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Zanimljivosti ZP Izdvojeno




John Kruth je američki multi-instrumentalist s adresom u Splitu. Za SolinLive govori o sebi, instrumentima, suradnjama s raznim imenima

To begin with, can you introduce yourself to our readers and say something about yourself?

I’ve been a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, banjo, harmonica and flute) who has recorded eleven solo albums and toured off and on over the last forty years, performing in cafes, clubs, concert halls and festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Morocco and India. This experience has given me a unique perspective when it comes to writing about the music of others. Although I am a voracious reader my education, for the most part, has come from first-hand experience. I often find in writing books and articles that I too have had similar experiences to many of the subjects I write about. As a former disc jockey and producer of albums by rock, jazz, folk and world music artists, as well as producing a series of musical benefits over the last few years, I have gained a unique insight into the collaborative and creative processes of contemporary musicians of all stripes. My intellectual curiosity continues to be fueled by everything from the poetry of William Blake to Ravi Shankar’s ragas, from American pop culture to Marcel Duchamp’s Dadaism and from Native American to Buddhist studies. All of these influences have sparked a passion anddiscipline within me that have not only led to the creation of my own music, but have compelled me to educate others, whether in the forum of the college classroom or through printed media.

You are known as a multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, banjo, flute, harmonica etc.), so I would like to ask you to tell us more about that as well as your beginnings as a musician.

Like most kids growing up in America in the 1960’s I was obsessed with the electric guitar until witnessing the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe playing the mandolin live at the Expo World Fair in Montreal. From that point on, the mandolin became my passion and I listened to every mandolin picker I could find, from the ragged blues of Yank Rachell to the slinky Texas swing of Tiny Moore, to the classical finesse of Hugo D’Alton, to David Grisman’s progressive Dawg Music, to the exotic choro music of Brazil’s Jacob de Bandolim.

I loved the mandolin, whether it was played by the Incredible String Band, Ry Cooder, Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Levon Helm of the Band. You could also hear it on records by Dr. John and Led Zeppelin, whether played by John Paul Jones or Jimmy Page, who was always a favorite for me. I love how he drew from Scottish traditional music and blues, bringing it together as a blend of Afro-Celtic music. Led Zeppelin III   being the greatest album It’s not one of Zeppelin’s most popular albums. They use banjo with 12-string guitar on Leadbelly’s ‘Gallows Pole.’ Page’s influences from Pentangle to Incredible String Band come forward. Yet at the same time he’s sharing old blues influences in a tremendous way. Great kick-ass energy with layers of tonalities.

Eastern European melodies/Jewish/Greek stuff really comes natural to me — part of my DNA, I suppose. It has been in pop music since “Paint It Black” and “Over Under Sideways Down.” I always felt that gypsy music and rock had strong ties not just musically but also in terms of image — starting with Keith Richard and Jimi Hendrix with all those scarves and bone earrings… All of these influences drove me to form bands like TriBeCaStan – a 9 piece world music ensemble, and my latest 6 piece group, The Folklorkestra, which just won a grant from Chamber Music America to record our debut album.

In 2006 you traveled to India where you studied mandolin with Uppalapu Rajesh. Could you tell us what it was really like and who Uppalapu Rajesh really is?

Sometime in the mid 1980’s I heard about “the skinny Indian kid with the baby guitar” who jammed with Miles Davis at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1983. I immediately tracked down his record, an obscure double album of Carnatic mandolin music with a photograph of the twelve-year-old “Adorable Child Prodigy” – “Mandolin” Srinivas (yes, his name actually became synonymous with the instrument he played!) on its cover. One blast from the lightning-fast fingers climbing the frets of his custom 5 string electric mandolin, revealed a unique and pristine expression of the universe. I just assumed the letter U, which stood for his family name, Uppalapu, was short for “Universe.”

“The Adorable Child Prodigy” first picked up the mandolin (actually an electric solid body five-string Shamax “baby guitar” tuned C-G-C-G-C) at age six and quickly revealed such virtuosic technique that tabla maestro Zakir Hussian dubbed him, “a natural genius.” “Mandolin” Srinivas first performed in Madras at age nine, to a crowd, doubtful that ragas could be properly performed with the necessary level of precision and finesse on such an instrument. They were immediately convinced otherwise and leapt to their feet, applauding in rapturous admiration.

A few years later, Srinivas toured America. I anxiously sat amongst the predominantly Indian crowd at Alverno College, in Milwaukee, waiting to have my little mind blown. His group displayed an otherworldly telepathy and mercurial virtuosity. The intricate rhythms they refer to as “the calculations” are quite complicated and take enormous discipline to play. In 1994, I recorded The Cherry Electric, an album of mandolin instrumentals played on a vintage 1957 4-string Fender electric “mandocaster,” dedicating the music to the great free jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and the maestro of Carnatic mandolin, U. Srinivas. Two years later I was performing on a bill with Glenn Velez (the wonderful frame drummer formerly with the Paul Winter Consort) when Ganesh Kumar, a dazzling kanjira player (a small yet surprisingly dynamic tambourine with one jingle) asked to sit in with me. After spicing my songs with his exotic, intricate rhythms I handed him a copy of my latest album. Noticing the dedication to Srinivas, he told me that he’d known the mandolin prodigy since he was eight. So, I loaded Ganesh up with a pile of discs to take back to Srinivas and anyone else he thought might give it a spin.

It turned out that U. Srinivas’ younger brother, U. Rajesh, also a phenomenal mandolin player in his own rite, dug the disc and when they returned to the states again on their next tour, I caught their concert at the Ethical Cultural Center in New York. The two brothers playing together was dazzling, like watching the four arms of Lord Ganesh perform magic tricks. After the show I introduced myself to Rajesh, handing him a copy of The Cherry Electric. “Yes, we already have this album, John. I like your compositions. You must say hello to Srinivas!” he implored. “Of course,” I replied and took my place in a long cue of well-dressed well-wishers to meet the maestro. Sitting on the stage, dressed in white, surrounded by a handful of small Hindu deities and photographs of his gurus, Srinivas graciously extended a soft, well-manicured hand.

“When are you coming to India?” he asked in a gentle voice.

“When would be best?” I replied.

“In December and January. You will find the weather pleasant, and it is the season of the music festival that I know you’ll enjoy.”

A few months later I boarded the 18-hour flight to Chennai (which had the best airport music I’ve ever heard in my life) to begin my studies in Carnatic music, the classical music of southern India. Suddenly, I was practicing five to six hours a day, learning new scales like never before. Slowly learning the Kalyani raga – C-D-E-F#-G-A-B- C. It wasn’t the notes, but the slide, or the “gurry” as they called it (not to be confused with curry!) that I found most difficult. Going up the neck was much easier than coming down. You need real discipline to endure Carnatic boot camp. I thought I did pretty well, although Krishna, my teacher, who was half my age, admonished me for being “lazy,” and that was after rushing to my lessons each morning, with just enough time to gulp down a cup of hot, high-octane coffee and maybe just a banana to eat. The coffee, heavy on milk and sugar, made good rocket fuel. Exactly what you need to help keep up with those fantastic Carnatic percussionists. They are astounding speed demons that hammer out “the calculations,” as they refer to their intricate rhythms which demand enormous discipline to play.

I would return to my hotel room each night, exhausted, lay down to take a short nap at 7PM, and wake up around 1AM. Then I’d practice until 4AM and fall asleep again until 6.

Rajesh is truly a monster musician, albeit a sweet monster, but a monster none-the-less with fantastic technique.

You have collaborated with names like Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Steve Buscemi, Die Kreuzen, Meat Puppets, Violet Femmes. Please tell us more about these collaborations, as well as your solo career

Some of these situations were brief, one two or three time meetings, jams/collaborations, many – like Allen Ginsberg, Steve Buscemi, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, when I was working with the late/great producer Hal Willner, who died three years ago from covid… a terrible tragedy… Patti Smith actually got up on stage with me and Peter Stampfel of the holy Modal Rounders at a New York club to sing the Stones’ “Factory Girl” with us. It was great! The famous playwright/actor Sam Shepard was in the audience, and he eventually joined our short-lived band playing rhythm guitar and filling the clubs with his star power.

I first witnessed Violent Femmes at New York’s legendary club, Folk City on a Wednesday night – January 27, 1983. My friend, the keyboardist/composer Sigmund Snopek III called long-distance from Milwaukee to tell me, “You gotta see this band!”

“Really? What’s so special about ‘em?” I asked.

“They’re like Buddy Holly and the Crickets,” Siggy said. “Except on acid, the brown kind that they warned you about at Woodstock.”

I was dubious. I’d heard that Buddy Holly comparison before, with Elvis Costello. But all similarities to the Lubbock rocker ended with a pair of math-geek horn-rimmed glasses and a Fender guitar. Not that I was disappointed when I first saw Elvis, I was thrilled. But Buddy Holly he was not.

Besides, a bunch of cow-punks from Wisconsin on a Wednesday night hardly sounded enticing. Beyond the mind-bending punk/funk jazz of James Chance and the Contortions, whatever came out of Milwaukee that mattered beyond Liberace, Hank Aaron, or Laverne and Shirley?

Okay, so I was jaded, having played around the Village for the previous five years. But Folk City was just a few blocks away and I didn’t have anything better to do that night. So, I bundled up and ventured out into the January cold.

When I arrived that night at the corner of 3rd Street and 6th Ave., there was a long line down the block, waiting to get in. But after the first tune I had to admit that this trio of acoustic misanthropes from the Dairy State were on fire. In no time, they had the packed crowd whipped into a frenzy. I hadn’t seen a band drive an audience that crazy since the Doors. At any moment, it felt like riot might break out.

After the set, I approached the tall, skinny, blond bassist, Brian Ritchie to ask him what he was listening to…

“Uh, Nick Drake, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, Soft Machine,” he replied.

All the same weird shit I’d been into! I told him that I was a friend of Sigmund’s and played the mandolin, flute and harmonica. He asked if I’d like to sit in the following night Violent Femmes at their gig at Columbia University. And thus, began my career as “the Swiss Army knife of Rock and Roll” as Chris Kirkwood, bassist of the Meat Puppets later dubbed me.

I joined the Femmes for most of their East Coast jaunt, becoming a full-fledged member of their revolving door of backup musicians known as the Horns of Dilemma. It was a wild ride indeed. The Femmes were packing the house everywhere they went. And everywhere they went everybody seemed so oblige them with whatever they desired, from sex and drugs to lasagna dinners. But the lightning pace of their success would soon kick them in the ass.

All three of the original played on my 1986 debut album Midnight Snack, as well as a few other of my projects. I met the Meat Puppets and Die Kreuzen, both through my connection with Violent Femmes and played live with both and recorded with Die Kreuzen on their final album, Cement.

Along with music, you write. At 18, you published your first collection of poetry, but in addition to poetry and prose, you also write biographies and music history books, of which I would like to mention Lunacy The Curious Phenomenon of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years On. Tell us more about your literary work, as well as about Lunacy.

Back in high school I played guitar and mandolin and harmonica – mostly Dylan, Beatles songs, Neil Young and the Band. I really wanted to write my own songs but didn’t know where to begin. I read a lot of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, and books by Richard Brautigan and Larry Ferlinghetti – both of whom I really liked for their imagery and simplicity. I began to write some poems, mostly to impress girls. They were short, humorous little pieces. And my mother thought they were kind of cute and suggested I send them into the “New York Times’ Metropolitan Diary” section – they used to print poems and short, short stories. To my surprise they ran a few of them. Then they ran some more. So, I started making small press books with my friend, the wonderful illustrator Glenn Wolff. I had been broadening my influences reading Gary Snyder, Ishmael Reed, Arthur Rimbaud, Antler, Gregory Corso, William Blake and Shelley – they were chock full of nature, lore, symbols and gris gris. Oddly I’ve found enough there’s a theme that runs through most of my music books, different as my subjects might seem. All three of the men I wrote biographies about were great lemonade makers – they took the lemons that fate/life dealt them and transmuted pain and suffering into something beautiful that helped to refresh people’s spirits. Each one of these guys faced some serious challenges. Rahsaan was born sightless, black in a seriously racist age and his music was written off as a gimmick. Townes Van Zandt wrestled with the demons of depression, drug addiction and alcohol, although he was born to a privileged family. And Roy Orbison was deluged with woes of biblical proportion. Miraculously, they all managed to keep producing great music, although not for long – Kirk was 42 when he died while Townes and Roy were both just 52. Rahsaan Roland Kirk was an influence on me to play flute as a 13-, 14-year-old teen. My sister’s cool boyfriend had those records, along with Herbie Mann, too. But no one blew me away like the Beatles, having seen them on Ed Sullivan and growing up with them. Dylan and the Stones, too, of course, and I also loved Motown and Stax.  So, instead of writing another biography I wrote a book called This Bird Has Flown on Rubber Soul for the album’s 50th year anniversary. It was one of my favorite Beatles records, in part because I’m a big fan of transitional records more than the “landmark” albums. I also adore Revolver. But “Rubber Soul” is so rich – the first time George uses the sitar – on “Norwegian Wood,” Paul employs jazz chords on “Michelle,” John evokes Weill and Brecht on “Girl,” Ringo sings country on “What Goes On” on the Brit pressing. Paul’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face” seemed to spell out everything I was searching for in a love relationship, overtly as romantic as it was. It’s such a great tune. I still play the song on guitar at home or for friends at parties from time to time. During covid I also wrote a book called Hold On World about John & Yoko’s Plastic Ono Band albums. That was quite a journey!

My latest book is called Lunacy: The Curious Phenomenon of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years On… published on March 1, 2023. I think of this album like the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, right down to the cover, which represents the future. It’s unknowable. You look at it, you think you know what it is, but Dark Side continues to reveal itself over time to other generations. And maybe they’re understanding, and they’re looking at it, they’re hearing other things that we didn’t hear in it. To me, this album is a spook house, and who doesn’t like a scary movies? If we all get out the door in one piece and feeling like, OK, we’ve been through something cathartic — you felt like you went through something, and you had some kind of growth. This album represents a door in that way.

For the end, what would you say to our readers? What are your future projects? As far as I know, you and your wife are often in Croatia.

My sweetheart Marilyn Cvitanic’s family is Croatian, and we go to Croatia every summer. Her uncle was the zookeeper of Split. I have found so much inspiration there – Back in 2007 I recorded an album of music inspired by over 20 years of visits to Dalmatia called Splitsville (Sonic Impressions of Croatia). Split is beautiful, – prekrasno! and the Diocletian Palace is there. The cover photograph of the album was a snapshot taken in 1968. If you remember, there were riots busting out everywhere, and it was the year that Martin Luther King was shot. There were riots all over America. The tanks were pulling into Prague. There were riots in France. And there was a guy named Pave Dulcic, an avant-garde conceptual artist in Split at the time. And his response to everything was to paint the Diocletian Palace Square red in the middle of the night. So, he and a couple of friends, with a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of gallons of paint went and painted the town square red. And what happened, of course, being Yugoslavia, under Tito, they came, and they dragged him away, and they beat him with clubs, and they locked him up in jail, and by the time they released him he was never the same. And he died soon afterwards. And I wrote a very Billy Bragg electric proletariat rock song, “The Ballad of Pave Dulcic,”, along with a handful of other songs. All of the songs are about Croatia, or inspired by Croatia on one level or another. And there are 15 songs, from very sweet, gentle, eastern European waltzes, to a very Tom Waits kind of tune, “The Rakija Song” which has since been recorded by Croatian Blues man Tomislav Goluban). My second Croatian album was The Drunken Wind of Life: The Poem/Songs of Tin Ujevic (released October 17, 2015). I wrote music for English translations of Tin’s poems. It’s more haunting than Splitsville. It has a few originals mixed in, like “Girl From Korcula” to brighten things up. My favorite poem of Tin Ujevic’s “Blood Brotherhood of Persons of the Universe,” was given a very Bob Dylan/Leonard Cohen treatment.

You can find them both on Bandcamp – https://johnkruth.bandcamp.com/

All of my music books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=john+kruth&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

And most recently, I won a grant from CMA, a foundation called the Chamber Music of America, to write and record an album of new instrumental music (probably a lot closer to Nino Rota, Django Reinhardt and Astor Piazzolla B-sides than what we usually think of as “chamber music.” I guess it just comes down to which “chamber” you dwell in. The new ensemble features tabla, oboe, sax, flute, clarinet, lap steel guitar, keyboards and accordion and bass, with me mostly on mandolin, 12 string guitar, banjo, harmonica and flutes. The band is called The Folklorkestra, as the music is “folkloric,” with roots in jazz, Balkan, Klezmer, Celtic and Indian traditions. We just finished recording the album, so keep your ears peeled!


Možete li nam se predstaviti i reći nešto o sebi?

Bio sam kantautor i multiinstrumentalist (mandolina, gitara, bendžo, usna harmonika i flauta) koji je snimio jedanaest solo albuma i bio na turnejama tijekom posljednjih četrdeset godina, nastupajući u kafićima, klubovima, koncertnim dvoranama i festivalima u SAD-u, Kanadi, Europi, Maroko i Indija. Ovo iskustvo dalo mi je jedinstvenu perspektivu kada je u pitanju pisanje o glazbi drugih. Iako sam proždrljivi čitatelj, moje obrazovanje, za najvećim dijelom dolazi iz iskustva iz prve ruke. Često se nalazim u pisanju knjiga i članaka da sam i ja imao slična iskustva s mnogim temama o kojima pišem. Kao bivši disk džokej i producent albuma rock, jazz, folk i world music izvođača te stvarajući niz glazbenih beneficija tijekom posljednjih nekoliko godina, stekao sam jedinstveni uvid u suradničke i kreativne procese suvremenih glazbenika svih boja. Moju intelektualna znatiželja se nastavlja  poticati sve iz poezije Williama Blakea do raga Ravija Shankara, od američke pop kulture do dadaizma Marcela Duchampa i od indijanskih do budističkih studija. Svi ovi utjecaji potaknuli su strast i disciplinu u meni koji su doveli ne samo do stvaranja moje vlastite glazbe, već i natjeralo me da obrazujem druge, bilo na forumu u učionici na fakultetu ili putem tiskanih mediji.

Poznati ste kao multiinstrumentalist (mandolina, gitara, bendžo, flauta, usna harmonika itd.), pa bih Vas zamolio da nam kažete nešto više o tome kao i o Vašim glazbenim počecima.

Kao i većina djece koja su odrastala u Americi 1960-ih, bio sam opsjednut električnom gitarom sve do svjedočenja oca Bluegrassa, Billa Monroea koji svira mandolinu uživo na Expo Svjetski Sajam(Expo World Fair,op.prev.)  u Montrealu. Od tog trenutka nadalje, mandolina je postala moja strast i slušao sam svakog svirača mandoline kojeg sam mogao pronaći, od otrcanog bluesa Yank Rachell do uglađenog teksaškog swinga od Tiny Moorea, do klasične finese Huga D’Altona, do Davida Grismana progresivne glazbe Dawg, do egzotične choro glazbe brazilskog Jacoba de Bandolima. Volio sam mandolinu, bez obzira svirali je Incredible String Band, Ry Cooder, Chris Hillman iz Byrdsa i Levon Helm iz benda. Mogli ste ga čuti i na pločama Dr. Johna i Led Zeppelina, bez obzira svirao ih John Paul Jones ili Jimmy Page, koji je uvijek bio omiljena za mene. Sviđa mi se kako je crpio iz škotske tradicionalne glazbe i bluesa, donoseći ga zajedno kao spoj afro-keltske glazbe. Led Zeppelin III je najveći album, nije jedan od najpopularnijih albuma Zeppelina. Na Leadbellyju koriste bendžo s gitarom s 12 žica ‘Gallows Pole’. Pageovi utjecaji od Pentanglea do Incredible String Banda dolaze do izražaja.

Ipak, u isto vrijeme on na nevjerojatan način dijeli stare utjecaje bluesa. Sjajan udarac energija sa slojevima tonaliteta. Istočnoeuropske melodije/židovske/grčke stvari stvarno su mi prirodne — dio mog DNK, pretpostavljam. U pop glazbi je još od “Paint It Black” i “Over Under Sideways Down” (pjesme Rolling Stonesa,Yardbirdsa,op.prev.) Uvijek sam osjećao da ciganska glazba i rock imaju jake veze ne samo glazbeno nego i unutarnje u smislu imidža — počevši od Keitha Richarda i Jimija Hendrixa sa svim onim šalovima i koščanim naušnicama… Svi ovi utjecaji nagnali su me da formiram bendove kao što je TriBeCaStan – devetočlani world music ansambl, i moj najnoviji 6-člani sastav, The Folklorkestra, koji je upravo osvojio nagradu potporu Chamber Music America (Komorna Glazba Amerike,op.prev.) za snimanje našeg debitantskog albuma.

Godine 2006. putovali ste u Indiju gdje ste učili mandolinu s Uppalapu Rajeshom. Možete li nam reći kako je to zapravo bilo i tko je zapravo Uppalapu Rajesh?

Negdje sredinom 1980-ih čuo sam za “mršavog indijskog klinca s dječjom gitarom” koji je svirao s Milesom Davisom na Berlinskom jazz festivalu 1983. Odmah sam pronašao njegovu ploču, opskurni dvostruki album karnatske mandolinske glazbe s fotografijom dvanaestogodišnjeg “Adorable Child Prodigy” (Dražesno Čudo od Djeteta,op.prev.) – “Mandolin” Srinivas (da, njegovo ime zapravo postalo sinonim za instrument koji je svirao!) na naslovnici. Jedan udar iz munjevitih prstiju koji se penju po pragovima njegove prilagođene električne mandoline s 5 žica, otkrio je jedinstven i iskonski izraz svemira. Upravo sam pretpostavio slovo U, koje je označavalo njegovo obiteljsko ime, Uppalapu, bilo je skraćenica za “Svemir”.

“The Adorable Child Prodigy” prvi je put uzeo u ruke mandolinu (zapravo električno čvrsto tijelo Shamaxova “dječja gitara” s pet žica ugođena C-G-C-G-C) sa šest godina i brzo se razotkrio virtuoznom tehnikom koju je maestro tabla Zakir Hussian nazvao “prirodnim genijem”. “Mandolin” Srinivas je prvi put svirao u Madrasu s devet godina, pred publikom, sumnjajući da raga bi mogao biti pravilno izveden s potrebnom razinom preciznosti i finoće na takvom instrumentu. Odmah su se uvjerili u suprotno te su skočili na noge plješćući u zanosnom divljenju.

Nekoliko godina kasnije, Srinivas je bio na turneji po Americi. Zabrinuto sam sjedio među pretežno indijskom publikom na koledžu Alverno, u Milwaukeeju, čekajući da moju malu glavu raznese. Njegova grupa je pokazala nezemaljsku telepatiju i živopisnu virtuoznost. Zamršeni ritmovi koji oni nazivaju “izračuni” prilično su komplicirani i zahtijevaju ogromnu disciplinu za sviranje. Godine 1994. snimio sam The Cherry Electric, album instrumentala za mandolinu na kojem je odsviran vintage 1957 Fender električni “mandocaster” s 4 žice, posvećujući glazbu velikom free jazz trubaču Donu Cherryu i maestro karnatske mandoline U. Srinivas. Dvije godine kasnije sam nastupao zajedno s Glennom Velezom (sjajan nekadašnji frame bubnjar Paula Wintera Consorta) kada je Ganesh Kumar, izvrstan kanjira svirač (mali ali iznenađujući dinamični tamburin s jednim džinglom) zamolio da sjedne sa mnom. Nakon što sam začinio moju pjesme s njegovim egzotičnim, zamršenim ritmovima dao sam mu kopiju svog posljednjeg albuma. Primijetivši posvećen Srinivasu, rekao mi je da poznaje čudo od mandoline od svoje osme godine.Pa sam natovario Ganesha hrpom diskova da ih vratim Srinivasu i bilo kome drugome pomisao da bi to moglo pokrenuti.

Ispostavilo se da je mlađi brat U. Srinivasa, U. Rajesh, također fenomenalni svirač mandolina na svom vlastitom načinu, iskopao disk i kad su se vratili u države ponovno na svojoj sljedećoj turneji, uhvatio sam njihov koncert u Ethical Cultural Center u New Yorku. Dva brata koji zajedno sviraju bilo je očaravjauće, poput gledanja četiri ruke Gospoda Ganesha kako izvode magične trikove. Nakon predstave predstavio sam se Rajeshu, dajući mu primjerak Electric Cheery.  “Da, već imamo ovaj album, Johne. Sviđaju mi se tvoje kompozicije. Morate pozdraviti Srinivasa!” preklinjao je. “Naravno”, odgovorio sam i zauzeo svoje mjesto u dugom znaku dobro odjevenih dobronamjernici u susret maestru. Sjedio je na pozornici, obučen u bijelo,okružen pregrštom malih hinduističkih božanstava i fotografijama svojih gurua, Srinivasa, ljubazno pružio meku, dobro njegovanu ruku.

“Kada dolaziš u Indiju?” – upitao je nježnim glasom. “Kada bi bilo najbolje?” Odgovorio sam. “U prosincu i siječnju. Bit će vam ugodno vrijeme, a sezona je glazbenog festivala za koji znam da ćete uživati.” Nekoliko mjeseci kasnije ukrcao sam se na 18-satni let za Chennai (koji je imao najbolju glazbu zračne luke koju sam ikada čuo u životu) kako bih započeo studij karnatske glazbe, klasične glazbe južne Indije. Odjednom sam vježbao pet do šest sati dnevno, učeći nove ljestvice kao nikad prije. Polako sam učio Kalyani ragu – C-D-E-F#-G-A-B- C. Nisu to bile note, već tobogan, ili “gurry” kako su ga zvali (ne brkati s curryjem!) koji sam smatrao najtežim. Popeti se uz vrat bilo je puno lakše nego sići. Trebate imati pravu disciplinu izdržati Carnatic obuku za kamp. Mislio sam da sam prošao prilično dobro, iako Krišna, moj učitelj, koji je bilo upola mlađi od mene, opomenuo me da sam “lijen”, i to nakon što sam požurio svoje lekcije svakog jutra, s taman dovoljno vremena da popijem šalicu vruće, visokooktanske kave i možda samo bananu za pojesti. Kava, bogata mlijekom i šećerom, bilo je dobro raketno gorivo. Upravo ono što vam je potrebno kako biste držali korak s tim fantastičnim Carnatic udaraljkašima. Oni su demoni zapanjujuće brzine koji izvode “izračune”, npr oni se odnose na njihove zamršene ritmove koji zahtijevaju ogromnu disciplinu za sviranje. Svake bih se noći, iscrpljen, vraćao u svoju hotelsku sobu, legao da nakratko odrijemam 19 sati, a buđenje oko 1 ujutro. Zatim bih vježbao do 4 ujutro i opet zaspao do 6.

Rajesh je doista čudovišni glazbenik, iako slatko čudovište, ali čudovište s fantastičnom tehnika.

Surađivali ste s imenima kao što su Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Steve Buscemi, Die Kreuzen, Mesne lutke, Violet Femmes. Recite nam više o tim suradnjama, kao kao i svoju solo karijeru.

Neke od tih situacija bile su kratki, jedan dva ili tri sastanka, džemovi/suradnje, mnogih – poput Allena Ginsberga, Stevea Buscemija, Loua Reeda i Laurie Anderson, kad sam radio s pokojnim/velikim producent Hal Willner, koji je prije tri godine umro od covida… strašna tragedija… Patti Smith je zapravo ustala na pozornicu sa mnom i Peterom Stampfelom iz svetih Modal Rounders at a New York klub da s nama otpjeva “Factory Girl” Stonesa. Bilo je odlično! Poznati dramatičar/glumac Sam Shepard je bio u publici i na kraju se pridružio našem kratkotrajnom bendu svirajući ritam gitaru i puni klubove svojom zvjezdanom snagom.

Prvi put sam svjedočio Violent Femmes u legendarnom njujorškom klubu Folk City u srijedu navečer – 27. siječnja 1983. Moj prijatelj, klavijaturist/skladatelj Sigmund Snopek III nazvao je iz daleka iz Milwaukeeja da mi kaže: “Moraš vidjeti ovaj bend!”

Pridružio sam se Femmes tijekom većeg dijela njihovog izleta po istočnoj obali, postavši punopravni član njihovih okretnih vrata pratećih glazbenika poznatih kao Horns of Dilemma. Bila je to doista divlja vožnja. The Femmes su bili pun pogodak gdje god su stigli. I kamo god su išli sve činilo se da ih obvezuje na sve što požele, od seksa i droge do večere s lazanjama. Ali munjevit tempo njihovog uspjeha ubrzo bi je ih šutnuo u dupe.

Sva tri originala svirana su na mom debitantskom albumu Midnight Snack iz 1986., kao i nekoliko drugih moji projekti. Upoznao sam Meat Puppets i Die Kreuzen, oboje kroz moju vezu s Violentom Femmes i svirao uživo s objema i snimao s Die Kreuzen na njihovom posljednjem albumu, Cement.

Uz glazbu, pišete. S 18 godina objavili ste svoju prvu zbirku poezije, ali pored poezije i proze, pišete i biografije i knjige o povijesti glazbe, što bih i ja volio spomenuti Lunacy The Curious Phenomenon of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years Poslije. Reći više o Vašem književnom radu, kao i o Lunacyju.

Još u srednjoj školi svirao sam gitaru, mandolinu i usnu harmoniku – uglavnom pjesme Dylana, Beatlesa, Neil Younga and Bend. Stvarno sam želio pisati svoje pjesme, ali nisam znao odakle početi. Čitao sam puno pjesama Allena Ginsberga i knjiga Richarda Brautigana i Larryja Ferlinghettija -oba su mi se jako svidjela zbog slikovitosti i jednostavnosti. Počeo sam pisati neke pjesme, uglavnom za impresionirati djevojke. Bili su to kratki, šaljivi mali komadi. I moja je majka mislila da su nekako slatki i predložila da ih pošaljem u odjeljak “Metropolitan Diary New York Timesa” – tiskali su moje pjesme i novele, novele. Na moje iznenađenje, objavili su nekoliko njih. Zatim su objavljivali neke više. Tako sam počeo raditi tiskane knjige u malom izdanju sa svojim prijateljem, divnim ilustratorom Glennom Wolffom. Proširivao sam svoj utjecaj čitajući Garyja Snydera, Ishmaela Reeda, Arthura Rimbauda, Antlera,Gregory Corso, William Blake i Shelley – bili su puni prirode, predanja, simbola i grisa gris (vodoo talisman,op.prev). Čudno, otkrio sam dovoljno da postoji tema koja se provlači kroz većinu mojih glazbenih knjiga, različiti kako bi se moji subjekti mogli činiti. Sva trojica muškaraca o kojima sam napisao biografije bili su velika limunada proizvođači – uzeli su limunove koje im je sudbina/život podijelila i u njih pretočili bol i patnju u nešto lijepo što je pomoglo osvježiti duh ljudi. Svaki od ovih tipova suočio se s nekim ozbiljnim izazovina. Rahsaan je rođen bez vida, crnac u ozbiljno rasističko doba, a njegova je glazba bila takva otpisano kao trik. Townes Van Zandt borio se s demonima depresije, narkomanske ovisnosti i alkohola, iako je rođen u privilegiranoj obitelji. I Roy Orbison je potopljen s jadima biblijskih razmjera. Za divno čudo, svi su uspjeli producirati sjajnu glazbu,iako ne zadugo – Kirk je imao 42 godine kada je umro, dok su Townes i Roy imali samo 52 godine. Rahsaan Roland Kirk je utjecao na mene da sviram flautu kao 13-, 14-godišnji tinejdžer. Cool dečko moje sestre je imao te ploče, zajedno s Herbie Mannom, također. Ali nitko me nije tako oduševio kao Beatlesi, nakon što sam ih vidio na Edu Sullivanu i odrastao s njima. Dylan i Stonesi, također naravno, a volio sam i Motown i Stax. Dakle, umjesto da napišem još jednu biografiju, napisao sam knjigu pod nazivom This Bird Has Flown on Rubber Soul za 50. godišnjicu albuma. Bio je jedan od mojih omiljenih ploča Beatlesa, djelomično zato što sam veliki obožavatelj prijelaznih ploča više od “landmark” albuma. I ja obožavam Revolver. Ali “Rubber Soul” je tako bogat – prvi put George (G. Harisson,op.pre.)koristi sitar – na “Norwegian Wood”, Paul (P. McCartney,op.prev.) koristi jazz akorde na “Michelle,” John evocira Weilla i Brecht na “Girl”, Ringo pjeva country na “What Goes On” na Brit pressingu. Paulov “I’ve Just Seen a Face” kao da je jasno opisalo sve što sam tražio u ljubavnoj vezi koliko god to bilo romantično. To je tako sjajna melodija. Još uvijek sviram pjesmu na gitari kod kuće ili za prijatelje na zabavi s vremena na vrijeme. Za vrijeme covida napisao sam i knjigu Hold On World o Johnu i albumima Yoko’s Plastic Ono Band. Bilo je to pravo putovanje!

Moja najnovija knjiga zove se Lunacy: The Curious Phenomenon of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years Later… objavljeno 1. ožujka 2023. O ovom albumu razmišljam kao o monolitu u Stanleyju Kubrickova 2001., sve do naslovnice, koja predstavlja budućnost. To je nespoznatljivo. Pogledaš to, mislite da znate što je to, ali Tamna Strana nastavlja se s vremenom  otkrivati drugim generacijama. I možda oni razumiju, i gledaju u to, čuju druge stvari koje u njemu nismo čuli. Meni je ovaj album kuća strave, a tko ne voli strašne filmove? Ako svi izađemo kroz vrata u jednom komadu i osjećamo se kao, OK, prošli smo kroz nešto katarzično — osjećali ste se kao da ste prošli kroz nešto i imali ste nekakav rast. Ovaj album na taj način predstavlja vrata.

Za kraj, što bi ste poručili našim čitateljima? Koji su Vaši budući projekti? Koliko ja znam, Vi i Vaša supruga ste često u Hrvatskoj.

Obitelj moje drage Marilyn Cvitanic je hrvatska i svako ljeto idemo u Hrvatsku. Njen stric je bio čuvar splitskog zoološkog vrta. Tamo sam našao toliko inspiracije – još 2007. sam snimio glazbeni album inspiriran preko 20 godina posjeta Dalmaciji pod nazivom Splitsville (Sonic Impressions of Croatia, (Zvučni Dojmovi o Hrvatskoj)op.prev.). Split je prekrasan! A tu je i Dioklecijanova palača. Naslovnica fotografija albuma bila je snimka snimljena 1968. Ako se sjećate, bilo je razbijanja nereda posvuda, i bila je to godina kada je ubijen Martin Luther King. Posvuda su bili neredi u Americi. Tenkovi su bili u Pragu.  U Francuskoj su bili nemiri. A bio je i jedan tip, Pave Dulčić, tadašnji splitski avangardni konceptualni umjetnik. I njegov odgovor na sve je bilo da se Trg Dioklecijanove palače usred noći oboji u crveno. Dakle, on i a par prijatelja, s par boca vina i par litara boje otišli i slikali gradski trg crveni. I što se dogodilo, naravno, kao Jugoslavija, pod Titom, došli su, I odvukli su ga, i tukli ga palicama, i zatvorili u zatvor, a po kad su ga pustili, nikad nije bio isti. I on je ubrzo nakon toga umro. I napisao sam vrlo Billy Bragg električni proletarijat rock pjesma, “The Ballad of Pave Dulcic,”, zajedno s pregršt drugih pjesama. Sve su pjesme o Hrvatskoj ili su inspirirane njome na jednoj ili drugoj razini. I ima 15 pjesama, od vrlo slatkih, nježnih, istočnoeuropskih valcera, do vrlo vrste melodija Toma Waitsa , “Rakijaška pjesma” koju je u međuvremenu snimio hrvatski blueser Tomislav Goluban). Moj drugi hrvatski album bio je Pijani vjetar života: Pjesme Tina Ujevića (izdato 17. listopada 2015.). Napisao sam glazbu za engleske prijevode Tinovih pjesama. Više je proganjajuće nego Splitsville. Umiješano je nekoliko originala, poput “Djevojke s Korčule” da razvedri stvari. Moja omiljena pjesma Tina Ujevića “Pobratisvo Lica U Svemiru” dobila je popriličan tretman Boba Dylana/Leonarda Cohena. Obojicu ih možete pronaći na Bandcampu –


Sve moje glazbene knjige dostupne su putem Amazona:


I nedavno sam dobio potporu od CMA, zaklade pod nazivom Komorna glazba Amerike, da napišem i snimim album nove instrumentalne glazbe (vjerojatno puno bliže Ninu Roti, Django Reinhardtu i Astor Piazzolli B-strani od onoga što obično smatramo “komornom glazbom”). Ja smatram da se samo svodi na to u kojoj “komori” boravite. Novi ansambl sadrži tablu, obou,saksofon, flauta, klarinet, lap steel gitara, klavijature i harmonika i bas, sa mnom uglavnom na mandolini, gitara s 12 žica, bendžo, usna harmonika i flaute. Bend se zove Folklorkestra, kao i glazba  je “folklorna”, s korijenima u jazzu, balkanskoj, klezmerskoj, keltskoj i indijskoj tradiciji. Upravo smo završili snimanje albuma, pa dobro čupite uši!



Student morskog ribarstva u Splitu, član umjetničke udruge Dadanti gdje obavljam funkciju voditelja glazbenog odjela i glumačke družine Banana Split. Bavim se poezijom, glumom, glazbom, novinarstvom i performansima...