'Is that you?'  I said, 'Yeah, it was.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  And that wasn't the first time you had been in front of a camera.  You made an appearance in the very successful film..."The Rose." (1979)

Byron Berline:  Oh yeah.  Bette Midler's movie.  Harry Dean Stanton had a part in it, too.  The director (Mark Rydell) actually had directed an earlier movie that Dillard & Clark kinda got kicked out of.  It was a movie called "The Reivers" (1969)  He dropped all the music and we dropped out of it, too.  So when he did this one, he wanted to make up for it and hired us.  It was a scene with Harry Dean Stanton, Bette Midler, Rodney and Doug Dillard and myself.

Casey Chambers:  You released a wonderful album ..."Fiddle And A Song" (1995)...that was filled with skills and a whole lot of bluegrass fun.  Plus it was nominated for two Grammys.

Byron Berline:  It was.  I had a lot of different people playing on the album with me.  I got Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs to record "Sally Goodin'" with me.  That was the first time those two had been in a studio together since the '40s!  So that was a big event for them...and myself.  There was Mason Williams.  Vince Gill.  Jan Brown.  A bunch of different people, y'know?  Everyone got along great.  Thought it was a good idea to have'em all on "Fiddle And A Song" (laughs)

"Sally Goodin'" - Byron Berline / "Fiddle And A Song" (1995)

Casey Chambers:  Another standout track from that album was "Sweet Memory Waltz."  Tell me about that one.

Byron Berline:  Oh yeah.  Well I came up with that melody when I was backstage in Vegas.  I was there at the Fremont or someplace.  I just started playing it and thought I'll have to remember that.

Later, Jack Skinner, who was a bass player in my band...Sundance...he liked the melody and wrote some words to it. Took him about ten minutes to come up with the words. And he recorded it on his album.  Then I redid it on mine and we had Vince (Gill) sing it.  And people do like that song.  A lot of people who play in fiddle contests do it.'s kind of nice to have your songs played by other people.

"Sweet Memory Waltz" - Byron Berline / "Fiddle And A Song" (1995) 

Casey Chambers:  Byron, you have played with beaucoup artists from Dylan to the I'm just gonna pick one to throw at ya...if you don't mind...and see what you remember.  There's a lost gem on Elton John's..."21 At 33" (1980)...called "Take Me Back".  You put a beautiful stamp on this song.

Byron Berline:  Yeah, they called and wanted to know if I'd play on it.  I remember the session well.  When I went to the studio, Elton was there, of course.  And he was really nice.  I listened to the track and I asked him, 'How country do you want this?  Do you wanna be able to smell the manure on your shoes?'  And he said, 'That's what I want!' (laughs)

So I tried to play it as country as I could for him.  And it got a nice review in People magazine, if I remember right... my solo on that.  It was a long time ago.  And Bernie Taupin, who wrote a lot of stuff for him, asked me to record an album with him shortly after that.

"Take Me Back" - Elton John / "21 At 33" (1980)

Casey Chambers:  I'll have to track that one down.  You got a "special thanks" nod in "Back To The Future III" (1990).  How did you become associated with that movie?

Byron Berline:  Well, it was right at the end.  And it was an afterthought.  They were in the studio winding down the whole thing.  All the score for the whole movie.  They had seen this ZZ Top song and thought, 'Boy, we could sure use some twin fiddles on this.  Some banjo.  Something to make it more bluegrassy or whatever.'  So they called me and we got together.  So I got Dennis Fetchet and myself.  Can't remember the banjo player's name right now.  Anyhow, we went in and did it real quick.  And just like I say, they were already wrapping up the whole deal and thought they needed to get that on there.  We did.  It worked out.

Casey Chambers:  Very cool.  Speaking of bluegrass, every year you host the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  That sounds like a lot of fun.  How did that come about?

Byron Berline:  It is.  I had the idea.  I knew I was gonna move back to Oklahoma in the early '90s or so.  And I had told Joe Hutchinson, who eventually became our state representative at the capital here in Oklahoma about the idea...and he thought it would be great to have an international event.  Invite groups from all over the world to play bluegrass and, of course, have our own bluegrass artists from the United States play as Bill Monroe and whoever and just make it a fun event.

Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival

When I did move back in '95, we got together and he never forgot me and we ended up doing it.  Our first year was in 1997.  Coming up this year will be our 19th festival.  So that idea worked out really well.

Casey Chambers:  Something to put on my bucket-list, for sure.  You were also inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame.

Byron Berline:  Yeah, in 1999.  Vince Gill and I and...yeah, that was kind of a big deal.  Oklahoma's been really nice to me since I moved back.  I've really enjoyed myself.  I couldn't be happier living here.

Vince Gill & Byron Berline 
Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame

Casey Chambers:  Now you were born in Kansas...

Byron Berline:  Right. Caldwell.

Casey Chambers:  Were you raised there, as well?

Byron Berline:  No, I was raised on a farm in Oklahoma.  My dad's dad did labor on a Cherokee Strip in 1893.  And my dad was born out there on that farm.  But Caldwell was our closest hospital...our closest schoolhouse.  It's where we got our mail. We were right on the Kansas-Oklahoma line.  The old saying goes...'Oklahoma claims he's from Kansas; Kansas claims he's from Oklahoma! (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  What are some of your favorite albums?

Byron Berline:  One that I'm listening to right now is a Suzy Bogguss album that she did of old folk songs.  I just love that one.  It was a great idea she had to record it.  She's gonna headline our festival this year.  It's a wonderful album.  It's well done and I just really enjoy listening to it.

The most fun album I ever did...I had all these musicians together y' Dan Crary. John Hickman.  Skip Conover on dobro. Then I had Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and James Burton play on it.  JayDee Mannes on steel.  John Hobbs on piano.  We just mixed it all together.

Casey Chambers:  That would've been fun to sit in on!

Byron Berline:  Oh, and Lee Sklar on bass was most important.  He was really amazing on that.  And we just sat around and put down a bunch of instrumentals I had written.  It was just...I really enjoyed that a lot.  Bill Monroe didn't like it much 'cause it had steel in it. (laughs)  Anyway, it was a fun album.  It's called "Outrageous" (1980).

"...a delightful session that easily stands up to repeat hearings." ~AMG

Casey Chambers:  Old habits can be hard to change! (laughs)  I've really enjoyed talking with you this morning.  Is there anything you'd like to add?

Byron Berline:  We have The Double Stop Fiddle Shop and Music Hall here in Guthrie and we still perform every other weekend.  People from all over come in all the time.  We always have brand new people come in every time we play.  We have a lot of fun.  And we have a really good band.

Casey Chambers:  I can see a road trip in my future.

Byron Berline:  There you go.  And a lot of people from Wichita do drop by.  It's only two hours away.

Casey Chambers:  Thank you very much for taking the time.

Byron Berline:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

The Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival

The Double Stop Fiddle Shop

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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