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ARTIST Interview Page 4

Smitty: “Assignment!”
GK:  Yes…and whatever else with the jam sessions and everything.  It’ll be a lot of fun, but a lot of work.  That’s what I love to do.  We’ll put it together and it’ll be fresh and new.  It’s a challenge that I love to do, to play someone else’s music…you have to live the record, then there’s the live show tape, then there’s the chart, and sometimes the chart is the same chart they used on the record, but they’ve changed the arrangement so much from playing it for a year on stage, so then you’ve got to get your pencil out and really figure out where it’s going.  But I think everyone goes into it with the attitude of knowing it’s not their regular band and we just have fun as much as possible.  I’m also looking forward to going on the cruise because I’m bringing my family…so they’ll get a nice little vacation out of it while I’m doing sound checks and shows every night.
Smitty:  That’ll be nice.  So there are some other elements there…this will be sort of a different gig.  You’ll have a couple thousand dedicated fans, enthusiastic and passionate fans of this music.  You’ll have a captive audience, but so will they, because this isn’t a gig where you play and then go back to the hotel or jump on a plane. You’ll be with these great fans for an entire week.  What are your thoughts about that?
GK:  I really enjoy it.  I’ve been on cruises before, not recently, but I was on a cruise that Boney and I did once with Art Good.  We actually made some nice acquaintances on the cruise and we still keep in contact with the people we had dinner with…it was three couples, and I remember because Yvonne was pregnant with our first, so she got a lot of attention because of that.  I just saw some people at a show the other night that we were on the cruise with.  So it’s a captive audience, but everyone is really respectful, and there’s plenty of space so if you really need to be alone, you can.  And I’m certainly not a big enough star that that would really bother me.  And I’m sure at a certain point, in other genres of music or entertainment, people have to cope with a lot of attention and it can get rough.  But I like reading when someone like Kelsey Grammer says he always makes it a point when meeting people to be as cordial as possible, because people are already your big fans and already telling you that they appreciate what you do, so you have to respond to that.
Smitty:  Yes, and the jam sessions, those have to be a lot of fun…
GK:  Yes, they’re cool, because not only are these guys great stylists in their own genre and they have their own sound, but they’re all really well rounded players in the jazz scene as well…I think of people like Rick Braun and Eric Marienthal and people who just really have great chops and can play anything.  So when you get in a jam situation and you say “Hey let’s do a jazz song” and you hear guys that are burning that you don’t expect to be burning…that is cool.
Smitty:  Yes, and the fans really get into that too, because of the whole camaraderie of the jam session and the whole improvisational vibe of it excites everyone.
GK:  Yes, and I think it can help, too, because to us, we might be playing something that everyone knows, and it’s been played a thousand times, and to us, it may not be the hippest thing compared to a show, but it might turn on someone who might hear some jazz that they never thought they’d listen to.  Someone who listens to smooth jazz and thought they’d never listen to traditional jazz…gives them a little exposure to that!
Smitty:  Right.  It’ll be quite a trip, that’s for sure.
GK:  Yes, and I think it’s going to be the most artists on a cruise trip, yet.  I’m not sure how many artists were on the last one, but I think this one will probably top the total number or artists and shows.
Smitty:  I know it will exceed the number of headliners.  I think Peter White was telling me it’s the best line up ever for a cruise that he’s ever seen.
GK:  And the pre-cruise shows…you couldn’t get any better than Boney (James) and Al Jarreau.
Smitty:  I think you’re right.  It’ll be a blast.  Gregg, it’s always cool when you release a new Cd.  Thanks for sharing your time and this great new project. We’ve been talking with Trippin’ N’ Rhythm recording artist Gregg Karukas with his fresh new release “Looking Up”. Every CD player should experience this great project. Gregg thanks again and see on the ship!
GK: For sure, thank you Smitty!
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith

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