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“Jazz Monthly Feature Interview” David Wilkes

 

Smitty:  It’s always extra special when my next guest stops by for a visit at Jazz Monthly.com.  He’s a great friend and one of the icons in the business.  He has made major contributions to shaping and re-shaping the music world as we see it today.  He has done everything from producer to manager, he’s been in the publishing business, he’s done it all.  Currently presiding as VP A&R at Koch Records, please welcome the amazing Mr. David Wilkes.  Dave, how ya doing?

 

David Wilkes (DW):  Okay, I’m doing great.  Well, I definitely agree about a great friend of yours.  I don’t know about the icon.  (Both laughing.)  But I appreciate it.  It’s nice to hear that, and at least from somebody other than myself.

 

Smitty:  Oh man, yeah, it’s great to talk to you, man.

 

DW:  It is, Smitty.  Same here.

 

Smitty:  So things are really taking off and doing very well at Koch.  How’s things going for you?

 

DW:  Yeah, we’re really building a great roster of jazz artists, or I should say, adult artists, not X-rated, but… (Both laughing.)  I’m just getting some wonderful people to sign with us and we’re making just lovely records and we’re having good sound success with this area and I’m lucky that Koch wants to do this kind of music and they’re doing all kind of music and this is important to them as well.

 

Smitty:  Absolutely, and I’m just reflecting on some of the music just recently out there from Michael Franks, Jon Faddis, Nelson Rangell, Marcus Miller, Earl Klugh, Bob James

 

DW:  Earl Klugh, yeah, Marcus Miller…

 

Smitty:  Steve Oliver

 

DW:  Steve Oliver, Sophie Milman…I think you might’ve mentioned Sophie.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, Sophie, she’s a great artist.

 

DW:  Patches Stewart, just a whole bunch of really wonderful people and people that I always say….that I tell the artists that I don’t wanna sign anybody that I don’t wanna have dinner with.

 

Smitty:  There you go, man.  I like that.

 

DW:  And also you gotta mention one guy who’s not considered a jazz artist, but he’s such a great musician that I’d say he also could be jazz artist, and that’s Jerry Douglas.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, he’s got a great record out too.

 

DW: He’s touring as the opening act for Paul Simon.

 

Smitty:  Wow.

 

DW: He just did the Montreal Jazz Festival like three or four days ago, as did Sophie Milman singing with Aaron Neville.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, so things are very exciting over there right now and rightly so. What gave you the desire to get into the music business?  I mean, you could have probably done anything you wanted to, what gave you the desire to get into the music business?

 

DW:  When I was in college, it was during the days when folk music was such an important part of the social fabric of this country that it just became, next to breathing, it was music.  It was a political statement, it was the social scene surrounding the politics.  You had the Vietnam War going on, you had the civil rights movement, and you had the community feeling of this whole scene.  I guess I gotta maybe blame Pete Seeger for getting me involved in music, even when I was a kid going to camp, but I was always interested in the political side of music and the lyrics and how strong the music and song had influenced the shaping of America, so that was my direction right through college, although I didn’t know that there was a music business. All I knew about was the music.

 

Smitty:  Back in the sixties you started out in the business, too, in sort of an unusual way.  You started out at The Bitter End Café.

 

DW:  Right.

 

Smitty:  Talk to me a little bit about that.

 

DW:  After school I came back to New York and hung around The (Greenwich) Village while I was working and then I started an importing/exporting business.  My father was quite influential in the early days with the Japanese electronics and photographic business.  So I started a business and in the daytime I had my importing/exporting business, which was really uninspiring, and in the evening I’d go down to Greenwich Village….I had an apartment on 27th Street and Third Avenue….and I’d hang out at The Village all the time in all the music clubs.  The Bitter End was called The Cock & Bull at the time.  And I just went there so many times that the owner actually started to let me in for free. I’m not even sure that there was an admission charge, so maybe that’s why he let me in for free.  (Both laughing.)  Until we’re discussing it right now, I never figured that out. 

 

But I met a young lady at a party, independently of going to the club, and she actually told me that she was the secretary to Fred Weintraub, who owned The Bitter End, and ask if I wanna be the master of ceremonies at The Bitter End, that they were looking for a master of ceremonies, so I said “Great!”  It ended up that they were looking for a doorman and I still said “Great!” and so I did that at night, had my importing/exporting company during the daytime, and gradually I would just kinda hang out with….John Denver came in to replace Chad Mitchell in the Chad Mitchell Trio, and I became friendly with him and became friendly with people like Mike Settle and even Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and I would just kinda talk to these people and got friendly with them, especially during the winter time when there was nobody down there except me and the artists and a couple of people in the club.  And gradually heard from one musician, a guy named Dave Bromberg, that there was a guy named Jerry Jeff Walker in town who had a single that was playing on a local radio station called WBAI, and that song was “Mr. Bojangles,” and nobody was managing Jerry Jeff and nothing was happening with the song, it wasn’t even recorded yet, so I became Jerry’s first manager, and then through Jerry and Dave Bromberg, they told me about Emmy Lou Harris and I became her manager and made her first record deal, and then Paul Siebel and Frank Wakefield and The Greenbriar Boys. 

 

It was all really the singer/songwriter and the bluegrass bunch that The Bitter End was famous for.  It had nothing to do with jazz.  So I got into the management area and got so involved in that and had a couple of hits right off the bat that I gave up my importing/exporting business and went into management full-time, and by that time I was also managing The Bitter End.  And then from that point on The Bitter End started a publishing company which I ran because I also was involved in setting up my own publishing companies, and that led to my going up to MCA music with The Bitter End’s publishing companies as well and had a hit within the first six months with Linda Ronstadt on a song that I signed called “Long Long Time,” which was written by a guy named Gary White, who was in the same rock band that Jerry Jeff Walker was in.  That band was called Circus Maximus.  They were on Vanguard Records.  And then I signed Al Anderson and The Wildweeds at MCA Music and then signed them to Vanguard Records, and from MCA Music I went to Sire Records as the head of A&R for a very short period of time and then went over to Vanguard as VP of A&R.

 

Smitty:  Wow, you were moving and shakin’.

 

DW:  Basically kind of in a period of three kind of short steps all within, let’s say, three years I went from The Bitter End to MCA Music to Sire and then to Vanguard Records, and then I went out on my own. That was my early days in kinda starting out.  That was my point of entry which I kind of use in a lotta terms, but that was how I got in without even really realizing or having any plan whatsoever.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.  Was it difficult to manage back then opposed to today?  Was it different?

 

DW: No, I think it’s much easier.  First of all, the business wasn’t so sophisticated, it wasn’t so controlled by big corporations.  If an individual like myself who had basically no money, no investment, no backers could find an artist like Emmy Lou Harris or Jerry Jeff Walker, I could have a hit, I could go to a lawyer or to a record company and make a deal, and the fact that I was down in The Village and I was signing these acts, the record companies had their ears to the street so much better then that they could find you. You didn’t need to go through six secretaries, three receptionists, four VP’s just to get to somebody to sign you. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the person, the A&R person named John Hammond.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

DW:  He was the famous guy who signed Billie Holiday, also signed Bob Dylan.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

DW:  By the way, he was a very successful socialite.  I mean, like he was a Vanderbilt. He wasn’t like just a street person and yet he had the ability to know what was going on in the street and deal with the president of Columbia Records as well, and he heard about me and one of the things that I was kinda proud of, I was in The Village, my reputation was that I actually could speak directly to so many people above 14th Street.  (Both laughing.)  And John Hammond was one of those people. And I had Jerry Jeff Walker, even though I signed him to Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic, I also brought him up to John Hammond.  And even people like Clive Davis were accessible and reachable.  They’d call you back, you could see them, and it wasn’t like a big, big corporation. It was about finding and developing artists rather than what’s this quarter’s bottom line?

 

Smitty:  Yeah.  So that had to be cool to be able to interact with people of that level and make things happen.

 

DW:  It was great. You know, the people that made this whole industry.

 

Smitty:  Yes.

 

DW:  I mean, these were the great record people who loved music and who loved going out at night and finding acts and hanging out with other musicians and people in the business and discussing things and talking.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, and I think there was a different mentality then, like you said.  I think there was a greater love for music itself back then, not that it doesn’t exist today, but I think it was a greater love back then, and I think that was more of a driving force for signing artists.

 

DW:  Absolutely.  Almost every record company was an independent company and it was started more as a love for a certain kind of music, whether it was (Jerry) Wexler or Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun starting a blues label, Atlantic Records, or all those great guys who started those jazz labels….I can’t even think of all the names, but you know all the labels and people don’t know who started them and why they started them. It was a love of a certain kind of music.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

DW:  Vanguard Records was owned by the Solomon Brothers and that was basically one brother who loved classical music and one brother who loved the folk music. Elektra Records, Jac Holzman, same thing:  he started with this love of folk music. And Bel Records which became Arista. These guys were all music lovers.

 

Smitty:  Yeah. You started something very cool back then called the Coffee House Circuit.

 

DW:  Right.

 

Smitty:  Talk to me about how that got started.

 

DW:  Well, The Bitter End owner, Fred Weintraub, and myself and the organization of colleges, which I think it was called the NEC, National Entertainment Conference or something like that, wanted to have a place to bring artists like the ones you would see in Greenwich Village onto their campuses.  Since The Bitter End was “the” folk club and the comedy club in the United States, we supplied the schools with songwriters, comedians, folk artists, even some groups that would tour the various colleges on a regional basis.  So let’s say they would go to SUNY Albany for three days and then they had a day of travel, and then they would go to RPI for three days and then they’d have a day of travel, and then they would go to SUNY Buffalo.  Just to show you….talk about the New York State region.  And so there was very little traveling expenses and the schools would put up these people in the dormitories and they’d take their meals with the students, and every night they were performing at the coffee house that was on the campus.  If they didn’t have a coffee house, it could be the chapel, it could be the gymnasium, and it could even be in the lunch room.  And they mingled with these students and they got paid. They got paid a livable wage.

 

Smitty:  That’s a fascinating concept.

 

DW:  So people were paid by the number of people in the group.  It wasn’t like Jerry Jeff Walker got more money than Jim Croce and Jim Croce got more money than Harry Chapin and Emmy Lou Harris got a little more or a little less.  If I remember, it was $75 for the first person in the group plus a room and board and a travel allotment, and then $100 for every person beyond that or somewhat similar to that.  And they would do their shows and this whole thing would be coordinated by the student activity directors on those campuses and there would be one regional student director that would kind of coordinate with the schools in that region so they could get the acts in there.  They would agree upon a schedule of acts, and we went from New York State and across the country.  I mean, we went as far as Alaska.  Davidson University was the school that kinda founded this thing with us. It was just an amazing thing.  And then the military also got involved and jumped in, so we actually took people to Diego Garcia, that base in the Pacific Islands where there were G.I.’s and US sailors based, and Guam. So these people would be working a year or two years or three years in a row and never have to worry about not having work and not getting paid.

 

Smitty: Nice.

 

DW:  And while they were doing this and making a living, they were also honing their art, and becoming better and better and better, and I mentioned Jim Croce, Harry Chapin or comedians.  I think Flip Wilson did it.  Oh, I mean, people who are amazingly talented artists many of which are still sucessful today.

 

Smitty:  That’s a nice concept.

 

DW:  We should do it again, by the way, because where does anybody get to see these people anymore?

 

Smitty:  I like that, yeah.  I think it’s a great idea.  Let’s do it!

 

DW:  Well, I’m game.  (Both laughing.)

 

Smitty:  Okay.

 

DW:  It is a great concept and it could work again because things are so expensive that these artists can’t live.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

DW:  And, you know, limited at their craft, and all you really get to see is the big name artists in gigantic stadiums and you have no relationship with them.  You’re sitting 500 or 1,000 feet away. You can hardly hear them.

 

Smitty: Yes. It just seems that you’ve been involved in every facet of the music business.

 

DW:  Just about, yeah, just about.

 

Smitty:  From publishing, producing, managing.  Is there one in particular that you love the most?

 

DW:  You know, I actually like being an A&R person the best because you’re always discovering artists, whether it’s new artists or you’re rediscovering older artists, and then you’re kind of giving them a certain support system, helping them find songs if they need that help and then kind of overseeing the record company on an unofficial basis, but a very important basis for the artist. And I act not as a manager, but I act as a support system for the manager if there is a manager.  If there’s not a manager, I take the side of the artist with the record company in most cases, which can be a little hairy at times, but I feel that the goal is to make the record successful.

 

Smitty: Nice approach.

 

DW:  We’re all working for the same goal and sometimes you gotta go at it from different perspectives.

 

Smitty:  Absolutely.  So you’re coming into the jazz scene…

 

DW:  Right.

 

Smitty:  And what would you say is the striking difference from what you’ve seen in jazz in the past versus today?

 

DW:  Well, it’s a much more pop-oriented sort of a direction from what jazz has been in the last, let’s say, 30 years, so as far as I’m concerned and the things that I’m doing, especially in the Smooth Jazz area, it’s a more accessible area. What I’m doing is not the improvisational side of jazz; it’s more of the melodic jazz and, of course, I’m doing some vocals as well, and those vocals, even though they’re a little bit retro like Sophie Milman….she’s singing great songs, some of them are original, some of them are covers, and she’s a young person doing songs that most young people haven’t heard, so it’s new to them. That makes it a new thing again, although it’s not really a new thing, and Sophie is kind of a pop artist in that respect, so that’s kind of a throwback to the Ella days or the days when jazz was pop music and people actually danced to jazz music, right?

 

Smitty:  Absolutely, yeah.

 

DW:  So I’d like to see more of that.

 

Smitty:  Yes indeed. She’s hot, she’s a great talent.

 

DW:  She has a lotta potential, that’s for sure. That’s exciting.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, I really enjoyed conversing with her. She’s very cool.

 

DW:  You know, the thing about the jazz musicians today and then is that they’re all so skilled with their instruments, and that’s really such a nice thing to work with somebody who really knows their tool.  Probably should say that like studio musicians….and a lotta these jazz guys could be studio musicians….they and brain surgeons are like the highest level.  You know, like you don’t wanna go into an operation finding that your brain surgeon doesn’t know what he’s doing.  You take it for granted that they’re gonna do what has to be done. Same thing when you hire these guys to go in the studio and they make a record.  They know what they have to do and they do it, and it’s so simple when they do it and yet it’s such a skill that they’ve attained over so many years.

 

Smitty:  Absolutely. So now you’re at Koch and you’re comfortable in the VP A&R chair. You know, how are you liking it over there?

 

DW:  Well, I like it because everybody is friendly, they wanna do this kind of music so they’re supporting this kind of music, which is unusual today, you know, because there’s not that many….first of all, one of the ways that I’m getting all these acts is the big companies aren’t supporting this kind of music, so I would say three or four of the acts that I have….Bob James, Earl Klugh, and Michael Franks ….were on Warner Bros., and Warner Bros. gave up the jazz side. Columbia and Sony are kinda giving up the jazz side, or RCA’s kinda, you know, they’re combining and cutting back, GRP is doing the same thing. So Koch wants to build this area and I can build it.  I am building it and they’re letting me build it, so that’s pretty cool.

 

Smitty:  Yes, that’s a very cool thing.

 

DW:  Yeah, they’re not saying I gotta go out and find the next “Disco Duck,” though I wouldn’t put that song down. I’d be happy to find it.  (Both laughing.)

 

Smitty:  Absolutely.  Well, there are some amazing people at Koch.  I’ve worked with just about every level of individuals over there and I must say it’s just been a delight and a pleasure to work with everybody from distribution to A&R.  (Laughs.)

 

DW:  It’s like a throwback label.  Everybody there loves working in the music business.  They’re all highly trained people in their area.  Some of them are very young, but they’re all trained.  Some come from independent labels, some come from Epic or from major labels.  You know, Joe Mozian comes from RCA; John Frank, the head of marketing, comes from Epic; Bob Frank, who is the President, comes from Universal Polygram, as did I.  And then a lotta people had their own business, so everybody knows their business really well.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, and it shows.

 

DW:  Yeah.

 

Smitty:  I’ve always had that impression each time I’ve talked with anyone over there on any level, a great bunch of people. People like you, David Bosch, Gio, and Paul Dougherty

 

DW:  And they’re willing to work hard.  It’s not like it’s a 9 to 5 gig, you know, and these people also go out at night and see acts on weekends. That is a job, but it’s what they see themselves as being a part of.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, and I certainly appreciate and applaud everyone there at Koch.

 

DW:  I’m sure they’re happy to hear that and I’ll thank them for you.

 

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  Please pass on my thanks to everyone.  It’s been a pleasure working with everyone there at Koch.

 

DW:  You know, when people come up to visit me and they see the office and we walk them around the little nooks and crannies and they see three people sitting where one person should sit and people sharing offices, they say this is like what the record business used to be when they first got in, you know, the exciting activity at a record company. And music is playing from all different rooms.  There’s no sterile atmosphere, you know.

 

Smitty:  That’s so cool. I’m gonna throw a couple of names at you and if you would, just talk about them.

 

DW:  Okay.

 

Smitty:  Marcus Miller.

 

DW:  Okay, he’s one of the most extraordinary musicians, you know, hard to even put him into a genre, and a super nice guy, very modest and very considerate, and he’s one of the geniuses in the business…. As a producer, as a writer or as a musician or performer, he’s an amazing, amazing talent and he’s one that goes into the books, the Who’s Who of Great Musicians, not just bass players.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.  Yeah, and he plays a mean saxophone too.

 

DW:  Well, I’ve heard him play a bass clarinet on stage.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

DW:  You know, when you have it, you have it, right?

 

Smitty:  Absolutely, man.

 

DW:  These guys understand music and understand what an instrument does.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, let’s see, let me throw another name at you:  Nelson Rangell.

 

DW:  One of the most interesting guys and one of the brightest,….and an amazing virtuoso. He just plays almost any instrument. I was kidding him one time and I said “Hey, don’t tell me you play an accordion.”  He says “I do” and I believe him. (Both laughing.)  You know, he whistles better than anybody.

 

Smitty:  Oh man, I tell ya. I’ve witnessed that first-hand when he whistles a song. Incredible.  In fact, I don’t shed tears very often, but I was just about ready, I was almost there.

 

DW:  Well, Nelson’s the type of guy who if you see him, you gotta love him because he’s that good.  I mean, sax…I mean, there’s a lotta great sax players and he’s one of them.

 

Smitty:  Yes indeed.

 

DW:  Yeah, but the flute and piccolo and whistling just adds so much energy. It’s almost overpowering at times. We did a nice concert in Colorado Springs, Colorado at Earl Klugh’s….he has this lovely annual festival at The Broadmoor. And Earl became good friends with Nelson, and that’s great for Nelson because Earl’s such a quality guy as well. They did some shows and the audience just loved it, it was standing ovations just about every time.

 

Smitty:  Rightly so, Yeah. Talk to me about Earl Klugh.

 

DW:  Well, there’s nobody better. You know, if Earl didn’t play guitar and he sold encyclopedias, you know, everybody would have a house full of encyclopedias.

 

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

 

DW:  He’s just such a warm nice guy.  You just feel good being around him. And, of course, he’s one of the fathers of the Smooth Jazz era.

 

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  He’s a an incredibly talented artist.

 

DW:  He just has a lot going for himself in every area.

 

Smitty:  Yeah, I think he could play whatever he wants on a guitar.

 

DW:  Yep, yep, and people just like to see him on stage because he makes everybody feel good.  He’s such a lovely person.

 

Smitty:  I totally agree.  Bob James.

 

DW:  Oh, Bob, again, he’s the icon of the business, I guess, right?

 

Smitty:  Oh yes, he’s the crème de la crème.

 

DW:  You know, since Koch is a very big hip hop label….and that’s where the biggest money is made and then, I guess, in children’s records….all the hip hop artists know Bob James. They will sample his music in their music, so he makes a lotta money just by hip hop artists sampling it.  It’s very nice that I have an artist who’s a jazz artist that everybody knows about and, you know, it’s a prestige item, that’s for sure.

 

Smitty: One more, my good friend, Steve Oliver.

 

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.

 

Smitty:  Absolutely.

 

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.

 

Smitty:  Yeah.

 

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.

 

Smitty:  Right.

 

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.

 

DW:  Yep.

 

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.

 

DW:  Right.

 

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

 

For More Information Visit www.kochrecords.com

 

 

 

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