Interview | Karl Denson Talks Ray Charles Tribute

JAMBASE: Do you have any sense of what the demographic is going to be like? I’m curious to see if it’s still mostly the jamband and jazz fans or if reaches into some older Ray Charles fans as well?

KD:You know, there might be some variety. We’re just going to try to have fun playing music for whoever it is. We know it’ll be our fans, so if some others pop in that would be awesome [laughs].

JAMBASE: In terms of Ray’s music, he’s known for having a few different periods in his development from being a big person in the emergence of soul music, but also with country music and blues music, so I wondered if you had any certain styles that you are most drawn to or maybe certain songs you love?

KD:Not really to be honest. I really like all of his stuff. What we are focusing on is the more dance stuff. We really like doing the early boogaloo Ray Charles. It’s more fun to party to, but I love all of it.

His version of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma is probably my favorite song of his ever. His version of Johnny Cash’s "Ring Of Fire," which we are going to do, is insane. I’ve always loved Ray Charles. His voice really always did it for me.

JAMBASE: I know you have a new album coming out. I’ve seen in the past where you’ve said it can be tough with so many working musicians to get things completed, but this one seems like it should be really special. What are you excited about on this one?

KD:Yeah man, we got this record done and I’m really excited because we got a new drummer and we feel like musically, we’ve kind of stepped into another thing. We’re writing a lot and gearing up to make another record right away. It’s going to be fun. The record is coming out great. We got Nicki Bluhm to do a duet with me on a track, which is going to be really cool. I don’t think it will be as cumbersome making records from here on out, so we’re excited.

JAMBASE: Everyone always asks about your fitness regime, in terms of how you get those guns. What’s your secret to staying healthy?

KD: [laughs] I’ve been doing Tai Chi for probably thirty years now. That’s just how I keep my batteries charged. It’s an important part of what I do in terms of being able to travel and play and do what I do without breaking down, you know?

JAMBASE: Last one, how did you land the role as part of the unforgettable Sexual Chocolate in Coming To America?

KD:I was in a band back then and the drummer actually got a gig on the Paramount lot as John Landis’s gopher [laughs]. John found out that he had a band and there was a need for a band in the movie, so we got written in to the script. It’s been pretty awesome to have that on my resume.

[Published on: 10/25/13]

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