Posts Tagged ‘Musicians’

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Interviewing Southside Johnny

August 23, 2013
John Bathke Interviews Southside Johnny

John Bathke Interviews Southside Johnny

Had an uncommonly candid, revealing interview today with Southside Johnny.  The singer/songwriter doesn’t do that many interviews but agreed to sit down with me at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.  We talked music and about his private life in a way that is going to surprise even those people who know him well.

The interview will run in  a few weeks in our next “ON THE SCENE” special and I’ll write much more about the interview, then. For now, just keeping you all up to date!

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Lewis Black, Chris Botti and Chaplin On Broadway..This Weekend

October 9, 2012

A new ON THE SCENE will be on this weekend and it includes my interviews with comedian Lewis Black whose play “One Slight Hitch” just opened at George Street Playhouse.  Along with musician Chris Botti and Rob McClure who plays silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin in the Broadway musical, “Chaplin.”

It’s an eclectic mix of extraordinary talent so tune in News 12 New Jersey this Saturday and Sunday October 13th and 14th at 8:30 am, 11:30 am and 4:30 pm each day.

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Andrew Lloyd Webber And Why It’s The Music Of The Night

July 2, 2011

I was just watching Andrew Lloyd Webber on Piers Morgan and he was asked why Broadway is doing well right now. His response was interesting even though he didn’t answer the question. Webber (“Cats,” “Evita,” “The Phantom of the Opera”) said he thinks people go to Broadway because they crave the live experience and seeing other people respond to what’s happening. He likened it to going to a restaurant and enjoying the food and people watching.

That is the answer a theatre professional always gives to that question.  The “live theatre is indispensable,  lifts us from the depths of despair, gives people a shared moment in time and so they will always come” answer.

No, they won’t. 

Broadway is expensive, a long trip for most of the people buying those tickets, and they want to be entertained.  Their showing up is not a given. It’s only worth it to them if they like the show.

If Broadway has edgy, compelling, entertaining shows that people actually want to see, then it’s no problem selling tickets. It’s the best thing for all of New York City and the best thing that can happen to American theatre. “Book of Mormon” is the perfect example. It’s appealing to men and women, who seem to find it hysterically funny in equal measure, yet  it doesn’t care that it offends some people.

When Broadway has fresh material that takes risks but gives people a story that they can get into and puts entertainment first…well, that’s the definition of a hit.  A show that doesn’t, that’s what you call a flop.  Or if it’s off-Broadway, an experiment.

If I wanted a history lesson I’d take a class. If I wanted to resolve angst over the moral wrongs of the ages I’d  meditate with the monks.

When I want to be entertained, moved, swept away into another place and time and marvel at the talents of my fellow human beings,  I go to the theatre.

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Remembering Clarence Clemons

June 19, 2011

A larger than life figure has left the stage. Clarence Clemons has died.

Tonight I’m thinking not only about the incredible sound he gave to the greatest songs of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, but about the times I interviewed Clarence.

The last time I interviewed him, in the fall of 2009, the signs were unfortunately apparent that his body was failing him. I remember waiting for him to arrive at a book store, where he was signing his memoir. I was scheduled to interview him before the signing. As he walked in I was shocked at the change in his appearance in just one year since I’d interviewed him last. Clarence had a hard time walking, moving carefully with a cane and was much thinner than I had ever seen him.

We shook hands and like he did with everyone,  he greeted me as if we were old friends…he had a warm familiarity with the whole world it seemed.  But the short distance he stepped to the space to the locations for the interview had left him very short of breath and I remember getting concerned how he could keep up the hectic schedule of a book tour.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to interview him..once backstage at a concert and then at the book signing. It is impossible to imagine the E Street Band without him. Impossible. But knowing the dedication of E Street Band fans they’ll find a way to keep him alive when Bruce Springsteen decides to take the band on tour once again.

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A Moment With Clarence Clemons

June 14, 2011

I’ve interviewed Clarence Clemons twice and today I’ve been thinking a lot about those moments after I heard he’d suffered a stroke.

I first met him in 2008, backstage, the Meadowlands, right before going on stage to join Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band, which was in the midst of a world tour.  He pulled up in a golf cart, I remember him glimmering in a black and gold stage ensemble that included an enormous hat and cape,  with a smile so wide it seemed to stretch from the New Jersey Highlands to the southern shore..and then he slowly rose from the cart and sauntered up to shake my hand. I’m six feet tall,  so I’m not used to anyone towering over me, but he did.

“What’s it like to be in front of a home state crowd,” I asked.

“It’s like the everything we’ve done all over the world was leading up to tonight.  You always want to look good, but you especially want to look good in front of your own people.”

The next time I interviewed Clarence was in the fall of 2009. His memoir was just out and I talked to him before a book signing. His appearance had changed in the short time since we first spoke. He’d lost weight, was walking slowly with a cane and seemed short of breath. He’d recently had knee surgery I was told, and he wanted to reassure the fans that he was alright. He said he knew people were worried about his health but asked they please not be.

There’s a moment in that 2009 interview that I love, because it says so much about Clarence.  He’s been interviewed a million times and I wanted to throw a curve, I wanted to get Clarence into a spontaneous moment. So I asked a question in a lighthearted way, with a little laughter, “do you ever come off stage (with the E Street Band) and say, ‘God, there was a clinker in there tonight?”

“Never!  This band does not make mistakes. There are no clinkers in the E Street Band.” A pause and then, “and if something does happen on strange notice we call it jazz and move on.”

To me that answer shows his humor, his belief in the quality of his group’s musicianship,  and his unflinching pride in the legacy of an incredible rock n roll band, which he helped shape from the very start.

And I know millions of people tonight are wishing The Big Man a full recovery.