By Lauren Daley
There were so many fascinating Spotlight interviews in ’17, I couldn’t fit them into one column. As promised, here’s Part II of the Best Spotlight Interviews of 2017.
I’ll do this backwards, Letterman style.
6. Shawn Colvin
Two things stick out to me about the Colvin interview — one that she was so inspired by The Beatles (“I don’t know if anyone can hear that in what I do,” she told me with a laugh) and two, when she opened up to me about her clinical depression.
“It’s kind been chronic of me. It hit me hardest at 19. I began taking medication then. Then I quit… But in the tour for “Steady On,” I had a relapse. I started medication again… When you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack, you just want to live. When you’re on the floor depressed, you’re not creating.”
5. Shelby Lynne
In 1986, when Lynne was 17 and her sister Allison Moorer was 14, their father shot their mother to death, then shot himself.
What strikes me about the interview is how unscripted and straightforward Lynne was. She told me the album is more about an overall mood the sisters wanted to create, and that the sisters have made peace with their past.
“We’re not dark people... We didn’t have a focus except for cutting great songs. We let the listener decide what” they hear, the Grammy winning country star told me before she and her sister Allison Moorer debuted their album “Not Dark Yet” in Fall River.
“Music is what we do. We get together and sing and celebrate, and hope to take everyone along with us. The past is in the past,” she said. “Hopefully you can take the best and keep moving on.”
4. Magpie Salute
I grew up with the Black Crowes, and had a fun interview with Crowes co-founder Rich Robinson in August before his new band, Magpie Salute, played New Bedford.
“Coming up in the South, the only band from the South that spoke to me was REM. Because we’re not Southern rock. We’re from the South, but there’s not much Lynyrd Skynyrd in there,” Robinson told me of the Black Crowes, which he co-founded with his brother Chris.
I also loved learning about his tour with Neil Young — and his lifelong fascination with birds.
“We liked the connotation of the crow, from a symbolic standpoint. There was something that spoke to us for whatever reason,” he told me. “I’ve always been interested in the word ‘magpie’ — that’s always interested me. There’s symbolism to magpies. Crows are mysterious and dark; magpie have elements of both light and dark.”
3. Jim Kweskin
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band is said to have influenced Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, which became the Grateful Dead. He played in a string trio that included a young Bob Dylan in the heyday of the Greenwich Village scene.
He also happened to be at the infamous Newport Folk Fest when Dylan went electric. I asked him what that was like:
“Too loud. I think people make a big deal of it, but it was no surprise. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ had already come out. It’s not like anybody didn’t know he went electric...People were shocked more by the volume than anything else,” he told me.
”It was like going to see a symphony orchestra and instead hearing a hard rock band… People make a big deal out of it, but it was just Dylan being Dylan. What did anyone expect? That’s who he is.”
2. Jesse Colin Young
A funny and fascinating dude.
After battling Lyme disease, Young was just returning to the road last winter when I talked to him. Aside from writing ‘60s anthems like "Everybody Get Together,” he also founded a school and a coffee farm in Hawaii after his house in California burned to the ground in a forest fire in 1995.
“It’s strange to move from a forest fire to the slope of a volcano, but that’s what we did,” he told me.
His plan to attend Harvard was thwarted when was thrown out of Phillips Academy for playing guitar in study hall.
“So I went to Ohio State, where I lived behind a record store [then] I quit and hitchhiked to Florida with my guitar,” he said. “I spent a year working in a factory — a dangerous factory. Everyone on the job had a finger missing.”
1. Coco Montoya
A former Bluesbreaker with John Mayall, Montoya fascinating on a dozen different levels.
When he was barely 21, he got into a fight with blues legend Albert Collins after Collins rearranged his drum set. The older musician apologized, let him sit in, and eventually took Montoya under his wing.
A few years later, after Montoya quit music for a steady paycheck bartending.
“I was broke…So I went to bartending school, and I enjoyed getting a regular paycheck,” he told me.
He was a regular at “a jam in Hollywood that everyone used to go to — big stars and nobodies jamming together… I got up with Phil Collins once… Belushi would go up and sing, and get wasted. One time he flew his high school band in from east coast, they did a set. He was a partying fool.”
I love that story.
One night John Mayall walked in, took notice of him jamming, and tapped him to become one of his iconic Bluesbreakers — alumni include Eric Clapton and Mick Fleetwood.
“Mayall, he called me later, and I didn’t believe it was him. I worked in a British pub; I thought it was one of the British guys having a go at me. So I hung up on him.”
Love that, too.
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and music columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer She tweets @laurendaley1.