Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pheaturing Ed Pettersen

In the summer time when the weather is high, you can stretch right up and touch the sky. Mungo Jerry, kids. Do you know what the Foghat connection to Mungo Jerry is? That's a great song, and it was in Despicable Me 2 as well. Anyway, welcome to the Phile.  It's crazy hot outside. I'll give you an example. Remember Joey Chestnut, the competitive eating champion who recently ate 106 hot dogs in a minute? It was so hot today that he ate 68 Dove bars.  Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, wants asylum in Venezuela. He also wants to be able to have summer asylum in the Hamptons. He says he may seek asylum in Russia. Well, he should really love the freedom and openness of that society.  According to a new study, inactivity can kill you. You can die from doing nothing. Believe me. These findings scare the hell out of the Congress.  President Obama told a group of school children that broccoli is his favorite food. You know, it's one thing to lie to the voters, but when you’re lying to kids, come on.  In a landmark legal case, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a dentist could legally fire his female assistant because he found her too sexy and a threat to his marriage. You can be fired for being too sexy, I better watch out at work then. Haha.  Britain, the great country from where I am from, is in a heightened state of alert. Right now they're in royal baby watch. Yes, everyone's on the lookout for the helpless little bald creature that will someday become the most powerful person in England. But enough about Prince Charles. William's brother, Prince Harry, is said to be very excited. He'll be an uncle for the first time. And he will no longer be the only one running around in the royal palace naked. Queen Elizabeth is also on pins and needles. Who can blame her? It's been 120 years since a British monarch has been alive for the birth of a great, great grandchild... or as Prince Charles noted, it's been 120 years, five months, three days, and 15 hours. Doctors have warned that the birth could be very painful because there's a 1 in 4 chance it's going to have Prince Charles' ears.  Hey, good news I guess... Twinkies went back on sale for the first time in eight months. Twinkies are back. Grocery stores are calling it a good week for business, while Spanx is calling it a GREAT week for business.  Do you know what's going on right now? The San Diego Comic Con? I was invited by a friend to go out there, but I opted to stay here so I can do this blog. You're welcome. I don't think I'm missing much. It's not like there's a hot security cop with big breasts walking around...

Son of a bitch. At SDCC, as the cool kids call it, a new show was revealed, and I have the poster for it right here.

I'll watch that. R2/D2 is there plugging his new CD. I didn't know Artoo had a CD until I saw the cover.

We salute you.  Hey, Monopoly is back at McDonald's. Personally I'm waiting for Stereopoly myself. McDonald's also has another promotion that is going on that I thought I was a bit odd.

LOL. At first I thought it said 'Get McCrapped'.  Well, it's summer as you know and all through summer so far I have been showing you some phascinating swimming pools. Well, today I have the last one to show you, unless you know of one I didn't mention. Email me a photo of a phascinating pool to In the meantime, here is the last one I have.

This is a cool infinity pool that looks out over a breathtaking skyline from several stories up. This is definitely a great place to enjoy the sunset at the Crown Towers Hotel in Taipa Island Macau. It looks nice, right? Alright, now for some sad news...

Helen Thomas
August 4, 1920 - July 20, 2013
That should put an end to all those annoying questions.

It's 4:23, 87 degrees and Kelly is gonna uncover her family’s past on TLC’s all new-season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Tuesday, July 23rd at 9PM EST!

She's thinking about me right now in that photo, I know it. I'm such an idiot. You know who is not an idiot? Our good phriend who is a patriot, singer and renaissance man. It's time for...

To the giggly young girl who was too busy flirting with her co-worker to put the lid firmly on my cup of coffee at McDonald's..... I burned my chin, neck and chest... ruined my shirt, silk tie, suit and pants and now how to stop home and change... I hope you have a lovely day and wonderful life. EXCEPT for this Saturday night when you have a date with that cute new guy you've been dying to kiss... I hope on the morning before the big date you get the biggest pimple this side of Texas on your nose... and you get your period in the middle of your first makeout session in the back seat of his mom's Subaru. You innept fucking MORON!

I went to McDonald's today and got a strawberry and banana smoothie and everything was fine. LOL. Good job, Laird. Alright, well, another phriend of the Phile who looks about 12 years old wanted to come on and talk about civil rights. So, please welcome back to the Phile, National Director of Issue Campaigns for Organizing for Action... Lindsay Siler.

Me: Hello, Lindsay, welcome back to the Phile. So, what did you want to say about civil rights? 

Lindsay: Hi, Jason. When the Supreme Court struck down a critical part of the Voting Rights Act last month, it effectively gutted one of our civil rights landmarks.

Me: What happened after that?

Lindsay: The court left it up to Congress to act.

Me: So, what's Congress gonna do?

Lindsay: Congress will move forward with hearings to restore these protections under the law.

Me: Is there an act named something?

Lindsay: Yes, the Voting Rights Act.

Me: Alright, so Congress wants to restore the law. That means there was a law already? What happened? What's the story?

Lindsay: For nearly 50 years, this law has protected voters across the country, ensuring that millions of Americans... in areas that have historically suffered from voting discrimination, can exercise their basic right to vote.

Me: So, were there hearings heard about this yet?

Lindsay: The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the Voting Rights Act Wednesday, and the House is wrapped up their hearing on Thursday.

Me: So, anyone in particular speak up?

Lindsay: We heard from bipartisan voices from Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat who helped lead the Selma march for civil rights that led to the creation of the Voting Rights Act, to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican who has helped strengthen the Voting Rights Act twice in his career. 

Me: Wot?! A Republican?

Lindsay: That's because the right to vote isn't a partisan issue.

Me: Alright, so, what happened?

Lindsay: Within days of the Supreme Court's ruling, six states submitted voter suppression laws that could make it harder for millions of Americans to vote. There's real support on both sides of the aisle for finding a legislative solution to update the Voting Rights Act and put its critical protections back in place.

Me: That's good, right? It'll be taken care of?

Lindsay: Yes, but Americans need to speak up and voice their support. OFA is going to be fighting across the country to protect this most basic American right.

Me: Well, good luck, and keep us posted, and come back anytime, Lindsay.

Lindsay: Thanks, Jason. Talk to you soon.

Today's pheatured guest is a soulful folk singer whose latest CD and book “I Curse the River of Time: A Norwegian American Tale” is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Ed Pettersen.

Me: Hello, Ed, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Ed: I'm good thanks. Life has been a little crazy lately but so am I.

Me: Okay, before we talk about your music and new CD I have to say I am confused. There's a novel out by Per Pettersen called "I Curse the River of Time" that takes place in Norway. That's a coincidence, right? You're not Per Pettersen are you?

Ed: No, I'm not Per. He spells his last name differently, with an SON instead of the traditional SEN. But I'm a huge fan of his but his publisher gave permission to use the title (especially since it was originally a poem by Mao Tse Tung. Yup, the dictator). I hear he likes my book as well. A huge compliment.

Me: Alright, we got that cleared up... I think. Before we talk about your present release I have to mention the album "Songs of America". That release has 50 songs on it! You play on one song on the album, which other people play on like John Mellencamp and Phile Alum John Wesley Harding. But did you put that project together?

Ed: Yup, that was my project. It was from an idea by my aunt-n-law Janet Reno and I took it from there and organized it all and produced it.

Me: How long did it take for you to arrange all that and how did you get so many artists to take part?

Ed: Well, it turned out to be much bigger and tougher than I originally anticipated and it took nine years from start to finish. I almost gave up a few times from having to deal with managers and labels but we finally got it done. Most of the artists I knew somehow or knew through someone and called them directly. Getting them to say yes though is the easy part. Organizing recording for 50 different artists is kind of tricky. I'm not sure it could be done again since the industry has collapsed. Very few artists want to do anything for nothing anymore and I can't blame them. That said, we only had one artist say no last time so we were very lucky.

Me: I downloaded your album "The New Punk Blues of Ed Pettersen" from iTunes and really liked it. You play so many different kinds of genres, Ed, what one is your favorite?

Ed: My favorite? I guess that would be the one I don't do myself really and that would be R&B. I would never assume I could pull that off myself even with the right team but it's funny that most of the covers of songs I have written have been by soul and R&B artists. I consider myself a simple folk singer really.

Me: Who did you listen to growing up?

Ed: I guess a lot of top 40, singles, and most of the popular bands of the era, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Zeppelin and especially The Who. The are and were my all time favorite act. But I was taken to a Bruce Springsteen show as a high school freshman and that literally changed my life. "Oh, you can do THAT???". It opened a whole new world for me as a solo performer. I also then started discovering folk music through Phil Ochs who I was a huge fan of. I had great exposure to a wide variety of stuff via my high school radio station WKWZ-FM (where incidentally Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records worked as did Judd Apatow).

Me: You're from Long Island, right? What part?

Ed: Syosset. On the North Shore. We spent a lot of time at the beach in Oyster Bay where my grandparents lived.

Me: I lived on Long Island for ten years. Shoreham first then Port Jefferson. Have you ever been out there?

Ed: Sure, we used to go out there and hang all the time. Lots of great clubs out there to terrorize . I was a rambunctious kid

Me: You're based in Nashville now, am I right? What made you move from Long Island to Nashville? Was it the music scene?

Ed: Yeah, it was impossible to live in NYC anymore as a musician. It's just too expensive. Plus, I had met Bob Olhsson from Motown over the phone and internet and he was now in Nashville with a few of the Funk Brothers and he encouraged me to make the move. Smartest thing I've ever done other than marrying my wife. The Standing in the Shadows movie came out a few months later and found myself working and recording with the Funks. It was amazing. 

Me: How long have you been playing guitar and singing, Ed?

Ed: Since I was 13 or 14. I played piano first and studied jazz but I didn't take songwriting and performing seriously until I was well into my 20's. It's kind of shocking that my first few songs were any good but having lived a little first may have helped. 

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new CD "I Curse the River of Time: A Norwegian American Tale". This whole project came about in an usual way, didn't it?

Ed: It was oddly organic actually. I never expected it to be a book but I spent 4 years researching my family's roots and reading tons (ier: over 50) Norwegian novels to get a fair picture of the landscape. Then I started writing the songs and saw a thread. Next thing I know I sat down at the computer and in a Kerouacian frenzy wrote the text in 2 days. The day after that a friend in Norway where I was asked me to see her friend's art studio and as soon as I saw her work I said, "There it is" and she was kind enough to donate her unpublished work. It's kind of zen like the way it all came together. 

Me: When you went to Norway to play a festival was that the first time you went over there?

Ed: Yup, the Down on the Farm festival. You see my family wouldn't talk about their Norwegian heritage so we all assume somebody murdered someone. Instead I found out that my grandfather ran away when he was 15 because he was the illegitimate child of a Norwegian father and Sami mother. The Sami are the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia and were treated as poorly as our Native Americans so he was shamed from birth and never felt welcomed or wanted and just took off one day on a boat never to return. He didn't even know where he was going! Funnily enough the island he's from is called Longoya which means Long Island. So he just went from one Long Island to another!! 

Me: You ended up living there for a few years, am I right? Was that a spontaneous choice?

Ed: I still live there part time. I found out since my dad was born a dual citizen (something I don't think he was aware of) I can get citizenship too if I want. For right now I just love it there. It's the most idyllic and beautiful place I've ever been and my music seems to fit there, ya' know? I'm not sure it has the same vibe in the U.S. The dark, melancholy thing. It's natural there. I understand why grandpa felt compelled to leave but if were up to me that would be my home. 

Me: How is it over there? I never really wanted to go... I saw what I wanted to see about Norway at Epcot.

Ed: I think you may find a whole different place. Very friendly people, gorgeous scenery and lots of open space. It sings to me, really. 

Me: The girls over there are gorgeous, am I right?

Ed: HA! Well, yeah, in the major cities. That's what my song "All the Pretty Girls" is about. I was wondering where they all were in the small town I was in and then I went to Oslo and went "WHOA! There they is!". Just like in the U.S. if you're a pretty girl in the East you go to NYC, and in the West to LA and the South to Nashville. At least, that's been my experience. 

Me: Are you married, Ed? What did your wife say when you told her you were gonna move to Norway?

Ed: Yup, been with the same woman 20 years, poor thing. She's been through a lot of moves and phases but I can't get her to leave!! Kidding, she's awesome. To her Norway was just another adventure. 

Me: Alright, explain this contest to find your Norwegian roots. Did a lot of people show up and help you?

Ed: A lot. And they all had different genealogies!! It seems there was two Anton Pettersen's on the same farm. Sheesh! 

Me: Most of what you found out you put in the book that came with the CD, Ed, but can you tell us anything that really surprised you?

Ed: I was surprised actually how many relatives I have there. I thought there were none! Turns out there's a lot on both the Sami and Norwegian side, except the Norwegian side is afraid I'm there to claim some inheritance so they don't seem to want to talk with me. Also there were some things about my grandfather I wasn't aware of as far as how he evaded authorities on both sides of the ocean and his military service. But that stuff will all be in the new novel I'm working on about the whole journey from his youth to death. The same publisher, Kontur Forlag, in Norway wants me to release that next year so I better get it done. I'm about half way (and it's a novel because there were some things that just couldn't be verified by records so it's up to me to make them up!) 

Me: When and how did you come up with the decision to write a book and songs for a CD about all this?

Ed: After my first trip to Norwasy I knew I'd be back. It really felt like coming home and I guess when you're that inspired it has to come out, ya' know?> 

Me: And where did the title of the release come from?

Ed: Henning Kvitnes, the Norwegian folk artist who's my dear friend suggested it to me that it would be a good song title so I said to him, "Okay, let's write it together!". So we did and then sent it to Per's publisher and they gave us the thumb's up. Henning was the one who first related to me the connection of the title to Mao. 

Me: On the CD there's a song called "Siste Reis". I take it that's Norwegian for something, but I don't know what.

Ed: It mean's "The Last Voyage". It's also the name of the most hilarious bar I've ever been in. You could put a camera in that joint and entertain people endlessly. It's an old sailor's bar so the name shows they have a sense of humor. Anyways, I always wanted to write a murder ballad and a lot of the old ones have water and boats in the story. Then this local girl I met at a party started bitching about the samll town she came from now that she lived in Oslo and why anyone would want to live there, etc. and I thought, "Oh, she's going down" and next thing I knew the whole thing came together. I'm pretty proud of that one. She has no idea it's about her! 

Me: You put together a Norwegian band to play on the album, right? Was it easy putting together this band?

Ed: I think what a lot of people don't realize, and I had this prejudice too, is that we're the only ones who know anything about music. In fact, some of the best, most expressive and innovative musicians I've met come from Norway. I think support from the government is actually a good thing that allows them to devote themselves to their craft. So yeah, it was very easy and they brought a lot to it, a different perspective. I also used some great Nashville folks on it too so it was a nice combo.

Me: And you got the great Freedy Johnston to work you with you on it. Have you known Freedy for a long time?

Ed: Freedy is one of my closest and dearest friends and I've known him over 20 years. We started out together on the NYC scene. We both got signed to majors at the same time. He got famous and I got high. Actually I think he got high too a few times

Me: I have to mention the artwork on the album and book, Ed. Who did all that?

Ed: The interior art is all by Elise Jarem ( and the cover is by Gunn Vottestad who from the same place as my family and she's considered a national treasure. I'm very lucky to get them both. They've been incredibly giving of their time and talent. 

Me: So, have you been back to Norway since?

Ed: Oh yeah. Many time. I'm going back in a few weeks to promote the book/CD and do some acting on Norwegian TV. That should be pretty funny. 

Me: You stopped playing and touring for awhile because you had a mysterious illness. Did you ever find out what it was?

Ed: Porphyria. I still have it but we learned to manage it since it's incurable. It took us six years to figure out what it was because it's so rare and doctors said I couldn't possibly have it. 

Me: Are you feeling better now?

Ed: Doing well thanks. I have my moments but they're much less frequent then before. Plus, I'm a pretty driven dude and I can't sit still for long so maybe that helps not dwelling on it. 

Me: I have to ask you about Mad King Edmund. Is that you, Ed? Is that for a side project?

Ed: Yeah, that's me. It's my wife's nickname for me. Mad King because evidently Mad King George had the same disease as me (they thought he was mad or insane but he was really just sick-it kind of makes you a little crazy) and we thought it would be a good way to distinguish such a career left turn into jazz. I use that moniker for all my experimental/improv/avant garde side projects. 

Me: I also wanna ask you about the Giuseppi Logan project. What is that exactly and who was or is Giuseppi?

Ed: Giuseppi was a brilliant free jazz horn player who made only two albums in the 60s before disappearing for almost 40 years. I couldn't find any record of his death so I went on a search for him and finally tracked him down to record. He was living on the streets and playing for change. 

Me: So, what project are you working on next, sir?

Ed: I need to finish the novel, I'm about half way so far, and I've recorded an album with a Norwegian band to go with it. And I've done a second Giuseppi record which will be out in France any day now on the Improvising Beings label (   

Me: Alright, so on the Phile I like to ask random questions based on the game Tabletopics. Here's yours... this is random but perfect. If you could have another name what would you choose?

Ed: The Reverend Eddie Bones. I think I may use that for a gospel album someday. I see a cape in my future

Me: Ed, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon. Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you continued success, sir. Stay well. 

Ed: Thanks a ton, Jason. I really appreciate the interest in my career and you taking the time to come up with great questions. Hope to meet you someday.

That's about it. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the kid's from the band Damon Familiar. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

1 comment:

Christine Beasley said...

I really enjoyed your interview of Ed Pettersen.