By Rosine Alleva, José Oliveira, Journalist/Photographers – Rock At Night France, Switzerland
What an amazing afternoon ! First of all being chosen to give an exclusive interview with my favorite female singer, BETH HART!! My first reaction was„Oh my God“…. I quickly gave a call to José to give him that great news and we met a few hours later to go to the Baloise Session where we were expected for the interview. We arrived at the venue and I directly heard that great voice coming from the stage. Beth Hart was ending the sound check….
I must say I was quite intimidated before she came….And when she entered the room? Beth Hart is such a nice and natural person that we ended having kind of a “female conversation”…nearly like old friends.
RAN– Hi, what a fantastic evening to come, You and Buddy Guy, a perfect combination!
I worn my best tee-shirt to meet you…
BETH HART– Oh… Rock Angel….(reading my tee shirt). I love your pants and those socks are so cute too!
That was the introduction…..Loved that start….
RAN– BUDDY GUY was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2012 and your performance on “I’d rather go blind” with JEFF BECK, received a standing ovation, led by President Barack OBAMA and his wife, Michelle! Was this when you started to approach Buddy Guy more?
BETH HART– Actually his producer came up to me when I did…. ERIC CLAPTON has a thing he does every couple of years at Madison Square Garden (Crossroasds Guitar Festival) for to raise money for sobriety. So there is a tonne of artists to come out. And I was there with Jeff Beck and then backstage I bumped into Buddy Guy’s producer. He said “we have a song I would love you to do a thing with Buddy, why don’t you come back and meet him ?” So I went back and met him and it was wonderful. And I ended up recording in a studio in L.A. and Buddy had already sung the track, then I was singing. So we were doing a duet. That’s how it happened yeah.
RAN– The title of that song was “What you gonna do about me” right?
BH– Yeah, that’s it!….Singing “What you gonna do about meee”
RAN– I love that song, you know I love duos, especially duos with people meant to meet!
BH– Yes, oh nice! Thank you I’m such a huge fan. I remember the first time I ever saw him we were at the Fillmore in San Francisco when I have 23, 24. It was my first time being on the road like that, going to San Francisco, I hadn’t done that. I was up at a balcony and I looked out and I see this kid playing guitar. I said to my friend “Look at that fifteen year old kid being able to play the guitar like that, how does he do that?!!“ He said”that’s not a fifteen years old kid! That’s BUDDY GUY!” (Laughs). And at the time he was I think, like in his late forties or fifties, but his energy was so amazing that I just assumed he was a teenager you know! And that was the first time I ever heard or seen him….
RAN– Talking about energy, let‘s talk about yours! It’s absolutely incredible, you’re just amazing!
BH– Well you know when I was younger I had a lot more energy up there. But now I‘ve noticed that I have to pace myself more. I swim to help, I do medication for bipolarity that also slows everything down, it has to, so I can function. But I kind of like, what’s happened is being forced to having less manic energy, has forced me to have more feminine, classy energy side out of me that I never had before. My energy was very male when I was younger, very aggressive.
RAN– I kind of could see this through some of your videos… And I know bipolarity is very difficult to control…
BH– Yes! Now the medications have gotten better than years ago but not good enough…
So I mix with it a vitamin therapy that 2 Canadian doctors came up with because four of their children were all bipolar 1. That‘s what I am, I‘m bipolar 1, I lean more to a sort of mania. All their children were on medication and still two killed themselves….So they said “this medicine is not good enough, we have to add something”. And they created a fantastic vitamine therapy. I started this vitamin therapy four years ago….I’ve never been that stable in my all life since I was a young girl, and I don’t even take that much bipolar médecine. I only take a quarter of the amount I used to take. It’s unbelievable.
RAN– And a good therapy is music as well I guess…
BH– Music and meditation and exercise, and being around people that are compassionate, sensitive and not overworking. I don’t work like I used to work, I‘m on the road a lot but I don‘t do a lot of shows a week, so that work load is less.
RAN– Would you prepare us a surprise tonight? Like a duet with Buddy Guy?
BH– No….you know why? I would have loved to but they didn’t let us know, so I never had the chance to revisit the material and learn it, it‘s too little time…for him too.
RAN– I understand. You did a lot of collaborations with SLASH, with JEFF BECK, with JOE BONAMASSA, …who else would you love to work with?
BH– I just had something, like about a week and a half ago, I did a duet with ERIC GALES. I‘m a HUGE ERIC GALES fan. And we covered a Beatles song, we did more the version that Joe Cocker did. „With a little help from my friends“. Eric playing is so great and I love his voice. But ERIC GALES to me is one of my favorite guitar players on the planet! He’s just amazing! So yeah, we are excited about that!
RAN– Talking about musicians, is it easy, interesting to regularly work with different musicians?
BH– I have different musicians every time I make a record cause I usually work with a different producer for every record. Rarely I‘ve repeated but not often. And so what happens is, the producers have musicians that they know very well, many. Then they select a group that they think will be best for the particular material that are turned in. So it’s really interesting and wonderful cause they’re usually always pro. But with my life, I haven‘t had many musicians, I always stick with the same guys for quite some time.
Like Jon has been with me 20 years, Bill Ransom goes back when I was 27 but then he left because of my drug addiction and he came back into my life 6 years ago now. And then Bob Marinelli 5 years with me now. But before that, I was for years with another drum and bass. So yo usually stick with my family.
RAN– So interesting! You must have different feelings each time you record with new musicians!
BH– Yes, and it‘s easier for the producers cause they know these musicians so well so they can say exactly what they want. I don’t say much cause I work so hard at writing the material, the music and all the arrangements, everything I‘ve written . So we turn it in and maybe the producer shifts it a little….But it pretty much is so. I don’t need to say anything. I stay out of their way.
RAN– Would you intend to record an album of original songs with JOE BONAMASSA?
BH– I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen. Because when I do my original stuff is with me and when he does his original stuff it’s with him. But he also does his original stuff with Black Country Communion…I think that the all reason why he and I got together in the first place was his idea for us to do covers of great soul, rock, blues and jazz songs. And I think that‘s a really nice thing. You know we just did our third album that we’ll released. So I think that might be it. We might do something again in the future but 3 records that’s a lot.
RAN– I would really love to talk with you the rest of the afternoon….You’re so amazing, just wonderful! Here’s my very last question…Why was your first solo gig at London’s Union Chapel the most terrifying experience of your entire life?
BH– Oh, my first gig at London‘s Union Chapel? Ooooh, oooh….so terrified and angry at my manager cause I thought he was doing it to try to humiliate me and terrorize me. My bipolar
kicked in about that cause you know, stress can make a little manic energy come and I only get sober coming up for about a year at that time, cause I got sober again later in life. I’m almost 4 years now. And I just thought “I am just not good enough to be on my own”. And a lot of times I even feel I’m not good enough with my own band, so I have a lot of stage frights also with that. I love it but I’m also terrified at the same time. But alone, it was just horrible. The first 6 songs, it was just like if someone was killing me!!!
And then all of a sudden, I sung a song called “Spirit of God” and I came out of it man and I loved it till the rest of the show, loved it!!! But then, when my manager tried to book me again for that, I said this is too much stress. Maybe later in my life when I’m older I will graduate to a level of not being so freaking insecure…..I don’t know though, cause it’s like partying the freaking sea you know…but right now it’s just so stressful, I’m scared!
RAN– What about tonight?
BH– Tonight I’m gonna do a few things alone on the piano but I will have my band with me most of the time. Yes, my friends…but even though, I’m scared…
RAN– We’re here for you, with you. Thank you for sharing these amazing moments, looking forward to seeing you on stage.
BH– Thank you so much, you’re so sweet. Hope you’ll like it…
We LOVED IT!!!! …. HAPPY NEW YEAR BETH!!!
Wishing all the best for 2019 to Beatrice Stirnimann, Lena Knoblich, and everyone at Baloise Session! Many thanks for this exceptional evening!
From Belgian and Italian parents, I grew up with music, dance and big fun! I love singing since I'm a little girl, I still am, haha. When I was 14, I saw my first concert: T-Rex. Later it was FrankZappa, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Fela, Canned Heat, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Earth, Wind and Fire ....
I dreamed to have a chat with each of them 😀 Before interviewing bands, I used to sing (and still do) and met lots of great musicians. I had the chance to be the support band to Joe Cocker in 2007. I love to communicate and meet people (Italian blood).
Working for magazine, a few years ago, l met José Oliveira! We were working at the same festival in Colmar. 2 people from the South with the same passion just recognized each other...and we stayed in contact since then. Here I am! Enjoying concerts, covering interviews and articles with José for Rock at Night!!