Charlie Sexton is an extraordinary gifted artist, whose lifetime musical odyssey has profoundly touched, as well as likewise been charted, by the extraordinary circumstances, fate, and people of music legend, legend of which the revered Sexton has often arguably been a part of himself.
You may not have heard of Bob Boykin, but it’s a near certainty that you have heard him play. It’s always inspiring and equally uncanny how some guitarists have the creative juice to produce work that can fit into a broad spectrum of the performing arts. Bob Boykin has been a “go to” session player in Los Angeles and Nashville and a performing artist with some of the country’s top acts. He has also written an impressive body of music that regularly finds its way into top television programs and commercials as well as major motion pictures.
It’s a bright Spring day, the sun shining, as Lickona, a genuine, affable, and now, a longtime native Texan, chats with me from his true home, his office at PBS affiliate KLRU in Austin, Texas, home to “Austin City Limits”. Lickona begins with how “Austin City Limits” all came about. Its inception was the brainchild of its original creator, Bill Arhos. Arhos was already the Program Manager for the local PBS affiliate.
The year 2000 was more than a celebration of the new millennium. It’s a two-fold celebration for the prestigious internationally televised, PBS, live music showcase, “Austin City Limits”, simultaneously broadcasting its 25th Anniversary and season, as well as beginning taping of it’s 26th season. No small feat in the age of the Internet, MTV, and pop culture quick disposability. What sets this program apart, what has defined it and has allowed it to endure, is its sheer nurturing love of all styles of music, and the multi-talented musicians who continually weave its multi-textured fabric.
In May of 2000, I was deeply honored to interview in great detail and depth the venerable and esteemed producer, Terry Lickona of the prestigious, internationally televised, PBS, live music showcase “Austin City Limits”. ACL was celebrating its 25th Anniversary at the time, so we discussed the show’s fascinating and insightful musical history, which includes hosting and showcasing some of music’s most legendary guitar players and music artists. The show does that even more so to this day, highlighting and branching out to a wide international and far-reaching array of music artists and music styles.
There is something to be said for capturing music live, in the moment, with all the excitement of the band caught in the thrill of the song and the crowd cheering them on to new heights of inspiration. Blues guitarist Todd Wolfe is no stranger to the stage, and he recently brought that experience to a new live CD and DVD, aptly titled The Todd Wolfe Band Live. The album is a blues tour de force that features Wolfe’s powerhouse trio at the peak of their inspiration and technical facility.
In July 2002, I was honored to interview the legendary Jorma Kaukonen, discussing his critically acclaimed acoustic roots album, Blue Country Heart, which featured a glittering all-star ensemble of bluegrass luminaries backing up Jorma, including Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Sam Bush on mandolin, Bela Fleck on banjo, and Byron House on upright bass. The album went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award® and showcased Jorma’s deep affection and reverence for, and origins in, Americana roots music stylings.
Todd Rundgren has gone through many musical phases in his long career. He started out with the blues, got into garage rock for a bit with the group Nazz, and then began his solo career, which had people hailing him as “the new pop-wunderkind” after the release of his 1972 gold-certified double LP Something/Anything?. Later on, Rundgren got more into psychedelia and progressive rock with his band Utopia.
Guitarist Robben Ford began his musical journey at age ten as an alto sax player. A keen interest and understanding of the woodwind instrument, as well as a fondness for the ‘cool jazz’ sounds of Paul Desmond and his legendary recordings with guitarist Jim Hall, helped fuel his musical aptitude at a young age. It proved to be an attraction that only intensified, as the sounds of Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane became elements within the same fascination. Integrate that scenario with an interest in the blues and a flair for emulating Mike Bloomfield and other blues guitar favorites, and one can easily understand Robben Ford’s fondness for both instruments.
Rory Gallagher was a rarity. He was so completely all about the music that he refused to release an album because he didn’t like the mix. He was a guitar hero who sold over 30 million records worldwide, but you will never hear him brag about it. While he never attained huge star status in the U.S., as he had only a few radio hits, his extensive touring and marathon live performances have made him a legend in his home country of Ireland and throughout the guitar community.