This month, I chose to interview a great Georgia musical artist, Randall Bramblett. I have always admired his work and find that his music is compelling and thoughtful. The recordings have great depth and atmosphere. The lyrics are poignant and the melodies are memorable. He enjoys a larger than life stature in the Middle Georgia area but is respected by fans and artists all over the world.
Joey: Tell me a little bit about your new record.
Randall: "Juke Joint At The Edge Of The World" (release date 7-7-17). I wanted this album to be a little bit more like the band was live to give the band a chance to improvise and try to recreate the energy we have on stage in front of an audience.
Joey: Did you still use click tracks or were your trying to create a live in studio album?
Randall: We still used click tracks because we like to edit; while we had all the structures worked out, we didn't worry about preconceived ideas about solos; we had a little bit more of a jam as opposed to specific musical goals.
Joey: What about the live performance are you trying to capture?
Randall: I wanted to have a greater sense of improvisation.
Joey: What material lyrically are you covering on this album?
Randall: I assumed a couple of character roles on this album.
On "Pot Hole on Main Street", I am a man in a neighborhood that is deteriorating and instead of complaining I'm going to have to fix it myself because no one else is going to do it. On "Plan B", I am a guy with no backup plan and just going out on faith. "Trippy Little Thing" is a song about how my wife and I first met. "Garbage Man" is about me growing up in an idyllic small Georgia town but the garbage man character represents reality intruding into my illusion into this "perfect little town" that really isn't perfect. "I Just Don't Have the Time" is about people who talk forever and you just can't get away from them. You'd like to get to know someone but "who has the time". It is a bit of a whimsical, sarcastic piece. "Mali Katra"-the title, which becomes its chorus-I dreamt it. The word means nothing but I dreamed that I saw a bunch of vultures sitting on a cell phone tower and I thought that whoever got a call from that tower that it wasn't going to be a good day for them. Made me reflect on life, life after death and technology. I went for an eastern flavor, employing some raga melodic and rhythmic structures.
Joey: You need a little raga in your life; you're way too cool for just 12 notes.
Randall: Sometimes 12 is too many. (Laughing)
Joey: I was recently asked to recall my first creative act. Do you remember your first creative act?
Randall: I was in junior high school and had been reading a lot of Robert Frost and wrote my first poem that I thought was good about an old couple sitting on a front porch. I had a real sense of exhilaration and I thought for the first time that I could be a writer.
Joey: If I remember correctly, you have a master's degree in social work. I know you played music throughout senior high. Did you go to college immediately or did you stop to pursue music?
Randall: I went to college after high school and never thought that I would be a musician. I just played in bands on the weekend for fun and to get a little extra money. After I graduated from college, I started writing more and playing in bands more seriously and this was a very impulsive time for me. I ended up moving to Macon, Georgia, and sleeping in a tent by the river to play with some of the great Macon bands that were really creating a new sound and style. The first band I joined was called Cowboy. From that I moved on to Sea Level and then Gregg Allman and Friends.
Joey: Did you feel like back in the 70s when your career was getting started in earnest, was it important to live in a specific place that would nurture art?
Randall: Yes. That's why I moved to Macon. I now live in Athens, GA, and I feel like Athens is a very supportive area for musical art in particular. Even with technology and the world getting smaller, it is still important to find a place that nurtures creativity and has a sense of community.
Joey: What is your writing process? How do you create?
Randall: I enjoy co-writing with other talented artists but I tend to sit in my house in the woods and write a lot by myself. I don't necessarily prefer it but that's how it has worked out. I didn't want to move to Nashville and a lot of my other cowriters live in other states and we just don't get together like we used to so I end up writing a lot by myself.
Joey: Let's talk about the music business side of things. Without specific detail, are you making more, less or the same in today's market as you did fifteen years ago?
Randall: Revenue for musicians is down. Venues don't pay as much as they used to. Record labels don't spend as much as they used to on developing and promoting artists. I have to do a lot of music business work myself, instead of having a manager-I do a lot of the day to day business for myself. Revenue-wise, it is basically the same. When I was touring with Steve Winwood as a side man, I made a lot more money but had little personal recognition of my art. Now I have a lot more people thinking of me as an artist rather than a side man. So the trade-off between recognition of my art and a little less pay is worth it to me. One of the things that has helped me make up the difference is on the publishing side of song writing because Bonnie Raitt has recorded two of my songs-"Used to Rule the World" and "God is in the Water".
Joey: How do you split up your time between the three primary aspects of musical art: writing, performing and business?
Randall: I really have to spend a lot of time on the business aspect because I can't afford to hire anyone else to do it. I also make sure to dedicate time every week to the creative process of writing and recording in my home studio. I am really focused on growing my live audience so the band tries to perform and tour as much as we can. It is very difficult to balance all three aspects.
Joey: is there anything else you would like to share about your art, your craft, your record or anything people need to know?
Randall: If you want to be an artist-keep working at it consistently.
Here is the link for Randall's album "Juke Joint At The Edge of The World" https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/juke-joint-at-the-edge-of-the-world/1231974449