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Sixty seconds

with... veteran bluesman John Hammond


Indy: Your 2001 CD, Wicked Grin, was a departure. Instead of blues tunes, you did a cross-section of Tom Waits songs, with Waits himself producing the album. How do you look back on that project?

Hammond: It was different from anything I'd ever done. It introduced me to a lot of Tom Waits fans, who perhaps had not ever heard of me before. So it was very dynamic in that sense ... I just felt really honored that Tom would lend himself to this project so completely.

Indy: More recently, your Ready for Love had songs by some non-blues artists like George Jones. It looks like you wanted to focus on blues again on your current CD, In Your Arms Again. True?

Hammond: I did. I felt that my last recording, Ready for Love , was experimental in a lot of ways. I did some George Jones songs and a Freddie Hart tune, which was unlike anything I'd ever done before, a Jerry Portnoy song, "I Can't Remember to Forget." There was some interesting material ... so it was time to get back to what I do all the time I mean, real blues.

Indy: In Your Arms Again features some songs by well-known bluesmen. Was there anything conscious in the choice of covers?

Hammond: Well these are songs, you know, that I just feel a part of somehow. I've admired these artists for all the years I've been around. I've had some extraordinary chances to work with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy [Waters] and John Lee Hooker, of course, and countless artists that I met in the early '60s, artists like Son House and Bukka White. So it was a lot of fun just to go for it again.

Alan Sculley

At Jimbo's Take 2, Sept. 21.

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