Interview with Buck Curran (April 2018)
Welcome back to the Neuguitars Blog, Buck. Last time we met was in Venice in December 2016, a lot of things happened….now you live in Italy, you had a new son and a new album…
Ciao Andrea…Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me again. I have great memories of my first visit to Venice, meeting you and the guitar maker William Marinello, and the concert at Metricubi. I am hoping to perform there again this year…maybe in Autumn when I finally have Vinyl copies on hand of my forthcoming solo album ‘Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas’ and the Live Basho record.
You never stop working on your label Obsolete Recordings, in 2017 you released this beautiful concert of Robbie Basho in Italy. How did you discover this recording?
I discovered this full length Robbie Basho concert when the organizer of that original concert (Forlì in 1982), Mario Calvitti (who has been a longtime fan of Robbie Basho) came out to one of my concerts in Rome in 2016. We spoke about Robbie Basho quite a lot that night and this new release came out of that first and fortunate meeting with Mario. ‘Robbie Basho Live in Forlì, Italy 1982’ was released digitally in 2017…but it’s also getting a physical release this month (Vinyl and CD). I obviously have a deep love for Robbie Basho’s music.
How did start the idea to release your latest record ”Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas”? Why did you choose this title?
This new album starting taking shape in late Spring and during the Summer of last year (2017) as I was going through an intense period of creativity. Most of the music was recorded in the morning and in the afternoon…and the music is rooted in the idea of poetry (specifically thinking of short, colorful poems like Japanese Haiku) and the colours and moods found in Indian Ragas. I love the way the words in the title flow together too. Song for Liam is the oldest composition on the album as I slowly started working on it in 2014, but it finally came together last Summer. Taurus (my dedication to Peter Green) was the first thing I recorded that gave me the energy to keep going with the rest of the project. I’m a Taurus/Gemini Cusp Sign (May 23rd…Earth and Air signs) and deeply inspired by Water (Oceans and Rivers) and it’s mysterious unfathomable elements. Peter Green is a Scorpio (a water sign) and his live and studio recordings (between 1967 and 1970) have given me great inspiration over the past two decades. I feel the Taurus sign heavily within me…Taurus being symbolized with the image of a Bull. I relate to that symbol, as I’m very focused, I’ve kept working as hard as possible throughout my entire life and keep moving forward. At the point I had Taurus and Song for Liam, I knew it would be an album mostly focused on music featuring guitar playing (a first for me actually).
In my review I talk about a more intimate album… you have dedicated to your children Shylah, Liam, and Francesco.…
Haikus is a transformation of the word Haiku. The us in Haikus…is my way of saying ‘US’ (my children and myself). A lot of the music was created thinking about my children Liam and Shylah in America…as I have so many strong vivid memories of all the years we spent together (quite a lot of time spent on the road together when Arborea was touring, which Shanti and I were able to do because we homeschooled our kids for most of their youth). My youngest son Francesco was still in Adele’s womb when I began the recording…so the anticipation and then later on with his birth…the entire experience was very inspirational. As well, being with Adele during the pregnancy was a great inspiration unto itself. Bringing life into this World is a very humbling and beautiful experience…probably one of the most important things we can experience as humans. The feeling of intimacy with the album definitely comes from all of those intimate real life experiences. The titles of the songs reflect all this…Song for Liam, Song for Shylah, Summer Street (the street in Maine where my kids in America were raised), Francesco Joaquin’s Morning Haiku. My children are the most important thing to me.
Now you live in Italy, how have you found yourself and your family in our country?
Well there is the difficulty of learning the language…haha…but I learn something new everyday. I love Italy and so many of the people I have met here. My life with Adele (and Francesco) is very spiritual and creative…so I feel blessed to be in Italy. Now to bring my children in America to visit…because I feel they will find great inspiration here.
So..after Donald Trump… what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
Are you speaking of Nuclear War with North Korea? Politicians mostly behave idiotically and are corrupted by greed and really have no business leading communities of people. We give them power… but I do my best to try and not acknowledge them. I am open to the concept of Globalization…but we need to help each other on the most finite levels first…so I am thinking with the mindset of the Global Village (empathy and cooperation between neighbors within each community and then connecting all the combined individual talent and skill and projecting all that positive action into the World). I love the concept of Democracy…but it’s hard relating to Capitalism and competition. How about a society where wise women and mothers from around the World lead a Collective society…one in which art and music play a vital role in every individual community?? Historically, women played very important roles in the Cherokee tribe in America…nurturing the tribe, providing spiritual guidance and wisdom, and through equal status, they had significant economic and political power within tribal society.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
For the immediate future, I am imagining to produce a compilation of Field Recordings…live music recorded in old or ancient places all over Italy (Venice, Turin, Perugia, San Gemini (Umbria), Pompeii, Sicily, etc). I am also working on a duo album of improvisational free modal music with my friend Jodi Pedrali (who plays a vintage Fender Rhodes Keyboard), another solo album, and a duo record with my wife Adele. In a few years, another album with Arborea might be possible.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” I think all of you have a great talent, but … what is your personal vision?
Almost all of my music (guitar compositions, lyrically centered songs, as well as my modal-stream of consciousness improvisations) literally come from visions in my mind and from moods that I experience. And a lot of the time the music is imagined, usually during walks through town or in nature…so away from my instrument…which I then translate (what I am seeing/hearing) onto the guitar, harmonium, flute, etc when I’m back home. I guess one would have to listen to all 14 of the albums I’ve produced and released (on my own and with Arborea) since 2006 to understand if they see/hear a unified ‘Vision’. In my mind there definitely is a singular voice, though that voice has strong roots in American-Irish and British Folk, Blues, Rock, European Classical and Indian Classical and Modal Music from around the World. Though I also have to mention that Modal Jazz and Indian Classical music has probably had the biggest influence on my style of acoustic and electric folk music. My early years were spent focusing on Blues, Rock, and Folk until I discovered John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman and sitarist Pandit Nikhil Banerjee….their music opened up everything for me…essentially the Cosmos. Lastly, the music represented through the label I’ve created (Obsolete Recordings) is a very important part of a Vision I have.
There are quite a lot of female musicians who I am greatly inspired by and I’m very grateful and honoured that some of them are collaborating with me at Obsolete Recordings. I really feel women are making the
most important contributions to contemporary music (singers, guitarists, etc). The best musicians at the top of my list: Adele H, Adaya, Shanti Deschaine (of Arborea), Johanna Warren, Asya Selyutina, Helena Espvall, Meg Baird, Marisa Anderson, Allysen Callery, Stacey Rushing, Kaori Muraji, Marian Mclaughlin, Jessica Ruby Radcliffe, Larkin Grimm, Margaret Ayre, Eva Sheppard, Sinead O’Connor, PJ Harvey, and Laura Marling.