Since his beginnings with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, Danny Federiciâs keyboards have been the atmospheric backdrop to some of the greatest songs ever written. A member of a band that was
a team, playing for the victory represented by a beautiful song. Federici, and fellow keyboardist Roy Bittan, sputtered off notes in the background, giving grasp and added feel to whatever their band mates
On his new album, re-issued under the title Danny Federici, the focus is on him after years of playing behind one of rock's most attention-drawing musicians. He takes full advantage of
his newly-found spotlight with thoughtful keyboard runs that stand as proof of his growth and dedication as a musician.
Itâs rare to find a solo artist from any genre so on the same page as his listeners. Many fight hard to push their own limits, sometimes loosing the focus of their original vision. On this release, Federiciâs
vision is clear, even as his limits are pushed within the confines of his compositions.
While a different format than rock music, this smooth-jazz-based album is one where Federici expands his horizons and broadens some old piano motifs. The latter is achieved on âFlemington", a song with
a Jersey-rooted melody that scampers and rolls in true Federici signature style.
Federici avoids self-indulgent tangents on this effort, avoiding the dull and emphasizing the interesting. His note selection is melodic, but remains daring. At this stage of his career, Federici has
honed his use of speed and timing down to a science. Melodic keyboard sweeps are found on the album, well-placed and used selectively where appropriate.
Federici chose to write songs unlike typical solo-based material. The music builds off hooks and choruses, retaining these themes during solos. This creates a steadiness that is pleasurable, as well
as sensible. He expand smooth jazzâs limits musically, and also emotionally, with an originality required by this style. A fun effervescence weaves throughout this release, leaving the feeling that an upbeat
vibe was felt by those involved with the recording.
Federici is a master of providing the carnival scenery to Springsteenâs boardwalk tales. On this release, he rides his own carousel. One filled with spirit, heart and maturity.
What were the circumstances behind you re-issuing the new CD? I know it was issued before under the name Flemington?
Right. What had happened was: I was dealing with a record company, I was new to the business, I had never released a record before. I had done Flemington and didnât really intend to release it.
I was sort of doing something, like closing a chapter in my life. And, some friends of mine said, âWhy donât you try to get a deal on this thing? Because itâs a good record.â
So, I ended up getting a couple of offers from companies to put the record out. And, I went with a New Jersey company, Music Masters. And, what happens is theyâre mainly a mail-order-based record company.
They do a lot of classical and a lot of jazz mail order, like Columbia House. But they had just established some connections with BMG Distribution. So, I figured that I might be the vehicle or the testing
grounds for this new partnership that they had gotten. And that really didnât turn out to be the way I thought it would be. The record really didnât get out into the stores. It never got over to Europe.
It never really worked.
You know, I had high hopes for a lot of people hearing this record, and they never really put it out there for me. So, after about a couple of years went by, I had been out playing some concerts for
the E Street Band and I ran into this fellow Bruce Resnikoff, whoâs the President of Universal.
And I was telling him, you know, I had a bunch of ideas for a whole bunch of things. Television, music, some Christmas music, you know, on accordion. I said, âYou know, and Iâve got this album, which
nobodyâs heard.â And, he said, âYou know what. Weâd be glad to put it out for you, if you want. At least weâd get it in the stores and stuff.â
I said, âWell Jeez, thatâs a whole lot better than it sitting on my shelf.â Really, you know. And, itâs funny, sometimes you think it is, sometimes it ainât. Because having a record deal doesnât mean
a whole lot today. Sometimes you can do better on the internet, than you will with a record. Theyâre so big, that youâre just a little fry. And, unless you really get out there and work that record, you
know, even having it in the stores doesnât mean a lot because people arenât going to go look for it ... on their own.
So what happened was, I had been partners with this fellow Michael Cates for a while, whoâs my sax player and producer. I told Michael about Universal. I said, âYou know, they want to put this record
back out.â So, he goes, âWell, maybe we should spice it up a bit. You know, re-master it and write another song.â
When I did the record, I really didnât think about any conventional markets. Like, where itâs going and whoâs itâs for. When you play this kind of music that I play, which is instrumental jazz, unhappily
you have to design it for a certain type of radio. Um, the songs have to be âŠthey canât be too short. People like to listen to them for a while. You know, itâs a lot of stuff thatâs in the background. Itâs
the kind of music you can put on that makes you feel good when youâre at home relaxing.
So, cutting the song shorter isnât âŠThereâs a little bit of a formula to it and I didnât do any of that. And so, partnering up with Michael was really terrific because he said, âWell, you know, we can
write this song, which has pretty much kind of got all of the elements of what theyâre playing on smooth jazz radio.â
And, so we did that and then Universal sort of gave us carte blanche as far as changing the cover. And, I took some photos. I mean, we changed the whole thing around. Re-mastered, it sounds better than
before. And Iâve, no holds barred âŠ I tell everybody going out there, that this is Flemington, but we put another song on it and made it sound better.
Thatâs a funny thing, too. I didnât want to [make people think] that I was trying to pull a fast one.
You didnât want them to think it was a totally new album?
Right. But the funny thing about it is, thereâs a lot of people out there that bought Flemington, that think this is a whole new album. I played some shows and they come up to me and they go,
âYou know what, we have your last record, [but this] sounds really good, itâs even better.â
You know, sometimes I go into the explanation of, âWell guys, you know itâs really the same record.â But, sometimes I donât. I say, âOk, thank you very much.â (Laughter.)
Anyway, so they were kind enough to say, âYou know what, weâll put it back out there for you.â
How many units did Flemington sell?
You know, I donât think we sold too many. I think maybe a couple thousand of records. Especially for a small record company âŠ I think they had a couple of artists that they tried to do this with before
and had bad luck. So, they were a little leery in printing up a whole lot of records real fast.
Howâs the re-issue doing?
Thatâs doing surprisingly well! I mean, plus I have a band. And I go out and I play. And I sign CDâs. And, that really helps. Thatâs really a terrific thing.
[As] a matter of fact, I have had my own band and this is really quite a really terrific experience.
Can you talk a little more about that? About having your own band and going out and touring on your own?
Yeah, sure. Well, Michael, whoâs been my producer and sort of, like, real instrumental at helping me see some of my potential, and also telling me that youâre playing too long or too loud. You know,
it really helps to have another ear.
I made him the musical director of my band, so he put the whole darn band together, because Iâm probably basically lazy and I wouldnât have gotten around to it. And also he gets the privilege of hiring
and firing. I donât have to do that, Iâm the good guy.
Heâs had a couple of jazz bands himself, so heâs been through a lot of players. He knows the good ones. Not only musically, but ones that have good personalities, that are fun to work with and fun to
be around. Because Iâd rather have that, than a virtuoso whoâs ridiculous on stage.
So he put some people together. We had two guitar players from Texas. Our drummer and bassist were here in LA. We have another bassist on the East Coast, which saves a little bit in expenses. Because
that in itself is quite an ordeal. I wasnât used to this.
But, I mean, for us to go and play, itâs quite an expensive ordeal. We have to fly a couple of guys in from Texas. Other guys have regular jobs and they have to take off. So you got salaries. You got
hotels. You got airplanes. You know, you got per diem, itâs like, wow!
Yeah. So you kind of have certain musicians waiting in certain regions, different regions, of the country?
Well, the only other person we have is the bassist on the East Coast and if we get some gigs back there it does help with expenses because, you know, $300 for an airline ticket, a couple hundred bucks
for the night, and a hotel. He lives down the street. It really, really adds up because itâs quite an ordeal to get him there.
I mean playing is a blast. Thatâs the funny thing about being a musician. The things you do to actually get on stage are just incredible.
I often tell people I donât get âŠ I play for free, I get paid to get there. You know, and put up with all the bull, all the legalities of everything. Playing is the total benefit of the whole thing.
What led you to making a jazz album? [The CD] is predominantly jazz, is shifting from âŠ I know the abundance of your work is in the rock field. What led to the shift?
Umm âŠ I started off as a classical accordion player when I was seven years old. And, my mother basically pulled me around by my ear and showed me off to the neighbors. I had a whole little career going.
I think she wanted me to be friends with Wayne Newton and play the Vegas thing, you know? And be the snazzy accordion virtuoso kind of guy. But I was real good at a real young age. And then, when I turned
into my early teens, she was kind of like my stage mom. She kind of rented a place, a local hall in the town. Got a couple of musicians together for me to play with, and we had a little rock nâ roll band.
And, I was playing the accordion and it wasnât going over. I say it wasnât going over âŠ the girls werenât digging it.
Then, I bought this thing called the Cordovox. Which was way back when they had an accordion that sounded like an organ. You didnât have to squeeze it. You could just turn it on its side and play the
keys like an organ. And I use to turn it over on my amp. And then I could stand up and I could move around. And that was definitely a big hit with the ladies, that made it a whole lot better.
So thatâs pretty much how the transition happened. But, as I say, I studied probably eight or ten years classical accordion. Reading and writing and going to a conservatory in Philadelphia. I was pretty
much on my way to do this classical accordion thing, until the Beatles and Rolling Stones and all that stuff just hit. I ended up having a professor come into my school, who was sitting in for another professor.
He said, âJust sit back, I wanna play something for you.â And he played me jazz and blues on the accordion. I had never heard anybody play anything but polkas and Russian and Italian songs and all kinds
of intricate German things on accordion and I was floored. I quit music lessons in like two weeks after that.
I mean, I always wanted to play between the lines. I always, you know, I could play the music on the sheets. But I always wanted to be able to take what I had learned and be able to bend notes and have
my own timing. Thereâs a lot of people out there that can read like champs and they canât do that.
So thatâs really where my roots are. Theyâre really jazz and bluesy based. Some of my favorite accordion music I play with a band in LA every once in a while, Zydeco. Thatâs very, very bluesy rock nâ
roll, jazzy, you know, Tex-Mex kind of stuff. Itâs really great.
So itâs just ... a chance to return to your roots more? Just to focus on that?
Yeah, it is. I get a lot of people when I play live that come and go, âMy God, you can really play that thing.â You know, I play organ and I get to play a long time. And I get to front the band and it's
just a whole different thing. People are like, âWow, we didnât know you could do that.â
So, after all this time, you know, I could go out there and just play what I want and say what I want. One of my favorite lines is, âSo this what it feels like to stand in front of the band.â Bruce got
a kick out of that one.
How much room do you have? Do you pretty much have total freedom to ... write how you want to and experiment how you want to, like when you're on stage?
Depending on the mood of things. You know, if people are digging on it, weâll play longer. Weâll stay longer and let some more people play. You know, everything has a melody, a chorus and a verse to
it, and we always get back to that. But then we get a little avant-garde from time to time.
Depending on the crowd ... I mean, I played this gig at a club called Spagatiniâs a couple of weeks ago. And it was my best show ever. It was really great. I mean, I sat there and it got to the point
where I really connected with the audience, which was only two feet away. Like I was in their living room. I had my elbow on my keyboard and I was telling jokes. It was just a fabulous experience!
I mean, we had this lady who drank too much and came up on stage. And I told the audience, I said, âYou know, we actually bring her everywhere we go. Just in case the music is not doing so good, we can
get a few laughs out of you guys.â It was just fantastic. Just great. It was a great, great thing to do.
So thereâs a difference between playing to 20,000 [people] from playing to a couple of hundred?
Itâs quite a difference. I mean, you know, you could hear everybody. I play a lot of dinner theatres, these kind of jazzy venues. If I play outside, they bring families and it's outside, and it's people
doing different things. So, in this particular case, you know, they had dinner. They had friends and they talked. And here Iâm playing an intricate part to what I think to be a mellow part of the song and
I hear this lady telling jokes or something over my left side. But then the guy next to her is, like, totally into the music. So I focus on the guy whoâs totally into the music and try [to] tone her out.
So, there is a lot of dynamics that go on, you know.
But, then when you get them quiet later on and theyâre all yours itâs just, you know, itâs worth the trip.
Itâs kind of a closer way to react, you know, you can see their reactions a little better.
Yeah. Itâs kind of like, you always look to somebody to work off of. Like a public speaker or something. You try to find somebody thatâs working and eventually you work your way around the room. And
you hope that they're all going to look like that first guy, you know. (Laughter.)
So I havenât had any bad ones yet, which is really good. Thereâs been some tough ones, but I havenât had any bad ones.
Do you play a variety of different-sized rooms? Maybe just a few people some nights and a whole load of people another night?
Yeah. Weâll play from ... I guess Spagatiniâs will have a couple hundred people maybe. Then we played the Pony which, I donât know how many people that place will hold. Then we played a place called
the Conduit in Trenton. Thatâs a pretty big place. And I think weâre booked into a couple small theatres. Thatâs gonna be interesting in itself.
Iâm doing a benefit for my hometownâs school in September. Actually, Iâm the guy, kind of like Bruce in a way. You know, heâs famous in Freehold [New Jersey], Iâm kind of famous in Flemington [New Jersey].
Thatâs my hometown, by the way, thatâs why the album is called Flemington.
Theyâre doing a "Welcome Home, Danny" day over there. So, Iâm going to try and raise some money for the high school and buy some computers and some other stuff. And, thatâll probably be in the auditorium.
You know, so thatâs gonna be different. Iâll be talking to a larger audience and probably wonât see as many faces as Iâm use to seeing now.
So when you play those huge concerts, it probably isnât as easy to connect, I guess. Whatâs the difference there?
You know, thereâs always âŠYou get to see about ten rows and thereâs always those people in the first few rows that you can connect with. You know, some people I donât know how they do it, but I see a
lot of the same faces! At a lot of the shows.
As a matter of fact, I remember last year, there was a gal and couple of her friends that came to, it seemed like, every concert. Every other one. It got to the point where I was, like, I would look
at her and go, âSo you did something with your hair today, it looks different, itâs alright.â Or, you know, âYouâve got sunglasses on today, what are you doin'?â
You get a personal thing going on with some of these people. Theyâre part of the family.
On your new CD, it sounds like thereâs a lot of improvisation going on. Is that right? Did you guys improvise on the CD?
Yeah, actually, even Michael tells me, I have the tendency to not repeat myself. As I say, a lot of people design these songs with a verse, chorus and all that. I just played it, because I didnât plan
to put it out.
And then, after we did it again, I figured, Iâm not going to change anything, it sounds fine. I still like the way it sounds. Yeah, thereâs definitely that, you know.
Did you let some of your backup musicians do some improvisation? It kind of sounds like thereâs some soloing going on between some of the other players and stuff like that.
Yeah, just a little bit. Guitars were actually the hardest thing to do. Now Nils [Lofgren] was playing on a song and, ah, it was funny because I put the guitar on last. I really didnât know what to do
with him, I donât play guitar.
A lot of these âŠ I played on a lot of these. Like, I have a lot of aliases on this record. Like Charles Slone [listed as the percussionist] is me.
And, um, just because I didnât want to seem to self-serving on my one record, you know, âEverything by Danny.â Because I played bass, I played percussion. And, I wrote all the parts and I had people
come in and play them. Pretty much everything, except for the guitars. And that was the most difficult part to do, because, as I say, I donât play guitar. But Nils came in and in almost a half an hour,
played his butt off, the most perfect thing.
The other guitar player, John DeFaria, also played great on it. And some of the new guys, Todd [Parsnow, guitars] and Juan Van Dunk [bass] on âErica," were just players that are used to playing this
kind of music. So they play all the kinds of parts that you hear on smooth jazz records. Which is like the wah-wah pedal. All these things that I would never even think to do.
Yeah. Do you write a lot of songs on Cakewalk or do you just chart them out the old fashioned way?
I actually did it on Studio Vision. I recorded a lot of the stuff in my house. I have a little pool house and I did a lot of it on ADATâs. A couple of ADATâs and some Mackie boards. I brought the drummers
in. And then we transferred all of the stuff from the ADATâs to big tape. Gave it a warmer sound. That way, some of these pieces took forever.
I mean, some of these pieces were created a long, long time ago. When I first came to Los Angeles I was trying to get involved in the movie business and television. So I wrote a lot of instrumental pieces.
And I started hearing very similar stuff on the radio going, âI could do that, this is what Iâm doing already!â
So, thatâs how the whole idea came about. It was like, âYou know what, some of the people I hear on the radio, I can do better.â So, I gave it a shot. Itâs a very scary process though. Itâs like sending
your children out into the world and people are going to tell you, if theyâre being good or not. Or, you know, they're going to critique them. (Laughs.)
So, thatâs why, when I finished the record and didnât put it out, it was a very easy thing to do. But then, when someone talked me into putting it out, that was a whole other ball game! Are people going
to like it? What are they going to tell me about this?
So, and the few people that have heard the record have been very favorable. Iâm lucky.
So when you first did the record, you werenât planning to release it? You were just planning to do it for yourself?
Yeah. I did it and lined it up. I had my own record label at the time called Deadeye Records. Two of my friends that were involved in Deadeye, talked me into putting it out.
Itâs not an easy process. Itâs like building something. You need people around you to help you do that. To keep your enthusiasm going. Thatâs what Michaelâs great for, with me. When I have downtimes,
heâll just pick me up and vice versa.
So, I work well with partners. Youâve got to force me to work. I donât like to work. Itâs very hard for a musician. To do just stop what you're doing, go in the studio and just start writing music. Bruce
does it all the time. Itâs an unbelievable amount of discipline.
To kind of psyche yourself into that, I guess, emotional mood that you want to create the album as?
Well, not even that. In the beginning just, âLet's get some ideas.â Then you have those days when you go in and you canât think of nothing. And then you have those days where you come in and what you
thought of ainât all that good. So, it could be very hard.
Youâre going in, you think you know what youâre doing and you canât remember a damn thing. And it just ainât jelling that day and youâre like, âAy, yi, yi!â
So, Michael was pretty helpful there? In kind of helping to get some ideas out.
You know, I think the best thing is. Is, you know, just to âŠ I put stuff down all the time. That way you can go back and say, âWell, weâve got a lot to choose from.â And then you can go, âWell, that
oneâs not so great, but this one here, this is real good.â
So, as a matter of fact, weâve probably got six or seven tunes done for a new album already.
So, do you plan on releasing a new one soon?
You know, Michael wants that to happen, but Iâm lazy again. (Laughter.) Heâs been really on me to do this. I would like to be able to do this before the fall.
How much of a challenge is it writing songs that donât have words in them? Just writing instrumentals? Is there something you try to convey when you donât have words?
Thatâs a very interesting question. Itâs easier for me, because Iâm more instrumental âŠ Iâm one that never really listens to lyrics. People will say, âYou know what Bruce is talking about?â And Iâll
go, âIâm not sure what he means, but âŠâ I just donât listen to lyrics. I listen to the music. I donât have a hard time putting music together. But the hard part is âŠ Some songs that I write, the only way
I can recognize them is to give them a number. Like, say, number 35. And then, people say, âWell, you know, whatâs that song about? Where were you and what were you thinking?â
And, I gotta tell you the truth. Sometimes, I just give them a story. Like âŠ It was a really nice day and I was thinking about my father. You know, sometimes Iâll make up a story, because some people
want a story. But some of them are totally created in four walls and they need a name. Youâve gotta give them a name.
I did âMy Little Cow", which is a story about my first daughter. This is a true story. And I was in Wisconsin âŠWell, what happened is, I did the song and I thought to myself, âI should have a song about
my daughter.â You know, most guys that write lyrics can put their name in the song. I couldnât do that. So, I just happened to be in Wisconsin. And we went over to see this Indian cow, that supposedly is
the next calling by the Indians. Anyway, this Albino cow, out in the middle of nowhere. And Iâm thinking of my daughter, which sheâs going to hate me for down the road. And she was just so little and so
cute and I thought, âOh, my little cow is a cute little thing.â And there we go, number 35 ended up being, âMy Little Cow."
And now, Iâm probably going to have to do one for âŠ I have another daughter. Iâm going to have to do one for Harley. Because when they get old enough to understand that Harley doesnât have her own song,
theyâre going to be really upset with me. And the two girls are that way.
But thatâs the truth of the matter. Itâs easy to write the music, itâs just hard to title it.
So thereâs not always a meaning to the songs, sometimes theyâre just kind of something that poured out of you?
Unfortunately, thatâs the truth of the matter. (Laughs.)
Thereâs nothing wrong with that, though.
But it doesnât give you much to talk about, when you go on the radio.
You know, âHow did you come up with this song?â
When you go out live, do you actually tell some stories about the songs that do have certain meanings?
Yeah, I do. As a matter of fact, I talk about âMy Little Cow,â and âA Doormanâs Life,â which was about my father. My father was a doorman, when he was really young, in New York City.
A couple of little things I talk about. I donât talk a lot about that stuff. I just sort of try to âŠ Every nightâs different, you get to feel off the audience and they sort of lead. They lead the show,
How have the songs developed live? Have they changed a lot live? Since youâve played them out, have they developed at all or have they kind of stayed the same format as the CD?
Oh, no, theyâre a little different to perform. Whether itâs certainly louder and up tempo. The players that we have are different than the ones that are on the record. With some of the other songs that
I do, theyâre spiced a bit. I mean, we go and we play in these places that have, vocal bands and rock bands. We get up there and we just turn it up and kick some butt. Even though itâs instrumental, it
still kicks butt. You know, I think our hardest thing is probably to play in a little jazz club and keep it quiet.
When youâre writing, how do you decide âŠ because you [have] played a whole bunch of instruments and a lot [of] keyboard instruments, how do you decide what to put where? Is it more
spontaneous or do you plan it out a little?
The tones of instruments are real important. In other words, Iâll probably write a song âŠ Iâll fool around with a synthesizer and the tone, Iâll hear a tone thatâll make me start writing a song. Whether
it be a piano or a some kind of synthy sound or something. I mean, I just play around with a synthesizer for, oh, I donât know, maybe in the first ten minutes of me playing around is usually when I get
the idea. And if it doesnât come to me then, then I gotta walk away.
But the sounds will dictate what the song is going to be. Say you put a sound that sounds like an acoustic Spanish guitar. Itâs kind of makes you play with a little Spanish kind of feel to it. Or then
Iâll put a bass on it and Iâll just start thumping around on a bass.
Theyâre all built differently, depending on what I pull out for a sound. I mean, I could start with the bass first and then start building it. Then you could start building this house and get halfway
through it and then you realize, âYou know what, this ainât going anywhere.â
And, itâs just a lot of experimentation. And then Iâm lucky enough to put the accordion on top of stuff. You know, if it works or not, it sort of gives it a continental flair. Which I kind of like.
You know, bringing some acoustic instruments into some of the electronic instruments. Thatâs why I pretty much use a real drummer on my album, because most of these smooth jazz records are all machines.
How has your keyboard playing developed, since you first started playing? And maybe your earlier days playing; how do you compare them?
I think Iâve gotten tastier in my old age. I donât play as fast. This is what happens. Even when our band first started, we used to be like, you know these hot rod guys. Who could play faster?
And as you get older, and you play more, you tend to think about your notes a little more. Itâs like talking. You think about what youâre going to say. If somebody says something, you sit back and think
about it for a second. And then, you choose your words. Well, itâs the same kind of thing. And ultimately, you can create more with ten notes, than you can with 50. If theyâre just those right ten notes.
Have you ever thought of making a solo album with vocals?
No. (Laughter.) No, I used to sing background stuff in a couple of bands. You know, when I was a kid, I probably sang a couple of songs here and there. Hereâs the thing where you have to consider
down the road. You gotta look at the whole picture. You gotta think about, âWell, if I do this, then I gotta go out and sing it. And I gotta remember the words.â
Thereâs a whole lot more that goes on with that. (Laughs.) Yeah, as I said, Iâm basically lazy. So, you know, Iâm like, âOh, letâs try to get the easy way out here.â
Who are some of your musical influences?
I like a lot of the old R&B players like Junior Walker. [David] Sanborn I love, saxophone player. I actually like some country music. I work out a lot in the gym and all I listen to is country music
on my little radio because of the beats. Man, there are some really happening country people these days.
Oh, let me think âŠyou know, Iâll tell ya, lately Iâve been listening to a lot of the smooth jazz radio and it gets a little tiring. I mean, they tend to, I donât know, just play some of the same stuff
too many times. Itâs becoming a little too commercial for me. Iâve been hearing a lot of talk about satellite radio.
Apparently, for a lot of genres, itâs suppose to be really good. So, I have to investigate that.
As far as instrumental music, do you listen to a lot of stuff thatâs longer and solo-based or just a lot of melodic, shorter material?
Probably shorter, more melodic. Iâm trying to give people something to come back to. In other words, you have a nice melody and you have a nice chorus. Then, you can always take that somewhere else for
a little while, but always come back. Where, if it were real avant-garde jazz, itâs hard for people to follow it sometimes.
If it sounds good and itâs nice, I think people want more of it. Just as much as it can be a little tiring for the musicians, I think itâs the way to go. Itâs the old, give âem what they want.
[In reference to the Holiday Shows at Convention Hall last Christmas with Bruce Springsteen and the Max Weinberg 7.] When you guys go up on stage, is any of that planned out, or
is it more spontaneous?
For me itâs spontaneous. I think for Max and his band, they rehearse all that stuff. Theyâre pretty much the back-up band, so some of the other players can just walk in and jump on.
I love to do that too. I donât have to think about it much. I can just be part of the fun and show up. And walk off and take a break. Oh, I love it! Itâs great! (Laughs.)
Supposing I happen to know everything.
Cool. So itâs kind of a fun thing for you to just kind of get up and play a little bit?
Yeah, it is. It is. If youâre up there all the time, youâre not so special. So I can kind of get up and everybody says, âHey, yeah, great!â And then, I can go away and go have a soda and come back.
Do you do a lot of spectating too? Like watching the other guys?
Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Thatâs a lot of fun, going out and watching whatâs going on.
Who are some of your favorite local, or even Max Weinberg musicians, that you watch?
Maxâs guys? Well, that whole band he has on Conan, was pretty much our horn section.
Many, many years ago. And, you know, Mark Pender and Richie âLa Bambaâ [Rosenberg]. All those guys are really part of the whole big family and theyâre just excellent. Max has turned himself into a hell
of a drummer too. Playing on that thing every night. I think heâs one of the strongest players in the band today. He definitely turned that last tour around, big time!
What was it like playing on that tour? What was it like getting back together and reuniting?
Itâs the best one we ever did.
The fact that people are older. People know whatâs important. When youâre in the thick of it, you tend to forget what youâve got. How good it is.
But, when you donât do it for a while and you come back. You realize whatâs important. It hits the right notes. You donât have egos to deal with anymore. We had kids on the tour. We took our children
all around the world.
Weâd be in a whole city for a week. So weâd plan activity for the kids to go to. Museums, different shows. Just really, really nice! No hurry, you know, take our time. Have a good time. It was just wonderful!
I canât say anything bad about it. You know, everybody is healthy. We still move ok. (Laughs.)
You know, Iâm lucky, Iâm one of the guys who gets to sit down. You know, Bruce has to go out there and bust his ass every night. Iâm like, wow, Iâm glad I picked the organ.
Do you think the crowdâs growing along with you? You know, theyâve been watching you guys play for years.
Well, weâve brought in a lot of new audiences. We have quite a range. 15-year-olds to 55, 60-year-olds. We have some older people I see once in a while. And theyâre certain fans that are older, that
havenât gotten out of their house in many years. And theyâve waited to see this. And, I think it made it really, really special for them to get out and do a little, âWow, you know I can still move! OK!â
So, it was fun for everybody.
How do you think the bandâs grown? Since playing with them before, have you noticed a lot of changes and stuff like that?
Iâve noticed people playing better now, than they did before. I think it has a lot to do with personal projects, people doing their own stuff.
Because, when we were a band, that was playing all the time and so closely connected, I myself didnât listen to a lot of other music and then hang out with a lot of other rock nâ roll people. Pretty
Being on our own, weâre out there playing our own music. Making our own CDâs. Really getting a chance to push our own stuff. I donât mean musically, but just our limits. Then we came back into this thing
and we all added something different and better to it.
What other musical projects were you doing in between this time period?
I do all kinds of little things. Iâm actually putting a CD together right now of some accordion music. All kinds of different accordion styles for television. In other words, if someone is looking for
an Italian Restaurant. They can pull out a Danny Federici CD, with me playing a little something like âThe Godfather,â if they needed the background. And, I do German, I do Italian, I do French, Austrian.
Itâs all different types. Zydeco.
Itâs all different types of sounds and different kinds of playing on the accordion. Itâs a popular instrument again. And Iâm working on another record. Occasionally, I look at other talent. But not so
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