Today, singer/songwriter/producer/guitar player extraordinaire Eric “Roscoe” Ambel took time from his busy schedule to chat with me about current events in his life.
Dave: Hi, Roscoe. Are you currently touring or recording with Steve Earle and the Dukes?
Roscoe: We recorded the new Earle record titled “The Revolution Starts…..Now” late this spring. Record comes out Aug 24. I’m pretty excited about it. You can hear 3 tunes at www.steveearle.com
We start touring Oct 13th in Nashville.
Dave: You’re a busy man, having played in the Dukes for several years now, continued to produce records, you’re touring both solo acoustic and with The Roscoe Trio, the latter two on the heals of the release of your terrific new “Knucklehead” record with guests the Bottle Rockets, Martin’s Folly, Yahoos, and Steve Earle. Just how do you do it all?
Roscoe: With VOLUME of course. It’s been a blast to play so much of my own music this summer with Chip Robinson and a bunch of different guys playing bass and drums. I’ve been working on some very cool records. The new Chris Harford record “Time Warp Deck” comes out real soon. You can check out some tunes at www.chrisharford.com
I’ve also finished records by Kasey Anderson, Mark McKay and Joe Flood.
We’ve also got a new Yayhoos record about 85% finished. Its called “Put the Hammer Down” and we hope to release it early in 2005
Dave: I LOVE Chris Harford’s music, as you know. And Joe Flood…fantastic!
I was thrilled to learn that your new label, Lakeside Lounge Records, reissued your first two solo records (which I have on vinyl, baby!). 1988’s “Roscoe’s Gang” was performed with the core band of Springfield, Missouri’s Morells, with Syd Straw and Peter Holsapple as guests. Your second, 1994’s “Loud & Lonesome” features songs written with Kevin Salem, Dan Zanes, Dan Baird, and Terry Anderson, with Andy York playing. Rolling Stone magazine called “Roscoe’s Gang” “The record Keith Richards should have made.” So why did it take you so long to release a new record?
Roscoe: My first 2 solo records have been unavailable almost since they came out. I had the rights to “Loud & Lonesome” but it was very difficult to track down the rights to “Roscoe’s Gang”. After I finally got the rights I got both records re-mastered. Mastering has come a long way since ’88. And I also worked hard on the packaging, tracking down pictures and writing liner notes.
It took me a while to realize that I needed to put out this stuff that I had hanging around. Let it be its own record. I figured if I put it out it would clean the slate so I could work fresh on some new stuff.
Dave: I was in New England recently, and on Cape Cod and throughout Massachusetts could not find a long john. Having come from Wisconsin I know you know what one is, so what’s up with that in New England? No long johns?
Roscoe: You have to savor your Long Johns when you have the chance. Now that you have traveled outside of the greater Long John axis you’ll probably never look at them the same!
Dave: Do you prefer Dum-Dums or Tootsie Roll Pops?
Roscoe: Whoppers actually, but I’m off the stuff.
Dave: You kick-started your career playing in Joan Jett’s Blackhearts. Did Joan ever make a move on you? I mean, if I was a girl…nevermind.
Roscoe: We played on the same team Dave.
Dave: Switching many gears, your wife, the gorgeous and fabulous Mary Lee Kortes, has a stellar band of her own, Mary Lee’s Corvette. Her debut remains one of my favorite records. I was thrilled to learn that she got the nod from Joe Jackson to tour with his band overseas last year. What an honor! I understand that she’s recently recorded a song with Jay Bennett. Did you produce that one? And does the band have a new record in the works that you’re producing and playing on?
Roscoe: Glad you liked Mary Lee’s debut. The song that Mary Lee recorded w Jay Bennet is a live track. Mary Lee is writing new songs this summer and she’s been playing at the 11th street bar.
Dave: Both you and Mary Lee are from the Midwest, and your hometown is part of the beautiful tri-city area of the Illinois Fox River Valley where I now live (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia). What do you miss most about Illinois and Wisconsin (God’s country)?
Roscoe: I miss bratwurst and I miss those potato rolls too. This summer when visiting Lake Geneva/Fontana Wisconsin for my sister’s wedding I realized that my home up there was situated in one of the most fabulous road cycling areas in the USA! Fantastic rolling hills, deserted stretches of brand new blacktop crossing through the cornfields… I may have to return! Now the Tri-Cities is a different story… Its real nice but it seems like its been almost annexed into Chicago compared to the small town Batavia I grew up in…. but they do have some nice bike trails there too.
Dave: Have any famous people recently bellied up to the bar at your Lakeside Lounge in Manhattan’s East Village, home to the world’s best jukebox?
Roscoe: Happens all the time, but in NYC everybody’s famous. We did host Cameron Diaz’s birthday party recently and Ryan Adams brought his pretty girlfriend Parker Posey to my gig a few weeks ago.
Dave: What are you doing this weekend?
Roscoe: Riding my bike and also heading up to Boston for a gig with the Roscoe Trio at TT The Bears.
Dave: Hey, thanks, ‘Scoe! You are a real nice guy…
Roscoe: Ditto Dave
np Eric Ambel & Roscoe’s Gang: “Frozen Head St. Park Song”