RT Discussion List Q&A II
1/28/2008 (updated 1/28/2008)

Pam Winters:
5. Do you miss being able to play in small clubs? How often do you get to play for small groups these days, and how does the experience differ from playing at Irving Plaza, Cropredy, the Birchmere, etc. (and yes, I know that those examples must represent three very different experiences in themselves)?

RT: Montalvo Arts Centre is probably the smallest place I played last year - I believe it's a 300 capacity. Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield ME (Jan 26th) is 200 cap. These are enjoyably intimate. It's nice to not have to project very far. The aim with a bigger room is to project to the back row, but make it feel as intimate as possible. I really like a varied diet - small clubs, larger concert halls, festivals - they all have their own virtues, and it's wonderful, if it can be done, to interweave these in the course of a tour.

6. What tools have served you best in continuing to create, create, create? Do you worry that you'll wake up some morning and have no more to say?

RT: I wake up many mornings with nothing to say! I always have unfinished work, and I find that's the best way to slide into the creative day - tidy up some old project, add a verse to something, resolve some sticky key change, etc. Reading about the lives of prolific people - Balzac, Dickens, Schubert - can be a spur. At the point where I no longer have anything to say, I hope I'll have the courage to say nothing.

7. A question related to the one above: I once asked Bruce Cockburn if he thought there would come a time when he'd stop making music for good. He said no. I asked why--expecting to hear some answer like "I'll always have something to say." Instead, he essentially said "I can't." To paraphrase him: He believed that ongoing work as a musician was a practical, perhaps financial, necessity for him.

I ask you a similar question: Do you think you'll ever stop? What might make you stop?
(Oh, yeah, and a request: Don't stop.)

RT: Yes, it's creative and artistic and all that, but also it is a job, and a job is a job is a job. I have to work to pay the mortgage and get the kids through school. It's not really a job you retire from, is it? I could see working less, but I'd love to still be dragged out for a folk festival or two at age 90. It's no coincidence that 90% of bands that ever existed are out on the road - they need the money, and will put aside the fact that they may loathe each other to raise the rent.

Richard Condon:
8. Joe Boyd, in "White Bicycles", says that Dudu Pukwana taught you and Simon Nicol to play Zulu guitar around 1970 and claims that if he had put together the fusionband that he was planning it would have beaten "Graceland" to this particular style by 15 years. Boyd has been quoted as saying that if you had ever decided to move into "world music" you have the talent to have made a bigger impact than Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Ry Cooder, etc. Have you ever been tempted to move in this musical direction? Do you think that you might in the future try collaborations with musicians from traditions in which you have not so far worked? Do you listen to "world music" and if so could you tell us about any favourites that you may have?

RT: It is great to learn from forms of music that are not your own, but I've always been wary of being a musical colonialist, or perhaps a dilettante, grabbing bits here and there without any depth of knowledge, or exploiting third world musicians for my own reflected glory. I dislike some of the music of Paul Simon for these reasons. Ry always manages to submerge his ego, and absorb the important factors of whatever music he tackles. I am of the school that thinks composition should reflect the national musical style, and it's fine to bring in influences if the base is strong. As Debussy urged Stravinsky, "Be more Russian!" Bartok, Vaughan Williams, Noel Coward, Dvorak - so many of the great composers of popular and classical music reflected the place accurately by incorporating native tunes. modes and rhythms. This is what we did in Fairport, and I haven't changed since.