Sunday, February 9, 2014

Jeremy Spencer Still Has The Blues And Can't Hold Out : An Exclusive Conversation with Founding Fleetwood Mac Guitarist Jeremy Spencer

The British blues boom of the mid to late 1960's was a musical explosion which reverberated throughout the planet. Spearheaded initially on a global scale by The Rolling Stones and subsequent UK beat groups such as The Yardbirds and The Animals, blues rock as a genre was defined when John Mayall released the seminal album 'Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton' in 1966.

Clapton's playing on the release was revelatory, inspiring literally millions of young players to wear out their vinyl copies of the recordings, learning his at the time groundbreaking guitar licks. The then 21 year old guitarist was held in such awe at the time that graffiti started sprouting up around London with the slogan "Clapton is God" spray painted on walls.

When Clapton left John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers shortly after the release of the album to form Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce, he was replaced in Mayall's band by a young Londoner, 20 year old Peter Green.

While initially having to endure cries of "Where's Eric?" from punters at live shows, Green soon silenced them with his fiery playing, incredible tone and vibrato, going on to on to win the respect and admiration of fans and peers alike. Dubbed the "Green God", his incendiary fretwork went on to be an inspiration to Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, all the way to modern day disciples such as Joe Bonamassa.

In 1967, Green decided to form his own blues band and left the Bluesbreakers. That band was Fleetwood Mac.

One man who was there in the midst of it all was guitarist Jeremy Spencer.

Discovered while part of Lichfield, Staffordshire band The Levi Set Blues Band by  Mike Vernon,  the legendary producer soon brought Spencer to the attention of guitarist Peter Green. Upon hearing Jeremy for the first time, he immediately asked him to join the band he was forming, reportedly remarking to the guitarist that he was "the first guitarist to make him smile since Hendrix".

The new band, consisting of Green's ex bandmate from Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Mick Fleetwood on drums, and original bassist Bob Brunning, was initially called "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer".

Later condensed to the much shorter Fleetwood Mac the band's repertoire at the time was mainly straight ahead Chicago styled blues, with Spencer's Elmore James influenced slide guitar being as much of a contribution as Green's heavily B.B. King styled blues playing in the early years of the band. Soon bassist Brunning, who was only a temporary member from the beginning, was replaced by John McVie, who Green had wanted from the beginning, but whom was hesitant at first to leave Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

It was this incarnation of the band who scored  with their 1968 debut recording, simply entitled "Fleetwood Mac', also referred to as 'Dog & Dustbin' due to the album art, crashing into the top 5 of the Official U.K. Albums chart. The  record plateaued at # 4 during a four month chart residency. So authentic were the performances it led to Melody Maker to rave, calling it "The best English blues LP ever released here".
After the release of the first album, hailed as the new crusaders of the English blues movement, the band were on the fast track to success.

A few months after the release of the second LP, 'Mr. Wonderful', having added a third guitarist Danny Kirwan, they had huge commercial success with the Green penned instrumental 'Albatross' which hit #1 on the British singles charts, also having the distinction of being the inspiration for The Beatles' composition "The Sun King" on their classic 'Abbey Road' album'. According to some accounts a tribute to Peter Green, it serves as illustration the high regard they were accorded by rock royalty at the time.

Several more high charting singles in the form of "Man Of The World", "Oh Well" and "The Green Manalishi(With The Two-Prong Crown)" followed, all reaching the Top 10 of the UK charts, resulting in Fleetwood Mac, according to Melody Maker, outselling both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during this time period.

However, at this time, which should have seen the band rise to international stardom, things began to irretrievably crumble. Green was becoming disillusioned and estranged from the music business. Like many of the time, the guitarist experimented with psychedelic drugs, which combined with the pressures of adulation and increasing fame, made him turn increasingly away from materialism and towards spirituality.

This new found mindset led him to resign from Fleetwood Mac in 1970 following a disagreement over his wish to donate the band's royalties to the fight against Third World starvation. A noble gesture, perhaps, but not one which was shared by the other members of the band.

The sudden departure of their most prominent songwriter certainly threw the band into despondency. However, with the addition of Chicken Shack's Christine Perfect (Later McVie) on keyboards and vocals, they soldiered on  for the sessions which were to become 1970's 'Kiln House'. Suddenly without Green, the band relied on the contributions of guitarists Spencer and Kirwan heavily, giving the recordings  a much different, more laid back feel than 'Then Play On' released only a year prior.

Fame, success and drugs,  the pressure of being thrust into the spotlight, and an increasing alienation in musical direction took their toll once again, this time on Jeremy Spencer.

During a US tour in 1971, Spencer left his hotel to visit a book shop and did not return. He was eventually tracked down and found to have joined the religious group Children of God, and declared that he no long wanted to be part of the band.

After leaving the band, Spencer spent the next two and half decades pursuing spiritual concerns. Travelling across the world, much of this time period is shrouded in mystery and myth. Little was heard from the guitarist in this period, although two albums were released in the 70's which had little commercial success.

In 1998, Spencer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame as a founding member of Fleetwood Mac.

In 2006 he released a new album, 'Precious Little' , which showed the guitarist returning to the slide guitar dominated blues he was renowned for while a member of Fleetwood Mac.  Recorded over five days in 2005 in a Norway studio during the Notodden Blues Festival, it was given universal critical acclaim as a return to form, with AllMusic calling it "Worth the wait".

2012's 'Bend In The Road', a similarly styled blues offering, recorded with Detroit based musicians  was given the same reception by fans and critics alike.

Now it's 2014, and Spencer not only has a new album, 'Coventry Blue' culled from the same Detroit sessions that produced 2012’s critically acclaimed “Bend in the Road”, due to be released early March via Propelz Records, but also is embarking on his first tour of the United States in 43 years.

Recently we had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Jeremy to discuss the new album, the tour, his days in Fleetwood Mac, and much more. Join us as we have an exclusive conversation with one of the world's premier slide guitarists, Jeremy Spencer.

Special thanks go to William James of Glass Onyon PR for coordinating, and especially to Jeremy Spencer for doing this interview for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock!


Interview and text by Keith Langerman © 2014 Nightwatcher's House Of Rock


"Jeremy Spencer was a chameleon in the best sense of the word. He acted the blues, lived the blues with the conviction that really matters in music" - Mick Fleetwood 


Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : First off Jeremy, I'd like to thank you for taking the time out to talk with me, it's truly a pleasure. You're embarking on your first tour of the United States in 43 years, the last since leaving Fleetwood Mac in February 1971. Several years back you said you didn't have the time or the desire to go back to the gigging grind. What has changed in the past several years to reconsider and undertake a considerable amount of dates?

Jeremy Spencer : Good question! Maybe I should qualify that and say that I love to play but I still don’t have the desire to return to a full time gigging grind. I need time to create, and use my other talents.

NHOR : You also have a new album, “Coventry Blue” coming out next month via Propelz along with a deferred release of 2012's 'Bend in the Road' to coincide with the tour. What can you tell us about the new album?

JS : When listening to ‘Bend in the Road’, especially the four-sided vinyl version, the listener may sense a musical moving forward and ‘Coventry Blue’ is a continuance of that journey. ‘Bend’ began with straightforward blues, dipping occasionally into my newer compositions, while ‘Coventry’ dips occasionally into blues.

It is interesting for me to discover that many younger listeners prefer my newer offerings, while many of those around my age prefer the older vintage!

Actually, hearing my instrumental demos sparked Brett Lucas’ interest in working with me.

NHOR : Who are the players on the new album? 'Bend in the Road' featured Detroit area musicians such as guitarist Brett Lucas (Betty Lavette) and drummer Todd Glass, who is also playing with The Muggs. Are the players the same on this album?

JS : Yes they are. The bass player, James Simonson is also playing with Betty. They are a tight, capable team, and the three of them play together as a trio called ‘Saint Cecilia’ named after the patron saint of music.

NHOR : What is the songwriting process you go through while making a new album? Has it changed at all throughout the years?

JS : It hasn't changed at the inception of an idea, which could be something bounced off a riff or chord sequence I get on the guitar or piano, along with a melody. I often get one line of lyric or theme, and then the disciplined ‘sit down and lean in on it’ work comes in! That’s when I need a push.

The advent of consumer available computerized recording techniques has facilitated that push and changed my method of going about finishing something (or at least getting it to demo form), and I love that: sequencing basic drum patterns, layering keyboard, bass and string lines etc. As well as tracking vocal harmonies and guitars! Ah, such bliss!

NHOR : Your playing on the last two albums has been particularly strong, in many ways even surpassing what you laid down on record over 40 years ago. How satisfied are you with your playing these days?

JS : When I compare it to years gone by when I was just starting, I am extremely happy with it, but I am not satisfied with it; I want to improve.

NHOR : Unlike many musicians who came up when you did, you've embraced the Internet quite wholeheartedly it would seem, even to the current (as of this writing) Kickstarter project to help fund the tour and new album. Do you feel that the Internet has helped with your career resurgence in a way which couldn't have happened before?

JS : Frankly, it was the record company (Propelz) and other enthusiasts involved that embraced this recent idea! But it’s true; the Internet has facilitated public attention to my recent musical endeavours.

NHOR : I'd like to go back to the beginning, if you don't mind ... What was the defining moment that made you decide to become a musician?

JS : I can’t think of a defining moment. I only know that since my early teen years, I wanted to play music in my spare time; one thing led to another and that spare time became almost full time.

NHOR : Were you from a musical family?

JS : My father played piano. In his youth, he played in a trio with drums and a trumpet player, and he entertained troops during WW2. His grandfather was a singer, his father was involved with music hall and someone back there on my mother’s side played violin. My sister sings part time in a church choir. So that’s a pretty musical heritage!

NHOR : What attracted you to the guitar?

JS : A distant lonely tone responding to the voice, to put it simply. An example was Big Jim Sullivan’s guitar on Marty Wilde’s British version of ‘Sea of Love’.

NHOR : Your love for Elmore James is very well documented, and it has manifested itself in your playing throughout your career. What was it about Elmore's music, and slide guitar which enchanted you so?

JS : I think it was hearing its consummate example of that emotional voice and guitar response, which I appreciated later when hearing Otis Rush, B. B. and Albert King.

NHOR : Do you recall what the first blues record was that you bought?

JS : In late 1964, a British PYE records compilation called ‘The Blues Volume 3’. I bought it for the one song by Elmore on it: ‘The Sun is Shining’.

NHOR : What was it about the blues that attracted you so? It wasn't a genre which was on the charts when you were growing up by any means, not until The Rolling Stones and Yardbirds and all the British beat groups exploded onto the scene in the early 60's...

JS : That is the history in a nutshell, Keith! I liked the Stones when they first came out, then I checked out their influences and liked some of them, particularly Otis Redding and Solomon Burke.

It was not until I heard Elmore and other guitar-oriented artists like Otis Rush and those mentioned earlier, that I became more fascinated with blues.

Then I got to listening to and liking country blues singers like Blind Willie McTell, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and Sleepy John Estes.

NHOR : When you, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and then later, John McVie formed Fleetwood Mac, the first two albums, released in 1968 'Fleetwood Mac' and 'Mr. Wonderful' were fairly straight forward, faithful blues albums. Both of which featured your slide guitar work fairly prominently. By the time 'Then Play On' was released the following year, you were barely on the album. What happened in the interim to seemingly reduce your visibility within the band, at least in terms of recording sessions?

JS : It seemed I was considered necessary for the live shows, but I wasn't getting anything musically new, as hard as I tried. You can’t work that sort of thing up. Pete asked me if I had new stuff for a new album. I said no, just 50’s rock and roll and parody stuff, which wouldn't have fit in with the direction he and Danny were going.

NHOR : Around this time, the band played many of the underground venues of the time, such as San Francisco's The Fillmore, The Warehouse in New Orleans, and Boston's Boston Tea Party and the Roundhouse in London. Recordings from those shows show a markedly different band than the one who were on the first two albums, playing elongated, guitar heavy jams ala The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead, which often stretched past 20 minutes in length. Coming from your background in the music of Elmore James and Buddy Holly, and early American Rock & roll, it would seem that the band's approach during this time was completely at odds with the music that influenced you. Was that the case? 

JS : You have summed up my dilemma perfectly, Keith! Overdriven Les Pauls interminably riffing together on a minor seventh chord was not my taste. I felt so out of place when called up to jam; I couldn't get into it even if, and especially when, I was stoned!

Furthermore, out of all that was happening on the music scene back then, I was beginning to like country music of all things, (anathema to the hippy generation at that time! Especially in the US) so any shred of a musical idea I would get, would be along that line. I also appreciated the mature, tasteful playing of those older Nashville musicians compared to the experimental and largely discordant nature of contemporary younger bands.

Nowadays, though, I love to extemporize with like-minded musicians, such as the young trio I play with in France. The guitarist, Mick Ravassat and I enjoy trading licks and being able to take the tune somewhere else off the cuff, with the bass and drums following suit. However, it is warm and melodic, and I think it takes a special chemistry within the band to pull that off tastefully.

NHOR : What was your take on the whole San Francisco scene at that time? 

JS : I thought the love and peace thing was nice at the time, even though I was coming in on the tail end of it in 1968. The following year, it was obviously on its way down and out. The music and drugs were getting harder, and violence and cynicism was setting in, opening the door to scenarios like Altamont.

NHOR : You were heavily involved in the recording of the first two albums released by the band, yet by the time 'Then Play On' was released a year later, in 1969, you barely participated in the recording sessions for the album, reportedly only contributing piano to "Oh Well". What happened in the space of a year, which caused you to feel so alienated from what the band were coming up with musically that you declined to participate?

JS : I think I covered the answer to this in response to an earlier question. It is not as though Pete wasn't encouraging me to get more involved. He and Mick were always asking me if I had anything to contribute. I just didn't think I did, simple as that.

NHOR : In May of 1970, Peter Green left the band, leaving the guitar duties and the majority of the songwriting to you and Danny Kirwan. What was the mood within the band when Peter left? Was this something which had been anticipated for awhile before it actually happened?

JS : The mood was despondent to say the least! God bless Mick, he pulled us together many times and helped us all to keep a British ‘stiff upper lip’! To this day, I am not sure if Peter’s defection had been anticipated by anyone in the band. Maybe Mick had his premonitions, knowing him better in some ways!

NHOR : It's said that the infamous "Munich incident"(An LSD party at the Highfisch-Kommune in Munich, Germany, which band manager at the time Clifford Davis claims was the night that Peter Green and Danny Kirwan became ‘seriously mentally ill -Editor's Note) accelerated Peter's mental decline at the time. Since you were there, do you see that as being the case?

JS : It makes me chuckle to read so many blog speculations on this matter, but it seems as though the tabloids, media and the public prefer to stick with accepted theories and scapegoats!

Peter took acid with Rainer Langhans and Rainer’s girlfriend, Uschi Obermaier and others who were wanting to stage a massive Bavarian Woodstock. They were hoping that through Peter, they could get Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones to participate in the event. We were small fry!

As far as accelerating his mental decline, I believe it did. Yes, the atmosphere in that rich hippie mansion was undeniably weird by all other accounts, but in my opinion, Peter was heading in a certain direction whether he took another tab of acid or not. Besides, Peter liked those people and seemed to have enjoyed his experience there along with that horrendous musical ‘jam’.

Whatever the circumstances at the time, he had his wits about him enough to make his own choices, which was evident in his adamant decision to leave the band.

NHOR : Peter left right around the time a live album recorded at The Boston Tea Party was proposed to be released. By many accounts, and the recorded evidence supports this, that if it had been released at the time, it very well could have lifted that incarnation of the band into superstar status here in the U.S., given the musical climate of the times. That of course happened several years later for the band with the release of 'Fleetwood Mac'. But looking back now, do you feel that would have been the case, had Peter stayed with the band?

JS : It’s difficult for me to imagine such status being the result of releasing that material!

NHOR : 'Kiln House' was a much more relaxed album after the heaviness, lyrically and musically of 'Then Play On'. What do you recall about the sessions for that album?

JS : We were feeling a little directionless, but the result was an attractively hopeful product, which went over surprisingly well for us in the US. In retrospect, I think the timing of the album’s release was significant, as it came out during the wake of the youth’s disillusionment with fading flower power dreams. Neil Young seemed to be echoing this feeling in his ‘After the Gold Rush’ album, which I liked very much, and ‘Kiln House’ offered something positive in its musical vibe.

Anyway, it was a relief to embark on tour and find the American audiences, unlike those back home, were not hollering for our old stuff!

NHOR : Famously you left Fleetwood Mac in Los Angeles during the tour supporting 'Kiln House', which was the last time you toured the U.S., reportedly saying you were going out to "get a magazine", but never returned. What were the circumstances behind you leaving at that time? Were you not feeling it musically?

JS : If it is kosher, may I quote a fellow interviewer like yourself, Bill Wasserheir of Blues Revue, who asked me a similar question a few years back? He said:

‘You obviously went through a personal crisis in 1970-71. I assume part of it was professional – with Peter gone, the spotlight had to be filled, and you apparently doubts about your abilities – but more so it seems that you had doubts about the meaning and value of your career. Was it a case of “too much too soon” or that it just wasn't enough?’
I answered:
‘… you've summed it up for me right there. All of your above assumptions are right on. Do I need to answer this one further?’

NHOR : Throughout the years of Fleetwood Mac, there seems to be a lot of life challenges which have occurred to guitarists in the band, a phenomena Lindsey Buckingham recently dubbed 'The Curse of the Fleetwood Mac Guitarist'. What is your take on that? Would you say that the band's guitarists throughout the years have been in any way cursed?

JS : In some cases one could assume so.

I don’t understand the dynamics of this sort of phenomena, which manifests itself in artistic arenas other than bands and music, but I believe it is ultimately a spiritual thing, a mystery that we will understand more clearly one day.

NHOR : After you left the band, Danny Kirwan went downhill fast, both mentally and physically, which led him to being fired the following year after you left the band. Have you been in contact with Danny at all recently? If so, how is he doing these days?

JS : The last personal contact I had with him was about 13 years ago, when my wife and I, his former wife Clare and Danny’s son, Dominic had a meal with him one morning in London. It went okay, all things considered. I recently talked to Clare, and she said that he doesn't live like a down and out tramp (another favourite myth of the tabloids!) He picks up the guitar occasionally and reads a lot.

NHOR : In recent years there have been numerous rumours regarding you getting back with Peter, Mick and John in the studio for some new recordings. Is that something you have at any point seriously considered? Is it something you would even be interested in doing at this point, or is that pretty much flogging a dead horse?

JS : I think a reunion concert would be flogging a dead horse, but recording sounds interesting to me as it could give us all some space to try new material representative of where each of us are today and our capabilities without the pressure to perform old stuff.

NHOR : What five blues albums should everyone own in your opinion?

JS : Hard to think of five in their entirety, but I would recommend British Sue label’s ‘The Best of Elmore James’, B. B. King’s ‘Live at the Regal’, and Otis Rush’s Cobra label selection.

NHOR : Your life so far has seen a number of incredible successes both professionally and personally. Are there any goals either musically or personally that you'd still like to achieve?

JS : Musically, I would like to be involved in a film of some sort. Personally, I just want to continue working alongside musicians/songwriters/artists from whom I can learn and with whom I can share what I have gained!

NHOR : What advice would you give to a young player starting out that perhaps you wish you had known when you were starting out in the business?

JS : Always be willing to listen and learn, and most importantly, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you.’ A lifelong lesson.

NHOR : There are a lot of musicians from the late 60's, early 70's who aren't with us anymore. What do you attribute to you not only still being around, but making vital music when so many aren't here anymore?

JS : The grace and mercy of God, primarily, and the support of loved ones and friends.

NHOR : At the end of the day, how would you like to be remembered?

JS : Whoa! That is always a good question. But I suppose my answer is linked to the above: that any good I have done is by the mercy and grace of God and the support of loved ones and friends.


For more information on Jeremy Spencer go to http://jeremyspencer.com/ For a listing of tour dates go to http://www.jeremyspencertour.com/


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Redefining Of A Rising Blues Rock Guitar Hero - An Exclusive Interview With Ryan McGarvey


New Mexico may rightfully be known as "The Land Of Enchantment" for its abundance of sunshine, mild weather, vivid blue skies and spectacular scenery, but one thing it is not known for is blues rock guitar heroes. Certainly there are exceptional regional musicians in the genre, such as Santa Fe's Alex Maryol and Albuquerque's Todd Tijerina, and have been for years, but none have truly been able to break through in an international way. That situation however has begun to change with the emergence of native son Ryan McGarvey.

Born in Albuquerque in 1986, it's safe to say McGarvey was destined to be a musician. Enchanted by the guitar almost immediately, by age two he was given his first acoustic. By age six he was inspired by classic hard rock to pick up the instrument in earnest, and has never looked back since.

Tracing back songs from artists such as Led Zeppelin, he soon immersed himself in blues tradition, combining influences from blues legends Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, Texas guitar legends Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson with the blues rock stylings of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Irish guitar wizard Rory Gallagher and Joe Bonamassa.

Thus began his journey as a musician, playing local clubs, even while still a teen, wowing crowds throught the Southwest. Displaying an amazing guitar technique during performances which normally could stretch out to over four hours long, it wasn't long before he was taken notice of. Leading to McGarvey appearing with and/or sharing the bill with such well established performers as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Wishbone Ash, Back Door Slam, Gov't Mule, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and many more.

In 2007 McGarvey released his debut album, the critically acclaimed 'Forward In Reverse'. Although recorded when he was still but 19 years old, it demonstrated through the album's 10 self penned tracks not only was he an exceptionally talented guitarist, but had the impeccable knack for writing strong, memorable compositions as well. One of which, "Cryin' Over You" took home honors as "Blues Song Of The Year" in the 2007 New Mexico Music awards.

Evidence of his growing popularity amongst fans of the blues rock genre was the fact that in 2010 the guitarist was chosen from a field of over 4,000 hopefuls via fan votes to appear at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival - An event which has served to propel his career into a much higher gear. Three successful tours of Europe have followed, each one serving to broaden and expand his fanbase.

After a long, five year gap between releases, McGarvey is back with a brand new album 'Redefined'. A much more mature and confident offering than his debut, the material - ranging from the hard driving blues rocker "Blues Knockin' At My Door" all the way to the Tommy Emmanuel by way of Joe Bonamassa influenced acoustic workout "Four Graces" - states a very strong musical case for the 25 year old to be ranked firmly amongst the rising stars of the recently burgeoning neo blues rock movement.

Recently we had the opportunity to catch up with the guitarist at home in New Mexico to discuss the brand new album, his recent successful tours of Europe, what the future may hold for him, and so much more. Please join us as we have an exclusive interview with one of blues rock guitar's rising young guns, Ryan McGarvey.(Photo credits, from top to bottom : Rhonda Pierce, Robert M. Knight, Marco van Roijjen, Fons Kersbulck)

Special thanks to Ryan McGarvey for doing this interview for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock!


Interview and text by Keith Langerman © 2012 Nightwatcher's House Of Rock


"I met Ryan in 2006 and was very impressed at the depth of his influence and his ability to put said influences together in his own way.. To watch him grow as a artist and to hear his name mentioned to me as much as it has is a testament to his hard work and skill."~ Joe Bonamassa  



Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : I'd like to get right into talking about your brand new release, 'Redefined', which is just being released here in North America. It's been five years since the release of your debut album 'Forward In Release' in 2007. Why such a long time in between releases?

Ryan McGarvey : I've had stuff recorded for the past year. I'm now actually very happy that I took so long. I feel that it was done right. What it really was, is that things kept being delayed due to record labels. Every time I'd get to the point of putting something out, more and more industry people would say, "Wait before you release that. Let us see what we can do". It kept being that way for so long, even until recently.

Then I got tired of waiting. I had so many people saying, "Oh, we can't wait for your next record". I couldn't wait either. (Laughs) I wanted it out more than anybody. Finally, we had so many songs recorded, I figured it wasn't going to hurt anything if I just released it myself.

NHOR : There's definitely a more hard rocking vibe in comparison with the first album, and you've shifted musicially a bit from straight forward blues rock on the songs here. What were the reasons you decided to go towards a more harder rocking sound with this release?

RM : 'Forward In Reverse' has more of a straight blues rock vibe. But even when we recorded that one I didn't want it to be just the standard "I -IV-V" blues album. I'm still very proud of what I did on that album. It was a good picture of where I was at that time.  But this one I feel really shows where I have grown. I wasn't holding back as much.

I grew up on classic hard rock, even really before I had gotten into blues. I think a lot more of that came out on this album. It's another picture of where I was. This album was recorded last year. It shows where I was at that time. I think my songwriting has blossomed more on this album, rather than being restricted to a straight blues format. There's still a blues influence there. People are really happy with it. It's just a new heavier step from what I was doing on the first album.

NHOR : How satisfied with you with the record now that it's finished? Is there anything about the album that you'd like to go back and change?

RM : There's always things that I hear where I'm like, "Oh, I don't do this now. I'd like to change that" There are always little things that I'd like to change. But I'm still very happy with how it turned out. I haven't really had a chance to listen to it lately. Luckily...Not that I got burnt out on it, but I listened to it so many times during the recording process. I was finally able to give it some space. I recently listened to some of the songs, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It sounds like a record that I would like if I were listening to someone else's album. It sounds really big. I'm really happy with the production quality.

NHOR : Did you feel a lot more confident going into the studio this time around?

RM : I would say so. We went in, with the band who recorded it with me, Sam Miller on bass, and August Johnson on drums, and in one day we recorded 21 songs. Most of those were all no more than two takes. I wanted it to have more of a raw feeling, so that it wasn't too sterile sounding. It was really basically us rocking out in the studio live. There was very little overdubbing. We did go back and redid some vocals and that was about it. We listened to the playback that night, and we were like, "This sounds like a good record" I was happy then, and thought this was a great follow-up to the first CD.

My vocals I feel have matured and grown throughout the years, and continue to do so. I was more flexible to try new things. I could hear myself on the first record kind of holding back, trying to hit that certain note or key. I think it's better when you don't pay attention to that and just go for it, even if it's off just a little bit, the feeling makes up for that.

NHOR : What songs are your favorites on this album? 

RM : It continually keeps changing. I always love "Never Seem To Learn", for a rocker. At festivals we've played live, people get into a unison clap even before the song gets going, then it just takes off from there. It was cool for me, because I didn't feel like I really had a rock song like that on the previous album. Also, "My Sweet Angel". "So Close To Heaven" is also getting really good reviews as well, and has become a real crowd favorite I think. Even some of the ones that I didn't think would be as mentionable, such as "Pennies", I've had people who are really happy that it's on the album. So now it's been a song that we hadn't been playing live, but now we are, and it's becoming one of my favorite songs to play.

NHOR : As a young artist, how difficult is it for you to come up with something fresh and new given the long history of the blues rock genre? Is there ever a time when you go, "Well I can't play this, this sounds just like this song"?

RM : I think that happens a lot. If I can, I'll let a song develop for awhile so that I can look at it. Sometimes it's like, "Well, I don't know if it was subconscious, but it sounds to me like this song". Or it has too much of this vibe, and I don't like it now. Sometimes I'll do something like that, but if it's a strong enough song, it's sometimes me thinking that and nobody else. Then I'll try to do something different to it. I'll use a different effect, and try this different. Instead of playing it like this, let me try it this way. Just try to change things up always so that it's not too repetitive. I sometimes wish there would be an app for the phone that you could run a song through that you just made, and it would tell you, "It sounds just like this song". (Laughs)

NHOR : Right, This chord progression is from this song, these licks are from this one....

RM : Right. It's almost impossible to come up with something that hasn't been done. Because it's all been done before. There's a reason that the chords go together with each other. Because they have to go that way. It's kind of the rule. (Laughs) As much as I can, I try to ...if I even hear my playing sound too much like someone else, I purposely don't listen to them. I'll try to listen to someone else.

NHOR : In terms of songwriting, what is your process when you write? Do you usually come up with music first, then the lyrics? Or the other way around?

RM : It's always kind of back and forth. I'll usually have a reserve of ideas in my head. Something that I've come up with, that I'm toying with. Those kind of stack up, and usually the lyrics come as they come. There have been times, such as on the first album, when I wrote "Joyride" it took me about 10 minutes I think. I sat down with the guitar, had it mapped out. I was sitting in front of a computer playing it, and I wrote the words as I was sitting in front of the computer. It all blended great.

It's always a vice versa. Sometimes I'll have lyrics for a really long time that won't fit anything, then I'll be jamming something new, perhaps with the band, then in my head I'll go, "Wow, that would go great with these lyrics". Ones that I wrote a month ago, or something like that.

NHOR : Do you ever encounter a block when you're trying to write, or do the ideas just flow naturally out of you?

RM : Sometimes if it's forced, I think it can be a little bit hard, but I've never really had a block when it comes to that. I've been such a big guitar fan, I can grab a different guitar, sit down, and something which I never would have thought of on the other guitar just kind of comes out.

On this record, with "All The Little Things" I borrowed a Dobro, went into my room, had it tuned to a Bluegrass tuning, was playing around with it, and everything just came together. Then it grew from this acoustic thing that I was learning. I picked up a Telecaster, and it evolved over the years. It all developed from me sitting down with a different instrument.

NHOR : Do you feel sometimes when things aren't coming together, if you get another guitar it will give you inspiration that you wouldn't have had if you had continued playing the other instrument?

RM : Yeah, definitely. Like, every time I pick up the Telecaster, even if it's for two seconds or so, I'll start playing some sort of chickin' pickin' country lick. That would never had been played on this guitar, but as soon as I pick up the Tele, that's what comes out.

For a long time too, something that I was kind of scared about would be everytime I'd pick up a Strat, a Stevie Ray type sound would come out. It's just too easy to fall into that. Now though, any guitar I pick up, I'll pretty much play the same. Even now, with my electric set up, I'll be like, "I've got to use my fuzz pedal on this". Lots of variations help though.

NHOR : Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?

RM : Lots of different things. I find the ones that people always connect to are the real life based experience songs. It also helps me because I think it comes across more believable. I always try to take things from real life but try to write them in a way that's not like based off someone's name or something. Something that's very open to where either sex can listen to it and picture a scenario that they've been in. That they can picture something from their own life in.

I've had fans come up to me and say, "Oh, I really love this song because it reminds me of an experience that I had". I'll think that's pretty cool, mine was based upon an experience I had in high school or something like that. I pretty much try to keep it open ended.

NHOR :  I guess with your songs being based on real life we can't expect a prog rock epic filled with faeries and wizards and such from you anytime soon...

RM : Hey, you never know. (Laughs)

NHOR : The album was produced by you, your dad Pat and Bill Palmer in Santa Fe, then subsequently was mastered by Brian Lucey, who has been very busy lately with the latest from The Black Keys, Oli Brown, Dr. John, and now you. How did you get hooked up with Brian, and why did you choose him over other mastering engineers to add the finishing touches?

RM : I actually got hooked up with Brian through Bill Palmer at Frogville Studios in Santa Fe. I'm not sure how he got hooked up with him, but he had done a few things recently with him. I was actually dealing with someone else who was working with some really big name rockers. I was kind of leaning towards them because they had a really good deal and had a good resume.

Then I saw Brian's resume, and thought that was more of what I was wanting to do. I didn't want to be kind of typical either, in the aspect that all the blues guys are using these guys, so we have to go to them. The two albums that Brian worked with The Black Keys on, I really liked.

I listened to the different albums Brian worked on, and he was really eager to work with me. I really appreciated that. It was a thing of, he's a great guy, and I'm really liking his work. He was super over the top professional, and that was great.  Working with him was quicker than if I had been working with someone locally. It was beautiful how that all came together.

Working with Bill at Frogville Studios, he was awesome with the tones that we were going for. He could totally read my mind. Instead of giving me an excuse of how he was going to make it sound a certain way, it would turn out that way. Just the way I wanted it to. Him being a musician, he knew what to expect.

NHOR : It's good to have that sort of musical empathy.....

RM : Totally. He always had it down. He didn't push too much. Any type of ideas he came up with, it was usually something I was already thinking. Him being a musician it just melded really good.

My Dad, having been around the songs hundreds and hundreds of times, has a great ear to know how it was supposed to sound. He has a great ear for details on how the music was supposed to be. Then there was what was in my mind, how I had always envisioned how I wanted it to sound on the album. It was a great environment, a very family vibe, and it all went so smoothly.


NHOR : One artist you have been frequently been compared to is Joe Bonamassa, and there are elements of your playing which certainly appear to be influenced by Joe. What elements of Bonamassa's playing have had the biggest impact upon you?

RM : I think a lot of things, and even how we have become friends even, is the way we look at things sometimes. We kind of think very much the same.  For me, even before I found out about Joe even, there was the Eric Johnson influence. I always wanted to go after some of what he's doing.

Not to be totally like Eric, but having still that edge and heaviness of blues rock, and having the ability to throw in the elegant part of his playing.

That was already kind of in my head, then Joe kind of had a lot of that already. It's a back and forth thing. Something that I'll think about doing, Joe just did, a few nights ago or something. Then I'll be like, "Nevermind", and move on.

I think it's just having a lot of the same influences. I think that comes out, who we listen to. That's how he has influenced me. I kind of tried to show more of a rock vibe on this album, to stay away from too much of a comparison to him even. More focused upon the song, rather than the solo.

NHOR : You're good friends with Joe. Since just several years ago he was travelling the same path as you are, and has to be considered a trailblazer in terms of bringing a new acceptance of blues rock to the masses, has he given you any advice?

RM : He's always giving me great advice. There's always words of wisdom that he got from other people that have really stuck with him. And it's great advice. Sometimes I'll go to him, and ask, "Hey, this is going on. Have you ever gone through this?" And he's always there with some words of wisdom.



NHOR : You've just returned from your third tour of Europe in the past year, playing in Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. What has been the response there to your music? Were you happy with the way things went on this tour?

RM : It's breathtaking almost every night. Even our smallest show, we'll show up and the entire room's filled with people. I'll have it in the back of my head that I'd be so happy if six people showed up, that would be amazing. To go from one side of the world to the other, and hope that people will actually want to come and see you play. Then to have situations where there's lines at the door, and we're selling out shows, at really decent ticket prices, it's almost mind blowing.

Every show, I almost kind of refuse to look out at the crowd at first. Then I'll get onstage, and we'll be halfway through the first song,  then I'll finally look out at the crowd, and think, "Wow, there's a lot of people here". (Laughs)

NHOR : What, if any do you feel are the differences between European audiences versus here in the United States?

RM : I feel like here, in the United States, people go out more so as we're going to socialize, drink, have a good time, and the concert, or band performance is an extra bonus. "We're going to go do all this, and then.... there's the band".

When we go overseas, they're completely dedicated to see the band, and I mean watch the band. They're very detailed, they'll listen and pay attention. Being able to drink and be with friends, that's their bonus. It's kind of a flip flop. They really get excited about seeing the band. They pay attention to each band member, what they're doing on their instrument very closely. They're just so attentive. It's very heartwarming actually. You can hear a pin drop sometimes during a dynamic moment of a song. Back home, I would hear seven girls laughing, glasses breaking. (Laughs)

NHOR : Do you feel that has pushed you as a player? To have that sort of attention, where they're actually there to listen to what you're playing rather than just being a soundtrack to having a good time?

RM : Definitely. I think it's great. Even the technology now. There's a couple hundred videos that pop up on YouTube every tour. And someone in the crowd got every single song. It's all on there somewhere. Everything has to be perfected. I think we did a great job on this tour. Every night after the show, we'd be like, "Well, in this song, we did this...Ehhhh...didn't really care for it. Next time let's do this to fine tune this". Just continually trying to perfect things. Especially with the crowds being as attentive as they are. You want to put on a really good show, and be as close to perfect as you can. Yet still allowing yourself to breathe.

NHOR : How does that awareness of, especially when you are in Europe, of knowing that almost every song that you play is going to end up online almost immediately? Does it make you focus more on your playing?

RM : I think we've gotten to good point right now. Where there is kind of like a steel frame for every song. We know the map of each song, but still there are moments where we can go off the beaten track if the moment's just right. Sometimes you're so caught up in the song you get through it, nail it perfectly, but it's just there. Sometimes I'll get sidetracked play the song a bit different, and halfway through I'll think, "Oh I'm going to see this on YouTube". Then I'll wonder if I'm going to hate myself for doing that tonight or if it's going to be cool. (Laughs)

NHOR : While at the Kwadendamme Bluesfestival in Holland in May, you had the opportunity to sit in with bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Ted McKenna, whom of course spent many years with the late great Rory Gallagher. Being a big fan of Rory's, and him being a big influence on you, what was that like for you sitting in with them?

RM : It was so great. We were playing the festival, and they were going to be playing after us. Specifically for Europe we worked up a heavy rock cover version of Rory's "A Million Miles Away". We were at the festival, and knowing that they were going to play I didn't want to play that song that night. I knew people would be fine and cool with it, and there were even people in the crowd who were asking for it, but it was just kind of a weird thing for me personally. Playing this Rory song this way, then his real band was going to come out and maybe play it. We held off, and ended up playing something else for the encore.

I got to meet them, and was hitting off with them all about being Irish, talking about Ireland and all that. Then it had been built up by a lot of people over "Oh, what would you think about having Ryan out there with you maybe?". Because the name of their band is Gerry McAvoy's Band Of Friends. Finally, I was talking with Gerry, and he was saying, "Yeah, why don't you put an amp up on the side. We'll see, but we can't promise anything. But we'll try and get you up with us".

I was fine with that. I wasn't pressuring for that. I would be there regardless. Towards the end of their set they asked if I wanted to play "Messin' With The Kid" with them. So, I did, and it was a thrill. They're all such top notch musicians, and such gentlemen, it's unbelieveable.

NHOR : You started playing guitar at the age of four. What was your inspiration for picking up the instrument in the first place?

RM : I grew up around guitars through my Dad. He'd get home from work, he'd play just to relax, strumming the guitar a bit. When my parents saw that I couldn't leave it alone, and how much it was exciting me, they gave me my first acoustic when I was two. Of course I couldn't do anything with it at that point. They didn't push me either. They figured, he'll either like it, and it'll be geat if he wants to pick it up, but if he doesn't, it's not a big deal.

Then when I was around six or seven, I believe, I accidently picked it up, and began playing with it. Like a toy, playing with the guitar. I accidently was playing with it, and realized what I did. I ran and showed my Dad, and he corrected my fingers a little bit. I was playing the intro to Heart's "Barracuda". I just thought it was the coolest thing ever being able to do it. God knows how long I played that over and over. (Laughs) It just grew from that. Then my Dad showed me some basic chords, and before I knew it I was picking things up, like Led Zeppelin stuff, trying to figure out things on my own playing along with cassettes, wearing them out.

NHOR : What album if you had to choose was the one which made the biggest impact upon you as a young player? 

RM : There was some live stuff that I was figuring out that I had on tape when I was young. I remember the Coverdale/Page album. I remember completely wearing that cassette out, listening along and learning how to play songs from that. There are a ton of albums that were thete when I was first really getting into playing, such as the guitar work on Sass Jordan's 'Rats' album. There are so many riffs and licks on that one. The first Kenny Wayne Shepherd album, all the Stevie Ray stuff. They all just happened at once for me.

NHOR : What drew you to blues? At that time when you were really getting into playing it was right around the height of the grunge era, so you could have easily been more influenced by Nirvana than Stevie Ray Vaughan....

RM : I started tracing things back. I already kind of knew. By the time I discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan, and was really into him, it took a little bit of time for me to get into him at first, and really appreciating what he was doing, it was Led Zeppelin. The first song of theirs which was a favorite was "Gallows Pole". Which I traced back to being a Leadbelly song. Then I fell into learning about Robert Johnson. For awhile I became kind of a blues purist. All I listened to was blues, blues, blues. I was only into really traditional stuff. Thankfully I got out of that.

I still have such a love for it, but luckily I was able to mix the influences and not be narrow minded about one thing. But just tracing it back, and the blues being such a huge influence on Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and such.

NHOR : Do you recall what the first album you bought was?

RM : I think there were three. There were two vinyl albums...My Mom and sister were going to a record show and I think I gave ten dollars to them. I got a rare German import of a Jimi Hendrix album and a Ventures record. Another one I got around that time was Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Live Alive!'.

NHOR : How would you rate your own progression as a player? Are you satisfied with your playing at this point?

RM : I think not satisfied to the point of always wanting to do better. Usually before a show I don't typically warm up. Every once in awhile I'll be noodling before a show, and I'll even find things there. During a show I'll do something and it's like, "What was that?" And then I'll think I need to figure out how to do that better. I think it's always developing. Especially in the aspect of singing and songwriting. I think it's always sounding a little bit better, and sharper. More polished in every way.

When I was 12 or 13, I was playing all the Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix stuff already. In theory, I could have found a couple of guys and played the clubs, even at that age. But even at that age, I didn't really like the really young guitar players trying to play blues. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I think there's a cut off point somewhere. At some point it just gets kind of weird.


NHOR : It's just a novelty act, or even like a freakshow at some point.....

RM : It can just sometimes get too weird. I thought that when I was really young. I started when I was young, but when I was around 15 or so I was sitting in with people in clubs. I wasn't trying to really push it, like, "Come see me, I'm a young teenager trying to play blues". I think even at that point there was talk of, "Hey, you should do a CD". But I'm glad I waited until when I did. Because that album could have been horrible. (Laughs)

We started to record the album 'Redefined' not long after 'Forward In Reverse' was out. We started it, and the production got way too far out with other people's input on it. Before I knew it the songs didn't sound right. I didn't like anything that was going on the album really. One thing that I'm super thankful about waiting on it is it sounds so many leaps and bounds better than it was going to be. I'm glad there was a little space to make sure it was actually right.

NHOR : When you're onstage, and launching into a solo, what is going through your mind at that time? Do you let your music take you to another place? Or is it more along the lines of "God, I hope I don't mess this up?"

RM : I don't think I ever worry about ruining it. That just happens naturally. (Laughs) I think it definitely takes me somewhere. That's the one time that I can let myself go to feel it flow. Sometimes it can depend on the night too. Sometimes I'll have a million things going on in my head that I don't even realize what I'm doing. I'm feeling it. There are so many things that i'm worried about. The words to the song, am I making enough contact with the audience,  are the amps sounding right, what's the drummer doing...what's the bass player doing...all these different things.

Even the little distractions. It just takes one thing to overflow the mind. When I'll hit my flub I'm like, "Oh my God, what was that? What just happened here? Where was I?" (Laughs) So the solo's the time when it can all just take off. Then I'll come back to reality after that.

NHOR : Where would you like to take your music in the next 5 years?

RM : I'm always anxious to see where it's headed to. I don't know if I would even have pictured this album at the time I was doing 'Forward In Reverse'. It seems like so much of a heavier record than that was. Even now, I don't think that it sounds super heavy, like a metal album. It just has such a full sound to it.

I'm excited to see what I'm going to sound like. What will my guitar sound like? Will my voice be more like this person or more like that person? We're always trying to expand it and take it somewhere new.

NHOR : Obviously being chosen to play at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010 was a pivotal moment for you. Do you feel that it has given you a step up in your career?

RM : I definitely think it's something which has been the biggest mark on my resume. It's been an even bigger boost than I could have hoped for.

When we went over on our first tour of Germany. our first appearance was at the Grolsch Blues Festival, we were talking to people, and the second we started playing songs from our first album, a crowd of thousands were singing every song perfectly.It was all based upon people actually having the album for awhile. It had gotten great reviews.

They are more about quality rather than trends over there. If a song's eight minutes long, they'll still play it on the radio because it's a good song. Where here, if it's not under three minutes, thirty seconds, you're not getting on the radio.

It was already manifesting. But I think the Crossroads thing definitely gave it a booster shot. I know that's what made things kind of grow before we got over there.

NHOR : What has been the most bizarre experience you've had on tour thus far?

RM : There was one time, and it was actually overseas, which made it more weird. After the show, I found out there was a guy who was drunk who was trying to start a fight with everyone. Including my band, and even my Dad who was with us. The guy was threatening everyone, he left, and I was kind of oblivious at the time, and didn't know what had goine on already.

I was sitting at the bar, and I heard all this commotion, and people yelling to get back. Usually when there's a bar fight, I'll get 10 to 12 feet back, so that I'm not involved with it. I'll just walk away, and let people take care of it. The guy was pushing past me, and trying to go towards my drummer. I jumped back, and I was still trying to grab my drink, just casually trying to get away. Then everyone was really screaming at me. Because he had gone back to his house, and had come back with a gun, threatening to kill somebody.

It was a crazy night, and in the midst of everything, with everyone telling me to hide somewhere, I had fell down in the dark and hurt my knee really bad. It was kind of messed up for the rest of the tour because of it. A week later, we were talking about it, at another show, and it had been in all the newspapers. About the guy who had come to our show waving a gun, threatening to kill someone.

NHOR : What artists are you listening to now?

RM : I'm kind of in a weird rotation right now. I've been listening to a lot more mainstream music than I usually listen to. A lot of random things. I've also over the past year gotten a lot of influence going with friends to see rock shows such as The Foo Fighters. I didn't know that I would like them as much as I did. I have so much respect for them. They came out beforehand and said, "We're playing for three and a half hours". Then they came back and played like six songs for an encore. They just put so much into their performance. I was getting exhausted just watching them. (Laughs)

There's also always a handful of young blues rock guitar guys.We just played a festival a couple weeks ago with Aynsley Lister, whom I've been a fan of for a long time. So I've been listening to him a bit more lately. Henrik Freischlader, from Germany, who I got to sit in with recently is just amazing.

NHOR : With all the shows you've been playing lately have you considered releasing a DVD of live performances? Is that something you'd be interested in doing anytime soon?

RM : We were supposed to do a couple things in Europe but they fell through with people. We're talking about maybe next year, but I've been looking into maybe just doing it here in the States, like a hometown type of thing.

I have a lot of ideas for various projects that i'd like to do right away. I want to do a third album. I want to go in right away and do an acoustic album. The third album, I'd like to do a more blues based album featuring every spectrum of the blues. Maybe have special guests on it. Then a fourth album after that. I'd also like to do a live CD with a DVD to go with it. It's almost a case of too many ideas but not enough time.

For more information on Ryan McGarvey go to http://ryanmcgarvey.com/


"So Close To Heaven" from 'Redefined' 2012



"Blues Knockin' At My Door' from 'Redefined' 2012




"Four Graces" from "Redefined" 2012



The Ryan McGarvey Band Live Vienna, Austria April 30, 2012



Ryan McGarvey "Hey Joe" Live Wijk, Holland November 26, 2011




Ryan McGarvey with Samantha Fish and Kate Moss "Got A Good Mind To Give Up Living" 2012




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From The Heart And Soul : An Exclusive Conversation With Beth Hart

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1972, it's quite clear that Beth Hart was born to be a musician.

Beginning to play piano at age four, she later attended L.A.'s High School for the
Performing Arts as a vocal and cello major.

From classic female vocalists such as Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, singer songwriters as Carole King to the heavy metal rumblings of Black Sabbath and Rush, Hart naturally soaked up all the musical influences around her.


Often compared to the late rock legend Janis Joplin, whom she portrayed in the theatrical production of 'Love Janis' in 1999, its more due to her ballsy, no holds barred approach to singing rather than being a copyist which draws such comparisons.


Signing to Atlantic's Lava imprint, Hart issued her debut album, 'Immortal', in 1996. Her
sophomore album, 'Screamin' For My Supper' released in 1999, saw her influenced by a deep love for the blues stylings of the great Etta James. The album was also notable for spawning top 5 Adult Contemporary Chart hit in "L.A. Song(Out Of This Town)",the success of which spurred on by its inclusion in episode 17 of the final season of mega popular TV show Beverly Hills 90210.

Subsequent albums, such as 2003's 'Leave The Light On' and 2007's hard rockin' '37 Days'
continued to exhibit a musical maturity lyrically informed by autobiographical tales.

The live CD/DVD 'Live at Paradiso', released in 2005 demonstrated firmly that not only was Hart an impressive singer/songwriter, but that she was able to deliver the goods live. A stunning example of rock showmanship, it ranked her among the elite of her craft, attracting such admirers as British guitar god Jeff Beck and ex Guns N Roses axeman Slash. Around this same time she also contributed a smoldering performance on the album 'Les Paul & Friends : American Made World Played' accompanied by Journey/Santana legend Neal Schon on "I Wanna Know You".


In 2010 she recorded and released her latest solo release to date, the thought provoking 'My California' . A showcase of vignettes gleaned once again from Hart's personal experiences, including the poignant "Sister Heroine", an ode to her sister whom she lost to drug addiction, it proved that 14 years into her career, at a time when many have peaked, she was just hitting her stride.

Earlier this year she worked for the first time with blues rock guitar titan Joe Bonamassa,
providing the background vocals on the track "No Love On The Street", from the guitarist's latest solo album 'Dust Bowl'. Recorded during the same time as the sessions for the duo's brand new release of blues and soul classics,'Don't Explain'' which hopefully will be a catalyst for a long, fruitful working relationship for many years to come.

Releasing an album of cover versions is always a dicey proposition due to obvious comparisons
to the originals, yet Hart and Bonamasssa, more than ably assisted by uber producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Black Crowes, Joe Bonamassa) have deftly conjured up a sound all their own.

Weaving their own sonic tapestry, Hart's sultry and seductive vocals combine with Bonamassa's mastery of blues rock guitar to breathe new life into such classics such as Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind", Ray Charles' "Sinner's Prayer" as well as unique interpretations of such material as Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus" and Delaney & Bonnie's "Well, Well", resulting in one of the finest releases to grace 2011. A testament of which being the fact that the album has just been nominated for 'Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year' at the 33rd Blues Music Awards, to be held May 10, 2012 in Memphis, TN.


Recently we were able to catch up with Beth at home in Los Angeles to discuss her thoughts on the album, her philosophy regarding her music, what she has in store for the future, and
much, much more. Please join us as we have a candid conversation with one of rock's most talented vocalists, Ms. Beth Hart.

Special thanks go to Erin Cook at Jensen Communications for coordinating. and a BIG thanks
to Beth Hart for doing this interview with Nightwatcher's House Of Rock... (Beth Hart 'My California photos : Copyright: Greg Watermann / BethHart.com)

Interview and text by Nightwatcher for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock © 2011




NHOR : First I'd like to get into talking about the new album that you've recorded with Joe Bonamassa, 'Don't Explain', which was recently released worldwide via J&R Adventures. Now that it's finished,how do you feel about how the album turned out?


Beth Hart :
I feel so fantastic about it. Just as an example, in my past all the records that I've
made, I listen to them as I'm recording, through the mixing process you're listening and listening, and might do a few listens after the songs are done, and that's it. But that's it. I don't go back to them after I'm done. But with this record, I've been listening and listening, and I've had it in my hands for several months. I think it's beautiful, and I'm really proud of it. I'm really grateful.

I think we pulled off iconic songs in a very respectful and beautiful manner.
The process of making this album was so simple, easy and enjoyable to do this with them. It was only four days in the studio. It was so remarkable to be in the caliber of such incredible musicians. The whole experience for me was nothing but positive. Not to be cheesy, but it was like a dream come true.

From being a kid, listening to this music and never dreaming that I would
ever sing this type of material. But I've loved listening to it my whole life. To have done it makes me feel really proud, and I have such a really, really good feeling.

NHOR : Seeing as the majority of the songs were originally performed by some very powerful vocalists, such as Etta James, Ray Charles, Bonnie Bramlett, Otis Redding...to name just several, did you feel any pressure to step up your game vocally knowing you ultimately would be compared to the original versions?

BH : Absolutely. Here's the thing. When they told me about this, and said, "Hey, go ahead and
choose a bunch of songs that you love that are in a soul vein, whether they be jazzy, bluesy, whatever", I instantly knew what songs I wanted to do. I'm a huge Etta James fan, but not of her albums. Instead, I'm a big fan of all of her live recordings. That's the stuff I listen to from her. That's why I wanted to do a few of Etta's songs.

I knew I wanted to do a Billie Holiday
song. I knew I wanted to do "Chocolate Jesus". I love the song, and love Tom Waits. I had those in mind, and I trusted, and knew that they would deliver some songs that would be fantastic as well. I was scared about that, because I knew that it would be stuff that I probably wouldn't be familiar with.

For instance I'd never heard "Sinner's Prayer" before. I'd never heard "For My Friend". Or a few
others that they put over my way. So yes, it was intimidating more in the sense that could I do this with these great musicians? Because I knew that they were going to bring a game that was so far beyond. So that was the most intimidating.

But in terms of approaching the material, what gave me some solace was that I knew that
each of these singers who originally did the recordings brought their own story to the song. Whether they wrote it or not is irrelevant. They brought some personal story. You can hear it. It's not just great vocals that deliver a performance, it's that truth. That feeling. They could be the greatest writer, but what really makes them the greatest writer is that they write about what they know. So I believe them, and believe their story when I hear it.

So I knew I had to
find my own, to attach to each song. So once I made up my mind for that, I believed in myself. I said you can do this girl, but you've got to do it from your place, your story.

NHOR : There's obviously a lot of passion in your vocal delivery throughout all the tracks on
this album. Where do you go to draw from in order to conjure up such powerful performances vocally?

BH : The first thing was that it was really important for me to really listen, like I was saying.
To seek out where their truth was in each song, and really respect everything that they were doing. Every note, ever nuance, every phrasing, every rhythm. Then I had to go into my own place. I took the material into my piano room, played everything down and searched out what was my own personal thing.

Like for instance, on "I'd Rather Go Blind", I didn't think of it as being a boyfriend, or a man
that I loved who was leaving me. I thought about my father. My mom and dad divorced when I was young, and he was gone for just years and years. So that's what I thought about. That was the biggest heartbreak of my life, my father leaving. That's what I drew from on that song.

On "Chocolate Jesus", I didn't take it from that drunken, "Fuck you" place...which I love that Tom Waits did. I took it from more of a sexual place. I thought it would be cool to be a kitty cat, cabaret French style type of thing. That's where I worked that from. And so on, throughout the tracks.

NHOR : The album is comprised entirely of cover versions of soul standards and soul inflected
rock compositions, ranging from Ray Charles' "Sinner's Prayer", to Delaney & Bonnie's "Well Well", even Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus". How did you and Joe whittle down the songs included on the album?

BH : It was very easy. They made it so easy with me. The bottom line was they said that if you
don't want to sing this stuff, you've gotta choose stuff that you want to sing. Then they happened to really love some of my choices, which I was really happy with. But like when Kevin sent me "Your Heart is as Black as Night", I instantly loved it. But when he sent me "I'll Take Care Of You", it wasn't that I didn't love it, it was that I didn't think I could sing it.

NHOR : You couldn't wrap your head around it...


BH : Right, I couldn't get my head around it. But I knew there was something in my gut that
said, "Beth, you're gonna have to figure it out, because this is a great song. It would fit perfectly on this record". So that was the most challenging of the songs. Which is interesting, because it ended up being the first single.

But I flat out initially didn't like "Well, Well". I just
didn't like the song. It wasn't until we recorded it together, when Joe was actually singing and I was singing with him...It was that moment that I fell in love with it. I love the song now, but at first I just didn't like it.

NHOR : So how did you approach doing the song if you didn't like it initially?


BH : I just said learn it and do it. I was thinking that I was just doing a background part anyway. But in the mix they ended up pushing up my background part more. Which was weird, ya know? But hey, who doesn't like that? (Laughs) Who doesn't like to be out front? I'm not going to call and argue with them. (Laughs)

NHOR : Well at least they didn't hear your part and decide to bring it down in the mix....


BH :
Exactly. (Laughs) But that's when I really dug it. And who doesn't want to sing with Joe?
He's just fucking great. So that was really cool.

NHOR : How did you hook up with Joe anyway? You were also on "No Love On The Street" from 'Dust Bowl'....

BH : Yeah, but I actually did that while we were doing this album. I just laid down a quick
background vocal that day, which was the first day. How I met Joe was this : I was playing a small, and I emphasize small, show in London, and Joe was there. I didn't get to meet him afterwards. I remember thinking, "Wow, why did he come to the show?" My husband was saying, " He's got a radio show every Sunday in England, and he's been playing one of your songs every week. It's like the theme song of the show". A song called "Face Forward" off an old record I did, '37 Days'. I was like, "Oh wow! That's cool!"

Then a few months went by, and I met him briefly in a bar in a hotel I always stay at in
Holland. I said hello, and he was really sweet. Then it was only a few months later that I got the call asking me if I wanted to do this record. Honest to God, the first thing out of my mouth was "Yes!", but I assumed I was doing background vocals. So, when they said, "No, we want you to sing vocals on the record", Oh my God, my stomach dropped. I got very nervous and excited at the same time.

NHOR : The album was produced by Kevin Shirley, who has been doing a lot of stellar work with
Joe and other artists, including Led Zeppelin,Black Country Communion, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith and many others. What was it like working with Kevin?

BH : It was just really easy. There was no prep. I was on the road a lot, Joe was on the road a
lot, so all the choices of songs was done over the phone. I had everything flown to me, so I was able to do a lot of listening at night, driving back from gigs. I got home, I think we were here for a week, we went to the Village , met up, everyone said hello, and we started tracking that day. We did three songs that day. We did three songs the next day.

Then about five weeks went by, and we didn't see each other, then we came in for two more
days. We recorded two songs one of the days, and four songs the next day. And we were done. Everything went quickly because of the fact that everyone had so much respect for each other, and for the material. The only thing that took a moment to work out were the arrangements. But it happened so naturally.

For instance, it was like Go! Then it was just like a live show. I'm
singing, they're playing, and we're going through the songs two or three times, then Kevin might say, "This time, take a round, and come back to the verse, instead of putting the verse there". We'd go in, play it through a few times, then Kevin would say, "You're done. Let's go on to the next song". So it just went really smooth. It was wonderful. There wasn't any dictatorship, or any of that kind of stuff that makes that inner child that wants to come out and play go away. Then you wonder why the act is so much better live on stage, because they get to be free.

I
find that with Kevin, he trusts and believes that you're good enough to be yourself. He doesn't try to reign you in. Which is one of the things which always frustrated me so much with the Etta James albums. It always sounded like a producer was saying, "Oh, don't sound so black". Reign it in, so you can get on radio or something. I don't fucking know. But you listen to the live things, and it's extraordinary. Just extraordinary singing.

So I think one of the great gifts Kevin has, that
more producers could learn from, is to back off. Let people be. Especially when they're young. So many young artists, they have so much talent, they get signed, then they make them into something else. You've got a miserable artist, who sounds cookie cutter like everybody else.

NHOR : Exactly...Since you mentioned that, you were involved in that type of competition, and
even won 'Star Search'. With that in mind, what is your take on shows such as 'American Idol'?

BH : I don't like it. I did 'Star Search'. It's a long story, but I did it as a bet with a friend of
mine. I was broke, I auditioned for it, and I got a call back right away. I said I didn't want to do it. Because I was getting $100 dollars to go and audition. Then they ended up going, "No, we want you to do the show". (Laughs) I was like, "Well, I don't want to do your show". The producer called me into his office, and he asked me, "What's it going to take to get you to do the show?" I was like "What the heck do you want me to do the show for?" They said, "You're young, you're doing something cool, and it might make our ratings go up. Because our ratings really suck, and we're considered a really cheesy show".

So I went on the show, thinking I'd do a couple of the shows, maybe win a couple of times and
be out of there. But I ended up winning the whole time. I did some originals, and some covers, and I ended up winning the show. Which was great because I won a lot of money, but the show really hurt me. I couldn't get a record deal for a long time. It was almost like three years went by, and no one would touch me. Because it was considered a very uncool deal. You don't really become your own artist in that view. You become a 'Star Search' artist.

But then you look at
'American Idol' which is a whole different day and age, and people have had fantastic careers that they've gone on to have. That's wonderful. Whatever it takes. It's such a tough business right now, you've got to get yourself out there.

NHOR : What are your personal favorites on this album, and why?


BH : "Don't Explain". It reminds me of my mother. She always loved Billie Holiday. Her big
thing was whenever I came home from school, she'd be taking a bubble bath, and that's when we'd sit together and listen to Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and all that kind of music.So that really reminds me of my mother. When I first heard "Don't Explain"...the first time, I thought that the chord changes against the melody , which is such a supreme melody, it's just sick, isn't it?

NHOR : It's extremely sultry and sensual....


BH : Oh...It's incredible. Just as a song alone, it's one of the great songs. Even by Billie. She
didn't write that many songs, she wrote "Don't Explain", "God Bless The Child"...I'm sure she wrote others that never were heard, but I just love it. I love her. It reminds me of my mother, so it's a big favorite, that song.

NHOR : So you had a background in this type of music obviously from an early age...

BH : Yes. I love it, and I'm very thankful that I got that.


NHOR : Would you say that may have been the catalyst for you wanting to become a vocalist?


BH : It was weird, because I started out as a pianist and a cellist. I really wanted to play
classical music. I wanted to be an opera singer. That was the stuff that I was listening to when I was young, young, young. That's what I wanted to do. Then I discovered drugs, and Zeppelin, Rush and Black Sabbath. I'm a huge Sabbath fan. But what I really think shifted me as a songwriter was when I discovered people like Carole King, James Taylor and Rickie Lee Jones.

NHOR : The singer/songwriters....

BH : Yes. That really started me looking at the genius of a lyric. It's not just these incredible
orchestras, Beethoven and all this great music and melodies, but it's these lyrics. Along with the Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and stuff like that were great lyrics. It being so based on the lyric.

But then, what really made me want to shake it, and get out there and perform was when
I got into Otis Redding, and Janis Joplin. Bette Midler. Seeing these people perform their ass off. So much emotion, and that was it for me. Joe Turner. I'm a huge Joe Turner fan. And of how he would just get people to move. Then Cab Calloway. It was like they were taking people to church and making people inspired, you know? That's the stuff that really made me want to be a performer I think. It's all of it. There's such great music out there, man.

NHOR : What constitutes a great performance for you?


BH : To me, what really moves me the most is when you have an amazing band, a great
vocalist, but they share personal stories. They make you laugh. They jump around with energy, then they'll break it way down to where it's quiet and you can hear a pin drop.

One of
the greatest performers ever, to me, and we just did a show with him not too long ago, is Buddy Guy. I remember the first time I saw him live...It was in San Francisco, at the Fillmore, and I was 22, 23 years old. He was playing the upstairs room there. I came around the corner, because I was hearing this crazy singer and guitar player. I looked down on the stage, and I said, "How can that teenager play guitar and sing like that?" They said, "That's no teenager, he's in his mid 60's". (Laughs) I said, "No way!" They said, "That's Buddy Guy". That was the first time I'd ever seen him.

Recently we did a show opening for him in Norway, and I've gotta tell you man, here he is
singing his ass off, jumping around onstage, playing his guitar with his teeth, going crazy...Then all of a sudden, all of the music comes way down, he drops the mic, and he starts singing to the audience. It was a festival, and you could hear him everywhere, even without a mic. That's the shit right there. All those dynamics, the energy, talking to them, getting them to know this is for y'all. This isn't about me. It's about moving you guys. I work for you. I love performers like that.

NHOR : A lot of times with Buddy's vocals they're so intense you can feel them deep within your
soul....

BH : Yeah! He blows me away. He is absolutely incredible.

NHOR : The album has somewhat of a unique album cover. How did that come about and how
do you feel that ties in to the album title, "Don''t Explain"?

BH : Yeah. It wouldn't have been with what I would go with. But Joe chose an artist. I think I
look really weird on the record. (Laughs) But I don't care.Who cares. It's about the music. But I do think it kind of catches your eye. It's kind of different, ya know? Which is nice. Maybe that's why Joe went with that. He wanted something that would stand out a little bit.

NHOR : Throughout your career you have been compared to another blues and soul based
vocalist, that being Janis Joplin. You even appeared in the theatrical version of "Love, Janis". Are there any particular elements of Janis' life that you personally identify with?

BH : Definitely the addiction. The part of feeling like a really unattractive woman. Kind of
being made fun of in school. I learned a lot about her. I feel like I had a lot in common personally, more than anything. Not so much the music. I've always had people tell me how much I remind them of Janis. Personally I don't see it. But I guess when I'm rocking, and I'm singing harder, there is some of that maybe.

But I love her. I'm a huge fan of her. But
definitely in her personal life. She had a dual personality. One, being very super confident to the point of being cocky, and also though being extraordinarily insecure. I definitely connect with that in my personality. I bounce back and forth between the two. Definitely the drugs and the feeling so unattractive that you say frick it, I'm not even going to wear makeup. I did that all throughout my 20's. I said fuck it, I'm not even going to care. I'm not even going to compete. I'd rather do this and pretend that I don't care. And every woman wants to be beautiful. So when they say they don't care? They do. (Laughs)

NHOR : I would say that the comparison between you and Janis stems from you both having
balls, musically speaking. That real raw, aggressive, style.....

BH : Awww, thank you so much.

NHOR : You've recorded and performed with some really fantastic guitarists, from Jeff Beck,
Slash, Neal Schon, and now this album with Joe. What is it about the dynamic between heavy rock guitar and blues based vocals which attracts you?

BH : The music is such great music because it came from people who were so suppressed and thrown out of the loop. I think that's why blues and gospel are so great, because people who were slaves, and people who were close to that whole thing had to find something that brought them up. That made them feel like survivors, like they could kick all that shit's ass and still hold their head up high. When they sing songs of loss and being broken down, you believe it. It's not I'm feeling sorry for myself, it's feeling sorry because I freakin' deserve it .(Laughs) I earned this song. How can you say no to that? It's like saying no to a Van Gogh painting. You believe it. It's absolutely believable. That tree looks nothing like a real tree, but somehow you believe more in his tree than you do the one out in front of your house.

So to be a part of that type of
music, it makes you feel free. Free to express yourself in one of the highest regards. Also, with hard rock & roll, especially with growl, like death metal, black metal stuff, that stuff ...I just love it! They can just go off. The drummers, the bass players, they're out of their minds. The singers are just "Rawwwwwr", and there's just so much passion. I love it, it's great.

NHOR : I know you and Joe are definitely busy with your own separate projects. You recently
did a date at the Echoplex where Joe joined you onstage for songs from the album. But has there been any discussion of doing any further live dates together, maybe even a brief tour to showcase the songs on the album?

BH : Oh God, I've been so much up his butt about that it's not funny. (Laughs) We're definitely
going to be doing another record. It's already booked. It's booked a year from January. So not this coming January, but the following January we're making another one of these records.

So
in the meantime, Joe is a workhorse, he's working all the time. I've got a new record that I'm doing with Kevin Shirley in May, and right now I'm still promoting my latest record. So we're both doing a lot of touring. But, I do think Joe and I will at least do some spot dates, maybe even a small tour.

But I have a feeling if there is a tour, like an eight week tour, like he just
recently finished doing with Black Country Communion, we may do something like that in support of the next record. That's what I would assume would happen. I'm pushing this record, 'Don't Explain' actually on my next tour. I'm hiring a Hammond guy from Europe who's going to meet us out there to promote 'Don't Explain'. I'm going to do it on my own. Would I love to be promoting the shit out of it with Joe? Fuck yeah, but until he says "Yes", my hands are tied.

NHOR : A lot of vocalists have a ritual that they go through before they go onstage. Do you
have anything that you do before you go onstage?

BH : Yeah I do. I kind of do an all day thing. I get a lot of sleep, so when I wake up I do some yoga, and some meditation. Then throughout the day I warm up really lightly. I've learned throughout the years that doing these huge 30 minute warmups before a set is totally unnecessary. So I lightly warm up throughout the day. A little here, a little there. I really believe in getting a good workout before the show. Because I think when you warm up your whole body, get your muscles and lungs really expanded, that's going to help a lot onstage. Obviously a lot of water, and tea is always a good thing. I try to avoid sugar or caffeine of any kind. Then just getting into a place of knowing what my job is. That's going out there and working for them. Hopefully make them laugh, have fun, dance, to make music and be part of the show. That's kind of it.

NHOR : What music inspires you to stretch yourself musically and vocally?


BH : All of it. The jazz, the blues, the rock, the hard rock, the singer/songwriters. Even
country music. All of it. We play a lot of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline on the road. It just makes me feel good. It reminds me of the United States when I'm missing home. Edith Piaf and Nina Simone, I listen to a lot to when I'm on the plane. It's just all so inspirational, isn't it?

NHOR : One can draw inspiration from all genres of music, as long as it's good. One shouldn't
shut themselves off from anything, as it really limits development as a musician....

BH : Yeah, and you know some of my favorite stuff to listen to in my car are all the Mexican
stations. Any Mexican music. I just love it. It's so passionate, and they're always such great singers.

NHOR : In terms of songwriting, where do you draw your inspiration from, and has that changed at all throughout your years as an artist?

BH : It hasn't. It basically remains the same thing that it usually takes. And I'll tell ya, it's kind
of bummer actually. I kind of have to be in a place where I'm so broken down. Which I kind of discovered later in life is a good thing, because it makes my ego go away. Because if my ego's up, then I'll go, "Oh, I'm going to go write a song today". I'll work on it for a couple of weeks, and it gets so involved to where it's no longer a song that anyone can relate to. So it never gets used.

When my ego's out of the way, and I'm in that broken, humbled place...maybe by a
tragedy that I'll hear about on television, or some amazing survivor that I'll meet and talk to after the show, who's been through child abuse, or has just survived cancer. These are very inspirational, very humbling stories.

I've got bi-polar disorder. I've been on medication for the past three years, which has helped
the fluctuation of my moods so much, but it also doesn't allow me to get to a dark place where I can write quickly. When I write quick, the song comes in a few minutes, and then I'll know it's a song that's going to end up on a record. Or end up in a show. Those usually mean that I need to be in that darker mood type of place.

So now what I do, and this is totally with
the ok from my doctors, is that I'll slow down my medication, bring it a lot lower, so that I can bring on that type of mood swing. But I can't take it too far, because it's too dangerous.

NHOR : So do you feel that when you're happy that you don't write as well?


BH :To an extent. If I'm happy in the way of being really excited, almost like a nervous
excited. For instance, I was getting ready to do the record with Joe, and that really lit some fires in terms of writing. It was a nervous energy of excitement. So some negative feeling of some kind has got to be there, whether it be excitement, nervousness or just that bottom end, bye bye I want to die type feeling. That's what it takes.

NHOR : So you have this thing then...Where you can sit there for hours trying to get
inspiration for a song, nothing will come, then all of a sudden, bam! it hits, and you have it written in a matter of minutes...

BH : Totally and absolutely. And those are the songs that people end up liking the most. And I
believe that it was because I didn't write them. I really do. I know it sounds weird...like I'm some spiritual weirdo. (Laughs)

NHOR : No, not at all, I understand completely....


BH : You know what I mean? Like something comes over and whispers in your ear, "This is the song", then all you have to do is quickly figure it out?

NHOR : Absolutely. From my own personal experience, I can sit for hours thinking I'm going to
write something for hours, and it's like nothing will come, then it will strike and it's done in a matter of minutes, like it's not you that's writing it...

BH :
No, it's not, is it! I am so glad you understand that. Let me ask you something. When
you're trying, and nothing's coming, do you ever get that panic, that you're a total piece of shit writer, and that it will never come again?

NHOR : Absolutely, like I'm a hack or something...


BH : Yeah! Me too! And I think, "That's it. It's over!" I have dried my well, no longer will God
visit the room, it's done. (Laughs)

NHOR : Like there is a finite amount of songs you're allocated, and you've tapped that, and
there aren't any more...

BH : Totally. That's it. Yep. It's so depressing. (Laughs)


NHOR : What is the process that you go through when you compose? Do you come up with a melody first, then lyrics? Or is it the other way around?

BH : I usually get chords and melodies. That's usually what comes first. Then the lyric will
usually mirror and reflect off what the chords and melodies are. Also, the lyric will bounce off what the rhythms are. When I say lyrics, I mean kind of gibberish, kind of talking in tongues. I'll hear different vowels, or consonants coming through, just as gibberish. Then I'll say, "Alright what story is this?" That's when I'll dive into the lyrics.

The lyric is by far the toughest thing for me, because to me it's the most important. It's kind
of like the melody is some sexy woman you see from across the room. You really want to be with her. You go over, grab her, you have sex with her...But then, if she doesn't have anything to say, you probably won't call her back.

NHOR : There has to be substance there...


BH :
Exactly. Something to keep you coming back. (Laughs)



NHOR : You also had your most recent studio album, 'My California' released in Europe in 2010.
So far that album hasn't as yet been released here in the U.S. Are there any plans to release it here, and if so, when?

BH : You know, I haven't released '37 Days' here either. That was a really great rock record
that I made with my band here in Los Angeles, and it did really well in Europe for us. But you know, I don't have a record deal in the United States. Maybe that will change one day.

But
where all my support comes from is Europe, and now Brazil believe it or not. Japan looks like it may open up, some irons are in the fire there. But I so wish that I could be releasing and promoting things here in the States. I know I have a small base here. I do think it's enough where I could do a little bit of touring. I do spot dates here and there. But it's nothing really, and it makes me sad. Sometimes I wish I could just get myself some good promotion behind me here. But it's just not in the cards for me right now. We'll just see what happens.

NHOR : On your website, there is a veritable laundry list of unreleased tracks which have
never appeared on any album obviously.These are fantastic songs. Do you have any plans to release any of those in any form anytime soon?

BH : Only if I were to get some kind of promotion, or deal here. I have talked to my manager
here about us possibly doing our own thing. Where we put it out via the Internet or something. Doing something like that. But I'm just not sure, ya know?

NHOR : You' had a well publicized battle with various substances earlier in your career. To
what do you attribute yourself being able to get clean, and how do you get through situations now, whereas before you might have turned to heroin, or a drink? How do reconcile the stressors in your life now?

BH : I think the number one thing is that I've done a lot of therapy work, both 12 Step and with
private therapists. A lot of writing and discovering the part of my personality that caused me to be so self destructive. I became aware that there were certain childhood factors which rendered in that really weren't my fault. So I was able to have some forgiveness for myself there. Because addicts basically hate themselves, and feel they're the worst people on the planet.

But I was able to find some forgiveness there, as well as confront those people who I
felt did damage me. Not just face to face, but internally find forgiveness and understanding for them. Actually that's probably the major first thing, learning how to face the stuff, forgive myself and others, and really forgive. Where you have compassion and understanding of why they do what they do. Instead of going, "Oh, I'm going to forgive, because that's a good thing to do". Really feeling it, and working on it, and learning how to do that. I can really thank 12 Step and good psychiatrists for that.

Another was realizing that I definitely am of an alcoholic mind.
Meaning that I can't mess around with drugs and alcohol, because if I do I immediately want to abuse them to the point that I get sick again and I hurt other people.

NHOR : There's nothing in regards of moderation for you..
.



BH :
There is none. Practicing meditation and praying to God everyday, thanking him so much
for my sobriety, and all the lovely experiences in my life that I get to remember, and this beautiful day. Really saying that, even if I don't feel that way at the time. If I wake up in a place of anger or bitterness, saying those things anyway. Like a faking it until you make it type of thing.

Everyone around me knows that not only I'm an alcoholic, but I've got bi-polar disorder. I'm
really open about that. Even at the risk of people twisting it, making fun of it, or even not wanting to work with me because of it. Knowing that it's worth all of those risks. Because I get to stay in a place of health and awareness of what a dangerous thing both of those disorders are. But that they are both completely manageable if I do the simple steps that I was taught to do to manage them. But there's no way I could have done them on my own. It's just way too involved.

NHOR : Do you feel a deep passion for helping people with the same disorders now that you've
come through that yourself?

BH : It naturally does. Given that I've been given this small platform where I can write music, sing for people and be interviewed. So I always take those opportunities to be open about those things. Because I really believe that there are people who come across the writings, or an interview, or a television thing, and go, "Hey I've got alcoholism. She's doing good. Maybe I can do good". Or maybe it's someone whose child is bi-polar and has been in and out of psych wards, and they'll say, "Hey my kid has a possible future here". Unfortunately, with mental illness the big things are a) They don't think they have it, or b) They don't believe in taking medication. But if you find the right medication it can change, and give you your life.

NHOR : It can be a difficult thing, finding the right balance of medications which will work
sometimes as well...

BH : Absolutely. The saddest thing for me with mental illness is that there are so many doctors
prescribing drugs that are dangerous, and it's really not their fault because the medications that are available for this disease are still not good enough. You have to find a combination that will work. All these medications are poison, and are bad for your body, so you have to so much extra exercise, diet and sleep. Doing things that are good for you because you're putting in a poison every day.

NHOR : But it's the lesser of two evils....


BH : It's the lesser of two evils, exactly. But finding that right medication for you is nearly impossible. I had to go through every medication that they have out there. None of them worked for me. Then finally I found what worked for me. It's caused some problems. I have insulin resistance disease now because one of the meds I take can cause that. But I stopped eating all sugar, bread and stuff like that, and it helps to keep my blood sugar more even. If I didn't take that medication I wouldn't have this problem at all, but as you said it's the lesser of two evils.

NHOR : So do you feel like it's a constant battle at all times?


BH : I don't look at it as a battle. I look at it as a separate job. It's my job, number one, to let
every record company guy, every promoter, every agent, my manager, everyone I work with know this is what I have, and it's first on my list of priorities. You can't overwork me. I won't let you. I need at least 10 hours of sleep a night. I can't do more than two or three shows in a row. I can be on the road for about six to seven weeks, then I need to come home and rest up for a minimum of two to three weeks.

A lot of great opportunities, the people who work with me have to be willing to say no for me,
and I can't take them, because the next thing you know I'm manic even on medication. Things like that. But it's worth it, because otherwise I can't have a marriage, I can't do anything. I'm an impossible person to talk to.

NHOR : Where would you like to take your music in the future?


BH : I want to take it to exactly where it is. That is, just keep doing it. I'm aware of the fact
that you can't do anything creative if you're expecting money or applause. You just can't do it for that. First of all, if those things happen it's not a reflection on whether the work is good or not.

I think so many people judge themselves on whether they're getting the money or the
applause. It's like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So I've got to keep that in mind always when I work. I really love touring, I really love writing and I really love recording. That's what I've been doing for years, and I hope to God that I get to keep doing it for years. It's just fun, challenging and wonderful. Would I like to be able to tour the whole world? Yeah! That would be great. So maybe that dream will happen, maybe it won't. I think that every day it's important that I keep my eye on seeing that I'm still able to do what I love to do, and be able to pay my rent, and buy food. (Laughs)

NHOR : Are you satisfied with how your career has progressed thus far?


BH : I think at this age...I'm going to be 40 in January. So I think I'm at an age where you really have to start looking at all those things. All those demons start to come up in the 40's of, "Hey, how much of it all did I screw up? Where did I do good?" And you start looking back at all those things.

So the last few years I've had a chance going through so much therapy to go
over all that stuff. If I could do it all over again and change my whole drug thing that happened. I blew a really great career for myself in the United States. Because it was going incredible. I was with Atlantic Records, I had a big hit, and my drugs just took all of that away. I scared the shit out of basically every label here. I threatened to kill one of the guys at the label.

NHOR : They tend to kind of not like that kind of stuff for some reason....


BH :
Yeah, they tend to stay away from you after that. (Laughs) So I take responsibility for
that. Sometimes it still comes up and it irritates me that it went down. But if that didn't go down, I wouldn't have gone to get well. I would have ended up dying if all those things didn't crash. So did my career go as I thought it would? No. Not like I dreamed of as a kid. But then other things did. My dream as a kid was to write, record and tour for the rest of my life. And so far that has happened consistently, thank God. So, yes and no to that answer. It's been a little bit of both.

NHOR : What advice would you have for someone who is just starting out in the business?


BH : To remember that it really is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do not judge or
question your abilities, and your creativity based on if someone's going to sign or publish you. Or put your painting up in a hotel or a museum. You can't do that.

You've got to do it because
you love it. Know that it's a gift to make you happy, to challenge you, to take you through all the incredible things about being alive. It can't be about the money or the fame. If those things come, wonderful. Bathe in it, buy a big ass house for your mom. But you can't judge your worth based on that.

For more information on Beth Hart go to this location : www.bethhart.com/



"Sinner's Prayer" from Hart and Bonamassa 'Don't Explain' 2011



"Don't Explain from Hart and Bonamassa 'Don't Explain' 2011



Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa "I'll Take Care Of You" live at The Echoplex 2011



The Beth Hart Band "Am I The One" Live At The Paradiso 2005



Jeff Beck with Beth Hart "Going Down" U.S. Tour 2006



Neal Schon and Beth Hart "I Wanna Know You" Les Paul & Friends' 2005

Jeremy Spencer 2014 US Tour