5GB With Van Dyke Parks; Playing The Earl, 2/18

By Eileen Tilson

Legendary artist, composer and producer Van Dyke Parks has announced the launch of  a unique series of 7″ vinyl singles, the first new studio music in over 15 years since he released his acclaimed album Orange Crate Art. Each vinyl single is illustrated by some of the most important remarkable modern artists of the time. The iconic musician, who has been at the heart of some of the great albums of the last 50 years including Brian Wilson’s ‘lost’ masterpiece ‘Smile’, Randy Newman and Ry Cooder’s first recordings and Joanna Newsom’s critically acclaimed 2006 album ‘YS’, intends to release six new singles over the course of 2011. He’s worked with everyone from Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder and Joanna Newsom, and is pretty much a legend. You need to take this opportunity to catch an iconic musician in an intimate setting. We chatted with him before his show Saturday as part of our 5 GB series.

What was the first gig you ever went to?

It was 1952, and I was frog hunting at night with Roger Manton (a Seminole indian boy my age). We went through the woods to the crick. I held the gig that would spear the creature, once caught in the flashlight beam—and Roger had the machete, to whack off the frog legs. We’d take two pairs up the the headmaster’s house, and his wife would pan fry ’em up in butter and garlic, just like the Frenchies do. Mr. Bryant would give Roger and me $.50 apiece, enough for us to hitch a ride into Princeton, to see the weekend movie. Gigging proved profitable, at age nine.

What is the best gig that you ever played/performed at?

That would definitly be the Santa Clara show with Ry Cooder (check out “Down in Hollywood II” on Youtube, with me, Keltner, Flacco Jimenez, Steve Douglas, Jorge Calderon etc.). That gig was part of a “Get Rhythm” tour thru the U.S., Europe and Japan.

What is the best gig you have ever been to?

Inara George “An Invitation”, with orchestra, at Crossing Border Festival in Den Haag. As magnetic as her (same-titled) album.

Gig you would most like to play?

Anything under 2500 seater, indoors. Preferably where the group spills down into the audience in a theater in the round. (Anything larger reduces contact sports and tends to make a performer look like a red ant on a watermelon).

What would be the lineup for your dream gig?

I want to open for Beiruit in NYC’s Central Park this summer, use their horns on some of my stuff, and walk around the lawn while they do their set, and just inhale the great music. Dig?


Van Dyke Parks will be at The Earl tomorrow , 2/18, 


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