Friday, July 1, 2022

Gimme 5 - The one and only Ian Siegal gives us the Grand Tour

The incorrigible, indomitable, always interesting Ian Siegal released his latest album Stone By Stone in May, and is now heading out on tour in the UK.  Wanna know what turns him on?  Then read all about it as he shares 5 songs that have had his ears twitching, 5 key influences, and 5 people he'd love to get round the table for a long lunch.  Hit it, Ian!

Gimme 5 songs, old or new, that have been on your radar recently.  [Check out the links to hear Ian's selections.]

'I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say' by Jelly Roll Morton:  "Two of the artists who should be considered the true Godfathers of the Blues are mentioned here, sadly the former never got
Ian Siegal - Man and Guitar
recorded. This was how the original Blues (and that’s what they called it) sounded when it came out of New Orleans (before the Mississippi Delta was even populated by humans) in the late 19th
'I’m A Ram' by Al Green:  "Because this song gets either played, sung or referred to pretty much every day in my house. It appears simple but that groove is heavy."
'All Cranked Up' by His Lordship:  "Hands down the best live act I have seen in a long time - and I had to follow them on stage! My friends James and Chris. Fan-f*cking-tastic. Rock and Roll. They deserve to be enormous." 
'Lust For Life' by Iggy Pop:  "This Saturday [2 July 2022] I am playing a one-time-only set with a one-off group of musicians [Amor, Barrett, Barry, Fisk and Siegal], just for kicks at the Linton Festival. We decided to pick three of our own songs and one cover each. Since I have always wanted to perform this it was a no-brainer. Can’t wait. There may be stripping . . . ."
'The Grand Tour' by George Jones:  "The Possum never lets you down. One of the greatest vocals ever put to record."
Gimme 5 artists or bands who have had a big influence on your work.

Little Richard:  "If I had to name the single person who had the most impact overall it would be between him, Muddy and Wolf but Richard came first. I was very young. Just overwhelming - the ferocity of him. But if you hear his later 60s and early 70s material there's a lot more subtlety. And funk! Not sure how he has influenced my work directly but he is always in the back of my
Who wouldn't want to be influenced by this man?
The Band:  "Their approach to songwriting and the eclectic mix of all forms of American music. And they inspired me to include more harmony singing which I find is often lacking from UK and European artists in Blues and roots music."
Tom Waits:  "I slowly eased out his heavy influence on my early career. He’s held in such high regard but also it’s deemed kinda uncool to be too much under his spell. Still, there's his approach to recording - found instruments, and nothing being off-limits. The beautiful poetry of his lyrics juxtaposed with the sometimes tragic or lowdown subject matter, clanking percussion….the extremely analogue, warm nature of the instrument sounds (sometimes) and at other times the clanking percussion. They all get in somewhere when I am recording. I could have gone for Costello for similar reasons. I recall the first time I saw Waits on The Tube tv show and being blown away by this seemingly unique character. A huge impact for sure."
Townes Van Zandt:  "Can’t tell you when I first discovered him. What’s important to me about Townes is that he taught me (just as Rick Danko did) that true soul/soulfulness can come in many forms. It isn’t always obvious and can be incredibly subtle. Plus those lyrics. The imagery. The heart. Untouchable."
Sam Cooke:  "Because he’s the greatest singer of all time. A mark I will never hit. But even knowing I’ll never get near, now and again I’ll try. Just for kicks. I hear him in so many heroes.
Ian Siegal announces future heavy metal album - Jürgen Klopp approves
Nick Lowe for one. And he gets close."
Gimme 5 guests you’d love to invite to your ideal long lunch.
Chris Thomas King:  "His recent book, The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of my Music and Culture, has been an incredible education as well as a remarkably well-researched and downright interesting read. It should be taught in schools. The history we have all been taught about the genre is pretty far from the actual truth. I’d love to just sit and chat with him about it."  [Chris Thomas King has also hosted a linked podcast.]
Jurgen Klopp:  "Manager of the finest team on the planet. We could discuss tactics for next season."
Dave Chappelle:  "Greatest comedian of his generation, an intellectual and an inspiration."
Mavis Staples:  "Her infectious positivity is something I’d get a kick out of and combined with guest number five . . ."
Matthew McConaughey:  ". . . the overwhelming positive vibes from the two of them would be fantastic and I’m certain would lead to one of the most memorable lunches in living memory!  And his autobiography is a fantastic read and an excellent set of guidelines for a good life."
Just one track – pick one of your tracks that you’d share with a new listener to introduce your music.
"Tricky of course. But I’ll go for my song 'The Fear'.  I wrote it around ten or so years ago and recorded it for an album I made in Mississippi called The Skinny.  But it was too “country” for that album.  Couple years later same studio we decided to record a band version which was great BUT I always wanted to record it as intended.  Acoustic, just me and a guitar really (although there’s harmonica on it too, but more on that in a minute).  So I re-did it on my recent album Stone By Stone in California.  I actually wrote it with Kris Kristofferson in mind as I was in a deep-dive on him at the time, but like a lot of my songs it’s about a bunch of people maybe personified in one character.  Also like a lot of my better stuff it felt like it wrote itself and it all came out in a flash. I think it’s some of my best work lyrically and I honestly couldn’t pick one line - it has a flow to it that I am really proud of.

"A beautiful coincidence is that the harmonica on it came from my Hollywood pal Jimmie Wood,  who was in the studio to contribute to another song entirely.  But I remembered the whole thing was actually inspired by something he said to me, wandering between rooms on the second floor landing of a hotel, TWENTY years ago.  It came back to me from somewhere in the depths ten years after the event and that’s where the whole song fell out. 

"I love the way the whole thing came back around and he ended up, by pure fluke, being on the finished product. Tied the whole thing together, like The Dude’s rug . . . ."

Ian Siegal is touring Great Britain till 22 July.  Full details of his dates can be found here.

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