|A CONVERSATION WITH DREW EMMITT
Puremusic: Hey Drew, thanks for taking my call. How you doin?
Drew Emmitt: I'm doing good, Frank. Thought I might have missed you, I had to take a couple of calls back there.
PM: No problem, I wasn't about to lose you. We want to do interviews with yourself, John Cowan, and Michelle Shocked this issue.
DE: That's cool, we've played with Michelle before.
PM: I confess that I am not a long running fan of Leftover Salmon, though I'd heard of the band for years. I'm becoming more familiar now, and got on to your new solo effort, Freedom Ride, through my friend Shari at Compass Records. That's a great record.
DE: Why, thank you, good to hear that.
PM: How did the idea of doing a record with The John Cowan Band backing you up arise?
DE: Let's see. It actually started last Spring. John and I have been becoming closer friends over the last few years, and he sat in with us at Telluride. On a few occasions, we've brought John and Sam [Bush] together to play with us, and that's been really great. We'd become friends with John and Sam individually, and because of that we've been able to facilitate that kind of thing, and we've had some great times. Other than that, last spring we started talking about my doing a tour with John, because he'd been out with Salmon. Two years ago, he came out and played bass with us on an acoustic tour. He proposed that I come out and play with his band. So we'd planned this tour for the fall, and his agent, Barron Ruth, came up with the idea. He said, "Wouldn't it be great if you did a record with John?" Because the tour had gone so well, and we were having such a good time. So he started poking around with a few record labels.
PM: John did, or Barron did?
DE: Barron did. He got a few labels interested, and Compass became the most interesting label to me. I just thought they were great from the word go.
PM: They certainly do some very cool things.
DE: They're very musician-oriented, of course, because of Alison. [Alison Brown, the co-owner of the label, is a Grammy winning banjo player.] They were really excited about the idea. Next thing you know, the studio time was set, and I'm calling up Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, Ronnie McCoury, and Sam Bush, to see what could come together. Everybody said "Sure."
PM: So, when you're pulling in guys of that caliber to play on your solo project, how does it go? Do they put a high tag on their participation, or do it on the buddy level, or what?
DE: It's a little of both, you know. Number one, because we're friends and have played music together, they want to do the project. Obviously, these guys could pick and choose their projects. And Sam barely got there, because he was supposed to go out to CA to do the David Grisman project. [David will be our July cover.] And the week before, he was recording with Jorma Kaukonen.
PM: Oh yeah, we did an interview with Jorma here during that week. He was really jazzed about doing that record with those guys.
DE: Oh, cool. That's a unique bunch of guys, they're very personable and humble for being such great musicians. It's not an attitude thing with them.
PM: Yeah, it's usually the guys in the middle that have bad attitudes, not the ones at the top, isn't it?
DE: I think you're right, there. Sam called the other day from his car in Nashville to say, "You're on the radio!" and put the phone up to his car speaker. And he was all excited, with all the many records he's played on. He was surprised that he sounded "pretty good" since he thought he wasn't playing that great in the studio or something...
PM: Guys that good don't have bad days. When they do, it doesn't even sound like a bad day. They couldn't do it if they tried, you know.
DE: Right, but that's just the kind of humility those guys really do have. It's wonderful. continue