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Mojo Boogie Band

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SUN: Where are you coming from? Steve: Actually we're just Americans. Bill: I happen to be a hillbilly. Steve: l'm a beatnik suburban of the old school from Grand Rapids. Hawg: The first thing I heard was country music, Jimmy Rogers. My father's favorite music in the whole world was Lightin' Hopkins, so I couldn't help t. My oldest brother was president of the record club in his school when I was just a kid, so I heard Little Richard and Chuck Berry. It flipped me out. I copped all the music that my brothers missed. The music was the last straw and I flipped out. Steve: Yeah, the music and the people, you know, sometimes they're great and sometimes they aren't. If you're playing music all the time you're working a job but it's still work. You're on the job and you're concerned about getting t all together and making it sound like something that people relate to. Hawg: Playing in bars on a bad night is heil. it's hard work. You gotta get up there knowing that these people aren't going to get that deep into it. It's hard work just as much as it isn't hard work on a good night when there are people there relating to what you are doing on every level, they want to move just like you do. Then it's a real pleasure, you can get really high. You have got to be backed up by people. There's so much happening in Ann Arbor where the music is, that's going to be where everyone is at, that's where it's happening. It's in the bars right now because we've been working hard to make t happen there. SUN: It's also there because until the People's Ballroom opened there wasn't any other place for it to be happening. Steve: Will the people have the choice of being able to drink at the bars or smoke dope at the People's Ballroom? Hawg: When I managed the Alley we had some of the most incredible music that has ever been in this town and we probably had some of the most bizarre small crowds ever. People like Johnny Shines, who is an incredible musician, would play and the people weren't there. SUN: That's true, but you have to remember that especially at that time most people hadn't even heard of those people. It's like that is not what they're going to hear everyday on the radio, and that's what most people are exposed to. Hawg: If a place has a consistency and there is always a good show, people will come anyway. Even if people haven't heard of them before. Steve: Like what happens is that certain things that are esoteric become a mass thi'ig, like Muddy Waters is no longer understood and heard of by only a small number of people. But still so many people only get that AM sound and that's all they hear. Hawg: It's the zombie aspect, if you hear something over and over that's why you buy. People have to have a flyer stuck in front of their faces before they know where people are playing. Steve: If you work a nine-to-five grind like most people do, it's a lot easier to just go home and watch TV. Hawg: Into a thing where they have to go to sleep at a certain time in order to get up at a certain time and go to work at a certain time and come home at a certain time. No matter how hard I work at playing music people have to back the music and they have to work just as hard as I do. People have to back the musicians as much as they can for it to survive. The gigs I play don't have to involve money to make it a success but the way the people respond is the thing. You have to have energy coming in from both levéis. You can't have somebody knock themselves crazy and have the audience sit and be quaaluded out of their brains. Steve: The whole thing is music. That's how we make our bread, that's how we survive, and in this coutry it's really hard to stay away from that whole programmed system. We're selling our services, and it's business. It wears down the flashes of just wanting to play and live the jfe and walk around and play. You've always got to ask, OK, how much? SUN: Steve, I wanted to ask what you thought of the jazz at the Blues and Jazz Festival? Steve: I was there for one day, all day Sunday. I think my favorite was Leo Smith and Marión Brown, I could hear them the best, the dude s just standing there and you can hear him. The sound isn't muddled with a lot of bullshit. Archie Shepp was real nice, but the sound system was so bad that I couldn't hear him cause I was out in the crowd at the back until the last few tunes. I would say that Miles Davis was jive, he's been jive for years. Whatever he does while he is "changing jazz" is what everybody else does. He played a boogie beat with electric piano and all kinds of electric gadgets. You can dance to his music, rock and roll. The legendary Miles Davis. People say that he's legendary because he's so bogue. In a way his band reminds me of the Carnal Kitchen, cause that's what we used to do. l've played that kind of music. He did t better. You just go out and play the basic chords. If you use jazz instruments they cali t jazz, f it's electric, they cali t rock & roll. It's the one-chord LSD rock.l love that sound. SUN: Well, maybe you should teil people where you've been and bring us up to date on the history of the Mojo Boogie Band. Bill: Well, it was back when I dropped out of college and started taking massive doses of LSD and rocket reducer and got myself a guitar and played on White St. while taking speed. Wait a minute , l've got the all-time testimony. My roots even go back farther. I could play a song when Pat, equipment man Pat, brother Pat, we used to workat Sears together, I could strum a C chord and a D chord and I bought a 12string guitar and did a performance live at the Sears Christmas Party and I made up this bizarre hillbilly song about the bosses and then I got fired. Hawg: That's the Blues for sure! Steve: I personally was just hanging around town picking up the odd gig and sitting in on other people's gigs after the Carnal Kitchen thing disappeared and the people went all their different ways. Most of the time t would be sitting in with Jim and Bill at Floods, I also sat in with the UP and other people. I thought that playing blues would be farout, even though at that time I hadn't heard most of the origináis, and Hawg and Bill asked me and of course I said farout. We started playing at Flicks as a trio. Hawg: Steve just jumped right in and now we work out the tunes together. Most of the tunes that we do are twelve bar blues and with just a few changes. With a slight change of rhythm they are different tunes. SUN: Hawg, you used to work at Salvation Records, how did you get nto that? Hawg: I was managing the Alley club which was right behind Salvation. The Alley failed miserably, we never made Jny money, nobody ever payed any money to hear those dudes play. And I had a great time and loved every minute of it anyway. It was good to see all kinds of blues and I learned a great deal from it, just from being around them all the time. And finally t had to fold. I had gotten really tight with the guys that ran Salvation and I needed a job so they hired me and I worked there for eight months. At that time Bill and I participated in the Memphis Rebahoben. Bill: Would you please define Rebahoben? Hawg: Why certainly, rebahoben is a word that Bill and I gave new meaning to . It means if I had it all to do over again, I never would have started in the first place. Bill: So dummy and the other dummy over there left Ann Arbor and we sold all the stuff we had n the world. We left a fine crib that we had together. We sold our piano, the killer tune-o-matic piano, we had fifty dollars and we split here to go to Memphis where it was all heppening! Hawg: Us, we were all that was happening in Memphis. We were the most bizarre thing there. There wasn't any music scène, there wasn't any scène at all. The underground paper there refers to women as chicks and that's the underground paper. Hawg: We were too crazy, it was wierd. Nobody related to us, they would say, "These wierdos are from Ann Arbor, Michigan and pot is legal!" Bill: We would really get high with these people and play the grand piano and the harp and have killer parties like they have never seen! But there we were finally, the killer marijuana addicts with no pot. So I called this dude up and said, "Look here man, we played at your this and that and we did this and that and we need some pot." And he said, "you could be a policeman. I don't know you and you don't know me. Goodby." and hung up. But the people in Ann Arbor sent us some dope. Hawg: Yes, as a matter of fact, we sent out an SOS to Ann Arbor for dope and we were sent several bags of marijuana and two very beautiful hits of blotter LSD that we took as were were driving out of Memphis back toward Ann Arbor which happened exactly 24 hours after receiving all this killer dope. We knew we had to get out of town before we needed more. SUN: What happened to that whole scène that was there? Hawg: The city tore down Beal St. When we got to Memphis, Beal St. was the first place that we went, all the old blues clubs were on that street. Beal St. stops at the Mississippi River. Bill: People would walk down that street singing the blues man, Muddy Waters did that, everyone did. Hawg: All the older blues people you talk to did something in Memphis and a lot of people had a lot of testifying to do. Bessie Smith, why Memphis was her favorite town. There was the magie name there to Bill and I. When we got back to Ann Arbor we went down to Floods and Ned Duke gave us a couple of drinks and hired us for two weekends. We went around to check out places to play and ran into these two ladies who worked at Flicks and we went over there and met the owner and he hired Bill and I to do the gig. Then we ran into Steve and he wasn't doing much and we had this place that we could practice and we asked him to come and jam with us and t was farout. So we asked him to come to the gigs for a long as he could without paying him any money, which turned out to be twice and then we had to give him the dough. Steve: It was a good investment. I knew that all those free gigs would turn into money later. Hawg: Yeah, we played a bunch of freebees. They have been fun and f they stopped being fun we wouldn't do it. SUN: Well, that s what a lot of these are about. And to make money for whatever cause s needed. That is probably the way you gained a lot of your support. Steve: It is just a fact of life. It's the easiest way that you can support someone else's life. Hawg: It's farout playing in Ann Arbor right now because the Boogie Brothers are playing here right now and we're all friends and we interchange among each other. Like last night our drummer came down with the douse croup and the grippe that has been going down. Steve: Yeah, it's the Mojo hack and wheeze Hawg: So he couldn't do the gig so Fran did the gig with us. It was farout, we really has a great time. Sarah came down and sat in on bass because our bass player got so drunk that he was out of it. Gil from Diesel Smoke and Dangerous Curves came and played the steel guitar. It's really great being able to sit in with a bunch of different people and still have really good music. You know, I love every minute of it. This is the first time in my life I don't have to do anything except play music. And I don't have money ever and I don't have a place to live and I love it. j