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-Randy California

Interview by Tim Clifford in Mojo/ march -96.

"Spirit has been working for the past year on a blues album. The people involved include myself, of course, Ed Cassidy, Scott Monahan, and Matt Andes, in my opinion, one of the best National Steel guitar players in that Ry Cooder vein. Surprise guest is Matts daughter Rachel, as a singer. She's only 15, and she's got a great voice.

The style will be real traditional sounding à la Delta blues with Matt on National Steel, me on acoustic and bass, and Cass on brushed snare drum. Mostly new songs. One cover we might do is Key to the highway and another is Charlie James by Mance Lipscombe, the Texas songster. He's not with us now but he had a unique style of playing. They didn't have drummers at the Texas barn dances Mance used to play, so to keep everybody dancing he developed a style that sounded like it had a bass going while he played lead at the same time.

One great thing about technology in the '90s is A-DAT, a system for recording eight tracks digitally on to a VHS video-tape. I've got three A-DAT machines, so I can record 24 track digital. I can make a tape, mix it, send it to one of the old guys in the group and he can put on a piano or a bass part and send it back in the mail. It's a convenient way to work.

We do around 100 dates a year in the States, mostly city-sponsored events like the Fun Fest in Rockford , Illinois. Every city now has festivals that are free to the public where they bring in acts like us to play. We haven't been to Europe for three years, though we'd love to come over with the blues album. When we are not recording I take care of my 11-year old son or travel. I have been to India a couple of times. No electricity, sleeping under the stars gives a different idea of life.

Cass is doing fine. If he had his way we'd be working 360 dates a year. He's healthy and will be 73 in May. He's written a book called the Musician's Resource Survival Manual. I'd recommend it to people starting out. It gives what it takes to make music a career as opposed to a hobby.

We set up our own label for the last two albums out of necessity. We got offers but they were pitiful, so we did it ourselves. But for the new album we'd love to be on a big label and have them embrace us and promote us. That'd be a dream come true."


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This page was last modified on May 08, 2010