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DM) I understand that the entire band is made up of you, your husband and your son. How did this come about?
BK) Originally, I was signed to Warner Brothers in the early '70s. Doug was my producer's partner... Doug married "the act"; we walked away from show business, and raised his family. One night in a Hollywood rehearsal studio I was practicing with a group of studio musicians - The drummer took a break, and Doug sat down at the set. The minute he started playing, I involuntarily started jumping up and down... I knew that was the snare drum I'd been waiting for! Then he settled down to real practicing - for years - as I did, having switched from acoustic to electric guitar, before we emerged from the cellar. My stepson John was raised with music all around him, started guitar at age eleven, switched to bass and began playing with us at age 18.
DM) So do you also have the same typical family quarrels over music as you would about curfews and household chores?
BK) No, I guess music "hath charms to soothe....". We rarely argue about music, and if we do, it's amicable -about the order the songs should go in on the album or something like that. When we're playing, we are a real team - We've built up a psychic connection over the years, so it's a smooth-flowing operation.
DM) Do you think working together has enhanced the family relationship?
BK) Yes, because we share a common goal - And even if we weren't a family, we would like each other as people, so there's no obligation to get along - it's natural.
DM) Your newest album is called, "Church of the Falling Rain". What does it mean?
BK) Besides being the title of our last album and the opening song, it's a phrase I like because it suggests that one doesn't always need a building made of stone in order to feel awe for the beauty of the world and the wonder of being alive in it.
DM) Where did you first learn to play guitar?My elementary school teacher played electric guitar in a country band and she used to bring her Telecaster to class sometimes... I was immediately hooked. My parents got me a little Kay acoustic for Christmas... I often say and it's quite true, that I've been playing the same three chords since the fourth grade! I didn't start playing electric in earnest until after I met Doug and we started practicing together when he took up drums.
DM) I've read that you wrote songs for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Delaney and Bonnie, and Tanya Tucker.
BK) Yes, in my previous incarnation as a folksinger, I wrote songs that were covered by the artists you mentioned - songs most well known were "Free the People", "The Bramble and the Rose", and "Detroit or Buffalo". "A Stone's Throw Away" and "The Pride of Franklin County" were written later with Doug - I have never written specifically for other artists, though I'm always happy when songs are discovered and covered by them. . In fact, except for "Odessa", I don't write "on purpose" at all ... As a band, we consider ourselves servants of the songs - and there are a lot of them now after all these years!
DM) Do you still write songs for other singers?
BK) Not specifically for other singers, but sometimes an artist will find one of my songs and cover it - Folksinger Neal Casal, who was on Warner Brothers, Terry Evans, on TelArc Records, various bluegrass artists, etc. But mostly we have been writing and recording for ourselves in the last 10 years... We'd be happy to have artists discover the newer material.
DM) And after that, you received a large cash advance from the major labels which you in turn gave back to go underground.
BK) Yes, I was signed to Warner Brothers in the '70s, recorded one album, "Barbara Keith", for them... But somehow, even though there were some great studio musicians on that album ( Spooner Oldham, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Lowell George, Lee Sklar, Emory Gordy and others), it didn't feel like ME completely yet, and so we gave back the album advance money and quit. Needless to say, Warners pulled the album, which had JUST been released, and we began our long journey to find our own sound. By the way, that Warners album has recently been re-released in Japan on CD (evidently it is popular in the club scene over there) , and is available on the Internet - amazon and others.
DM) More recently, Elmore Leonard, who wrote "Get Shorty" has said that you're band was the inspiration behind his best selling novel, ''Be Cool.'' Is this true?
BK) Yes, Elmore Leonard was looking for inspiration for his sequel to "Get Shorty" when he came to see us at the Troubadour in L.A. He knew he wanted Chili Palmer to go into the music business and manage a rock band -He wanted music he could believe in, as well as lyrics he liked so he could weave them into the text. He evidently turned to his assistant at the end of our set and said, "That's it". He's very decisive and very un-Hollywood. He liked us and that was that - not swayed by our unknown status. At his request, we wrote one song, "Odessa", especially for the book.
DM) Will there be a movie too?
BK) Probably - We don't know much right now, but imagine it will be made at some point, as the movie rights to the book are owned by Danny DeVito's company and MGM-Sony, we think... We're a little hazy on those facts. We suppose that since John Travolta was Chili Palmer in "Get Shorty", his availability is also part of the equation.
DM) Does that mean you'll get a part in the movie?
BK) No acting... but since the lyrics are featured in the book, it's possible that our music would be included in the soundtrack.