Kenny Roby has been one of my favorite songwriters for the past twenty years, since I first interviewed him for a now defunct music magazine for the release of his excellent solo album, Mercury’s Blues. That led me to one of my all-time favorite albums, High Hat, by his then former band, 6 String Drag. There is so much soul and musical diversity in that album – Americana that wanders from New Orleans to Texas, a bit of punk, with a ton of swing and bounce. Roby continued that roving sound on his solo albums, and I have remained a fan ever since.
I was happy when the band got back together a couple of years ago, and I’m even more happy now that it has stuck. Earlier this year, the band released a re-mastered version of High Hat plus a great new album called Top of the World. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up with Roby and talk about the new album and High Hat. When I catch up with Roby, he has just gotten off work, and we talk about the work-life balance of an independent artist. As you’ll hear later in the interview, Roby is working hard at tipping this much more toward the art, which isn’t easy, even for someone with as wonderful catalogue as he has. One of the more interesting parts of the conversation came when we talked about internalizing influences, sounds, and riffs, and how impressionable your creative brain can be. “You’ve got to be careful,” says Roby, “if you listen to bad music, you’ll write it.” We also talked about how some of the best music is meant more to be felt than understood. Explaining a song, as we talked about, can be like trying to figure out what the Mona Lisa is thinking.
Our featured track this week comes from a new album from Domenico Lancellotti. Lancellotti, son of composer Ivor Lancellotti, is a multi-instrumentalist who has played with the likes of Gil Gilberto and Caetano Veloso, will release his solo album The Good Is A Big God on May 11. Enjoy this preview of the lead track, “Asas.”
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