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A Love Letter To My Other Woman

on July 30, 2016 No comments

Joe Galliani

by Joe Galliani, aka the Creative Greenius

This is my love letter to Bonnie Raitt – the other woman in my life.

I am here in Santa Barbara with Deb, celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, having driven up the coast 100 miles from our home in Redondo Beach to see Bonnie play at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Bonnie doesn’t know I’m here. I didn’t let her know I was coming. Didn’t even send her a text or leave a voicemail.

Even if I had it wouldn’t have made any difference. She wouldn’t care, believe me. How could she? Bonnie Raitt doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know I’m here to celebrate our 35th anniversary.

She doesn’t know that on my birthday next month it will be the 36th anniversary of the day in 1980 I proposed to Debra at a Bonnie Raitt concert at the Universal Ampitheatre. Not just any Bonnie concert – the one with Sippie Wallace!

Bonnie doesn’t know that six years earlier, Deb helped produce a performance Bonnie did at the Kiva while Deb was a college student at Michigan State in 1974. Or that the poster from that gig at the MSU Kiva hung proudly in Deb’s Seal Beach apartment when I first met her.

Bonnie has no way of knowing she was the indelible and non-stop soundtrack for my earliest years in California, as a 20-year-old seeking movie screenwriting fame and fortune in Hollywood.

It was 1977 and I was living on Romaine Avenue off of Vine, between Melrose and Santa Monica, in the gritty low income side of Tinseltown. I roomed with my screenwriting partner who had 4 cassette tapes and a stereo tape deck.

Two of those cassettes were Bonnie’s first two albums and songs like Women Be Wise” “Finest Loving Man” “Big Road” “Give It Up Or Let Me Go” “I Know” “Love Me Like A Man and You Got To Really Know How were not only giving me a lesson in the blues, but were also preparing me to appreciate and cherish strong, talented, independent women, who can and will give as good as they get. Just like the one I fell in love with and married 35 years ago.

So maybe it’s no surprise that I have spent the last 39 years choosing to work with and befriend exactly those kind of women – in every area of my life. Or that today at 58, the vast majority of my closest friends and colleagues are almost exclusively women I admire, respect and want to spend my time with.

I know Bonnie wouldn’t take the credit for any of that. How could she? We’ve never talked about it.

Just as we’ve never discussed how much I always loved watching Bonnie sing with her father, Broadway legend, John Raitt. They sang duets at almost every Los Angeles area concert she played for years. The joy they shared filled the hearts of all who heard them. And they meant something uniquely special to me.

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SoulmanA Love Letter To My Other Woman

Little Kids Rock Honors Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt Who Likens Cutting Music Education to a 'Criminal Act'

on October 19, 2017 No comments


Little Kids Rock founder David Fish said it best: “The world is a f–ked up place right now,” he noted on stage at New York’s Playstation Theater last night. “But in these days of discord, dissonance and distraction, I’m constantly reminded by a truth that is as old as the human family itself: music can bring people together in ways that virtually nothing else can.”

Honoree Bonnie Raitt speaks onstage during the Little Kids Rock Benefit 2017 at PlayStation Theater on October 18, 2017 in New York City. © Kevin Mazur /Getty Images for Little Kids Rock

That is the thesis behind Little Kids Rock and its annual benefit, which aims to provide music education to public schools. This year’s benefit honored longtime supporter Bonnie Raitt, along with Elvis Costello, and the CEO of City Winery and founder of New York’s Knitting Factory, Michael Dorf.

“Over the past 15 years, Little Kids Rock teachers have turned this into a national movement,” said Fish of the charity he initially conceptualized in 1996 when he was a teacher frustrated with the nonexistent funding for music programs at his school, leading him to launch an after-school program that taught students how to play guitar. “Since then, Little Kids Rock has been restoring, expanding and innovating music education around the country.”

For Dorf, who was honored for fostering a series of tribute shows that have raised $1.5 million dollars for music education, the cause is an important one. “With Mother Nature and Father Trump causing such havoc in our world, we are constantly putting on benefits to support the environment, health issues and protecting human rights,” said Dorf to Billboard. “What gets lost with all of these on-going topical issues and cut from budgets, are music programs — especially in public education for underserved youth.”

That’s especially true for kids like Amanda Medina, a 10-year-old student at the Equity Project Charter School in the Bronx, who also performed at the benefit as part of her after-school music group the Tep Combos. “Singing is my life, so I’m grateful for this because they’re giving money to buy kid’s instruments,” said Medina, who cited Beyonce as an influence. “I always look forward to rehearsing; tonight is our first performance that’s not in front of our school.”

Throughout the night, various luminaries attested to the importance of both music and its education. Harry Connick Jr., who introduced honoree Bonnie Raitt, said he started taking piano lessons when he was four, noting, “They say music changed my life, but for me that doesn’t go far enough. Music is my life.”

Bonnie Raitt attends the 2017 Little Kids Rock Benefit at PlayStation Theater on October 18, 2017 in New York City. © Taylor Hill /FilmMagic

Raitt expressed similar sentiments. “I came from a musical family and was blessed to grow up in an era when there was school orchestra with 16 percussion players,” she recalled, citing Joan Baez as an early influence. “The guitar allowed me to expressed myself. It was my voice and it helped me build (since) I had a confidence problem and a self esteemed problem. There’s been study after study proving the benefits of music education and exposure to the arts makes all the difference.”

Raitt, who likened the cutting back of music education a “criminal act,” praised the work of Little Kids Rock. “To see from where he started with his wonderful team and all those teachers and all of those kids whose lives have changed. It’s one of the most successful and well-run organizations, with every dollar going to the right place that I know.”

And before launching into a spirited cover of Aretha Franklin‘s 1967 track “Baby I Love You,” Raitt expanded on the theme of the evening: “Here’s to the power of a beautiful ballad to break hearts and heal.”


David Wish and Bonnie Raitt

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SoulmanLittle Kids Rock Honors Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt Who Likens Cutting Music Education to a 'Criminal Act'

James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt Make a Perfect Fit at Toyota Center

on August 2, 2017 No comments

James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt
Toyota Center
August 1, 2017

Houstonians had other entertainment options other than live music on a Tuesday night, with the red-hot Astros barreling towards the playoffs and playing at Minute Maid just up LaBranch Street from Toyota Center. This was apparent, as the arena was not sold out for two legendary performers. Many fans were still wrapping up their early-bird specials as James Taylor sauntered onstage and greeted the crowd with, “Houston, welcome to the James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt Summer Tour. You got the right ticket.”

He then brought his tourmate and her band up onstage. The 11-time Grammy winner’s flaming red mane with the white spot up front makes her look more like a Marvel superhero than a badass blues guitarist.

Before the band broke into a folksy-rock cover of INXS’s “Need You Tonight,” Raitt spoke of being back in the land of Urban Cowboy, reminiscing about being in the classic film: “My liver is just now starting to recover.” If her liver was having issues, it had no effect on her voice or guitar playing; both were flawless and impeccable.

As the band started playing a mashup of Chaka Khan’s “You Got the Love” and “Love Sneakin’ Up On You,” a handful of people too smart for their own good left their seats to go to the restroom and/or grab a drink before the massive intermission crowds hit, but they missed a big surprise — the last song of her set, when Taylor came out with an electric guitar to accompany Raitt on “Thing Called Love.” The two legendary singer-songwriters meshed perfectly together, neither of them stealing the spotlight from the other.

Photo by Jack Gorman

Taylor emerged from the break to take a seat in front of the incredible stage, a large LED backdrop supplemented by several smaller screens of various sizes that floated across the stage. The great storyteller thanked everyone for bringing him back to Houston and started the set with “Carolina On My Mind.”

Someone screamed “Sweet Baby James!” Taylor said, “we will play that” and held up a huge set list, at least three and a half feet tall, and pointed towards the bottom. “It’s down here,” Taylor said. “We are up here still, but I’ll remind you when we get there.” The 69-year-old performer seemed to truly be in his element during the “Steamroller” jam session moving across the stage like one of those whippersnappers at the Warped Tour. Upon catching his breath, he thanked the crowd for indulging the group during a “shameless display of pseudofunk.”

The crowd was seated for most of the show but gave standing ovations after “Sweet Baby James” and “Fire and Rain.” Taylor must have thought this was the old Summit building, because he took the Toyota Center to church during the gospel sounds of “Shed a Little Light.” Like a trail of annoying sugar ants, by then people had started streaming up the stairs. It was definitely past some bedtimes.

Taylor brought out Raitt again for the encore and shredded the guitar during a Chuck Berry tribute of “Johnny B. Goode.” Taylor then sung “You’ve Got a Friend” and appeared to walk offstage, only to grab Raitt for one more unexpected closing tune. As the duo sat signing, “You Can Close Your Eyes Now.” tears streamed down many faces while some couples held each other tenderly. As fans left the building just after 11 o’clock, the weary faces gave proof of the energy they emitted during the show, even if they sat through most of it.

Photo by Jack Gorman

Carolina in My Mind
Country Road
Sunny Skies
Never Die Young
First of May
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Something in the Way She Moves
Sweet Baby James
Fire and Rain
Shed a Little Light
Shower the People
Your Smiling Face
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)

Johnny B. Goode (with Bonnie Raitt)
You’ve Got a Friend
You Can Close Your Eyes (with Bonnie Raitt)

Source: © Copyright Houston Press

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SoulmanJames Taylor and Bonnie Raitt Make a Perfect Fit at Toyota Center

Bonnie Raitt draws from a lifetime of music

on July 31, 2017 No comments

Bonnie Raitt’s “Unintended Consequence of Love,” which opens her latest album, “Dig in Deep,” is obviously sung from the perspective of a woman challenging her drifting partner to reengage in their relationship.

Though, as written, the song also sounds like it could be about the frustrating push/pull of the creative process with one’s muse.

“Well, I hadn’t ever thought about the song that way,” Raitt says, laughing. “But now, it’s all I’ll think about. So, thanks … .”

 Still, the idea fits Raitt’s career, which is a decades-spanning relationship between her and all the music that has caught her attention over the years. She soaked up the ’60s and showed up in the ’70s with a vibrant music that drew from that decade’s folk and blues. Her early records still sound great, but she struggled in the ’80s before releasing “Nick of Time” in 1989, which won her an armful of Grammys and sold millions of copies.

“At one point, I just thought she was too good to be appreciated by popular culture at large,” says her tourmate James Taylor. “But then she went into the ’90s behind that amazingly perfect album. So good she could not be ignored.”

Since then, Raitt has refined a style of her own: some blues and some smart ballads, many flavored with her slide-guitar licks. Prior to her Tuesday show with Taylor at the Toyota Center, Raitt talked about her career and also legendary blues singer and Houston native Sippie Wallace, who wrote three of the songs that appeared on Raitt’s first two albums.

Q: It feels weird starting with the new album’s last song, but “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” is my favorite on there. It’s a moving piece of music and doesn’t sound like much else you’ve done.

A: Thank you. I do think something happens when I write on the piano. I guess I have a few of those: “Circle Dance,” “One Part Be My Lover.” “Nick of Time” was done on piano. I think I tend to sing the more personal songs on the piano, the contemplative ones. I’ve always loved a good ballad. It’s just one part of what I do.

Q: I always thought underneath the big ’80s sound, INXS was a great bar band. You kind of proved that point with “Need You Tonight.”

A: The production style was so different back then, wasn’t it? But I loved that song since I first heard it. And I loved the band. I didn’t really realize at the time how huge they were. There was a time they were as big as the Stones. I’ve since met Andrew Farriss, who was a co-writer on that song with Michael (Hutchence). I was relieved he liked the way we did his tune. But it’s something I love to do: Take a song and try to make it my own. I guess I’ve been doing it since my first album.

Q: Since your father was a Broadway star, you probably grew up with a different variety of music around the house. I think some assume you were fed just a steady diet of blues.

A: Yes, I was a kid of my own generation, so I loved Chuck Berry and Fats Domino and Elvis Presley, even before I was a teen. And like everybody else, I came to the Chicago and Detroit blues through the Stones. When I was a teenager, I went to Muddy Waters through them. The country blues, I got from those Vanguard blues albums, “Blues at Newport ’63” and “ ’64,” those were my a-ha moments. I heard John Hammond and Dave Van Ronk playing the blues, and Paul Butterfield. I thought these guys had to be 100 years old with a life picking cotton to play the blues, and they made me realize you didn’t. I fell in love with the blues then and taught myself to play, not because I wanted to be in music as a profession. As a hobby, it seemed like everybody played guitar. But I’d never heard anything I loved as much as Mississippi John Hurt, Brownie McGhee.

Q: Did you set out to find this hybrid between those old blues songs and the contemporary ’70s singer-songwriter types? Your voice fit both well.

A: It’s funny, when I hear myself sing on those early records, I just cringe. I think my voice sounds so rinky dink and thin. So I tried my best to drink and smoke until I could sing R&B and not cringe. (Laughs.) Which wasn’t a great idea. But my phrasing comes from a lot of places: Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, my friend Maria Muldaur. A wide range of Irish and Celtic music, blues and pop, and the stuff my dad did, too. Even if I don’t sing like Broadway singers do, I was in this musical family and soaked it all up. I think that’s why my tastes are so eclectic. I never wanted to just be a blues artist. I get bored sticking with any one thing.

Q: Your pace for new records has slowed over the past 15 or so years. Is that by design? Or do you just find yourself waiting a little longer for a new batch of songs?

A: The cycles are a little longer. I put out a record and spend two years touring behind it. Doing interviews. And there’s all this advance work that has to get done before the album comes out. So it’s more like a four-year cycle, then you get a break. So I don’t know what comes next. But it is a more daunting process when you get to double digits with albums. You feel like you’ve sung one idea so many times. And I don’t want to repeat myself, musically or lyrically. I’m very envious of my friends – Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Randy Newman and James Taylor – who wrote all new material and still sound brilliant at this point in their lives without any new heartbreaks.

Q: I’m always eager to hear from people who knew Sippie Wallace. I think you did three of her songs on the first two albums. Do you recall how you came across her work?

A: As I got older, I was able to hear more records because people had them in their college dorms and shared their collections. In high school, I didn’t have access to radio and records the way I did in college, where my musical education expanded exponentially. So I listened to these classic blues collections that included Bessie Smith, but also Victoria Spivey and Ma Rainey. I was drawn to Sippie before I even knew she was still alive. I remember, after my freshman year traveling around Europe, and I pawed through this record store with a lot of vintage blues albums. And I saw this album Sippie made in the ’60s. The picture was great: She had this faux leopard stole and the rhinestone cat glasses. And that big space between her teeth, where she got that name. I couldn’t believe it. She looked so alive. And I found out the Kweskin Jug Band recorded with her. I only found out she was alive years later. I was playing the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in ’72. We’d cut some of her songs, and I remember we didn’t know where to send the royalty checks. We found out she was in Detroit! So I got this chance to meet her. She was only doing gospel at that time. But people went crazy for her. We toured together for parts of 15 years because she had this revived career.

Q: Her songs didn’t sound like others. There was an assertiveness and a frankness in her lyrics.

A: Yes, I just loved her sass and independence. She was not a victim at all. And there was a playfulness to her, and a strength and cleverness that set her apart. I remember we did a fantastic show with her for Juneteenth, I think it was in Houston. But I remember her fondly. She was endearing, smart and funny.

Q: Do you remember your first guitar?

A: Of course. It was a Stella guitar that cost $24 from Sears. I begged for it for Christmas. My grandfather taught me my first chords. And I was off, learning Joan Baez and Odetta. I found F challenging. I still do. It resulted in some bleeding fingers. I do this series with kids in cities who don’t have access to music education. They come up and ask me questions. And I tell them, “Listen, F doesn’t get any easier. But keep at it.”

Source: © Copyright Houston Chronicle

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SoulmanBonnie Raitt draws from a lifetime of music