based singer-songwriter Ned Doheny is a West Coast pop icon
and he puts his experience to good use on his 2011 CD, the ten tracks
of The Darkness Beyond The Fire. A beautiful
production and featuring excellent packaging, the CD captures all
that is best about Neds approach to song-writing. In the past,
Ned has worked with legends like Traffic founder Dave Mason and theres
a definite mid 70s Mason like musical influence here. In fact,
besides joining Dave and Mama Cass during their brief stint together,
Ned also was a friend with Jackson Brown back in the day. Filled with
breezy, L.A. style singer-songwriter style pop, The Darkness Beyond
The Fire is the perfect showcase for Neds smooth pop groove.
With Ned singing on all the tracks and handling the guitars, several
key players help out and the CD booklet is excellent too. Check out
the booklets page one photo of Ned strumming guitar as a youngster
with record company legends Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun looking on in
amazement at this young kid with a guitar. www.NedDoheny.com
presents an interview with NED DOHENY
mwe3: Is there a story behind the release of your CD The Darkness
Beyond The Fire? I heard theres a mix of new music and classic
ND: In Africa,
certain indigenous people believe that when you tell stories around
the fire at night, the ghosts of your ancestors gather to listen in
the darkness beyond the fire. I wanted to hear these tunes as I had
always imagined them. You never know who might be listening.
mwe3: What other musicians play with you on the Darkness Beyond
The Fire album? Do you have a group of musicians you perform with
or record with these days?
ND: Jimmy Haslip played bass on a few of the tracks. Cat Grey and
I played synth bass on the rest. Cat Grey and Don Grusin played all
the keyboards. Cat played B3 and synths, Don Grusin, acoustic. A word
about Cat Grey...Cat was on the Purple Rain Tour with Prince and Sheila
E. and is usually asked to play with Prince when he is in town. Cat
is one of the best rhythm keyboard players Ive ever heard. Steve
Tavaglione played all the horn parts on an EWIhead charts no
less. Steve has graced a number of Steely Dan albums. The drums were
a combination of programmed and live with Gary Mallaber and Joey Herredia.
Charlie Bisharat is the lone string player and I played all the guitars.
Live, I often play alone, but the band lineup changes constantly.
mwe3: Your history in the music world is quite extensive and I know
you also worked with Dave Mason and Mama Cass too. What do you remember
most and best from that amazing 1969 to 1976 period?
ND: When I was fresh out of my teens, I played for a time with jazz
great Charles Lloyd. I was totally out of my depth, but I loved it.
In 1970 I was signed to Asylum Records and began my career as a solo
artist. The competition was fierceJackson Browne, Don Henley
and the like. Oneupmanship is a great catalyst for creativity.
We were merciless with one another. The business was on fire in those
days. On any given night, in studios all over Los Angeles, records
were being made that would re-write the history of popular music.
Los Angeles was the place to be.
mwe3: Your last name is Doheny and you were actually born (or lived)
on Doheny Drive in L.A. How did that happen? (lol) What was your family
like and what was it like growing up in Los Angeles during the 1950s
is actually a misnomer. I was born in Los Angeles, not Hollywood,
and at no time did I ever live on Doheny Drive. I think the Japanese
dreamed that one up. When I was a kid, there were buses on Hollywood
Blvd. that ran on electricity. There was a baseball field next to
the Farmers Market on Third Street. There were way fewer cars
on the street as the population in the US was half of what it is now.
There was a toy store in Beverly Hills called Uncle Bernies
that had a lemonade tree. The ocean was cleaner. The sky was bluer.
There were still orange groves. It felt like a small town. My father
had three brothers and one sister and there were lots of cousins to
play with. Los Angeles was a great place to grow up. I will always
be thankful I had a childhood. These days so many kids dont.
mwe3: Can you say something about your favorite musical influences,
groups, guitarists and some of your favorite albums?
ND: I love Howling Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, The Incredible
String Band, The Beatles, Booker T, Van Morrison, the Billy Taylor
Trio, Ornette Coleman, Oscar Peterson, Bobby Blue Bland, Marvin Gaye,
Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Smith and the organ trios... I was mesmerized
Among my favorite guitar players were: Lonnie Mack (I had a chance
to play with him), Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Breau, Steve Cropper, Little
Beaver (Willie Hale), James Burton, Merle Travis, Charlie Christian
and Django Reinhardt to name but a few. I tend to remember songs rather
mwe3: Thats a great picture of you on the cover of the CD booklet
for The Darkness CD where you pictured age ten, with Ahmet
Ertegun and Nesuhi Ertegun looking on. Is there a story behind that
picture? What do you remember most about the Ertegun brothers and
how did they influence you and what do you think they brought to the
godmother was dating a Turkish gentleman. It was through this association
that my parents met the Erteguns. Ahmet and Nesuhi started Atlantic
Records with a small loan from a dentist. Their impact on popular
music is incalculable: Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cream, Zep, the
Stones... The Erteguns were motivated by a deep love of American music
and they pursued their dreams with a fearlessness bordering on naiveté.
My memories of them are of two sophisticated and worldly gentleman
who told the most wonderful stories and always seemed to be having
the most fun. They were the first people I had met in the music business
who were actually having a wonderful time and making money at it.
They showed me what was possible. The picture was taken at my families
ranch. I think they were just being good sports, but they were always
supportive and gracious.
mwe3: Can you remember your first guitar? And what guitars are you
featuring on the Darkness Beyond The Fire album? What are some
of your favorite guitars and amps and how about favorite guitar effects
ND: My first guitar was an acoustic California Model.
Im a Fender guyStrats and Teles. On the acoustic side:
Martins. I am currently playing through either a Matchless or a Fullerton
era Vibrolux. I also love Paul Rivera: he makes the most wonderful
amps. I dont use many effects. I prefer to get my distortion
from the amp itself. I have a one of Dan Armstrongs Purple Peakers,
an old Boss chorus, a Fulltone Dejavibe and Supa-trem, an Empress
delay and a bunch of vintage compressor/limiters. I love Universal
mwe3: I remember that great album you worked on with Dave Mason and
Mama Cass way back in 1971. Can you remember how your involvement
with that album came about and what are your favorite tracks from
that album? Do you still know Dave Mason?
album came about because I was briefly in a band with Cass and Dave.
Our voices had a really lovely timbre, but the details did us in.
As far as the album went, I was out by then. Dave and I are still
on good terms, but I havent seen him in ages.
mwe3: What was it like working with guitarist Steve Cropper who also
produced a couple of albums for you? What albums did Steve produce
for you and how would you describe the chemistry Steve brought to
your music and do you still keep in touch with him?
ND: Working with Steve was effortless. An easy going Southern gentleman,
Steve never sweated the small stuff. He is without doubt one of the
most understated and tasteful guitar players in popular music. While
soloing has never been a problem for me, my true love is rhythm. Anybody
can fill the air with notes, but to only play whats necessary
to further the groove requires real restraint and maturity. There
are very few true rhythm players left. I worked with Steve on Hard
Candy and Prone. We had a great time and I was lucky to
be both his friend and collaborator. We havent spoken in ages.
mwe3: Do you have any hobbies, interests or causes outside of the
ND: I surf, practice martial arts and am a decent cook. Camping in
the desert restores my soul. After living through the earthquake in
Japan last year, I am convinced that nuclear power will never be safe.
It is little more than a treacherous way to boil water. I believe
that consciousness alone has the power to transform mankind.
mwe3: Can you say something about your future plans as far as writing
and recording new music and how about future reissues of your albums
and possible CD compilations or DVDs?
ND: The Darkness Beyond The Fire was an example of what the
Japanese call: danshari. I have released the musical clutter that
has lived in my head lo these many years and with it my attachment
to the past. Eliminating
clutter frees you up to live in the present. I am working on a bunch
of new stuff, but frankly, the music business is in disarray. Like
so many others, I continue to search for my audience. Playing music
is probably one of the most glorious things that a human being can
do with their clothes on, but on a financial level that ship has sailed.
I write now because I love it, but without expectation. The first
three American albums have been rereleased. I think Rhino rereleased
Ned Doheny and I know that both Hard Candy and Prone
are available on one CD. I would love to do an acoustic CD and a live
CD as well, but time will tell. All four American albums are available
for download on iTunes, CD Baby, etc. Look for some live music on
Thanks to Ned Doheny @ www.NedDoheny.com