Q: How would you describe your creative evolution from your previous album, Song of the Balcones
, to your latest work, Rugged Trumpet
A: Song of the Balcones
is an epic ballad that tells a story based on events in 1831 Texas. Since its inception in 1984, I imagined the poem as musical performance. In 1988, radio producer Howie Richey and musical director Bill Averbach helped me bring the vision to reality. I prepared some score sheets with 4 musical themes. We met the ensemble that Averbach gathered one Sunday afternoon at KUT FM studios. The first hour we discussed our imminent performance, the second hour we went across the Drag to Hole in the Wall and drank a beer, the third hour we returned to Studio 1A and broadcast Song of the Balcones
live. Rugged Trumpet
began in December 2009 when I had the opportunity to record Hunter’s Horn" with the help of my daughter Leah Bogan of Idiom Productions. Also a ballad, Hunter’s Horn" was imagined as musical performance. When I liked that first recording, I cajoled Leah into recording the other lyric poems in Rugged Trumpet
. You can say the album is built around Hunter’s Horn."
Q: Was Song of the Balcones
your first album? When did you decide to incorporate music with your poetry?
A: Since age 9, I have played a musical instrument, from harmonica to tenor sax to double-bass viol. These days my weapon of choice is a jumbo Takemina acoustic/electric bass guitar. In my mid-teens I started journaling and soon poems happened. These two strands, instrumental music and poetry, became intertwined early on. My first CD is an edited version of the 1988 broadcast of Song of the Balcones
that only covers 3/5 of the poem. Currently I am preparing to record the entire poem.
Q: There is a bluesy quality to your voice — would you say the blues music had an impact on you as well?
A: My ear has been tuned to pop music since I first heard Jambalaya" on my grandfather’s De Soto radio in the early '50s. I was fortunate to witness authentic bluesman Manse Lipscomb
play several times on and around the UT campus in the '60s. Willie Nelson
, what can I say? The blues is in the air we breathe down south. I consider the tracks on Rugged Trumpet
to be a variety of “talkin’ blues.”
Q: What inspires your writing process?
A: Travel and conversation about ideas (not personalities.)