PM: Let's talk about Slide Show. There are so many fantastic grooves on that record. But I really like that title cut duet with Steve James. That's got a great feel.
CC: Yeah, it just feels like little train or something.
PM: Yeah, it really rolls well. Is that Mark Rubin from the Bad Livers on bass?
PM: Wow. I almost met him during South By Southwest. We were emailing. So that brings the question to mind whether or not you've ever done any gigs with Danny Barnes?
CC: No, strangely enough, I have not. And I think he's an incredible player.
PM: He's unbelievable, right?
CC: Yes, and an amazing person, too. I love him, personally.
PM: Yeah, he's an outstanding guy. [see our interview with Danny]
PM: Very smart and very thoughtful. He really has a unique way of carrying himself.
CC: He does. And he actually reminds me of my guitar teacher, who was Billy Faier. I don't know if you've ever heard Billy Faier.
PM: I've read about him, but I don't know his music, really.
CC: Yeah, he oddly enough played banjo and guitar. But around Woodstock where I grew up, he was primarily--you would go out and see him at a show, playing banjo. But he also would advertise that he was giving guitar lessons. And so when I expressed interest in wanting to learn guitar early on, my mom just looked through the paper and found his phone number. So that's how we found Billy Faier. But Danny reminds me of Billy's banjo style, in the fact that it's just free and loose, and not like anybody you've ever heard.
CC: Billy was not playing bluegrass banjo. I can't even describe how Billy used to play it, but it was really kind of mesmerizing, all these different meters, and just lots of different styles.
PM: And did he make a lot of records?
CC: I think he did a few. I went online to try to find them. I think he moved somewhere in East Texas. And some of that stuff is hard to get. I think there are a couple of things that you can find, but some of the older things, of course, are out of print. But he was really a big influence as well, because he taught me how to play by ear. And he was another one that would just sit there with records and figure out stuff, just stress the importance of all the good things that you should know when you're just learning.
What kind of a girl were you growing up, and in school?
CC: Really shy. Actually, even at home--I started out playing just regular guitar when I was about eleven. And I was just really self-conscious. I mean, I just practiced in my closet, because I didn't want anybody to hear me.
CC: And my mom still bugs my butt about that.
PM: Really? [laughs]
CC: She'll come to a show and she always says, "I can't believe you were the girl that used to play in the closet."
PM: You have so much presence on stage now.
CC: I used to get stage fright when I first started playing out, and my knees would shake, or else they would lock up. And it was just really horrible. And it got to the point where I just got so mad that it was happening, because I couldn't enjoy what I was doing.
So I was pretty quiet and shy. In school, though, I had a fun group of friends and raised hell like everybody else. And I used to go out quite a bit to concerts because, growing up where I did, there was always a lot of music, and it was not such a crackdown on the under age thing, you were able to go into a club or a concert situation. So I think that all helped. But I got out to see as much music as I could. I wasn't doing gigs when I was in high school or anything. I just didn't really want anybody to hear me. [laughs]
PM: Now, when you were growing up and playing guitar, were you playing acoustic guitar? Were you playing folk music? Country blues?
CC: I started out playing acoustic and doing folk music. And then I got interested in country blues. And I used to buy Stefan Grossman's instructional records.
PM: Yeah, me too.
CC: And they were great. I think he was one of the first people to have that business, or be successful at it. And I think one of the first records I bought was Stephan Grossman and Aurora Block--who, I realized after a time, was Rory Block. She used to go by Aurora Block. And I took a couple of guitar lessons from her. So it went from folk to country blues, and all that fingerpicking kind of style.
PM: Mississippi John Hurt, and all that.
CC: Yeah. And then I got an electric guitar and took jazz for a while. That was short-lived, but it was an interesting exploration for the few months that it lasted.
PM: Now, in contrast, perhaps, to the shy girl in school, how would you describe your personality now? Is it different?
CC: I don't feel shy anymore. I think that I'm different in that sense. And everybody just seems like they are different in school--I mean, I wasn't totally quiet and put my head down in my books. But I think I've just gotten over that fear of obviously playing out in public, and talking to people.
PM: Yeah. I read that as a young guitarist in Woodstock you were waiting tables when you heard somebody play a dobro, and had what I guess turned out to be an epiphanic moment. But do you recall who was playing the dobro that day?
CC: Oh, sure. His name was Ronnie Sutton.
PM: And what's become of Ronnie? Is he still playing?
CC: I don't know. I think he lives out in California. He had moved to California years and years ago. And I think he's still out there. I don't know if he's playing, but I would bet money he is.
PM: I wonder, does he know the impact that he ended up having on your life?
CC: I don't know. It's been so long since I've been in touch with him. And even though he was the one I heard, it was his teacher, Charlie Ferrara, who taught me how to play dobro. Because after I heard Ronnie playing--it was at a little bar where I was a cocktail waitress. And so I went to him and said, "Do you give lessons?" And he said, "No, but you can contact my teacher"--who was this wonderful guy that was from up there. And Charlie played banjo and guitar and pedal steel, and all kinds of instruments. So I took lessons from him for a long time. And he would come over to my house a couple times a week, but never take any money. And my mom would just make him a big pot of coffee.
CC: Uh-huh. He's a wonderful guy, really incredible.
PM: Is he still around?
CC: He's still around, and he definitely knows the impact that he had. I've always just tried to be in touch with him. And he was a guy that worked at a cement plant, and could have definitely played professionally, but he had a family to support. But he really changed my life, really.
CC: He has this amazing record collection. He really wanted to teach me Hawaiian style, but I was just way too impatient for that. I just wanted to learn all the fast stuff. But he'd bring over all his old Josh Graves records and Brother Oswald records, and Kitty Wells. And we would just sit there and listen to all these records for a long time. And he would show me what they were doing, and stress the importance of playing with a lot of feeling, and just like really digging in to the instrument.
PM: How beautiful to have had such a deep-thinking mentor so early on.
CC: Yeah. I'm very thankful for that, that he eventually saw that I was serious. Because in the beginning I know he didn't think I was serious at all. But in time he realized that I really did want to learn, and even though I didn't know anything about the instrument, I obviously loved the sound enough to want to work at it.
CC: He used to play out a bit, I don't think he does anymore. But he's still there. And he became very close friends with my family, and ended up going on fishing trips with my dad every year, up to Canada. So it was very nice. It turned to be a friendship as well. continue