Sunday, September 25, 2011

The 400th Entry Pheaturing Bryan Bassett From Foghat

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the phourhundredth entry of the Phile. Man, 400 entries, dozens of laughs. In the beginning of this week all the world leaders were at the United Nations agreeing on one thing: Superman has got to do more. At the United Nations in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was bragging that Iran now leads the world in captured hikers. I don't like hiking myself, unless it's in a mall. But it seems to me that if you have an atlas, you can find many places to go hiking... that aren’t Iraq or Korea. Ahmadinejad has said publically that he hates Jews and gays. Man, was he in wrong town. Two new books about Sarah Palin came out this week. All of a sudden, I’m feeling OK about Borders going out of business. This is good news, the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell“ policy was officially retired. This marks a new age of tolerance, acceptance, and awkward showering for everyone in the military. I think this will have an effect on our enemies. Be warned, evildoers. First we will defeat you, then we will redecorate your entire country. Hey, have any of you seen the new show "The X-Factor"? You can always tell Simon Cowell is coming back to TV when there’s a shortage of black T-shirts at Babies “R” Us. I watched “The X Factor” and I think it’s high time that America had its own televised singing competition. We needed it. All of these shows are basically a very long and expensive way to get one person a job. That is not going to help Obama at all. Did you see President Obama addressing the United Nations General Assembly. He opened up with a joke: “The American dollar is strong.” First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on the season premiere of "Extreme Home Makeover" tonight. The good news is, she’ll be refurbishing a house for a new family to move into; the bad news is, it’s the White House. Well, the six-tones NASA science satellite plunged through the atmosphere early yesterday, breaking up and possibly scattering debris in Canada. Has anybody blamed it on George Bush yet? It fell because of all of the heathens everywhere. Bachman-Palin Overdrive said so. Well, R.E.M. have broken up. t's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...
As I said, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been retired and they already put out a poster at recruitment places all over the country. Take a look, kids.

Did you see the ad for cream that Disney put out featuring Mickey and Minnie? I don't know how old it is, but when I read it, it seemed kinda weird. Here it is in case you didn't see it.

That's a real ad, everybody. Oh, and by the way, the Walt Disney Company is the greatest company to work for ever! Okay, it's Sunday, and every Sunday through the football season I invite my good friend Jeff Trelewicz to the Phile so we can talk football in a pheature I like to call...

Me: Okay, first things first, did you hear about the Vince Young imposter story? 

Jeff: I hadn't heard that story.

Me: There's this guy who went around saying he was Vince Young and going to visit sick children and making public appearances. He was also a sex offender, Jeff. Who does Young play for?

Jeff: He plays for the Eagles, as their backup quarterback. The guy who impersonated him is a sex offender? Creepy!

Me: Okay, let's talk about last weeks games. What were the big stories of the week? And how did our teams the Steelers and Giants do?

Jeff: The biggest story of the week is how cheap your Giants were "faking injuries" to slow down the Rams. It worked, and you won. Players just randomly fell down to the ground "cramping up". The NFL has all ready warned all teams they will be fined and penalized if this continues. It's rather amusing. The good news is both the Steelers and Giants won this week.

Me: I was thinking we should each get a point every time one of our teams win. Whatcha think?

Jeff: Yeah, I think we can each earn points for when our perspective teams win too.

Me: Okay, lets talk about last weeks choices. How did we do?

Jeff: In looking at our picks last week, we both made a nice turn around with 2-0 weeks. In fact you picked Detroit over KC by 4. They won by 45! So with our weeks plus our teams winning, we each have 5 points going into week 3.

Me: Okay, let's choose this week. I say the Bengals will win by a touchdown. And even though I hate the Dolphins I say they will win by 3. What are your choices?

Jeff: For week 3 I am going to go with Arizona by 5 and Denver by a field goal. Good luck, Phile.

Me: You too, and great job as always, Jeff. I will have you back here for week four next Sunday. Oh, one more thing, what do you think of this story? Red Sox pitcher Bedard served child support papers by Yankee fan at Fenway Park.

Jeff: Yeah, I saw that a few days ago. I'm sure the guy serving papers wore Yankee stuff just to add to the pain, like a true douche bag Yankee fan would.

Me: Okay, now for some sad news.

Dolores Hope
May 27, 1909 - September 19, 2011
What an amazing life and career. During her working days she... well, really nothing. But in terms of her philanthropy, nobody could have... wait, nothing. But there is no denying her fierce dedication to... hmm. OK. Whatever. She was married to Bob.
Tom Wilson 
August 1, 193 – September 16, 2011
How Ziggy met his demise:

... or maybe it was this one:

...come to think of it, the littlle bald-headed pantsless guy sure seemed to be at death's door quite a bit:

Okay, for today's top ten list, I have a guest. A few weeks ago I was surfing the net, and I came across a Top 8 List that is about my dad written by Patrick Cassels from So, I thought I would invite Patrick to the Phile, ask him a few questions and then post his top eight list. So, kids, please welcome to the Phile... Patrick Cassels.

Me: Patrick, how long have you been writing for

Patrick: I started writing for them freelance when I was still in college, and they brought me aboard as a writer full-time in 2007.

Me: How did you decide to write a top 8 list like this?

Patrick: I like '70s rock, specifically prog rock like Rush and Supertramp. Foghat's a little more bluesy but they're also great and they have one of those wonderful, weird prog-rock names. I feel like those names are often cool because they're so ambiguous and abstract, so I started thinking how awkward it would be if a lead singer tried to literalize it. And "foghat's" was the silliest example of this I could think of. Actually, a year or so ago I saw Rush at Jones Beach and there witnessed a sort of real-life version of this. Between two of the band's songs these women came out and moved passed Gedy Lee holding big pitchers of beer. They weren't waitresses or anything. Lee, who I guess planned this, winks at the audience and said, "I've heard of Moving Pictures, but this is ridiculous!" I love Rush but am aware they're a little dorky.

Me: Why not a top ten? We need two more.

Patrick: I think I ran out of creative ways to make fog. Fog machine, dry ice, humidity... I didn't want to repeat myself. Also, I ran out of silly hats.

Me: Okay, Patrick, I take it you went to college. What college did you go to?

Patrick: I went to SUNY Purchase.

Me: Do you have a Twitter account that Phile readers can follow you at?

Patrick: Sure, @patrick_cassels.

Me: Alright, let's get to your top ten... I mean top eight list.

Eight Actual "Fog-Hats" that Foghat Lead Singer Dave Peverett Could Have Worn on Stage.
8. A sombrero filled with dry ice.
7.  A fedora fitted with a small ventilation system around the brim, attached through tubing to a backstage fog machine preset to go off during the chorus of “Slow Ride”.
6. A traditional Cherokee rain-dance headdress.
5. A foam dome stocked with a pair of ice-cold Coors Lights that produce vapor as they rapidly thaw from the body heat of Peverett’s dancing.
4. An official crew baseball cap from the set of John Carpenter’s 1980 horror film “The Fog”.
3.  A Yarmulke cut from a bed of tropical moss, raising the relative humidity around Peverett to 100 percent.
2. A top hat-shaped cloud of fog continuously encircled around Peverett’s head in a matrix of low-frequency sonic pulses emanating from Tony Stevens’s powerful bass guitar.
And the number one actual "Fog-Hats" that Foghat Lead Singer Dave Peverett Could Have Worn on Stage...
1. A standard men’s bowler cap (They’re huge in London.)

Okay, today's guest was a member of Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet and for the last twelve years served as Foghat's lead guitarist. He was my dad's best friend and a close family friend of the Peverett's. This is a huge honor to have him on my 400th entry. Please welcome to the Phile... Bryan Bassett.

Me: Hello, Bryan, welcome to the 400th entry of the Phile. So, how are you?

Bryan: Congratulations on your 400th Phile! Wow, that's a lot of writing. Thank you for having me be the person you interview for this milestone. I and my family are doing well. It has been quite a difficult year for me personally. As you know my 18 year old daughter Melissa passed away this past October due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis. She was the apple of my eye and such a beautiful person we will miss her forever. But my wife and I have two more beautiful girls to care for and with the support of friends and family we are moving ahead with a positive attitude. On the musical side of things Foghat had a great year, we enjoy playing together more than ever and are really pleased with our latest release "Last Train Home".

Me: I really wanted to interview someone special for this entry and someone who means a lot to myself and my family, and that's when I thought of you. You were a good friend of ours for a long time, and my dad's best friend. Do you remember the day when you and dad first met?

Bryan: Yes I do! My band Blue House, a 4 sometimes 5 piece blues band, were playing our weekly gig at The Winter Park Brewing Company in Orlando. The great guitarist Pat Travers was a friend of our bass player Stephen Dees and he brought Dave along to our show. Dave was interested in going out on tour again and was checking out some local musicians. Dave loved our choice of music which included many Excello numbers by Lightning Slim, Lazy Lester , Lonesome Sundown as well as old Muddy, John Lee and others. Well, we hit it off immediately and both your dad and Pat sat in for some jams. It was a great evening. Some people just have an instant chemistry and Dave and I became fast friends. That evening changed my life really. Someone just recently posted some photos from that evening on my Facebook page... I was completely blown away to have a photo of that night.

Me: Do you remember what was the first thing he said to you?

Bryan: After we were introduced by Pat we dove right in to talking about blues music, what artists we loved and what records we had. I came find out your dad was an avid record collector. He then asked politely to sit in. Of course we were honored and had a big ole blues rave up.

Me: The first time I met you was at the Beachem show, which was a charity gig if I remember with Travers and your band. It wasn't long after that that dad formed Lonesome Dave's Foghat. Did you agree to the gig right away or did you have to think about it?

Bryan: That was one of a series of shows we booked in Florida, a Rock and Blues revue if you will. Our band would open with a set and then be joined by Pat who played several songs and then Dave would come on and rock the house. When he asked me to form a band and start touring I immediately accepted and though I was leaving some of my band members behind they all realized the opportunity before me and said go man. Our wonderful drummer Scott was replaced by Stephen's friend Eddie Zyne from his Hall and Oates days as Scott had more of a jazz style and we needed a heavier drummer for the Foghat material and that became the first version of Lonesome Dave's Foghat, Dave and I with Stephen Dees and Eddie Zyne. After a year Stephen was replaced on bass by Molly Hatchet veteran Riff West and we toured that way for several years until Dave and Roger reformed the original band. One interesting fact was that original guitarist Rod Price joined us for a European tour and several shows in the US on one of the anniversary years, 1991 I believe. We played as a 5 piece band for those shows.

Me: It's weird, you were in Wild Cherry while Foghat was big. Did both bands ever cross paths? No disrespect, but Wild Cherry was more of a disco band, right?

Bryan: We were playing the same arenas all over the country, a week ahead, 2 weeks behind... but we never actually met. I was a huge fan though as Wild Cherry was a club rock band first and foremost before our switch to dance music. Wild Cherry and many bands of our day are lumped into the "disco" category now but in the day we drew a definite distinction between Funk bands like The Commodores, AWB , Earth, Wind and Fire, etc. and the disco songs that came later. We considered ourselves a Funk band and did not want to be grouped with songs like "The Hustle" and all the disco songs with the annoyinghi-hat psssup - pssssup. When you see a compilation of hits of the '70s though "Play That Funky Music" is right in there with all the disco hits of the era.

Me: I was looking at videos on Youtube and I found one of Wild Cherry performing on a TV show playing "Play That Funky Music". Do you have a lot of good memories from back then?

Bryan: Yes, it was a very exciting time for a young guy. We performed on the 1976 Grammy Award show, "Midnite Special", "Don Kirschner's Rock Concert", Merv Griffin and "The Dinah Shore Show". We toured with The Average White Band, The Commodores, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Jackson 5, The Isley Brothers, Rufus and dozens of others. Not only was it a rush playing arenas, it was awesome to meet these other fantastic musicians and be able to run out to the front house and watch them play night after night.

Me: I had a K-Tel album with "Play That Funky Music" song on it, Bryan. Have you seen anyone from Wild Cherry in a long time? Any chance they'll be a Wild Cherry reunion?

Bryan: I do keep in touch with Ronnie our drummer and Allen our bass player, we talk regularly. I doubt that any Wild Cherry reunion would come together. Maybe a couple shows for charity or a PBS special. I am quite happy in Foghat and wouldn't want to disrupt any of our plans.

Me: That was a big hit back in the 70's. Wild Cherry wasn't your first band you were in, right?

Bryan: Like most musicians I played in several cover bands before joining Wild Cherry. We played clubs all over the tri-state area of PA, OH and WV. There was a great live music scene then and we played 4-6 gigs a week.

Me: That song must've changed your life quite a bit. You guys guested on "The Merv Griffin Show" and "The Dinah Shore Show" like you said. Do you remember being on those shows clearly? Who were the other guests, do you remember?

Bryan: Oh yes, it was a very exciting time for me as a young musician. I was very excited to meet so many musicians of the day. We guested on several of those TV shows with ABBA, very cool people. Merv Griffin was way cool, very much the director of the show. I remember on the Dinah Shore show ABBA and us were talking so loudly in the green room the director had to ask us to keep it quiet because we could be heard on air. They had a very tiny stage and we lip synced...I  plugged my guitar into a potted plant on stage. Haha.

Me: Bryan, you grew up in Pittsburgh... what kinda music did you grow up listening to? Back in the 60's, Pa had a huge music scene.

Bryan: I was totally into the British Invasion bands featuring so many great guitarists. Clapton with Cream and John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Peter Green in Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Page and then the USA's Duane Allman, Johnny Winters, Hendrix. Going to record shops was a blast back then. Pittsburgh did have a thriving music scene all the way into the 80's. There were many local bands that played great and wrote original music.

Me: When did you move down to Florida to settle? When you came down, Wild Cherry had broken up, right?

Bryan: I came to Florida in the early 80's. It was quite a few years after Wild Cherry broke up. I had a great band called Airborne for a few years in PGH , we actually did some sessions in Florida with Felix Pappalardi of Mountain producing but we were unable to attract any record label attention. I decided to head to Florida mostly on a whim to check out the scene down here. I met Bob Greenlee owner of King Snake Studio and started getting involved with his Blues label.

Me: That's when you started working as producer and engineer. Do you like recording or playing live best?

Bryan: Right, before I knew it I was doing 8 - 10 albums a year as Bob's engineer. I suppose I like playing live best, it's just so much fun, but I definitely like working in the studio. The operative word there is "working", engineering and producing whilesatisfying is definitely work.

Me: I was looking over your discography and never knew you worked with Rufus Thomas, James Taylor and James Browns' horn section. I bet Rufus was cool, how was James? Was this all done at Kingsnake?

Bryan: Yes, they were all Kingsnake projects, Rufus was a blast, and James Taylor, who did overdubs on his brother Alex's album was a very cool down to earth person. Rufus gave me one of my favorite studio sayings... he was waiting for me to start rolling tape and was a bit impatient and he says "dollar bill waiting on a dime!"... hahaha! I said, "Yes sir we're rollin!" I played guitar on that album as well. Great memories.

Me: And what's this you once played with Michael Jackson?! How come I never knew this, Bry?

Bryan: While in Wild Cherry we opened for the Jackson Five on several shows including Madison Square Garden where Michael introduced me to Stevie Wonder... quite a night. Michael was still in his teens and was a very reserved polite person and one of the greatest talents I have ever witnessed live.

Me: When dad decided to reform Foghat with the original members, I remember him being upset that he had to tell you most of all. How did he tell you?

Bryan: We just had a quiet conversation in a restaurant prior to one of our final shows. I could tell it was very difficult for him. He explained how Rick Rubin was interested in recording the original band and I must say that as much as I was depressed aboutlosing my gig I told him I understood the opportunity presented him and as a fan ofFoghat and as his friend I let him know that I was all for it.

Me: When Rod Price quit the band before dad's last tour, he didn't hesitate a second to give you a call. You were with Molly Hatchet at the time, right? It must of been easy to leave Hatchet and rejoin Foghat.

Bryan: I was in Green Bay when he contacted me and asked if I wanted to do a bit of playing. I remember being happy he was feeling up to it and thought he wanted me to drop by the house to jam. So I said, "Sure, Dave, I'd love to" and he said can you be in New York next week for rehearsal. Hahaha. I said I have to quit my band and he said, "Okay, I'll have Michael..." (his tour manager) "get you a flight". It wasn't exactly easy quitting Hatchet, in fact I was flying to Hatchet shows and training my replacement for a couple weeks while rehearsing in New York with Foghat. But I was seriously overjoyed to be working and hanging out with your dad again. I think it meant a lot to him to be able to give me my job back. As it turned out that was our last tour together and it will standout in my mind as one of my most precious memories. In fact it quite literally changed my life and I am in Foghat now as a result of our reconnecting. Thank you, Dave.

Me: Let's talk about Foghat for a moment. I am so glad you are in the band. Was there ever a time after dad passed away that you didn't want to be in the band?

Bryan: Thank you, Jason, I feel honored to be playing your dad's songs so his many fans can still hear them. I think of Dave every night we are on stage and am so thankful to have stood beside him all those years. After your dad passed away I still wanted to stay in the band though we were not sure there could be a band without your dad. In one of our last conversations he told me that Foghat had been great to him and his family and he wished the same for me and told me to just keep rocking. As you know your dad was a one of a kind talent and nearly a year went by while we pondered the fate of the band. I briefly rejoined Molly Hatchet and recorded "Kingdom of XII" with them in Germany and toured with them in support of it. I must thank Bobby Ingram for opening up a guitar spot for me that year. During this time the fans were contacting us and sending positive messages about continuing. Roger reviewed some tapes of singers and no one really seemed right but then Roger remembered going to see Humble Pie with your dad and being impressed with Charlie Huhn's singing. Roger gave him a call and we met in NY SIR studios for a rehearsal and everything just clicked. Charlie was the only person we actually tried out and he was the perfect fit. He plays and sings with an intensity similar to your dad's but with his own personality. Your dad was irreplaceable so we were not looking for someone to copy him and we were just very lucky to find Charlie who has much the same approach to rocking out as your dad.

Me: Foghat's last CD is a blues CD called "Last Train Home". Dad wanted to do a blues CD before he died. When did the band decide to do that?

Bryan: We have talked about it, really, for years, but the idea came to the surface this past year and we just went with it. I would have loved to have done one with your dad... he was such a historian of the blues it would probably have turned into a box set. He knew everything about every blues musician out there and his collection of blues records was amazing.

Me: I have to ask about the song choices. Some of the songs Foghat had recorded in the past already, and some are new songs, right? Who did the song selection?

Bryan: We each contributed two or three of our favorites and we just picked the ones that felt right for us. I loved the Otis Rush song "So Many Roads So Many Trains" and in particular the Mayall version featuring Peter Green so that was one of my suggestions. Roger added the Savoy Brown picks and then we wrote three originals as well. We then added the two cuts with the great Eddie Kirkland who sadly recently died in a tragic car accident.

Me: There must of been songs that were discarded, right?

Bryan: We actually used everything we recorded, we made the song decisions before we started recording so nothing was left in the can as out takes save for 5 or 6 of our jams with Eddie Kirkland which due to the recent tragedy seem very precious to us now. We had so much fun doing this record and it was received so well I wouldn't be surprised if we do another. There are certainly a limitless supply of great tunes out there.

Me: It's cool that Eddie Kirkland guests on the album. Have you met him in the past?

Bryan: I had not met him before but Roger had and your dad as well when they did that fantastic Blues Tribute show in the 70's. I believe there are many clips from that show up on Youtube. He was one of the greats and one of the last original bluesmen. We were deeply saddened by his death.

Me: Okay, let's talk serious, my friend. Recently you lost your daughter to a horrible disease called Cystic Fibrosis as you said in the beginning. For the Phile readers who don't know what Cystic Fibrosis is, can you explain?

Bryan: Cystic Fibrosis is an incurable genetic disease that affects primarily the lungs. It is a defect in the way the body produces mucus which in a normal person acts a lubricant and cleansing fluid but in a CF person blocks the lung passages which causes infections and the pancreatic duct affecting food digestion. It's not unlike having permanent pneumonia and requires daily airway clearance treatments and a series of high level antibiotics and medicines. There are many wonderful doctors working on a cure and many wonderful people fundraising to support their efforts. Many thousands of people suffer with this horrible disease and I lost my beautiful daughter to it. Please remember the CF foundation in your charitable giving.

Me: A memorial fund was set up in Melissa's honor, am I right? Go ahead a tell the readers where they can donate to the fund.

Bryan: At our website there is a donate link at the bottom of the homepage which connects to a Paypal site. Even with good insurance, which I have, the co-pays on some of these meds is significant. The average CF person probably has a med bill of between 5 -10 thousand dollars a month then add on to that multiple week long hospitalizations a year and you can see it is quite a destructive disease to the sufferer and to the finances of any family dealing with it.

Me: Okay, Bry, I have to ask you about this: you are a board governor and board advisor for the Florida Chapter of NARAS. I have no idea in hell what that is, but it sounds cool. I want to be a board director of something. How did you get involved, and when did you become a board member? Was it something you had to be voted in?

Bryan: The National Academy of Recording Arts And Sciences is the organization that gives the Grammy Awards. It is a peer organization meaning you have to be a professional musician or technician to become a voting member. There are several state chapters and they each have a Board of Governors which manage the activities of the chapters, giving scholarships, giving seminars on the industry, talent searches, Musicare charitites and many other things as well as compiling the nominations for the Award show and actually producing the television show. Any professional can join and the board members are nominated and voted on by the membership as are the Award winners. It is a very cool organization doing great work and it 's membership is comprised of some of the most talented people I have ever met.

Me: And you teach as well, at the University of Florida, right? You teach kids to play like Jack Black does in School of Rock, which is way cool. How did you get that gig?

Bryan: I teach 3 Contemporary Ensemble classes at Daytona State College. A friend of mine is Vice Chairman of the Arts and Entertainment Department and asked me to participate. They designed a wonderful program of study involving all aspects of the music industry. I teach about performance technique, stage craft, rehearsal techniques and all the school of rock things I've been doing for 35 years. It is really fun for me.

Me: Between everything you do, you are a busy man, Bryan.

Bryan: I must say I'm very lucky to enjoy all my various pursuits and make a living doing what I love.

Me: Anyway, thanks so much for being on the 400th entry of the Phile. It really means a lot and I hope it was fun for you. It was for me. Come back again, Bry, Love to Julie and the girls. Take care, okay?

Bryan: Thanks so much, Jason, love to the family and I hope to see you soon.

There you go, man, that was a long entry. Worthy of the 400th one though, right? Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz, Patrick Cassels and of course Bryan Bassett. Okay, the Phile will be back tomorrow with country singer Renee Wahl, and then again next Sunday with stand up comedian, actress, radio talk show host and snake wrangler Savannah Boan. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.


Artwork by Jamie Davis.

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