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Bonnie Raitt still giving them ‘Something To Talk About’ Bonnie Raitt will perform in Hamilton June 6.

on May 27, 2017 No comments

By Graham Rockingham
Back during the height of her career — shortly after she swept the 1990 Grammys with her breakthrough album “Nick of Time” — Bonnie Raitt found herself inundated with demo tapes from aspiring songwriters.

So much so, that Raitt used to position boxes of tapes throughout various places in her house, always near a portable cassette deck.

She had a box in her kitchen, another in her bathroom, each one containing dozens of tapes. Perhaps one would be her next hit.

One day she picked up a cassette from a Canadian singer-songwriter by the name of Shirley Eikhard. Raitt had never heard the name before. She thinks it could have been sitting in the box for a couple of years.

Nonetheless, Raitt plugged the tape into the player.

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There were four songs on it. One of them was called “Something to Talk About.” It would not only be Raitt’s next hit. It would be her biggest, winning her another Grammy for best female vocal performance in 1992.

“All four of the songs just knocked me out,” Raitt says on the phone from her northern California home. “I loved her voice and I thought it was so far and above anybody else’s tape.”

There was no Internet back then, so Raitt had to start making inquiries about this Eikhard person through her record label. Coincidently, Eikhard was signed to the same label as Raitt, Capitol. Eikhard had had some success in Canada, but was an unknown in the United States.

Eikhard had written her phone number on the tape. Raitt decided to call her up and give her a surprise.

“I waited until I recorded the song, to call up the number on the cassette,” Raitt recalls. ‘I said ‘Hey, Shirley, it’s Bonnie Raitt, listen to this.’ I pushed play and played her own song back and hung up the phone. It went over to voice messaging.

“She called us back and couldn’t have been more delighted. The rest is history. That song is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Not long after, Eikhard and Raitt met face to face at a concert. The two have maintained ties since. She would love to see Eikhard at one of her shows on her upcoming cross-Canada tour, which stops at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Concert Hall on Tuesday, June 6.

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SoulmanBonnie Raitt still giving them ‘Something To Talk About’ Bonnie Raitt will perform in Hamilton June 6.

The Last Word: Bonnie Raitt on Blues Heroes, Father John Misty, Trump ‘Dismay’ Singer-songwriter also talks growing up Quaker and the "twisted sense of humor" she shares with fellow musicians

on May 12, 2017 No comments

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Bonnie Raitt was a little nervous before she and James Taylor played Boston’s Fenway Park in 2015, a venue bigger than she’s used to performing at. “The sound was great. I saw what a difference those high-def screens make. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. It wasn’t alienating for people. It was such a great event, to put us two old fogies together.” This summer, the two will hit more stadiums, including Chicago’s Wrigley Field and San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Touring is just one of Raitt’s full-time jobs, which also include heavy activism for causes ranging from Standing Rock to getting musicians paid. Raitt spoke with Rolling Stone from her Northern California home about several of those topics, how to relax, her childhood growing up Quaker and what she learned from being dropped from her record label.

How do you relax when you’re at home in California?
Usually I spend the afternoon hiking. I love Marin County because there are a couple of dozen beautiful hikes within 30 minutes. Then I usually do an hour-and-a-half yoga class with one of my girlfriends – either Skyping or at one of our houses. That’s been really keeping me in shape the last five years. I also like having friends over to watch Netflix at night. I try not to watch anything too political in the evening – I don’t want to get too upset right before bed.

What did you take away from growing up Quaker?
It’s part of the reason I’m drawn to spending so much time in nature. Unlike being in a cathedral or having to look at icons – not to put anyone else’s religious practices down – being in nature is a spiritual connection for me. God – right now there’s a little squirrel in the tree looking right at me! Growing up, we worked hard to figure out what we could do to give back and to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts around the world. A lot of my values come from that.

Your dad, John Raitt, was a legendary Broadway actor. What advice did he give you?
“Make every night opening night.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing Topeka, Kansas, or you’re playing on Broadway – that audience deserves the very best you have.

You dropped out of Harvard to play with several classic blues artists. What did you learn from them?
By my junior year I was opening for Mississippi Fred McDowell and John Hammond Jr. I was friends with the guy who booked a lot of my blues heroes. I fit on the bill because I was different and I could play a little bit of everything. I learned how to put a set together.
 I learned from Mississippi Fred McDowell in particular – playfulness, and passion, how to go back and forth between rock and something mournful.

What’s the most indulgent purchase that you’ve ever made?
I love taking my friends out 
to restaurants and putting together interesting groups of people. While some might say, “That’s too many people,” it’s an extravagance and I’m happy to do it. When I go out here, it’s more with activists. But in New York or L.A., I hang out with a lot of musicians.

What do you like about hanging out with musicians?
They get the joke. We call everyone else “civilians.” There’s a certain twisted sense of humor that comes with rock & roll musicians. A lot of them are professional partiers. We don’t have to go to bed if we don’t want to. So it’s constantly like going to never-never land in some ways. Even though we’re older, we still feel like we’re getting away with something.

“Not only is Father John Misty handsome, but he’s talented and hilarious.”

You were dropped from Warner Bros. in the early Eighties. What did that experience teach you?
Be with a company that really likes you! [Laughs] I’ve been a pretty savvy businesswoman since the beginning – I admit that I’m probably more of a businesswoman than I am an artist. I learned by watching people get ripped off. When I got involved with the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, I found out that all my record collection – my favorite artists – had never really received royalties.

Which young artists inspire you?
I’m really digging Father John Misty. I caught a couple of his late-night performances that he did recently, and I think he’s really smart and the kind of satire we really need right now. It took me a minute to realize that he’s playing a deliberate character – but the more I see him, the more I like him. Not only is he handsome, but he’s talented and hilarious. I was knocked out.

Did you have a favorite book as a kid?
To Kill a Mockingbird. When you’re a kid, you don’t know so much about the history: how the “First World” took over the rest of the world, the horrifying reality of slavery, what we did to Native Americans and how we took California and Texas. To Kill a Mockingbird was key in my awakening about the way the world really works.

You’re a longtime activist for causes like safe energy and getting money out of politics. How do you keep hope alive in the Trump era?
It’s a daily challenge to keep the fight going. There’s an expression that I first heard from Black Lives Matter, which is that people are “woke.” The election woke people up that we can’t be complacent. Election Day was my birthday, the last night of a nine-month tour. I’d gotten birthday cards saying, “For your present I’m giving you the first female president.” I came offstage and saw the faces of the people backstage reacting to the results. Then I went back out and sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” It was good to be able to do an extremely sad song. It was hard to contain my shock and dismay. But I’m encouraged by how upset people are.

Source: © Copyright Rolling Stone

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SoulmanThe Last Word: Bonnie Raitt on Blues Heroes, Father John Misty, Trump ‘Dismay’ Singer-songwriter also talks growing up Quaker and the "twisted sense of humor" she shares with fellow musicians

Recharged Bonnie Raitt digs in deep for latest tour She kicks off a North American tour with a stop in Montreal at L’Olympia on May 31.

on May 10, 2017 No comments

by Bill Brownstein

There’s just no stopping Bonnie Raitt. The level of consistency she brings to just about every album and concert is almost unparalleled in a business where so many artists of her era have ceased to create new music, opting instead to rely on their greatest hits.

Raitt has just released her 20th disc, Dig in Deep, and not only does she continue to evolve as a singer/songwriter/guitarist, but once again her music is able to mellow the most frayed of nerves.

Call her genre roots, blues, folk or rock – it doesn’t matter, largely because it’s probably all of the above – but, more to the point, the reality is that Raitt remains relevant. And at 67, there’s no sign whatsoever of depreciation.

“It’s not like playing football or something,” she cracks in a phone interview. “We get more respectable the older we get. And, you know, roots musicians can age much more gracefully in people’s eyes than the pop artists. We just get crustier and more interesting when we get older, but then again you can’t coast on your laurels.”

And no one will accuse Raitt of that.

“I love what I do and in order to keep it up, I have to keep making it interesting and find new songs, so that I’m not just retreading on comfortable ground. It seems to be worth the effort to get paid doing something and having that much fun and making that many people happy every night. It’s the reason people keep at it as long as they can.”

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SoulmanRecharged Bonnie Raitt digs in deep for latest tour She kicks off a North American tour with a stop in Montreal at L’Olympia on May 31.