Have you ever wondered what musicians talk about when they are just chatting? Or the burning questions one artist might have for one of their favorite artists? We have too, and so are happy to introduce our new feature called “Artist To Artist.” We will be featuring local Atlanta music scene insiders – artist, producers, music service people, and more – having conversations with other Atlanta music people they admire and enjoy. This “fly on the wall” perspective presents an exchange that is congenial and interesting with minimal editing. As we were considering this feature, Andy Browne, of the Andy Browne Troupe had a similar idea and so we asked him to kick off the series. Andy, who is garnering fans and acclaim for his inventive, often eclectic storytelling and musical arrangements is speaking with James Hall.
We often throw around the term “artist,” but James Hall is certainly worthy of the label Active in music since the late 80s, James has traversed across many music genres and differing formations of musicians. Not only is James a multi-styled lyricist and multi-instrumentalist, he continuously works on his craft, whether it is joining songwriter workshops or joining with other bands so he can improve his playing skills on another interest. It is easy to understand how James is a fan of other shape-shifting artists like David Bowie.
Andy and James have known each other since they were mere kids in the Atlanta music scene. Watch this candid conversation between two friends with equal passion and talent talk about their songwriting, jumping genres and the contrast in acoustic and eclectic shows. James treats us to three song performances, too.
.James is leading his The Ladies Of…band at 529 on August 29 with The Andy Browne Troupe, Roseville, and Navajo Joe. Click HERE for tickets.
You can also re-read our Artist Spotlight on The Andy Browne Troupe HERE
For more on James Hall and all his music, check JamesHall.com
|Andy:||Good evening. I am Andy Browne. Welcome to Artist To Artist. This is my guest, James Hall.|
|James plays "Suicide King"|
|Andy:||Talking Freedom With The Jailer the one CD I have been listening to a lot lately. It is a bit old a bit of new.|
|James:||Yeah, that is a song from 1988-89.|
|Andy:||And we all know if we don’t, Mary My Hope, was your first band.|
|James:||My first band.|
|Andy:||I was lucky enough to catch Mary My Hope quite a few times and am familiar with the cast of characters that it entailed. You had Clint on guitar, Sven Pipien on bass and Steve Lindenbaum on drums?|
|James:||And, we had Steve Gorman originally on drums.|
|Andy:||Steve Gorman we all know From the Black Crowes. Clint I know quite well. We had an apartment together.
And Sven is still in the Black Crowes....
|James:||The Magpie Salute.|
|Andy:||After Mary My Hope they were signed to Silvertone/RCA. You did some work in England.|
|James:||Yes, we had the chance to record both in Wales and in South London.|
|Andy:||I’ve been to Wales. I love Wales So they [Mary My Hope] were one of my personal favorite bands as well as that for lots of others.
So, what happens happens in bands sometimes. Things happen. After Mary My Hope split you wound up in New Orleans.
|Andy:||That’s a lovely town, right?|
|Andy:||Were you playing a lot there?|
|James:||I was playing a lot there. It did not take too long for me to get set up with a rehearsal space and start working gigs. A lot of the gigs initially were acoustic or acoustic through an amplifier like here. I began working with Lynn Wright in 1991, and then Grant Curry joined, who went on to form Pleasure Club with me. And Mark Brill and Sterling Roig and ultimately Michael Jerome came in on drums for Pleasure Club.|
|Andy:||I have seen the Pleasure Club a couple of times and they were phenomenal and all the guys great guys. Off this particular album, is there any song you would like to play, a Pleasure Club song?|
|James:||I would be happy to play anything on either of those records there. Let me see what I have here…I don’t have my glasses, but I do happen to remember that “High stepping” is on this record, I do remember that also “One Hand Washes The Other”, we’ve got “Good Time Girl” and I heard “Good Time Girl” earlier on today so that might be a safe bet to go on.|
|Andy:||That might be the good one to go with.|
|James plays "Good Time Girl"|
|Andy:||I am hearing – and forgive me – but I am hearing tinges of Prince.|
|James:||There’s probably a bit of Prince in there. That was written – it’s a Pleasure Club collaboration between Steve Stevens, who you might know from Billy Idol.|
|Andy:||So, during this New Orleans time you had a son?|
|James:||Yes, I did. In 1997.|
|Andy:||He’s actually got himself a little band right now, right?|
|James:||Yes, he is operating under the name Grandma, and he is signed, and he has a record coming out this fall.|
|Andy:||Ok…quick moving little kid. That is awesome. So, speaking of kids, we see a lot of videos on Facebook of different people playing and one of the most inspirational, I think I have seen in a long time was you in Uganda playing to children Desperado, I was blown away from this. It was so far removed from anything around so I just want to say that, That is on your Facebook way down in your timeline. That was something very special. We should go into now, talking about collaborations. You are all over the map. Can you throw us out a couple – or maybe more than a couple of - people you are working with, have worked with, or maybe some of your favorite artists.|
|James:||Well I had a few wise friends over the years that did tell me emphatically that “It is your job, James, to be inspired.” And that means following my interests all over the map or wherever it goes is my job. So that has taken me through a number of different collaborations. I managed to work with Ours, I managed to work with Eric McFadden a lot, who is a world-class guitar player and songwriter. I have managed to find myself in genres that I never even figured I was prepared or trained for just because I find that good writing is good writing is good writing. Even dumb writing can still be good writing. I think the more one gets used to the habit of it, the collaborative spirit, the easier it gets create good songs. Or, at least songs that are enjoyable to me.|
|Andy:||You make a good point, though, because any good song, great song, can be transformed to reggae, to country….however you want, it will always move in any direction if you are open to those things
We are at a point now where you have a small tour coming up.
|James:||I do. I will be through the southeast largely, but this particular leg will go Atlanta 529 August 29th, which is a Katrina-versary, that would be Hurricane Katrina on August 29 in 2005 so that makes it year 14.|
|Andy:||You’re actually on that particular gig playing that gig with our camera girl’s band, The Andy Browne Troupe, and Roseville, and Navajo Joe, so that should be exciting. Then you go to Athens the next night.|
|James:||Athens the next night. The rooftop at the Georgia Theater. And Birmingham at The Nick on Saturday.|
|Andy:||You are working on The Ladies Of…. Are there any other projects in August? Do you have any new music coming out?|
|James:||I’ve got a couple of things coming out. I’ve got “All Horns & Halos”, which is a Steady Wicked electric release. We have “Skyline Blue” released as a single from the “Calling Out The Corners” acoustic record that just came out, so there is a more recent record than 'Talking Freedom With The Jailer'.|
|Andy:||I just particularly like that title.|
|James:||“Talking Freedom With The Jailer?”|
|Andy:||I don’t know why it caught my attention…I think it is the freedom part. The whole record has been my breakfast music for a little while. It is just a whole different aspect to my James Hall so it opened up my James to an acoustic based orientation which is really really great|
|James:||Thank you. I have had a lot of positive feedback on the acoustic shows I have been able to do, and some people who just said, “I can finally hear you now,” when I do an acoustic show. They don’t feel like they are missing any of the rawness. It still creeps in in the quiet moments and austere presentation on a lyric. There have been a few times I have been able to play an acoustic room and I end up really enjoying it because of the legwork from myself and so many of the collaborators have done combing through the lyrics and getting them to where they can cut deep.|
|Andy:||Well, James, I don’t want to make this too long because we know people’s attention spans in this day and age, well they just want to get to the meet of the matter. Speaking of the meat of the matter, there is a song on here “Daughter’s Eyes”. Maybe would you take us out on that? Thank you for being here.
I want to thank our lovely camera woman Lucy Theodora for doing what she’s doing – wonderful job.
|James plays "Daughter's Eyes"|
|Andy:||That one is particularly touching. I want to thank James. It has been a pleasure knowing you for years. Hopefully we can update this in a couple of months when James progresses with his new and futuristic endeavors. We’ll see James on August 29th.|
|Andy:||With The Andy Browne Troupe, Roseville, and Navajo Joe.|