EAR CANDY MAG - MARCH 2020

"We Cut Those Tracks, Until We Found That 'Magic' Take of The Song."
Interview with Jim Basnight

By Robert Pally

Intro:
Jim Basnight is a veteran of the Seattle music scene. Since the mid 1970s he has released with bands like The Meyce, The Moberlys, The Jim Basnight Thing, The Rockinghams and solo fine Power Pop, Punk, Rock, Folk, Country, Rock And Roll and Proto Grunge. In the interview he speaks about his different bands, opening for The Ramones, his favorite cover songs, provocative lyrics, his rock musical "Little Rock", "Sonny Boy Williamson", highpoints in his musical career, Kurt Cobain and his latest solo album "Not Changing".

EC: Was music important in your family?

Jim Basnight: It was, though neither of my parents were career musicians. My grandfather was, in classical music, leading the University of Hawaii marching band and working in the Seattle Symphony and all of the local union gigs. That was all in the 1920's. When the depression hit, he was forced to go back to flour milling, which he had done for a living, when he and his brother left home in rural Virginia before WW1, at the ages of 12 and 14.

They settled in Montana and he worked in a flour mill by day and got his high school diploma by night, until WW1, when he joined the US Army. That led him to Seattle to serve at Fort Casey protecting the Puget Sound. After the war he went to college in Hawaii and pursued music. He was always very condescending about rock and roll. My late dad was a fan of jazz, which grandpa also hated. My grandfather was a very cool guy, but he really tried to minimize the value of rock and roll.

I finally got him to admit the Beatles were good, around 1969, but that was as far as he went in life. He was very proud of me though I think and after he and my grandma passed on in 1986, I found a nice file of newspaper clippings from the local papers he kept, from my early days of local fame in Seattle in the late 70's and early 80's. My mom (still alive at 88) was a singer in her later years and performed in choirs and vocal ensembles, mostly after retirement.

My dad was not a musician, but he was very creative. We had a piano. He had a guitar, which I basically took complete control over by the age of seven. My sister was in a Seattle punk act as a lead vocalist with a band called Rally Go in the early 80's. They appeared on the Seattle Syndrome Two album with the band Rally Go in 1983, but she wasn't in the band by then.

EC: Do you remember the first LP / Single you bought? If yes, out of what reason did you buy it?

Jim Basnight: I do. The first LP I bought was "Surrealistic Pillow" by Jefferson Airplane. It wasn't the first rock album I got my hands on though. My dad bought me "Revolver" by the Beatles, "Absolutely Free" by the Mothers and "The Fugs" (on ESP). Then I talked my mom into buying "Rubber Soul", "Yesterday and Today" and the "Help" soundtrack. My dad also took me to see "Help", prior to getting me those first three albums.

I also got my parents to buy, for presents or for doing chores, "Kinks Greatest Hits", "High Tides and Green Grass", "Got Live If You Want It", "Animal Tracks", "Paul Revere and the Raiders Greatest Hits" and "Yardbirds Greatest Hits" among others. I also traded stuff with neighbor kids for albums they had, so I'm not sure about the source of all of those. I ended up with a large collection of albums by 1973. I collected a lot of 60's rock, glam rock and soul.

I specifically like Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Sly Stone and Otis Redding, as far as soul singer/writers. I was never much into heavy metal, so I guess I skipped Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Grand Funk, though I appreciate those a lot more now. I did like Free, but I was hugely interested in Jimi Hendrix. After the Beatles, Hendrix became my favorite artist. I also like CCR, who I was lucky to see live in 1969 with a friend whose dad worked for the Seattle venue they played in.

T-Rex was the band though, who tied together my love for 60's mostly British and American garage and pop rock and soul, with the early 70's glam. Once I became a fan of theirs, I discovered Bowie, Lou Reed, Slade, New York Dolls, Iggy and the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, the MC5, Suzi Quatro, Mott the Hoople and Alice Cooper. I had heard the Velvets in 1967, at a family friend's house and had read about them, but I wasn't that into it, until the early 70's.

By 1975 Lou was probably my biggest influence and that was when I started writing songs. As far as singles, before I bought one, I had a number of them, which my parents bought or I ended up with somehow around the neighborhood. The first one I bought with my own money was "Things I Should Have Said" by the Grassroots.

I started collecting singles a lot more than albums and at one point received a huge bounty from a friend who gave me a stack for some firecrackers and cherry bombs, that was in the summer of '67 when I was 10 years old. That stack included a number of great NW 45's from the Sonics, Wailers, etc. It also included the Who and Them.

I became a huge fan of the Who, especially after "I Can See for Miles", but it was the Them single that made the biggest impression on me, as I learned to play and sing one side of it, "Gloria" (it was backed by "Baby Please Don't Go") and performed it with my neighborhood friends at a show and tell in 5th grade (I was 10 years old), along with "Dirty Water" by the Standells, "Dandy" by the Kinks and "Wild Thing" by the Troggs.

We were the Electric Cornflakes, obviously influenced by the Garage movement. I was totally into the pop and garage rock of the day and used to go to local stores which had cut out singles bins, where I found many great songs that glanced the top-100, but didn't sell much. It was an incredible time in music and between my transistor radio, my portable record player, my acoustic six string guitar and fan magazines I had a great time.

In the band, which only lasted for a couple of show and tells and one or two birthday parties I played someone else's electric guitar. It was all fun and I never thought I'd do it for a career. In 1973, my grandfather lectured the hell out of me to get out of the music thing and get serious about getting a good job, to help pay for my college, prior to my 16th birthday, when I'd be old enough to legally work.

He convinced me to sell all of my records and buy a business suit, so I could go out and get a good job, which I almost did, save for the Beatles, a couple Hendrix albums, "Tommy" by the Who (because it was an opera, therefor legit in his eyes, or so I thought). I also sold all of my singles, many with picture sleeves, which at the time was incredibly stupid.

EC: What was the first band you played in? What kind of music did you play?

Jim Basnight: After that, I got a job as a bag boy in a supermarket and soon realized what I had done. It wasn't long after that, I started dating a woman a lot older than I. I decided to be a lead singer in a band, with some other friends and we did a series of gigs at teen dances doing a mix of current and late 60's rock covers, including notably Badfinger tunes. Shortly after that I got together with other friends and put together a band to do all glam rock, like Alice Cooper, Bowie, T-Rex, Iggy and Dolls.

That band was called Lovaboy, though people called us the Loverboys. We only did one live gig and that was at the talent show in my senior year of high school. It was about that time I bought my first electric guitar, a Fender Mustang, followed by the Fender Jazzmaster after the talent show gig, that I've used for the better part of the last 45 years, with only a few side trips.

EC: What good/bad memories do you have of them?

Jim Basnight: I have little else but good memories of those early bands. The confrontations with my family were the only bad memories, but I've long since forgiven them. I became a musician because I loved it so much. Their advice was wise, but that love has sustained throughout my life, long after it was easy or attention getting, just to bang out rock and roll on a guitar. I do it because it is who I am.

EC: What made you wanna become a musician?

Jim Basnight: My parents and grandparents pushed me towards being a doctor or a lawyer, but I didn't want any part of that and decided to be a musician, sometime around my 17th birthday. Nothing has changed since, other than my becoming a songwriter around the time of my 18th birthday. I've learned to love a lot of music, beyond those roots, most notably early rock and roll, blues and older country and western.

I would have to say that I made good decisions, for who I am, though I am extremely proud that my kid wants to be a lawyer and has just started college this fall. I gave her every opportunity to be a musician or an actor, but she decided she wanted to be a three sport athlete (something I always wanted to be, but was not particularly good at it). She was always a great athlete, but decided late in her high school years that she wanted to focus on school and her goal of becoming a lawyer. I couldn't be more thrilled.

EC: With The Meyce you opened in 1977 for The Ramones. What memories do you have about this?

Jim Basnight: Yes, by late 1975, in the year after I graduated (barely, because of all of my rock and rolling) from high school, I fell in with a crowd of kids who had a little fanzine called Chatterbox (named for the New York Dolls/Johnny Thunders song). Lee Lumsden, the editor or the 'zine made me and fellow Lovaboy Paul Hood (currently of the Toiling Midgets and for the past 40 years) assistant editors, but also played drums and wrote songs with us, after I had cobbled together some early songs as did Paul.

We were joined by my girlfriend Jennie Skirvin. We were very influenced by the Velvet Underground and a rather frenetic scattered pop sensibility. That was the Meyce, fittingly. Our first gig was the TMT Show (Telepaths, Meyce, Tupperwares) on May 1st 1976 in Seattle, which predates the early DIY punk shows in London, as well as those elsewhere on the West Coast.

We were of course following the lead of NYC and were suitably influenced by anything we could find on those bands, especially the Ramones, but also others who put out indie singles or that we got cassette tape dupes of from the late Tomata Du Plenty of the Tupperwares, who was older than us and had lived in NYC and San Francisco. Tomata was in a "drag rock" act in Seattle in the early 70's called Ze Whiz Kidz, who had opened for Alice Cooper, the Dolls among other legendary Seattle galas.

Tomata knew the Ramones and was very generous to us in sharing his first hand accountings. The Meyce did a series of other self-promoted shows and one two song demo, doing all original material and moved into a house together in the fall of 1976. Jennie left the band shortly thereafter and we continued as a 3-piece, knocking out a number of other recordings and shows.

By early 1977 we added Pam Lillig on guitar, who played a Les Paul Jr. like Johnny Thunders and employed a distorted sound to contrast my cleaner Jazzmaster sound through an Acoustic 150 amp with a 4X12 cabinet and no effects, other than volume boost. Today, I use a Peavey Classic 50 amp, because it has good effects and decent reverb, and tube sound, but is very manageable and easy to maintain.

Over time, I used a few other electric guitars here and there, but mostly the Jazzmaster. I started playing acoustic solo gigs in NYC, when I moved there in 1980 and by the mid-80's in LA, I started doing solo acoustic dates and got am Ovation, with a pick-up. My 1990 I bought an Ovation "Elite" 12-string, which since then and two others of the same make and model later, I still do.

Those have been my guitars forever and I have no intention of changing that. Back to the Meyce and Pam Lillig, we did a couple of gigs, which were well attended and documented in the local media, then were asked to open for the Ramones on March 6th 1977. That show was co-promoted by Chatterbox, whose editor Neil Hubbard, was also one of my best friends growing up. Neil and I were friends before either of us knew Paul, Lee or anyone else in the scene and we all remain friends today.

The other promoter of the show was Robert Bennett, who I also knew growing up and was my shack manager, when I had a Seattle P-I paper route in 1970. Neil and I also had Seattle Times paper routes before that time too. The Meyce had a lot of great songs and sounded great, but I saw myself moving on to NYC to make it big, so the band fell apart after the Ramones show and I started to plan my move to NY.

Needless to say that was culture shock, when I moved there in April of 1977, after the Iggy Pop show, backed by David Bowie on keys, where Blondie opened. I also met a few of the members of Blondie at a party where Iggy performed, the day before the show. When I got to NY, I got jobs working in record stores and went to dozens of great shows, many through my connections with the Ramones.

I met a number of other NYC folks and others who traveled there to engage with Max's and CBGB's from Europe and elsewhere in the US and Canada. I was unable to get a band together and couldn't balance keeping a job, a place to stay and going to rock clubs, so I returned to Seattle in the fall of 1977 on a Greyhound bus ride across the nation.

I sought to make a record, which I was able to do, with Seattle friends supporting me and recorded my first single "Live in The Sun" BW "She Got Fucked", which I released on my own Precedent label in late 1977, though it didn't go on sale until January of 1978. My grandfather paid for my flight to NYC in April of '77 and my dad set me up with a place to stay at an old friend for a month in suburban NY, while I saved money and looked for an apartment, but I worked there for everything myself.

My grandfather made me promise that if I came back that I would give up music and go to college, which made it very hard for me to come back. I was extremely upset and anxious and one night I was near suicidal. Luckily I saw so much great rock and roll and was inspired by so much there that I decided to come back anyway. My parents let me stay for only a few weeks, so I rented a rehearsal space in a garage and lived in it, until which time people let me stay with them.

During this time, the Moberlys came together, with bassist Steve Grindle, who I met around the time of the Ramones show and drummer Bill Walters, a friend of Steve's. We went through a few guitar players, including Steve Pearson (who we did one gig with, in 1978) and Don Short who went on to form the Heats and Jeff Cerar, who went on to be the original guitarist in the Cowboys (and played on our first demos, some of which ended up on the 1996 ATM/Bear Family CD album "Sexteen"), two of the top NW bands in the early 80's club scene.

The Cowboys also included future Rockingham and current Moberly Jack Hanan. We also played with my friend, former Tupperware guitarist and Chatterbox contributor Ben Rabinowitz (a.k.a. Ben Fisher, his mom's name was Fisher and his dad was Rabinowitz and he used both off and on), but his young age (I think he was 17) and lack of a car became an issue. Coincidentally the flourmill my grandfather worked at in Seattle for decades and retired as plant manager was Fisher Flour Mills and co-owned by Ben's grandfather.

We finally landed on Ernie Sapiro, a high school mate of mine who had been in a band that the Meyce had played shows with and who also released an early "Punk" single in '78 called Uncle Cookie. Ernie was a great fit and we started rehearsing, leading up to a show opening for Greg Kihn at Seattle's Paramount Theater in December 1978 and a club gig or two. In 1979, 40 years ago, we blazed a lot of new ground in the Seattle area.

Recording a number of demos and opening for a number of national touring acts, as well as other notable gigs. We had some help from regional "bizzers", who tried to help us get signed and did a great demo with Ned Neltner producing. But after we were passed on by a number of major labels, Walters left. Mostly because he couldn't afford it. We were playing great shows, but making no money and he had to get a job.

The same was more or less true for Ernie, who was working at a restaurant and decided not to continue with Steve and I, as we auditioned drummers. Though Steve and I put together a band to do club gigs and did a couple of them, he was drawn to rockabilly and left to join a rockabilly band. Brian Fox, who had financed one of our recordings, paid to release an album and I mastered it. We sent it off to press in late 1979 and released it, with Steve, Bill, Ernie and my photos on the cover.

We got them back from the pressing plant in California in January 1980 and got the guys together for a record release party, but that was it for that version of the Moberlys, as everyone was on to other things. I joined a local club band and saved money, playing covers, songs from the Moberlys album (which was gaining a lot of momentum quietly in stores and from the media in NYC, LA and elsewhere that I sent out to) and the other guys original material. By the fall of 1980, I decided to go back to NYC and give that another try, which I did in October of 1980.

EC: Early songs like "She Got Fucked", "Sexteen" or "Love / Hate" had provocative lyrics. Was this the punk in you?

Jim Basnight: Like I mentioned, I was very influenced by acts like Iggy Pop. I also loved Wayne County, who I had followed in magazines like Rock Scene and Hit Parader in the early 80's, when he was involved with Mainman, David Bowie and subsequently Iggy's management company. When I was a small boy, my dad bought me the Fugs and the Mothers albums, as I mentioned. If that seems strange, it really wasn't for my dad.

He was a huge Lenny Bruce fan and I remember Bruce's albums going back to my first recollections of records, back at the time when my mom used to listen to singles like "Bobby's Girl" and "The Watusi" in the early 60's. It was no major stretch from Lenny to the Fugs to Wayne County really, in fact Wayne (now Jayne) made an album for the ESP label in the early 70's which was never released.

I was always inspired by great songwriters on the edge of societal norms, be they more mainstream, like the Beatles, the Raiders or even the Carpenters, or the complete "other side" as Jim Morrison sang on his first single "Break On Through". I was incredibly moved by the band Suicide, when I saw them in NYC in 1977 and became friends with Alan Vega and their manager and label guy Marty Thau. Those associations sustained until I moved back to NYC in 1980, when I became much closer friends with them.

Suicide was a major influence on the song "Sexteen", as was the Johnny Thunders song "Pirate Love". "She Got Fucked" was not influenced by Wayne who had a "Punk" hit with "Fuck Off" or Iggy, who used the f-word liberally in the 1976 live Stooges release "Metallic KO" (I wrote the song in 1976, influenced more by the Ramones and my own demented mind), but to say that those releases didn't encourage me to include it is disingenuous.

It was also no small thing that I saw the Heartbreakers in NYC in 1977, which may have been the best show I saw there of many. They were not exactly demonstrating good behavior on the microphone in between tunes, while focusing on topics like "Chinese Rocks", making gestures and verbal references regarding narcotic injections (straight up Lenny) and tossing in four letter words into live renditions of their musical numbers.

As far as "Love/Hate", that was a song I wrote with a kid I met in NYC, the late Neal Berman, who came out to Seattle and lived on the streets in 1977, after I returned. He and I wrote "I Return" also, which made it onto the "Sexteen" CD album, after a later version of the Moberlys recorded it in NYC in 1982. Neal was a bright boy and talented, who passed away in recent years, after a long bout with varying mental health issues.

I would characterize his style as somewhere between Richard Hell, Jonathan Richman, Patti Smith and Lou Reed, with a fair amount of Buddy Holly. I never thought of either of those tunes I wrote with Neal as "Punk", more new wave pop, but I get where you would get that inference. Another song which I trace more cleanly to "Punk Rock" roots was "Last Night".

It was written one morning after returning to my cheap Manhattan Hotel room after a Richard Hell show at CBGB's, to find that my room had been broken into and all my money had been stolen. It was a release of all of my angst and shame. I probably got enough gigs from that tune, to make up for the few hundred in cash that some scumbag turned my room upside down to find. It was probably the biker who I shared a bathroom with in that dump.

It was also heavily influenced by the Sonics, who I discovered a number of hip kids were aware of in NYC at that time, including Stiv Bators, Mono Man (Jeff Connolly of Boston's DMZ and the Lyres), the late French singer Lizzie Mercier Descloux (with whom I stayed with for a month or so there) and the Cramps deified. I had already been well aware of the Sonics long before any of them, mostly because of where I grew up and the stations I could get on my transistor radio.

I found it interesting that very few of these very hip kids I met in NYC knew about Heart, but all of them knew about the Sonics and the Wailers.

EC: I read somewhere that The Moberlys had an unpredictable live show. Can you tell me more about it?

Jim Basnight: I'm not sure what that means, but it was a band that constantly kicked out new material, from the beginning to the end in 1989. That was also enhanced by Seattle and later LA drummer Dave Drewry, who also brought in a steady stream of unusual cover selections, when he joined the band in NYC in 1981, where I'd put together a band with Jeremy Bar-Illan on guitar and a few other players. Shortly after that bassist Al Bloch came out from Seattle too in 1982.

Though I stayed on and those two didn't last in the Big Apple, I came back to Seattle off and on over the course of 1983 and put together bands with Dave, which we called Jim Basnight and the Moberlys. Rabinowitz was in the band for a while in that time frame, but we settled on the lineup with Toby Keil on bass (both played on recordings in Vancouver BC, which became a late '83 45 RPM single and a 4-song 12" 45 EP in '84). One of the songs was "Cinderella" by the Sonics.

We performed a number of covers in '83 by the Sonics and other NW 60's dance circuit rockers like the Raiders, the Dynamics, and the Wailers. We also covered a handful of 60's California garage and psychedelic pop acts like Electric Prunes, Flamin' Groovies, Syndicate of Sound and Grassroots. We also covered a few Kinks tunes, an obscure Stones song or two (including "So Much in Love", a 60's Jagger/Richard composition that they never recorded) and the Troggs "With a Girl Like You".

We did a few British punk era covers by Eddie and the Hot Rods and the Lurkers and touched on some cool NW new wave acts of that time like the Heats and Vancouver BC's Modernettes. Finally, we tackled a large dose of late 70's NY rock, notably Jayne County's "Down at Max's" and a number of Heartbreakers tunes. We even did a medley of early NYC rap tunes that I picked up, while I was there.

A lot of these were recorded and well at that, as Dave always insisted on recording a cover, when we did studio sessions. Dave was one of a kind, in that he pushed his songs in the band like a skilled politician, but they weren't his compositions, they were great songs that were his idea to cover and few if anyone else in the world had covered them.

EC: You are working on a covers album. Can you tell me more about it?

Jim Basnight: A large number of these recordings I mentioned will be included, as well as other cover songs I've done over time, for tribute albums and other projects. Between always playing lots of new original material and a wide range of covers, very rarely the same set twice in a row, that could be why we got a reputation of being unpredictable.

Here is the listing of tracks, though the order is to be determined and subject to change:

1."This is Where I Belong" (Kinks)
2."Rock and Roll Cowboy" (Cowboys)
3."You Showed Me" (Turtles/Byrds)
4."Rebel Kind" (Modernettes)
5."Red Light Moon" (Mike Czekaj)
6."I Can See for Miles" (Who)
7."Laser Love" (T-Rex)
8."Happiness is a Warm Gun" (Beatles)
9."Cinderella" (Sonics)
10."Prince Jones Davis Suite" (Medley of "April Snow" by Prince, "Win" by Bowie and "World Keeps Going Around" by the Kinks)
11."Brother Louie" (Stories)
12."Lonely Planet Boy" (New York Dolls)
13."Midnight Mission Hit Parade" (Czekaj)
14."Shot Down" (Sonics)
15."She Gives Me Everything I Want" (Hollies)
16."So Much in Love" (Jagger/Richard)
17."Just Like Darts" (Real Kids)
18."New Guitar in Town" (Lurkers/Boys)
19."It's You Alone" (Wailers)
20."Do Anything You Want to Do" (Eddie and the Hot Rods)
21."Princess in Rags" (Czekaj)

12 of the 23 songs have never been released and of the 11 that have, four have never been on any of my other CD albums, just tribute albums. All are being remastered.

EC: Name your 5 favorite cover songs?

Jim Basnight: I know around 1,000 songs that I can play probably. I have a unique gift to remember lyrics and melodies. I fall short in a lot of musical skill categories, but those are my strong suits. I wouldn't know where to start, to answer that question. This week, it would probably be a Beatles, a T-Rex, a Kinks, a "Sonny Boy" and a Hendrix song. I just noticed that 3/5ths of those acts were on Reprise Records, part owned by Frank Sinatra.

I could do "Strangers in the Night". I could easily just do five Beatles songs, five Stones songs or five Bowie songs, for that matter. There are so many I love. Songs are my life. Hank Williams, Smokey Robinson, Eric Carmen, Johnny Thunders, Merle Haggard, Al Green, Oasis, Carole King, Pete Townsend, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash. There's just too many to name.

How about these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLVbNCt4R4o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA2fW2IS6gk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCqhpT1jz5g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbgcRpk7kCM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgPXRukDmo

EC: In 1984 you released "Sexteen" the second LP by The Moberlys in France. Confusingly, in 1995 was a CD (on ATM Records) released with the same name but some other songs and some missing. What led to that?

Jim Basnight: I'm not sure why that was, probably because there had been an album titled "Sexteen" which sold pretty well in the mid-80's and the thought was by the label that people would buy it for that reason. This was kind of the tail end of the era, when everything was coming out on CD, which had been released on vinyl, for the first time and people would buy stuff on CD that they knew about from vinyl. I think that was the reason, for name recognition, but I'm not sure.

It was the label's idea. It was my idea, to release that one, more or less chronicling the first band, with Steve Grindle, Ernie Sapiro and Bill Walters, with a few others, though there were a few other notable folks who contributed. Those players included Cerar, Ataa Adjiri (who is one of my best friends still), Drake Eubank (who played drums on the first single in '77), Sheldon Gomberg (currently a very cool LA based producer-engineer), Bill Rieflin (who went on to REM and Ministry), Rabinowitz, Bar-Illan, Bloch and Drewry.

The reason the latter three were involved was because we recorded "I Return" a song by Berman and I, which I associated with the early band. My thought was to follow it up with a retrospect from the version of the band anchored by Drewry, Keil and Oyabe. That came to fruition, by way of a French label a few years later, Pop The Balloon, as the "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles" album by Jim Basnight and the Moberlys.

The "Sexteen" LP on Lolita (which is dated 1984, but actually came out in early 1985), was the first release in Europe and the thinking was that it should have the best material at the time. The tracks were picked by a combination of Randall Wixen (who has gone on to the top of the music publishing world in LA, primarily with rock acts) and the label and we were fine with the choices.

It had a couple of new tunes from our 2nd set of recordings in Vancouver in 1984, with Glenn Oyabe on guitar, all four of the tracks we released on the 1984 EP, "We'll Always Be in Love" from the "Seattle Syndrome" compilation album in 1981, a number of tracks from the 1979 Moberlys LP and "She Got Fucked" from the 1977 single.

All of the songs from the Lolita LP ended up on CD on either the "Sexteen" CD or "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles", except the two cover tunes "Cinderella" by the Sonics and "Alone with Her" by the Wailers, other than "Rebel Kind" a Modernettes cover, which was on "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles". All three tracks, you'll notice are included in the all covers CD I'm planning for 2020.

As long as I'm explaining about the covers CD album, which I've yet to master and come up with a final title, there are three songs by Mike Czekaj. Mike and I go back to NYC in the early 80's. His band the Stratford Survivors backed me up when I moved to Bridgeport CT in late 1982. We did a few gigs in Connecticut and I brought them to Manhattan to record with me, when Genya Ravan produced a couple of tracks with me in early '83.

Those tracks have never been released, but one was a version of "I Want to Be Yours", which was redone later that year in Vancouver with Drewry, Keil and Rabinowitz. The other was a version of "Treat Her Right", a standard at NY Moberlys shows in the early 80's, which Johnny Thunders recorded on his covers album "Copy Cats" in 1988. Johnny told me after seeing the Moberlys do it at his 30th birthday party gig, that he dug it.

No idea if it influenced him doing that tune, but if us doing it gave him any ideas or reminded him of it, that would make me very proud. The version we did with Genya used an electric violin player, sounding like a lead guitar player. I decided not to include it on the covers album, as there are other tracks I like better, but the concept was one I used quite a bit later on with Seattle violin players Geoffrey Castle and Clayton Park on "The Jim Basnight Thing" (1997) and "Recovery Room" (2004) albums.

But Czekaj and I stayed in touch and when he moved to LA with the Fuzztones in 1986, we started a songwriting partnership. It yielded a lot of great tunes which have surfaced or been revamped throughout my recording career:

"My Vision of You", "Price of Our Insanity" (with Joey Alkes, who co-wrote "Million Miles Away" with Peter Case), "Still a Part of Me", "Talk Is Cheap" (with Alkes) and "Jasmine Perfume" (with Alkes) from the "Pop Top" album (1993).

"Baby Jane" (with Kelly Wheeler, who appeared in a post Moberlys band with Czekaj, Bloch and myself) from the Rockinghams "Makin' Bacon" album (1999).

"Don't Wait Up" (with Alkes and Barry Gruber, who I re-wrote the song with in 1996) from the "Jim Basnight Thing" album (1997).

"What I Wouldn't Do", "Genius of Love" (with Alkes) and "She Don't Rock" from the "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles" album (2001).

"Open Letter" from the "Introducing Jim Basnight" album (2012).

"Code to Live By" from the "Not Changing" album (2019).

There are three songs on my albums which were Mike's tunes and though I added touches to my versions of them, they were finished tunes when he shared them with me. Those are credited 100% to Czekaj and include the following:

"Red Light Moon" from the "Jim Basnight Thing" album (1997).

"Princess" from the "Recovery Room" album (2004).

"Midnight Mission Hit Parade" from the "Introducing Jim Basnight" album (2012).

I also decided to include them on the cover songs album I'm planning, as he is also an artist in his own right, with a great rock and roll band on the east coast, out of Brooklyn NY now called the Live Ones (a lyric in "Red Light Moon" incidentally) and deserves to be recognized as such.

EC: How come you changed your bands name to The Jim Basnight Thing for only one album in 1997? After that you formed The Rockinghams and released the CD "Makin Bacon" in 1999. What led to that?

Jim Basnight: Chronologically, it happened in a different order. After the Moberlys lineup with Drewry, Keil and Oyabe split ways in 1989, Glenn and Toby left with keyboardist Roger Burg, who had worked with us in the studio in 1987 and joined the band in '88, to become Greenhouse in LA. Roger also contributed songwriting along the way, working with me on "One Night Away" from the "Pop Top" album and "City Life" from the "Introducing Jim Basnight" album.

Dave left to play with former True West front man guitarist Russ Tolman among a number of other LA based acts over the years until his unfortunate passing in 2016. It was especially sad to lose Dave then, as he and I had decided to get the Moberlys back together with Keil and Oyabe after a handful of reunion shows, capped by the August 22nd 2015 show, which is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h59KS8riku0&t=3150s

We had planned another reunion for August 2016 and booked four dates in the Puget Sound area. When Keil and Oyabe weren't able to travel from LA and Indiana respectively, they were replaced on the dates by bassist Jack Hanan of the Rockinghams and guitarist Bruce Hazen, who I'd worked with on a number of solo recording projects, including a number of tunes on "Recovery Room" and more than a few live gigs along the way in Seattle since the 90's.

Tragically Dave fell ill, so we used Dave Warburton as a substitute drummer on the dates. When Drewry failed to recover and sadly passed on in November 2016, we continued on doing dates with that line-up as the Moberlys in the Seattle area and still do. It's more or less a review of the songs of the band from 1979-89 and a lot of fun. Warburton was recently replaced by Zepp Zittle, who is doing a great job.

Getting back to your questions though, when the Moberlys split ways in '89, I went into a songwriting frenzy, with Czekaj, Alkes, Tommy Knight, Ted Myers, Wheeler (who had been Perry Farrell's writing partner and band mate in Psi Com, which evolved into Janes Addiction after Kelly left), Bloch, Rabinowitz (who had moved there), Patrick DiPuccio, Nino Del Pesco and other LA based folks.

Out of that era, a band emerged with Wheeler on guitar, Czekaj on drums and Bloch on bass, after Al left Concrete Blonde in 1990. The original drummer was Kelly's friend Danny Carey, who left to form Tool, before our band did a live show, though we showcased for a few labels with that lineup. That band with Czekaj, played a number of dates in LA and Seattle as both Jim Basnight, the Skyscrapers and Crank. They were the core of the players who recorded a majority of tunes on the "Pop Top" album in 1990-92.

During this timeframe I was married for the first time to Anne "Deon" Deleonibus, in 1989. The Moberlys split up, just as Anne and I were getting married. She was a very creative artist, actress and musician, who I played guitar with in NYC in the early 80's. We stayed in touch throughout the 80's, as good friends and mutual admirers and when she moved to LA in 1988, we became romantically involved.

I met Anne through Alan Vega and Marty Thau, not when I was there in '77, but when I went back in 1980. She had been Alan Vega's girlfriend for many years, going back to the early 70's at that time, but soon was dating former New York Doll singer David Johansen. She was back and forth between those two, for a number of years, while we stayed "just friends". We hit it off really well though, when she moved to LA, but it didn't go well after we got married.

We split up and the new lineup with Bloch, Czekaj and Wheeler also splintered. I put another band together with Rand Bishop, who was producing the recordings on keys, adding Rabinowitz and another rhythm section of LA players, which did a number of gigs, but never recorded, though Rand and I were continuing work on overdubs for the recordings, with a number of notable LA folks. I was also working as an investment broker from 1988-92, as well as playing music full-time.

Between the divorce, the revolving door of musicians and the realization that I didn't want to make the financial world a career, I decided to move to Seattle, to spend time with my dad, who was diagnosed as terminally ill in 1992. I thought it would last three months, as the doctors predicted, but he hung in for well over a year, before passing on in November of 1993.

While in Seattle, I self-released the "Pop Top" album, my first on CD and started playing gigs with Jack Hanan, Sean Denton on guitar and Richard Stuverud on drums as Sway, as well as solo guitar gigs, which I'd been doing in LA since the demise of the Moberlys. Sway recorded some tracks, three of which I included on "Introducing Jim Basnight", "Bad and Beautiful", "Looking Through Glass" (written with Stuverud) and "Burning in The Sand" (also with Stuverud).

"Introducing Jim Basnight" compiles five new tracks, followed by a backwards chronology of unreleased tracks of value from throughout my entire recording career, concluding with the only track I've released by the Meyce. The only song on it previously released was "Show Who You Are" which is on the 1979 Moberlys LP, but not on the 1996 "Sexteen" CD. Stuverud left the band, to go on to a number of bands, including Three Fish with Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament.

We replaced him with Criss Crass (Chris Utting), who left Warner Brother's act the Muffs to join us in 1994 and in doing so gave us our name, the Rockinghams. That band did a number of demos, which ended up as the "Makin' Bacon" album in 1999, though the band only played live together until 1998. The Rockinghams were a full on rock and roll band.

We recorded three tunes produced by former Washington Squares guitarist Bruce Paskow, who tragically died in the middle of the project, which were mixed and finished by Don Gilmore, who went on to a huge career as a rock producer in the 90's and beyond, including Korn, Eve 6, Good Charlotte, Duran Duran, Avril Lavigne, Train, Linkin Park, Sugar Ray, X, Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog.

Those recordings included "Rock and Roll Girlfriend" (written with Paskow and finished with Hanan and Utting), "Hello Mary Jane" (written with Rabinowitz and done prior on "Pop Top") and "Uncertain" (a remake of a Moberlys tune). After that session, Denton left the band and we decided to continue as a three piece. The Rockinghams then recorded with "Eric 4-A", "Lattes" (written with Pascow), "Baby Jane" and "More Than One Way" (a re-make of a Moberlys song, which Utting added a verse to).

Our next set of recordings was with producer-engineer Mike Foss and included "Played a Trick" (written with Hanan), "Need a Car" (with Hanan), "So Glad You Came" (with Hanan and Barry Gruber, who was also the executive producer who financed the Paskow/Gilmore sessions and the "Jim Basnight Thing" album), "Space" (with Hanan), "Middle of the Night" (with Hanan and Utting, but based on a tune I wrote in LA with Rabinowitz), "Ho Chi Minh" (with Hanan) and "Rock and Roll Cowboy" (a Cowboys cover, written by Hanan, Cerar and the late Ian Fisher, no relation to Ben Fisher/Rabinowitz).

The 'Hams also recorded "She Gives Me Everything I Want", a Hollies cover, with current Heart drummer Ben Smith (who played on most of the "Jim Basnight Thing" and "Recovery Room" albums and the five new tracks, plus one 1996 track"Livin' a Lie" on "Introducing Jim Basnight") and former Heart guitarist Scott Olson producing. That song and "Rock and Roll Cowboy" will appear on my cover song album. Those 14 tracks make up the "Makin' Bacon" album.

Over the course of the years (1994-98) I was kicking out wild rock and roll and punky power pop with the Rockinghams, I was also doing solo guitar shows. That act started becoming an acoustic band, first with the addition of acoustic (standup) bassist John Sampson and his wife Polly on trumpet and Clayton Park on violin. That band became known as the Jim Basnight Thing, probably because it was such a different sound for what I had been known for, but it was still my "Thing" in every way.

In 1996 we recorded "Livin' a Lie" (with engineer Daniel Casado), adding to that lineup drummer Ben Smith (who had produced the Rockinghams), his wife Libby Torrance and Trumpet man Jim Knodle. After the passing of Paskow, Gruber (who was his executive producer) and I worked together on some of his recordings and in return he allowed me to record some of my songs with his studio band, which was comprised of Garey Shelton on bass (with whom I worked on the tracks for the musical "Little Rock" with Utting and co-composer Richard Gray on Piano) and Smith.

I also recorded an acoustic version of the Rockinghams tune "Lattes" (with Gray on piano) with much different lyrics for a Starbucks compilation called "Songs About Coffee", which was test marketed in Starbucks locations around the world, but never released, after the corporation decided to merge with Blue Note for their in-store music project. I got enough of a budget though, to record the better part of three other tracks with this band, which included Smith, Knodle, Park and Shelton.

Those tracks included "Don't Wait Up" (written originally with Alkes and finished with Gruber. The recording included Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain on hand percussion), "Mexico", "I'll Be There" (written with Gruber and featuring "Lightning" Joe Meyering on harmonica) and "Hell in A Nutshell" (which also featured Torrance on backing vocals). Gruber started a label at that time and asked me to work there and as part of my compensation, he allowed me to produce two sessions.

One was with Sampson on acoustic bass, Smith on drums, Park on violin, Torrance on backing vocals and Knodle on trumpet and included "Red Light Moon", "Cinderella Dreams" (written with Tommy Knight) and "Happy Birthday" (written with Gruber). The other was with Shelton on electric bass, Smith on drums, violinist Geoffrey Castle (a.k.a. Sick), Knodle on trumpet and Torrance on backing vocals. That second session included re-makes of the Moberlys "Alone with Her", "Elma" and "Summertime Again" (written with Rabinowitz) and "No More War" (written with Alkes).

Those 12 tracks made up the "Jim Basnight Thing" album, which came out before the Rockinghams "Makin' Bacon", but much of which was recorded after the Rockinghams had already been gigging for a good while. The Rockinghams released an EP and a number of tunes on compilations, prior, but the album came out a little over a year later. It also took a long time for the "Makin' Bacon" album to be released, as it was scheduled out ahead by the label Not Lame in Denver CO.

It was probably because I was working for Gruber's label, that I was able to get that going quicker. Gruber fell ill and his Band Together label was disbanded, but I was able to get ownership of the album and a small budget to press and promote it (which I did on my label), as part of my severance. Unfortunately, the Rockinghams weren't able to record a number of other cool songs that we were working on. We did demo versions of a number of them with Casado though.

Later on, when I was recording tracks for "Recovery Room", I was able to record six of them in 2003-04 with Hanan on bass, Smith on drums and Hazen on guitar. Those tunes were "Miss America" (written with Hanan), "Python Boogaloo" (with Hanan), "Microwave" (with Hanan), "Look Inside" (with Hanan), "Minute Just a Minute" (with Hanan) and "Ripple In The Bag" (with Hanan). "Recovery Room" took a long time, mostly because I was so busy, as was Garey Shelton, who co-produced and engineered it.

During this time, in between "Makin' Bacon" in 1999 and "Recovery Room" in 2004 I released the "Seattle-New York-LA" album (2001) and 12 different compilation tracks, including four tribute album tracks. I was also working all over a seven state area, as well as working as a middle agent, concert producer for casinos and fairs. Really busy and on the road constantly.

The bass playing was split on "Recovery Room" between Mikel Rollins (who has been the common denominator of the Jim Basnight Band, playing bass, as well as sax, flute, harmonica, percussion and guitar, over the course of the last 23 years) and Hanan. Rollins played bass on "Guilty" (written with Wheeler), "Something Peculiar" (with Gruber and Knodle), "The Heart", "Comfort Me" (with Andromeda Spitz, a then teenage girl I met in Stanwood WA, where I moved with my second wife Carol McConnell in 1999), "Brother Louie" (a Stories cover I recorded for a tribute to the Left Banke, which will be on the cover song album), "Riding Rainbows" (with Torrance), "Princess" and "Swoon" (written with Knodle and Hood).

Susan "Suze" Sims was all over "Recovery Room" and was primary female harmony vocalist in the live show for most of that 1998-2004 timeframe. She sang harmonies on every track. The late Marcella Carros also did a number of live shows, especially longer road trips in that time frame and sang on "Swoon", "Ripple in the Bag", "Minute Just a Minute", "Look Inside", "Python Boogaloo" and "Miss America".

Smith played drums on every track on "Recovery Room" except "Brother Louie" which featured Michael Slivka, who we loved for his deep groove funky feel. Slivka also played (along with Rollins, on the cover version of "You Showed Me" (the Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn tune, which the Turtles made a top-10 hit in 1968), which will be in the cover song album. Hazen played guitar on all of the Hanan co-writes, except "Microwave" and "Python" (Bruce sang harmonies on it though).

Rollins played flute on "Swoon". Knodle played trumpet and Castle played electric and acoustic violin on "Something Peculiar", "Microwave", "The Heart", "Comfort Me", "Brother Louie", "Riding Rainbows", "Princess" and "Swoon". I sang lead and backing vocals and played a variety of guitars, as I did on "Makin' Bacon" and "The Jim Basnight Thing".

"Recovery Room", which was never released with a cover and a bar code, never digitally released and was only sold on the bandstand at live shows, before the era of social media, is an album which deserves to be released officially, especially in today's musical environment. It is very deep and does not sound dated. Perhaps since the two covers will be taken off it, it could be released as a 12 song album. That's plenty of tunes and perhaps a remastering job could make a splash in the 2020's, as could "Thing", "Makin' Bacon", most of "Sexteen", "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles" and "Introducing".

None of those have been released digitally. The only CD's which have digital releases of any kind are "Not Changing", "Pop Top" and the 2008 career retrospect CD album "We Rocked and Rolled" from the NY based Disclosed Records label (it was their one and only release) are the only albums of mine which have been released digitally. Select songs from all of my albums prior to "Not Changing" (other than "Introducing") were included on "We Rocked and Rolled".

That leaves a lot of material, which has never had a chance to be shared digitally. A lot of potential digital singles. A lot of good tunes. A lot of good performances. A lot of rock and roll.

EC: After that you released 2 albums with old songs ("Seattle-NY-LA" in 2004 and "Introducing Jim Basnight" in 2012). What triggered that?

Jim Basnight: "Seattle-New York-Los Angeles" was actually 2001. The reason it came out, was because I wanted to follow up the "Sexteen" CD album, with one from the 2nd major version of the band, that being the one that lasted the longest and involved Dave Drewry as its common denominator. I explained that before and though there were a number of songs on the album which had been released in the 1980's on the "Sexteen" LP on Lolita, there was a good album's worth of tunes that weren't and none had been released digitally.

As far as "Introducing Jim Basnight" in 2012, it had been a long time, since "Recovery Room" CD album (2004), the "Jim Basnight and the Moberlys Pop Pleasure" LP (Rave Up Records Italy 2006), "Jim Basnight and the Moberlys Return" CD album (Wizzard-In-Vinyl Japan 2006) and "We Rocked and Rolled" CD album (Disclosed Records USA 2008). I wanted something new to sell at gigs that had new songs, a bunch of unreleased Moberlys and other cool selections.

Like "Recovery Room", it's never been released digitally or with a cover in stores, just sold off the band stand in clear jewel boxes, with all of the information imprinted on the disc. I think people would appreciate that in today's music business, as it were. I thought it would be a great album. I still think it's a very cool album. There are some tracks that have become live standards for the band, like "Sea of Blue" and "Bad and Beautiful" and we also like to do "Stay to the End".

"Stars in Time" (written with Knodle) is a tune that is begging for a comeback and also featured Rollins on flute. Just a cool feel that always gets people's attention. I'd love your impression of all of these tracks and tunes.

EC: In what way do I have to understand the title of your new album "Not Changing"?

Jim Basnight: It means what it means to you. The title song is open to interpretation and it could mean something very different to you than it means to me. I choose to leave it there. If anything, the album is a big change for creating rock and roll, from my perspective. To me, it was a very unusual method to record rock and roll and I really like the results. What co-producer Garey Shelton and I did, was record song demos with me on my acoustic guitar and vocal of over 40 songs. Around ten of them were covers.

Of those covers, all that ended up being recorded was a medley, which combined three of them. That one, titled "Prince Jones Davies Suite", is a medley of "April Snow" by Prince from the mid-80's, "Win" by Bowie from the mid-70's and "World Keeps Going' Round" by the Kinks from the mid-60's. What resulted, will be on the covers album in 2020 and I really like it.

The rest of the tunes, we listened to constantly over a period of weeks, until we arrived on 14, because that's how many the Beatles UK albums had. The next step was to record a great version of each song live, with me on the acoustic 12-string Ovation "Elite" guitar and lead vocal and Garey on bass. We cut those tracks, until we found that "magic" take of the song. Then we built the track up from there. The next thing we did was drums and Warburton did a phenomenal job of "hitting a moving target".

When you record without a click track or a drum machine, the track slows down and speeds up, does imperfect breaks and creates other human sounding moments. We wanted that as much as possible. Dave did a superb job and it took a lot of practice on his part to become such a seamless part of that end product. After that I cut all of my electric and acoustic guitar overdubs, then sang more vocals, most of them low harmonies, spoken and counterpoint.

Then Steve Aliment came in and sang all of his harmony vocals, most of them high harmonies, but some contrapuntal. After that, Bruce Hazen came in and added brilliant electric guitar on "Code to Live By", "Big Bang", "Avenue of the Star", "Making Love For A Living", "Never Get Lost" and "Prince Jones Davies Suite". Finally, Jay Phillips came in to do the DJ spoken part on the intro of "Living The Way I Want". I also did a few more backing vocals after that.

All of the electric guitars were played through the "Eleven" box. To summarize, we wanted this album to sound like it was recorded between 1968 and 1974. I think we did that and did so, with the help of digital technology, as far as editing and sound processing. Other than that, it was overtly contrary to the perfectly timed rhythm track and digitally built songs, I've come to believe impedes the voice in the human soul which creates song.

EC: One song on "Not Changing" is called "Kurt Cobain". Some people call you the forefathers of Grunge ("She Got Fucked"). Is this your confrontation with Grunge?

Jim Basnight: Kurt Cobain was a person I came close to working with. A mutual friend of ours suggested that I could possibly help him find his muse, as he was experiencing a writing block and that he really liked good pop. He said that it was a bad time for Kurt, as he was having a ton of personal problems and was being very difficult. He said that, hopefully in a month or so, he'd be in a space where that might make sense. Needless to say, that time never came.

It was sad that I never got a chance to meet him, whether or not we would have hit it off creatively. I wrote this song, because I feel like behind the legend was a person there, who was obviously gifted, driven and tragically flawed. He wasn't, isn't and won't be the only one, but I wanted to share my feelings about him and his unique musical legacy. Mostly, I feel it is good song that is uplifting and subtle. It's also open to interpretation. It could mean anything to anyone.

I also feel it is a different song which gives the album another texture and a rock and roll story to boot. Rock and Roll, as I'll expand up on much more in my "Sonny Boy Williamson" biography, is chartered by a series of archetypes. "Sonny Boy" (Alex Miller) "ran with" a number of people in the Mississippi "Delta" in the 1930's who went on to fame and legend. Some are well known. Some are yet to be recognized for their importance. One was Robert Johnson, the most legendary among them.

He died a mysterious, rather rock and roll death, at the age of 27. So did Kurt and a number of other notables. When I was in Mississippi, as the Grammy Museum in Cleveland MS, there was an exhibit. It showed the "Arc of Rock and Roll" and started with the early electric blues players and how they set the blueprint truly for rock and roll in the late 1930's and early 40's. "Sonny Boy" was represented there.

The Arc continued left to right, though the birth of R+B, rock and roll, rockabilly, the golden age of rock and roll, renewal via the British Invasion, Motown, Psychedelia, FM-Rock, Woodstock, Soul, Southern Rock, Glam, Progressive, Funk, Mega-Tours, Punk, Disco, New Wave, MTV, Heavy Metal, Rap, Alternative and finally Grunge. It stated that Kurt was the "Last Rock Star". That was also part of the meaning behind my song.

I think behind my song is a nagging hope that, it doesn't have to be that way and perhaps by understanding this history, one could extend the arc of rock and roll indefinitely.

EC: One should listen to your new album because..........(finish the sentence)

Jim Basnight: It is something different and created for the love of rock and roll.

EC: A good song needs........ (finish the sentence)

Jim Basnight: Someone who thinks it?s good, because it makes them feel something very intense or true to life.

EC: How far is your multimedia project about Sonny Boy Williamson"? What made you start this?

Jim Basnight: It goes back to the beginnings of who I am. It's the story of rock and roll until 1965, when I was just starting to be aware of it. I got a transistor radio, started collecting records, started trying to play songs on the guitar and saw the Beatles movie "Help". Those were all things that happened the year "Sonny Boy" passed on. His story is what happened up to that point.

The first blues record happened in 1920 at the time when he played his first public performance at the "Black" church on the plantation he lived from age one through 17. It was also only 100 years ago. This is all very new and his story, led us through the birth of radio, jukeboxes, records, record players, the unraveling of Jim Crow, DJ's, R+B, rockabilly, rock and roll, television, the civil rights movement, the British Invasion and finally the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts.

A friend, who passed on in early 2017, did a bunch of research on "Sonny Boy" in the 90's, but left it dormant for about ten years. He got the funding to move it forward, but could not physically do the work, so he reached out to me. I worked on filling out his research, while doing research of my own for five years, but when he passed on, his family didn't want to do what we had planned to finish the project. I continued in 2017-19 compiling research, as I could within the time I had available.

I've recently found funding to finish my own biography on the subject. It will chronicle Miller's life story and musical legacy and will be based solely on my research, including leads that my friend and many others gave me and published material unearthed by others. I also have nearly 100 filmed interviews that I produced and intend to complete a documentary on "Sonny Boy" based on the story.

I also intend to create a pilot and a season of episodes for a dramatic series based on the story, as I believe the story fits that platform best. There are so many interesting personalities and famous names he crossed paths with and so much history, where he was front and center. It's a story that must be told and I feel I am uniquely situated to tell it.

I'm hoping to attract the funding to do the documentary and the show bible for the series, but for now I'm solely focused on the biography, which I will deliver in 2020. I think it is a very important story that will serve to bring forward the truth about a lot of things to a lot of people, in regards to American Music History and African American History. I am determined to give it everything I have to offer.

EC: How far is the original cast album for your rock musical "Little Rock"? When came the idea for this?

Jim Basnight: It's finished. I would just need to master it, just like the covers album. It is my intention to release it in 2020. It just depends on what my time and resources allow me to do. It is also an important story about the integration of the first public high school in a major city in the "Deep South" in 1957, on the heels of the Brown v. Board of Education in the US Supreme Court in 1954.

It is set to music, which was my department, along with co-composer Richard Gray and touches on the music of the Mississippi "Delta" (blues, country and gospel), which is really the core of what gave birth to rock and roll. It's of course musical theater styled and a definite nod to 50's pop. I feel that the songs stand the test of time, since it was recorded, immediately after the original cast production closed its run in Seattle in 1995.

It also had theatrical runs in Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Little Rock and a few others, but was such a big production, it was hard to get off the ground. I think the subject matter is more timely now, as we move into the 2020's. It may be suitable for a re-written revival, but regardless, the music needs to be heard. I recently got the word that I can release it on my Precedent label and I look forward to seeing if people agree with me once they hear it and perhaps read the script.

The idea for this was not mine, but in fact Director Linda Hartzell, from Seattle Children's Theater who produced it in the mid-90's. But I now see the potential of this show more than ever and am going to give fans of my music, those who are interested in this historical topic and today's theater pros a chance to experience it.

EC: You had some up and downs in your career. What kept you going?

Jim Basnight: Really simple. My grandfather told me that self-respect and persistence was what mattered in life and as I grew up, I found it to be true. I saw a number of people, give up dreams for practical, rational paths. I saw a number of people destroy their souls in self-destructive ways. After doing a few side trips I realized that, rock and roll was what made me happy and that if I was persistent and worked very hard, I could play rock and roll and have a lot of other deeply important experiences.

Those experiences included raising a child, maintaining a home and being part of a loving family. To me there is no such thing as bad luck. It all boils down to persistence and keeping your focus until the goals and dreams you imagine take shape. I've been very happy to have seen that happen and continue to happen in my life. I believe, I really do, that the most successful phase of my career is in front of me. One friend of mine said I am the most optimistic rocker of all-time.

That my theme song was "Live in the Sun", a song of buoyant, even manic optimism, was emblematic of my musical and theatrical identity. I'd like to think my songs and my persona are much more complex than that, as a whole and that song is not my best number, if I had to pick one. But that assessment of who I am, does not bother me.

EC: What was the highpoint of your career?

Jim Basnight: There are so many great moments. I would never change a thing. I've made mistakes, but at the heart of my missteps were me doing what I believed to be right and standing my ground for what I honestly felt was important. Too many ups and downs to mention any one, but I guess it comes down to one moment. When I first started to write songs and really hit my stride doing it in around 1976, that was such an empowering feeling and it defined who I was and where I belong in the world.

The Kinks tune, "This Is Where I Belong" is almost my theme song and I'm glad to say that Hanan, Hazen, Warburton and I recorded it in 2018 and that it will appear on the covers album in 2020.

EC: And as a last question: What is your favorite Christmas song?

Jim Basnight: "Sleigh Ride" is the song I like playing the most of all of the big Christmas songs and this is a really cool version by the Ella Fitzgerald. The Ronettes did it, which is much more rock and roll, but they never went to the bridge, which I love too. Sing it Ella: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmNRWQJmdFs

Jim Basnight Not Changing (Precedent Records)