The Art Of The Sit In | Eric Krasno

Written By: Chad Berndtson

:: The Art Of The Sit-In - Eric Krasno ::

Welcome to another edition of The Art of the Sit-In, where we mix it up with the scene’s most adventurous players and hear some stories from the road. For more, check out our recent interviews with Tom Hamilton, Jeff Chimenti, Allie Kral and many others.

How best to introduce this column’s subject? We don’t have to. As one of the best-known and most ubiquitous players in the jam scene, beloved by fellow musicians as well as fans, there aren’t many stones unturned by Eric Krasno.

[Photo by: Michael Kaiz]

Krasno’s is a restless spirit. He remains core to Soulive, Lettuce and the whole Royal Family apparatus, but still manages to take on countless other projects, from production duties, one-offs and sit-ins to his ongoing solo work, which includes a forthcoming album and a very interesting new band to support it.

With the fifth installment of Bowlive – Soulive’s annual Brooklyn Bowl residency – about to kick off, we had Kraz fill us in on all the details.

JAMBASE: So I remember talking to you about the first Bowlive back in 2010 and here we are, wow, it’s Bowlive 5. Has the success of this surprised you at all?

ERIC KRASNO: You know, I guess so. It’s one of those things where we didn’t have any idea if it was going to work out. The venue itself surprised me a lot, not only how great it became as a place to play but how much support it’s gotten. Pete Shapiro knows how to put together a good team, and he’s fearless, it’s all “let’s just do this and reach for the stars.”

I sat in with the Allman Brothers – this might have been even a year before the first Bowlive and before Brooklyn Bowl had even opened. I ran into Pete at the show and he told me about it and he was like, “It’s going to be this bowling alley and music venue and I want you guys to do two weeks.” And I’m nodding and thinking, yeah, that’s never going to happen.

But then as it got closer, and I saw the space, I remember thinking, I can see this working out, oh yeah. I’ve played there now, I can’t even imagine how often, maybe 100 times. I think I’ve played there the most out of anyone who’s played on stage, although Questlove has been there almost every week as a DJ. It’s pretty crazy. I live down the street. I’ve seen the neighborhood change all around it and all these things happening.

JAMBASE: It seems like you guys have settled on eight shows as the Bowlive format. You could do more and probably still pack the place or do fewer and really load up the nights. How did you arrive at eight as the number?

EK: I think it was [manager] J. Bau’s idea. It’s a good number. It’s hard to do the Tuesdays and Wednesdays twice and fill it out like that, and it’s also taxing for the band, because we’re learning music every day. I like the idea of starting on a Thursday because you know it’s going to start off with a nice vibe, whereas if you start off earlier in the week, it’ll still be great but maybe not a sell out and not quite the top level we can get to. I think eight worked well last year.

JAMBASE: Talk about selecting the guests. How much of it is bringing back people you know are going to be a good fit – like a Nigel or a John Scofield or George Porter Jr. – versus inviting people you haven’t had before.

EK: Some of it just comes down to who’s available and who’s around. Some people we want there are touring, and we don’t book people like a year in advance or anything so we’re looking at who might be around and who could we fly in for a day or two.

We try to mix it up. Some of the best times are when it’s people we know and have hung out with before but we’ve never played with them before and have always wanted to try it out. We have a couple of those this year. Nicki Bluhm played with us in California, but that’s going to be a really cool night, too.

But then there are people like George, who we know well, and we know how it’s going to be and how much we love playing with them and how much fans like them. People like George bring in a certain vibe and they change the band. When Soulive plays with George Porter Jr., it’s a whole different sound. But there’s no exact way we do it. A lot of it is me reaching out to see if people are available and how we might fit something together.

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