piano in the woods

It was a pretty ordinary interview on Bloomberg last week with Chuck Leavell the great blues/rock pianist. Maybe the best in America right now. It was really light-weight stuff except when Leavell played a cut from his new disc Back to the Woods. Wow. To take these old blues standards by the woe-begotten and forgotten piano blues masters dating from the Great Depression through the 1950′s and make them seem alive and fresh in a new context is great musicianship and an artistic achievement.

---Leavell, whose involvement in Southern forestry dates from the very beginning of his music career, owns and manages the 2,000-acre Charlane Plantation in Georgia, with his family. He will speak on his experiences as a forest landowner... Read More:http://www.lumbermenonline.com/viewnews.cfm?newsID=443&searchstring=PRENTICE

He is a guy from a middle-class family in the heart of Alabama who grew up in the late 1950′s early 60′s who could have easily morphed into one of Randy Newman’s Good Ole’ Boys but instead was almost a para-normal channeler of southern music into something new yet old, tinkering with the semantics of the idiom that at ties liberates it , emancipates it from a parochialism it could easily degrade into. Of interest is what kind of music he played in the house in that segregated era, and what were his parents and family’s reaction?

Its quite impressive a measure that is not evident when Leavell’s contribution to the Rolling Stones overall sound is considered. Leavell’s commitment to environmentalism has to influence his art as well, there is certainly a connection that is apparent; perhaps the precarity of the human condition.

ET: … Do you have a connection with the blues?
Chuck: Rock and Roll was born out of the blues. I have a new record almost finished that is a tribute to pioneering blues pianists entitled Back to the Woods. In the meantime, I’m also recording with the multi-talented John Mayer and just finished working with country’s Martina McBride….

ET: While the tour is still being discussed, what are you working on?
Chuck: Environmental issues. I’ve toured with the Stones in extremely populated cities like Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and I realize the carbon footprint that we have and the pollution that is emitted in those heavily populated cities. This became a wake up call for me. In addition to my new book, Growing a Better America, my partner Joel Babbit and I decided to create the Mother Nature Network. Both give the young and old clear and accurate information about our environmental challenges and how we can solve them.

ET: With the success of the Mother Nature Network and The Rolling Stones, what keeps you motivated?
Chuck: Writing, performing and recording music is addictive and The Rolling Stones are passionate about it. It’s not our work that motivates us, nor the money and things that our work brings into our lives. It’s our dreams. I’ve a passion for our environment, [and] a passion for making music. MNN is now the second-most visited environmental website in the world, but I want it to be number one. And it will be.Read More:http://www.etonline.com/music/109797_Backstage_Q_A_Rolling_Stones_Keyboard_Player_Chuck_Leavell/index.html

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