The Art Of The Sit In | Eric Krasno

JAMBASE: Who from previous Bowlives is an example of a person you knew well and had always wanted to play with but hadn’t previously?

[Photo by: Jeremy Gordon]

EK: Ledisi, who I’ve worked with a bunch. People in our scene may not know her but she’s an unbelievable soul singer. We’d all known her for a while and I produced one of her albums – that just totally made sense.

But I’ll say again, we know a lot of people who make sense for this. Living Colour, we were out with those guys way back, they’re good friends of ours. George is in the stable like I said, every year we’re going to try to get George. And then we build things around that.

Last year, for example, we had Bill Evans and John Medeski and that was absolutely one of my favorite nights. A lot of times during Bowlive we’re playing other people’s material because it just makes sense to do that, but Bill and Medeski actually learned our stuff – we took Soulive songs and re-arranged them and really got out there.

JAMBASE: Those guys in particular are known for just being able to inject themselves in a situation like that. But would you say you’re rehearsing almost every show and learning the guest material more often than not?

EK: It is different every time. There are some guests who are familiar with our music or have the ability to learn some of it ahead. But we also look at people and decide to learn a few of their songs and maybe do a quick rehearsal with them before the show.

I will say that the guests who come back we get to do a little more with, and make it a little different every time. I mean, George, we’ve got a little catalog with George now. Although, he just called me and he was like, I don’t want to do any of the stuff we did last year! [laughs] But I dig that about him. He wants to give people a good show, he doesn’t want people to see the same thing they saw last year. With him, it’s a lot of spontaneous stuff anyway. We’ll plan some things but then he’ll get up with us and half of it will be decided right there.

JAMBASE: Another guest announcement that caught my eye is this joint set with the London Souls. You guys obviously wouldn’t do that with just any band, and I know you’re tight with them, but why did this one make sense?

EK: We know them, as you said, and I also made a solo record where those guys are pretty much the backing band. We hang out all the time. I produced their record, and it’s just one of those things where they’re young dudes but they’re on the same page as us. There are things we can do together that just work.

They did New Year’s with us in Boston and that’s when we first tried that: they did a set, we did a set then we all came together for London Soulive. All of us are up there, and it was more or less random covers we put together but we also did some original things and really mixed it up. Al [Evans] played some guitar, and Chris their drummer plays all these instruments and we just got up and did it.

JAMBASE: Who’s on your Bowlive guest wishlist that you haven’t been able to get yet?

EK: Gary Clark would be cool. I’ve talked to him about it a few times and it’s always been a timing thing. And I’d love to get D’Angelo one day.

JAMBASE: Questlove can’t hook that up for you?

EK: Ha, I guess not. D’Angelo doesn’t come out that much, but we’ll try. And George Benson is another one. I’d love to do some George Benson stuff with him, but that’s another timing issue.

JAMBASE: Looking past Bowlive, what’s next for Soulive?

EK: Next for Soulive is a new record, maybe this spring or early summer and then a late summer, early fall tour planned with some festival dates. We want to get the record done and keep out there. We’re also going to keep doing the Bowlive thing and probably try to take that concept to some other cities, especially as the Brooklyn Bowl thing grows into different markets. But the next phase is a new record, and I’m also keeping up with Lettuce and I have a solo album on the way.

JAMBASE: You have all these commitments but you do seem to leave time for pickup collaborations, too, like the recent Stirrers performances with Joe Russo and Neal Evans. How do you decide what to make time for?

EK: Generally, in a case like that, it’s we’re all available and an offer has come in, so yeah let’s do it. That one we want to do again. We want to record that project and maybe add another member to it. Joe and Neal and I had such a blast doing that. It will definitely happen again.

JAMBASE: And the plan is to keep Lettuce active, too?

EK: Absolutely. It’s been cool to see the growth out there, especially on this tour. People are now coming out to see Lettuce in all these secondary markets, and I mean weeknights with really good crowds. We have to keep supporting this band right now and keep this going.

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