The Art Of The Sit In | Eric Krasno

JAMBASE: You mentioned your solo album and the involvement of the London Souls guys. Talk about that.

[Photo by: Robert Chapman]

EK: The lineup on record is more or less the London Souls guys and live I think it’s going to be Eric Kalb on drums and Ron Johnson on bass. Alecia Chakour has been touring and playing with me, too, and I’m finally going to get some more material done. Once the album’s out, I’ll tour some behind it. It’s a lot more rock ‘n’ roll, I think, and has a very psychedelic blues element to it that’s still soulful and funky. It’s got more of a songwriting thing with some very cool sounds, a lot of analog. I’m singing a lot on it.

JAMBASE: When does that drop?

EK: I don’t have a date yet, but it’s almost done. I did the bulk of the recording maybe a year ago. I’ve just had to find time to finish it. I’m building a new studio in Greenpoint that I’m hoping to use to finish a couple of things.

JAMBASE: You have a lot going on always but do keep making time for things that matter. For example, playing bass with Susan and Derek for a stretch last year with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. If I recall, bass was your original instrument – how went that tour?

EK: That was a real natural kind of thing. I’ve known them for a long time and collaborated with them a lot, and played bass on some of the recordings. They called me up and they were like, Kraz we need to make some decisions and why don’t you come play bass for a bit?

I had a lot of open time that summer, though I did miss a couple of Lettuce shows. They’re just amazing people. It was a blast. And it was a challenge to play bass in a band like that – I’ve been playing primarily guitar for so long, and playing with them really got me back in shape on bass. I had to work pretty hard, I will tell you.

JAMBASE: Was the idea that you’d fully take on the Tedeschi Trucks Band bass slot ever on the table?

EK: We did talk about it. But once we got into how much they tour…well, it would be too hard for me to do all of that. At the end of the day, Derek and I were like, we had so much fun doing this but they wanted someone who could commit to the band. Derek was like, “I want someone that’s going to be in the band for the next 10 years,” you know? As much as I would love to do that, I have so many things that are going to need tending to and that I can’t quite leave.

But everything fell into place the way it needed to. What happened was they really loved playing with Tim LeFebvre. He clicked with them and really played his ass off, and I didn’t want to miss any more Lettuce gigs so it all just kind of worked out.

JAMBASE: I also wanted to ask you about playing with Phil Lesh, both in Central Park with Russo and a few days later as a guest of the Terrapin Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl. Can you describe that experience?

EK: It was amazing. I had never really met him. Soulive opened a few things for him a long time ago but we never had much interaction. So when we played in [Central Park] I was really meeting him right there, and then he invited me to go down to the Brooklyn Bowl show. I grew up listening to that music so playing with Phil was huge, as was playing with his kids, who are great musicians. The band was really fun.

JAMBASE: So you have some history with Dead music?

EK: Yeah. My brother was a Deadhead when I was a kid and when I was young I was exposed to that music a lot. My first Dead show was in ’87, I think, and I saw them in ’89 and a bunch after that. I was into stuff like Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix heavily, too, but I definitely had Dead in there.

JAMBASE: Will you play with Phil again?

EK: I hope so. I haven’t heard anything specific, but he definitely mentioned wanting to play again. I am all for it.

JAMBASE: Anything else you’re working on that we haven’t talked about yet?

EK: I have a radio show, Feel Radio, on Jam ON. I’m going to hopefully keep that going, I play a lot of my favorite music and have people on for interviews. That’s going on.

JAMBASE: So I don’t let folks escape this column without telling me a favorite sit- in story from the past year – either you with someone else or someone with one of your bands. Can you share?

EK: Well I think I’ll highlight again playing with Phil. That was definitely cool for me – playing tunes like "Sugar Magnolia" with that band. It was like this full-circle thing for me and I haven’t ever really learned just all the intricate stuff going on in that music. There’s a lot going on there, from the song structure on. It was a really cool, unique experience.

JAMBASE: You seemed a little tentative at first during the show but you really opened up in places like “Playin’” and the segue from “Sugar Magnolia” into “Cassidy.”

EK: They told me a list of three or four songs that I might be playing on and it ended up being others, and also one of the songs I sat in on I hadn’t even heard before. So I think that was just not knowing the material and trying to fit in where I could. That’s how it is whenever you sit in with people, it’s like, I am supposed to get back to the song quickly or am I supposed to take a 10-minute solo? And you know, I think Phil seems to want you to stretch.

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