David Wilkes Interview Page 4
DW: Well, Steve is a breath of spring air. His music is as uplifting as Steve himself as a person, a great composer and guitar player. His hit song High Noon is one of the format’s favorite songs. Unfortunately for me it’s not on Koch . We have a great working relationship and this includes working with Gesela, Steve’s wife and Jack Forchette who’s totally amazing.
Smitty: Yes indeed Steve has a very special Bravura. So talk to me about anything new and good planned that Koch has working?
DW: Yeah, I mean, we have a new record with Michael Franks (Rendezvous In Rio), which this week debuted on the charts, on the Billboard Soundscan charts, at No. 4 first week out.
DW: That’s pretty amazing. And really great radio play with him. We’ve got an amazing new record with Jon Faddis, you know, the straight ahead trumpet player who was Dizzy Gillespie’s protégé.
Smitty: Yes, Teranga!
DW: Teranga, right, and that’s the first record that Jon has really done since his Epic days. I know he did a couple of records that were more like audiophile direct-to-disc recordings. But this is the first real recording and he has guests on the album. It’s not only a fun record because Jon has got a great sense of humor, but Jon lives in the “Faddisphere.” And he’s also just an amazing guy and, you know, it’s funny: Laurelyn Douglas is Jon’s wife and manager….she’s become a great friend of mine; Denise is Earl Klugh’s wife and manager….she’s a great friend of mine too. It’s amazing just to be able to deal with people who are so enjoyable and so bright, so helpful. These people just work so hard for their acts and they’re so bright and they understand the situation, and even if they don’t understand it, they’re such quick learners. They’re a part of the whole process.
Smitty: Yeah, they’re all very cool.
DW: Then, of course, Sophie’s record is doing so well and then I mentioned in the early part of our discussion Jerry Douglas. And again, people who read your column might not know about him, but he’s been the Country Music Association instrumentalist of the year two years in a row, he’s won 13 Grammys now….he’s a special guest with Alison Krauss and Union Station, so when Alison Krauss tours it’s Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. And right now he’s opening on Paul Simon’s tour, so you know Paul doesn’t take any slouches to open for him.
Smitty: No, absolutely not.
DW: And he has an amazing cut on his album, which is basically a bluegrass album. You know, John Fogerty and Alison Krauss both do vocals, but it’s mostly an instrumental album. But he does a cut called, it’s a Joe Zawinul song, and it’s a song that’s called “A Remark You Made.” Amazing player. He’s a Dobro player. I mean, that’s his main instrument. They say he’s the greatest Dobro player in the world and, you know, he’s still a young guy. He’s a good looking guy, he’s got star appeal, and also his wife Jill, the same situation, you know, his wife is a super jewel and a super bright person, he’s got a great manager in D.J. McLachlan, who was a big agent at APA, and when you have a manager that can hook up a tour and opening slot with Paul Simon, you know the guy’s doing his job, right?
Smitty: Absolutely, yes indeed.
DW: That record is out for about 40 weeks, as is Earl’s, and these records….the sound sales have also picked up increased sales in the last couple of weeks.
Smitty: Yeah, well, you know, good music should have that effect.
DW: Exactly, exactly.
Smitty: Should have those results.
DW: I always try to stress that to Koch, and they know this is not hip hop records that sells 90% of their sales the first week and then cuts down gigantically. These are artists that sell well for years but record companies and record stores are not really interested in catalog that much.
DW: These guys, the way they sell, just as they tour, they keep on selling and then more press picks up and radio goes back on them and then something freaky like a Paul Simon tour comes along and, boom, you have a possibility of exploding 40 weeks after the record’s out.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely.
DW: That’s my job is to keep the attention of the record company on these records even when it’s no longer a current release or at least not a new release.
Smitty: Well, you’re doing that quite well, my friend.
DW: Yeah, I know I am. I wonder if I bother people by doing it. (Both laughing.) But, you know, I think in the end result they appreciate it.
Smitty: Exactly because the fans, and I speak for myself as well, we want great music.
DW: Isn’t that amazing? What a unique concept; people wanting great music, right? And the record companies keep on giving them the same crap redressed, you know, put it in a new dress and a new hairdo and they think that people are gonna buy it? Well, wonder why the record industry is…
Smitty: Where it is, yeah.
DW: Yes, you can’t put out a record for 17 bucks and give them one good cut, and maybe not even one good cut and then, advertise the hell outta that record so people actually buy it and then they get disappointed that they got one album, nine terrible songs, and one mediocre song.
DW: They’re turned off.
Smitty: Right. And every one of the musicians on your roster that we’ve just mentioned, every one of them has great music out there from the history to the present.
Smitty: And I would buy it and I certainly recommend it, highly recommend it.
DW: Well, they made great records before and they’re making them now, and that’s what they do, so and I’m glad that we’re doing it.
Smitty: Yes indeed. Well, Dave, I can’t say enough about what everyone’s doing there at Koch. I speak collectively and individually of everyone there. You’ve done some amazing things even just the past couple of years.
Smitty: There have been some phenomenal things that have happened because of Koch’s dedication and devotion to the music world, and everyone are to be congratulated for your efforts and results in that regard.
DW: Well, I did it before with another label and you never run out of good artists. And the world is always producing more of them and fortunately for us, I guess, you know, big companies will probably put those records out and then not pay attention to them after an album or two, I’ll know about ‘em because they’re great and then hopefully I’ll be able to add them too. You know, I signed Jean Luc Ponty, by the way. We didn’t even discuss him because his record’s not out yet.
Smitty: Oh yeah, congratulations and what a great guy too.
DW: Yes, he’s coming out with a new record and his daughter, Clara Ponty, is also with us and she’ll have a new record out.
Smitty: Very cool.
DW: Yeah, and I wish that….there’s another signing which I’m gonna have hopefully momentarily. I wish I could discuss it with you, but it’s confidential at this point.
Smitty: Yeah, you gotta be careful about that, but get to me as soon as it’s appropriate and we’ll make sure we announce it.
DW: Right, exactly.
Smitty: All right. Well, Dave, I think that’s cool. Thanks a lot for sharing your great career and spotlighting Koch Records.
DW: My pleasure.
Smitty: I know you’re a very busy cat and you’ve got a lot going on, but it’s always a pleasure to chat with you and to see you, and it’s cool when we get to hang out sometimes at shows, and that’s always a beautiful thing.
DW: Yes it is, and I will see you around New York.
Smitty: Absolutely. We’ve been talking with the amazing VP A&R at Koch Records, Mr. Dave Wilkes. They have a super roster of musicians, a great history of music, and you certainly want to keep your ears open to what they’re doing there at Koch Records. Dave, thanks again, my friend, and best of everything in 2006 and beyond.
DW: Same to you, Smitty. Thanks for doing this.
Hot off the presses: Two days after my interview with Dave, he told me that the artist that he was about to sign and could not discuss has now signed and it is Oleta Adams!
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
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