|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS GLENN PATRiK
TOO BLESSED TO BE DEPRESSEDDespite the nonchalant title of GLENN PATRIKís latest CD ĎNUTHIN BUT A THANGí(SHAKEHOUSE RECORDS), the blues guitarist confesses that this was the album that he had always wanted to make. Given the manís history, this rock solid labor of love didnít seem as if it were that laborious. PATRIKís life even reads like the lyrics that you would expect to hear in your standard twelve-bar blues progression. Growing up the only white kid in the projects of Kansas City, Kansas, PATRIK was in earshot of local blues heroes such as ALBERT COLLINS and ALBERT KING. A turbulent home life addled by abuse and poverty only served to seal PATRIKís fate as a musician and performer and with the release of ĎÖTHANGí the man is able to look back at the rocky road behind him and smile. ď[T]imes are really hard right now and in some cases more perceived then real in my opinion.Ē Observes PATRIK ďTimes are always hard even when your making money. It just means that you are making enough to get through it. People donít think like that but I do because Iím from the hood. I will never have a bad time.Ē
GLENN PATRiK TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HiS LATEST CD NUTHiN' BUT A THANG
GROWiNG UP iN KANSAS CiTY
AND SUFFERiNG TO SiNG THE BLUES
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with GLENN PATRIK over the phone. Here is how it went.
How long has the CD been out?
Since April 28th. Itís really current.
And now that itís out there for everybody to hear, how do you feel about it?
Iíve been trying to make this CD for a while actually. I wasnít really happy with my first CD even though it did really, really well. This one was the CD that I was always trying to make, so Iím pretty tickled with it, I have to admit.
What disappointed you the first time around?
The production. We only thirteen hours form beginning to end recording the first CD.
So you had more time on NUTHINí BUT A THANG.
We had a hell of a lot more time. I own the studio that we recorded out of for this one. When there is no studio fee eating up your time, it is very comfortable.
I remember what thatís like. I used to make music myself.
SO you know that itís brutal.
It is especially when you have an engineer who wants to get snide with you.
And thinks that heís a producer and Ďaway we goí!
Exactly! And itís not even his money!
This time around, it was all good friends that worked on this album for a change. It wasnít just guys that I play with. It was an interesting feel because Iíve only met the bass player a year ago. My original bass player died before we made the CD so we had to replace him and that was really hard to do. Once we got this guy, he was the oldest guy in the band but he is a Chicago vet who has played with everybody from BUDDY GUY to JEFF BECK and he is just real quiet, sits in the corner and plays that sucker to death. He brought in his keyboard player that heís played for twenty years. Me and the drummer have been together for twenty years from Kansas City so it is kind of wild combination to have two sets of friends from two blues capitals.
You said before the interview that you are in Palm Springs at the moment. Have you had your show yet?
What weíre doings is weíre playing out in the Mojave Desert on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the afternoon through the evening. Weíre opening a new roadhouse that is right over I-15. There is no town or nothing. Itís just 132 acres with a roadhouse sitting on it. Itís going to be called JAMMINí AT JIMBOíS.
I think youíre the first blues guy that Iíve ever interviewed that is from Kansas City. The town is kind of synonymous with the blues. What was it like growing up in such a town?
It was rough for me because I grew up in the projects and the ones I grew up in were right on I-70. I lived on the dead end street. I was the fourth building up. You go over the fence and youíre on I-70 and then youíre in the Kansas River and then there is the industrial area. It was mainly black where I lived. Iím not black but Iím half Indian and my dad is an Irishman.
Oh really! What Indian?
Iím half Sioux.
Hey, youíre my cousin! My mom was from the Tahlequah Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. I spent all of my summers there until I was about fifteen. I identified with that side of me heavily and I think that was what kind of got me through. There were mostly blacks in this neighborhood but there was also a Polish immigrant neighborhood directly across the street that would beat the hell out of us whenever they could. It was an immigrant neighborhood all along the river there when I was growing up. Iím fifty-three now so things have changed a lot. It was kind of weird but on the other hand the great ALBERT COLLINS lived up the street and ALBERT KING had a sister there so he played their every Thanksgiving for a breakfast show and it turns out that BOBBY BLUE BLAND had a cousin that he stayed with during Thanksgiving so he would start doing the show with ALBERT and that went on for years. Itís kind of interesting. I grew up watching COUNT BASIE for free. If you were a musician, Kansas City was the place to be when I was living there.
So the music was just right there. It didnít sound like you had to rely on your parentís records much.
My parents had no records and they had no record player. I wasnít allowed to watch my dadís television. My dad was very abusive. He beat me severely at all times. He wouldnít even let me use the bathroom. Heíd kick the door open and throw my ass down the stairs. It was just bizarre. My parents had no music at all. My dad was going deaf. Heís completely deaf now but back then, he had this tiny little transistor radio that he would put on top of the refrigerator and just crank it and it would echo throughout the kitchen and he would listen to KCKN, which was this pure country station. I like country but the music didnít influence me that much.
What was it like being the only half Indian/half white kid living in this predominantly black project?
My mom told me when I was a little boy before I started school Ďnever tell anyone that youíre half Indian because itís worse than being black.í And she didnít use the word black. They didnít say black in those days. Things hadnít gotten that far and everyone who knew that I was half Indian used to call me half-breed. Theyíd be like ĎHey half-breed! Throw me the basketball!í I was a kid so you get used to anything. I did.
You do. Iím half black and half Indian.
Thatís interesting as hell.
I know. Indians donít even like black people.
Thatís the deal isnít it? Check this out. Iíve got black relatives because weíre Choctaw and Choctaw will say theyíre not related to blacks. Theyíre lying. Weíve got a lot of black in our bloodlines because we are from Mississippi.
So at what point did the white kid in the projects become the performer?
My mom tells a story that when I was three years old, my uncle gave me a toy banjo and when I got it I devised a tuning and knocked on neighbors doors and did my little repertoire of JESUS LOVES ME and ĎMy eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord!í One of the ladies in the neighborhood, Miss Millie brought me back to my momís house and was like ĎDo you know what this boy is doing?í At first my mom was trying to punish me like ĎYou leave them neighbors alone!í but Miss Millie was like ĎNo, no, no, we think itís a cute kind of thing!í I was three years old so I guess that was my first performance that I organized by myself. When I was seven I was going to this school that was predominantly black but there were a lot of Mexican immigrant students that couldnít speak English and white kids that didnít seem to be as well of as the blacks that were there and Iím talking about real ghetto white people. The kind that are violent. The school had this gifted black program that LYNDON B. JOHNSON had thrown together that could allow certain kids to get a leg up and excel at certain things. There was a music program that they had put together and I had already sort of exhibited musical and dancing ability to my teachers throughout the second grade and I thought about joining this program. There was this other kid who was about two years older than me and I told him that I wanted to go down there and learn to play violin and he told me that I was too young and that I had be ten. So When I went down there, the guy laughed at me because I was a little runt kid anyway and was like ĎSo, you wanna play the violin?í He was this Jewish virtuoso violinist child prodigy who at the age of four had gone to Germany and spent time with the two greatest violinists at the time and them move back to Kansas to help take care of his ailing immigrant parents and he was a tailor and my mentor for ten years but it was odd love/hate relationship. I was this little fucked up kid and he was this really serious musician. I went down there and said I was too young and to come back when I was ten and he was laughing at me. He dismissed me and I couldnít stand it so I went over to the piano and started playing the theme from EXODUS that I had started working on after church. When he heard that he came over to and said Ď be here at eight and donít be late.í So I took violin lessons for a long time. He would pick me up from the projects, drive me to rehearsals, put a little tie, a white shit and a jacket on me Ė he was a tailor Ė and then he would drop me off back at the projects. When I was eight years old I played in front of three-thousand people. People pimped my like that for much of my life and my parents wanted nothing to do with it. By the time I was in high school I was performing in multiple states.
So the choice between life with the family and music was pretty obvious.
It was an easy choice. I split home when I was thirteen and I was so ashamed of myself because I wanted everybody to think that my dad loved me and I had a real hang up back then about anyone knowing that my dad was total loser drunk. In pubic, every thing was just peachy keen for me. I continued to go to junior high and high school after I was thirteen but I did not live with my parents. I did have jobs since I was ten. I did a paper route and built it up to about five-hundred people and then I started working at an army surplus store. If someone paid me, I would do it. I kept playing music and people still thought that I lived with my parents. People would drop me off at the projects and I would walk on up to where I was going to sleep. How stupid is that. It took years for me to admit it to myself. It really did. Itís kind of weird.
Explain how songwriting works for you? How does a song get written?
Itís the easiest thing I do. Whether my songs are that good or not, everybody else has to judge. When I finish a song I feel like Iíve said everything that I wanted to say. I donít make things up. These songs are my stories. If it is in my life it comes out in the songs. On this album, I brought four of the tunes to the session and the rest of them I wrote right on the spot within three days. The one song that is accapella with the drum and the handle in the back Ė I just felt like dog shit one day and there it came. The next thing you know, I still felt terrible but I was still in a pretty good mood because I had gotten the song out. That was the song ONE MORE DAY. Thatís an interesting little tune. That song came out of back pain, sickness and around that time I had cut off the tip of my finger. It really exploded. I slammed the door on it. It took ten stitches to repair the tip. It took six weeks to the day that we recorded that song for it to quit hurting.
I noticed that the album is dedicated to a STACY KIMBALL.
Yeah, STACY KIMBALL SHIRKEY.
Would you like to talk about that?
Iíd be glad to. He was an interesting man. He was an eggheadís egghead. When I went to high school I was infatuate with the white kids because I didnít know any. They all drove fancy cars and the way they dressed, you could tell that they had never been down to the Salvation Army. I had never seen anyone my age with a car. That was just mind boggling to me. I started hanging out with these white kid musicians but they played shit while we were playing RIVER DEEP/MOUNTAIN HIGH over in my neighborhood. This one guy calls me one day down the hall from school one day and told me that I had to come over to his house after school. He was like ĎIím friends with this guy KIM. He can play the bass like youíve never seen before.í I went over there and I thought he was ten years older than me. He was actually three years older than me but he was a child genius who graduated high school early and college before most people get out of high school. He was one of the first computer programmers. This boy could just blow on the bass. I donít care what style it was he could just blow. When I was fourteen he gave me a MUDDY WATERS,WILLIE DIXON, HOWLINí WOLF and ELMORE JAMES album. He said Ďlearn this and ignore the rest of that shit and youíll be amazed at what might happen for ya!í I respected him so much that I did just that. He used to come over and pick me up every Wednesday. Once again I didnít live there so I had to walk down to that neighborhood and act like I was coming out of my house. I was coming from a place of pure shame and pride. Me and KIM would get together and weíd play all day on Saturday. His parents were rich. We always had the coolest places to rehearse and the biggest equipment. It was pretty un-fucking-believable. He never left my side and he just died recently of cancer and weighed about one-hundred and forty pounds. He was my encouragement from day one. He was the closest thing I ha to a dad. I could call him at anytime of the night for anything. He didnít give a shit. He was a U.S. chess champion and a U.S. shooting champion. He developed some of the first computer programs. H was a very interesting fellow. He was one of the coolest white guys that I ever met.
Of the songs off of this album, what stands out for you the most and why?
I really like KANSAS CITY because itís my hometown for one. Number two, itís probably a song that everyone is familiar with but itís got one of the most boring arrangements of all time. Everywhere you go in the world, I donít care if itís Thailand where I go, when people find out that Iím from Kansas City, and they say ĎOh, letís hear KANSAS CITY!í They call it out before I get the chance to say no letís not. Because of that, I decided that I was going to make a new version of it and that I was going to try to come up with something that really pleases me and maybe my version will be the one that they call on and I wonít mind playing it so much.
It almost sounds like an original.
SONY MUSIC bought it from LEIBER AND STOLLER so I had to write to SONY ATV and ask to change the melody.
But of your own material what stand out for you?
All of them do. I really like TOO BLESSED OT BE DEPRESSED because times are really hard right now and in some cases more perceived then real in my opinion. Times are always hard even when your making money. It just means that you are making enough to get through it. People donít think like that but I do because Iím from the hood. I will never have a bad time. I played with this wonderful blues singer ANNETTA WASHINGTON. She was a really well known gospel singer out of Kansas City in the forties and fifties. Whatever happened, she decided to sing the blues and the church kicked her out so she changed her name to COTTON CANDY. ĎThey call me Cotton Candy cause my candy tastes so good!í She turned over to that side of the deal and would throw in one gospel song at the end of the night. She was older woman and she would take young musicians and let you fly. As she got older she got diabetes and lost a leg. The whole community came together and paid for that. After that she started performing from her wheelchair and not much longer after that, she lost another leg. Then she started performing from this rhinestone encrusted wheelchair with evening gowns on, glitzy glasses and these wigs and sheíd say ĎIím too blessed to be depressed! Donít you feel sorry for me.í She passed away at the age of seventy-three right before we made the album. I loved her and I was in her band off and on for three years about twenty-five years ago. When she died, the next day the song TOO BLESSED TO BE DEPRESSED came out of me.