Once upon a time, long before R. Kelly or Michael Jackson was accused of a sex crime, before entire careers were demolished by scandalous quotes or pictures or footage, rock critics were actually able to hang out with the subjects they were writing about. Believe it or not, writers would get backstage passes, would travel with the artists on the tour bus, would follow them to their hotel rooms and out to dinner -- all so they could actually observe the musicians outside of their public personas and maybe, if lucky, get behind the walls that fame erects so quickly and sturdily.
Those days are long behind us.
Case in point: Rod Stewart is promoting his latest mortgage-paying, double-platinum-selling suite of oldies-but-goodies, As Time Goes By...: The Great American Songbook, Vol. 2 (on which we finally get to hear the sweet, peanut-butter-and-jelly blend that is the voices of Stewart and Queen Latifah singing the title track). Used to be with this kind of thing, if you were writing a story about a new album and Stewart, you'd want a little face time with the guy, and you'd get it. Then face time turned into phone time, and phone time usually came with a paranoid publicist listening in, her itchy trigger finger hovering over the receiver, ready to cut off any call that got too invasive, too personal, too...real. Nowadays we don't even get that.
There is one thing, however, that these crack PR peeps have yet to rule out: They do not forbid calling your mom, who is a huge Rod Stewart fan, and asking her if she'd like to interview him. And because they make no mention of this rule, this is what you do, and because your mom is not a real journalist but a substitute teacher in her early fifties, she cares little about staying on topic or sticking to only one question. Unlike every other dispassionate pundit on the line, Mom is absolutely thrilled to be talking to one of her favorite singers of all time, and she's gonna ask him whatever the hell she wants. Let's listen in:
Pam Kamps: Hi, Rod.
Rod Stewart: Hi, Pam.
What a pleasure to talk to you. I go back a few years, and you actually struck a very strong chord in my heart back in the "Maggie May" days. I hate to say it.
Way back then. And I just have wondered: Was there ever really a Maggie May?
Yes, there was, and that wasn't her name. She was my first sexual encounter when I was I think either sixteen or seventeen. So I wasn't a late starter. It was a very, very quick romantic situation at a jazz festival in the south of England.
And she took me into her tent and threw me aside.
[Her] name wasn't Maggie May. And there's also -- there's a few embellishments along the way in the song. But basically that's who it was about.
Yes. Do you have any idea where she is now?
No. But I imagine she must be about -- you know, 68 or 70 now, because she was a lot older than me.
Just a young chick.
Yes, I was just a little virgin, and she took advantage of me.
Oh. Well, that was -- that was a song that held deep memory for me. And I actually hate to say it, but it was responsible for my first divorce.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my. But it was good. It was all good.
That's the first time -- so if you ever come to the show, just put your earmuffs [on] and don't listen to that one.
Oh, OK, OK. No, I have to. I'll sing along.
Oh, thank you very much.
Yes. -- Garrett Kamps
Cock Rock Corner
Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow still kicks butt. As part of the "Bad Boys of Metal" tour, he'll be playing at Pop's with Jani Lane of Warrant and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses on Friday, August 6. We never dreamed we'd be able to talk to him ourselves, but then we got an e-mail publicizing the tour. From him.
The Riverfront Times: So, you're your own press agent? What gives?
Kevin DuBrow: Yeah, well, you know what? The computer's a beautiful thing; I know how to use it. The agency that assembled the tour, they didn't hire a press agent, and, because it's me sending it out, people are really receptive. I've got time, I've got energy, I wake up early, I go to the gym. I'm all about working.
Who do you think has sexier hair, Jani Lane or Steven Adler?
I don't really think about it much. Being that they're both men, the sexiness of their hair doesn't really enter into the equation much for me.
Do you consider Quiet Riot a completely different genre from Warrant?
I think the music is way different. The uninitiated would lump us all together, but definitely Quiet Riot songs are more harder-edged. Warrant was more pop.
What's the greatest number of women you've ever been in bed with at once?
Three. That was in 1984. It only goes downhill from there. The numbers exceedingly diminish.
Say something really serious about your artistry and what it means for the planet.
What it means for the planet? I breathe oxygen, which puts out carbon dioxide, which is good for the trees, and I breathe real hard when I sing rock & roll, how's that? My music is ecologically sound.
How does the phrase "cock rock" strike you?
Considering that I'm a straight man, it doesn't strike me at all!
What did you use on your hair to make it so much thicker and darker and voluminous than it was in the '80s? Hair Club for Men?
No, it was actually fine living, fine women and a good attitude. And they sell that stuff at the gym; it's called "Gone Today, Hair Tomorrow." It's like Dick Clark youth cream, except if you take the "Clark" out you're in real trouble.
Has VH1's seemingly endless supply of I Love the '80s shows helped your career?
It's helped our record sales. Every time they air any one of those things, our SoundScan numbers go up. We can sell anywhere between 15,000 and 100,000 records a year, and we haven't had a hit since 1986 -- which is pretty amazing and shows the power of the decade. Even though people tend to view us all as a bunch of cheeseball hair farmers, there are still a bunch of closet fans that still buy the stuff. They're out there!
What's the craziest thing anyone's ever done at one of your concerts?
There was a woman in Denver who was masturbating in front of the stage.
Okay, well, thanks. That's all our questions.
You're welcome. Would you like me to send you a JPEG? You can print it and make fun of it.
Oh yeah, inevitably. But that's the art director's job. -- Ben Westhoff
Rondo's Blues Deluxe
It's Thursday night at Hammerstone's in Soulard. Tonight the crowd is a little sparse. A few people sit at the bar, a few more occupy booths. One or two are paying attention to the band onstage. The members of Rondo's Blues Deluxe are messing around, playing songs they've done hundreds of times -- if not together, then at least at some point in their long individual careers as blues musicians. The music for this first set is good but merely a warm-up for what will follow when a few more people show up and watch.
Drummer Andre Boyd kick-starts the second set, cracking the rhythmic whip with sly fills and boisterous thumps on his four-piece kit. Bassist Nephew Davis, who had been sticking to the tried and true in the first set, interjects more creative turnarounds. The two guitarists, Steve Waldeman and Raul Consuegra, begin to take chances with their solos, pushing each other to top what they've already played. And Rondo? Rondo sings blues like a jazz man, stretching and twisting the beat of each line, climbing and dropping notes on either side of the familiar melodies.
Rondo's Blues Deluxe play Hammerstone's every Thursday night. Normally the band has a keyboard player, Mike Roseman, who rounds out the sound nicely. Sometimes there's a saxophone player, Amos Brewer, whose delirious tremors of alto push each member of the band to even greater heights of blues passion. In the coming weeks, Consuegra and Waldeman are taking vacations, which means even more room for Brewer's brand of excitement.
Rondo practically owned this town back in the '80s and early '90s, but he's working right now with the best band he's ever had. And he's singing better than ever before. You've heard these songs -- "Fever," "Mannish Boy," "Sweet Home Chicago" -- but Rondo isn't a human jukebox like some blues performers. These blues are more than all right. -- Steve Pick