Brian Auger

Brian Auger is the organist/leader with the Oblivion Express. The band in various formats has been together for 30 years and has made many recordings. Currently the quartet is Organ/El. piano, Bass, Drums, Vocalist. I first heard them when I was younger and the sound inspired me to pursue playing jazz within a rock context as well as chop up my Hammond organs and run them into Marshall stacks to compete within the GDD (guitar decibel domain). The music sounds as fresh now as it did 30 years ago. After a fantastic show by the band at the Dakota Bar this interview filled in a lot of information about Brian Auger.

Steve – I remember first hearing you when you were playing with John McLaughlin…
Brian Auger- John was an old friend of mine – we knew each other from when we were about 18 years old. We would play a lot of gigs together in town, in London, and also we would go out about every weekend at one point, we were playing for the U.S. Air Force bases and U.S. Army bases – we’d take a band and go and play at those places in England. So we would do that, and eventually my manager had some production money and was asking me “Look, I need to produce two or three people, is there anyone you would recommend.” This was about 1968 – I said “You know, John McLaughlin is probably about the best guitar player in Europe and possible one of the best in the world right now, and you should try and record him. Nobody’s even looked at him yet.

S – This is before the Mahavishnu Orchestra & Lifetime.
Brian Auger- – This is before that, yeah and he did the Extrapolation album in London, and then following that he was playing in Paris and Tony Williams saw him and asked if he would play on one of Tony’s albums

S – With Larry Young, yeah.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, and then introduced him to Miles, and the rest is what it is.

S – When you were playing with John were you playing organ back then?
Brian Auger- – No, but I played a lot of piano early on I was playing jazz piano. But he did do the first organ gig – when I first bought an organ he did the first gig with me which was at the Green Man – I’ll always remember it – in Blackey in London. We played at this pub, and John was on guitar there, yeah.

S – What was your first organ?
Brian Auger- – I had a Hammond L -100 . I thought, there weren’t any B-3s around at the time in England, that’s the model they were selling and I thought, “Well, I want to buy a Hammond organ, because I’ve heard Jimmy Smith and he plays the Hammond organ.” I didn’t realize there were different models.

S – Keith Emerson said the same thing
Brian Auger- -Yeah, and Keith’s an old friend of mine as well, actually, from the same period. So I had this L and I was trying to make it sound like Smith and I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t. And eventually somebody came back, there were musicians who used to work on the cruise lines and some of them would go across to New York, you know, lucky guys, and they’d get off and they’d go to the clubs and they’d come back with all these stories “God, I saw …. jazz… , God I saw Miles” and some of them brought me back an album of Jimmy McGriff live at the Apollo. And on the front Jimmy’s sitting at this huge organ and I’m like “Oh my God, what is that?” So I took the record and I took it to Hammond in England and I said “What is this organ?” “Oh, that’s a B-3.” I said “Well that’s the one I want.” They said, “Well we don’t have any of them in England.” And I said “Well could you get one?” And they said, “It will have to be made for 220 power, so we’ll call Hammond and we’ll see.” And they eventually called me back and said “We can build one for you – they will fly the parts over and we’ll assemble it – it’ll take about ten weeks.” I said, “Fine, order it and build it.” And, I never looked back after that, you know, I got the real deal.

S- Yeah. That’s not the same one out there by any chance?
Brian Auger- – No, I wore the first one out, and this is the second one which was built in 1968 in England.

S – The second one?
Brian Auger- – Yeah, and that one’s lasted all this time. So, I had it rebuilt again about two or three years ago by a firm in St. Petersburg, Florida called Keyboard Specialties and they’re like on Hammond organs, they’ve been doing it for like 30 years.

S – It sounded fantastic out there – and I don’t miss the Leslie at all, I never have, in your playing ..
Brian Auger- – No, I had one Leslie in the beginning, and when I moved into the Steam Packet with John Baldry and Rod Stewart and Julie, what happened was John Baldry at the time had done two Christmas shows with the Beatles. The Beatles had an hour-long Christmas show when they first got really big in England, they would get like an hour on Christmas Day – they’ve done this two years running – and Baldry had been on both of those shows, so he was really kind of like a household name. Rod Stewart was unknown – Rod had sat in with my band a couple of times. When I first bought the organ I was just playing trio, and Baldry saw me playing in Manchester and he was having all sorts of problems with his own band – he really couldn’t control the madness of the band, and everything was totally out of hand and he kind of had enough of it. So he called me and asked me whether I would like to meet his managers. So I went up to talk to them, I said “Look, would you like to put a band together for John?” I said, “He loves the Trinity” and I thought it would be a tremendous rhythm section and what do you think about that?” And they said, “Well great idea, I’d love to do that.” I mean this guys the best blues singer in the country at the time. And so we had a meeting a couple of days later and John said, “Have you heard this guy Rod Stewart ?” And I said, “Yeah, he sat in with me a few times.” And he said, “Well I’d like to maybe have him in the band as well and what about the band, do you think the trio’s enough?” And I said, “Well for blues I think we should have a guitar player as well.” So I originally got Dick Briggs, who eventually went to the new Animals. So that was the band. And I’d done a couple singles – there was a singer in our agency, Julie Driscoll, and I played on a couple of her singles. And she was waiting to get out on the road with a band. She wanted to sing, and she was answering Yardbirds fan mail at the time. So I suggested, “Look, we’ve got this singer in the agency, I mean, what about doing a sort of package show where I go on and play a couple of jazzy things, and then Julie comes on and she sings some Motown or Nina Simone stuff, and then Rod comes on and does, like Sam Cook impersonations and Marvin Gaye stuff – we sing backup for Rod, and then Baldry comes on and he can do some straight blues stuff and some gospel where we can all sing backup.” Ya know, and it’s kind of like there was no band on the road like that at the time and it has all these people in it. So they said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea – there’s nothing like that. What do you think we should call it?” Well, there was a phrase called if you played with a lot of spirit we’d say “That guy’s a steamer, man, that music’s steaming!” So I said “What about Steam Packet?” which gives the idea of this river boat going up and down the river in the old kind of blues areas. And they said, “Well, yeah that’s a great idea.” So it became the steam packet. And what happened then was that when John would do a date, I mean 500 people would turn up which is a big crowd for England at the time. So we were playing in these big halls, and I had one Leslie and I couldn’t hear it. So then I bought another Leslie, I had two of them, and I still couldn’t hear it. So then I had these like English electronics engineers soup up the amplifiers to the point where both of them went up in smoke during the concerts. And some bright start – one of our sound men said “Well, the only thing I can think of is to take the signal and plug you into the P.A. or something.” We tried that I said “Wow, I really like that.” I’d already got to the point where because one of the horns is blanked, I’d do a fast run and a slow chorale and half of the percussion wouldn’t appear until the horn came around again. So I stopped both of the top horns, so that wasn’t happening. And then I didn’t really use the fast chorale very much and I was only using the slow chorale and I thought “Ya know, I’ve got these boxes, I’ve got a bottom speaker pointed at the ground inside this box, and the horn – why am I using a stack?” So I went to a stack of, I tried out all these amps. Now the thing that I wasn’t aware of was that the signal coming off of the Hammond was so strong that it would go into the amplifier and it would actually overload the first stages of the amp and so the signal would be distorted. And I couldn’t get rid of this distortion and nobody could figure it out. And I went to Italy and I was playing in this club, and we were doing a sound check one afternoon and this little Italian guy comes in and he says “It’s terribly distorted, the signal, Breean.” And I said, “Yeah, but nobody can fix that – I’ve tried everybody in London.” And he says “I can fix it.” So, I said, “Woh, yeah, really – you give me the organ and the speakers, I take it away I bring it back later – oh, really?” So I went to the boss of the club and I said “Who is this guy?” He said, “Oh, that guy is a genius – an electronic genius. He builds all his own amplifiers – his name is Romano Lombardi.”

S – Yeah, I remember that – you gave him credit on the Second Wind album. I remember seeing that.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, I did and the reason is, y’know, I said, “Well, is he trustworthy? He wants to take my organ away and do something to it dishonest.” “Oh no, he’s absolutely – like he has his own little factory and he designs all these amps and everybody swears by them.” So I said, “He says he can fix my organ.” And they said, “Well, yeah, if he says he can fix it – he can.” So I said, “Fine.” I went back and said “OK, Romano, you take it away. I had an orange stack, two15s with an amplifier and the whole thing. So he takes it away, he brings it back in the evening, and he sets it up, but he’s given me two speaker cabinets and they’ve got six metric speakers in them – they’re about 13 inches, six of them, six in each speaker box, with ceramic magnets at the back. I mean, y’know, these amazing speakers and stuff, and two amplifiers. And he says to me “You put the organ in this amplifier and you put the piano in that one.” And he says, “Try it out.” And I tried it out and it was like “Oh, my God, it’s incredible – problem solved.” So I said, “Well, yeah, but Romano, how much do you want for this stuff?” He says, “No, no, you don’t pay me anything. You give my your orange things in change.” And I said, “Well this is double, you’re giving me double.” “No, it doesn’t matter, just give me the orange things.” So I played the gig that night and the people were like “Oh, my God.” It was just absolutely amazing. And he was there at the end and he said, “You like, you like this?” And I said, Romano, I can’t thank you enough. Now look, this is ridiculous. I must give you some money for this huge thing.” And he says, “No, no, you don’t understand, I already sold this evening, four of those systems” to four other Hammond players that had come to see the gig, y’know. Anyway, that really was beginning of developing what you hear – my sound on organ. I can’t really play Leslie, I can do it for colors and things sometimes in the studio, but I can’t think the way I think if I play with a Leslie. I don’t know what it is, it has sort of an “old school” sound to me. I don’t know why, it’s only my little quirk.

S- Well, no, you definitely put organ into a more contemporary realm – you advanced the form.
Brian Auger- – Well, that’s what it is for me, anyway. And I love Jimmy Smith, I mean Jimmy Smith is the daddy of all of this, man, I mean if it wasn’t for Jimmy we wouldn’t be out here, anyway. But I tend to look on Jimmy as the daddy of all of this, but there are a string of organ players with not really much that’s different about their playing from Smith. And not very much different from their sound. They use the same harmonic, they use the same percussion. And I kind of go, “Well that sounds like Jimmy, but it ain’t Jimmy, cause it’s not as good as him.” You know, and there’s a whole school of stuff like that. And I think some of the rock and roll organ players actually took it somewhere else even though they’re using Leslies.

S- Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, those guys?
Brian Auger- – Right, and it’s funny cause Keith is kind from a classical background, and I’m kinda from a jazz background, and that’s really the difference between us. It’s a rhythmic difference.

S – And a harmonic difference.
Brian Auger- – It’s a harmonic difference, yeah. Because what I tried to do was, to go from 2-5-1 Charlie Parker harmony, which most of the Hammond players play, and add in pentatonic scales, add in modal stuff, and really take the harmonic thing to another place, y’know. Write tunes that aren’t First 8, Second 8, Middle 8, Last 8. And do it like that – like totally different – and try and just escape from that whole school of thinking about playing swing organ.

S – Well your book is great, your repertoire, your changes.
Brian Auger- – Thank you.

S – And it’s challenging stuff to play. You can see by listening to it. And you’ve created a whole style of organ, you’ve created a whole repertoire to put that style …
Brian Auger- – Sure, and it’s funny because it really, when I first started I was playing the clubs in London and I’d go on and play, still playing piano trio with Rick Lard on upright bass, who went to Mahavishnu. And I was one of the last trios that was playing stuff like Moanin’ and really kinda puttin’ the groves down. Coming from my background, was like the Messengers and Miles and Coltrane and listening to all that kind of thing. And I saw these bands playing and they were playing R & B. And, man those grooves are amazing. And then I’d see these rock and roll players like the Who would come on, and they would play, they became, became a good friend of mine. I’d see all these different bands and I’d go “That’s so exciting!” You know, those beats, I wanted to take those beats and I started to try and make this bridge between the rock and jazz scenes. I understood the jazz scene because I actually won the jazz polls. But then, playing in these clubs with all these R & B bands. And then I heard stuff with Bernard Purdy playing drums and I went “Oh my God, I’ve got to have that kind of rhythm section.” I started to play pedals early on with the Hammond because I wanted the kind of very percussive bass lines, the bass lines, there was no way that we could get that sound and there was no way that we could play those patterns with the pedals. So, I just kind of went “Well, I’ve got to have a bass player, I have to have a bass player.” For what I want. And I tried to go ahead developing this music. And with The Trinity that’s really what the whole idea was. And with The Oblivion Express it was trying to move on down the line and open up all the possibilities and try and push the envelope with what finally became known as fusion. I mean, the first couple of years with Julie and things, doing those experiments, some of the guys I knew from the Ronny Scotts club wouldn’t talk to me anymore – they were real purists. And there are still some out there. But we were the first band of that kind to top the bill at the Montreax Jazz Festival in ’68 and the Berlin Jazz Festival in the same year. And that really started to break alot of the molds, break alot of the barriers. And it was a very exciting time in fact. And I’ve just kind of pushed on with The Oblivion Express and I’m pretty happy with the current format – and I’m just having a ball.

S – It must be very exciting playing with your family.
Brian Auger- – Oh, absolutely. I never imagined that would happen.

S – How many children do you have?
Brian Auger- – I have three – I have my son, Connor who plays drums with me. And my eldest daughter Allie is a tremendous singer. She loves Sarah Vaughan – is her favorite singer of all time.

S – Nothing wrong with that.
Brian Auger- – No, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson and Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday. She loves all that area, but she also loves Aretha, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye – she’s got a kind of mix of all that. But she’s got such a tremendous jazz voice.

S – She was singing with the band earlier.
Brian Auger- – She was, but the road got to tough for her. She wanted to stay home, you know. So Savannah came into the band and Savannah has just really blossomed over the last year. She’s been with us about two years and she’s really, from never doing this before, really found her feet, and just going from strength to strength. As is Connor – you know he’s just like surprised the hell out of me, I mean, he’s just become such a tremendous player.

S – Yeah, he’s playing all the tunes all the arrangements
Brian Auger- – Unbelievable.

S – And she’s singing some very difficult intervals.
Brian Auger- – Oh yeah.

S – I mean to try and find notes that will work against the harmonies, it’s just a tremendous job. So, the band is still the Oblivion Express?
Brian Auger- – It’s still the Oblivion Express roars on. And the reason I called it The Oblivion Express is because, when I finished with The Trinity, I realized that we’d had a lot of pop success with that band – we’d had a number one single and the album was on the top five in every country in Europe. And when I started The Oblivion Express, I wanted a band that would be kind of like a school for everybody. I was gonna invite everybody and say, “Hey I’m gonna stretch everyone here. It’s gonna be open. I’m not gonna say anything to you unless you’re doing something that is wrecking the groove, or not working. And you can write tunes and we’ll play them and we’ll play them on stage, and if they don’t work they don’t – and if they do, they do.”

S – A very positive attitude for a band.
Brian Auger- – Let’s stretch as writers, composers, whatever, arrangers, and stretch ourselves as musicians and see whether we can’t come out of this better than we went in and push on down the line. And then I realized that because I’d been locked in this situation with a major label where if you had some success, they want to keep you in that formula. The formula that I was developing was very much wading against the commercial tide. So therefore, the thought did cross my mind that I was heading the quickest way to oblivion and so I thought “Well, maybe I should call it The Oblivion Express.”

S – That’s great – I often wondered where that came from.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, and here we are, about 30 years after and The Oblivion Express is still happening.

S – And there was a hiatus, you were playing with Eric Burton, I think the last time I saw you here in town, at the Cabooze, I think.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, Eric asked me if I was interested to put a band together for him and help him to get going again. Because, he was working about two weekends a month at the time. And the musicians he had – it would be kind to say they were tenth rate. So, I said “Well, I’m not interested in playing Animals covers, that’s not what I’m into, but if you want to really open up the music thing, I’ll put a band together and we’d be able to take you on and do anything that you want to create.” And he said, “Well, I want to take the music to another level.” And I said, “OK, well, if you’re into that – sure.” And we did do that, but he didn’t keep his promise. And in the end, he started to block every creative thing that we were trying to do and we found that he saw it as pressure on him, so in the end I just kind of gave up and said, “Well, if we’re creatively bland than we’re not going anywhere. I stayed long enough – I was about to step out and he said “Why don’t we make a live album, cause the band is so good.” And I said, “Yeah.” So I hung on in there, and ended up producing that album and pulling it together and it was an extremely difficult project. One of the most difficult things I ever had to do, but we finally came out of it and at least there was a statement from that band on record. And then I realized that I didn’t want to put any more energy into anyone else’s projects, I wanted to re-master all my CDs, get them out again and put the band on the road again.

S – So here you are today.
Brian Auger- – Here we are today, with The Oblivion Express, and I’ve never been happier than this. I think I’m playing as good as I’ve ever played.

.
S – Oh, you sound great – your time is great, your ideas are fantastic.
Brian Auger- – And I started to rebuild my Hammond, and really kind of push on down the line.

S – Tell me about your equipment. You have a Hammond – is that a B-3?
Brian Auger- – Yeah, a Hammond B-3, and it’s funny, it’s a special one because it was built in England and I brought it to the states, and I had an American tongue wheel put in, because the tongue wheel turns 60 cycles per second I think here, and 50 cycles per second in England. So, it would have been about a fourth flat, or something like that. So I had a tongue wheel put in, so it’s half English and half American, it’s kind of like a hybrid. But I wanted to keep the Hammond, because each Hammond has an individual kind of sound to it, and there’ nothing that sounds like my one. And then I had these guys called Keyboard Specialists down in St. Petersburg, Florida rebuild it completely for me. And the solder, all the solder joints in the amplifier and all the rest of them in everything.

S – They’ve redone?
Brian Auger- – Yeah, they took all of that down to pieces and re-soldered everything with solder, because the solder degenerates over time, the one that they used to use for Hammond, and it degrades the sound. So when I heard this thing, when I got it back, they’d rebuilt the action, rebuilt the amplifiers and the tongue wheel, all the solder joints, done some work on the cabinet for me – and when I played it, I went “Oh my God, it’s just amazing.” I mean it’s just tremendous.

S – And you’re running it through a Carver power amp?
Brian Auger- – Yeah, I’m basically running the signal out into a Mackey mixer and I’m splitting the signal and running two channels so I can EQ each one slightly differently, so I can get a full range of the bottom end, the mid and the shouting top. That goes into the mixer, goes from the mixer into a Carver amp, which is a 1,200 – 600 watts a side. That powers my wedges, which I use as monitors, and each one has a 15 inch JBL and a two inch . And that’s the thing that makes it sound great. I just have minimum effects in LXP-1 Lexicon, I put some reverb in it so it’s got a real pure reverb to it.

S – Yeah, it sounds like the Hammond reverb.
Brian Auger- – There you go. And I have a Korg SG Proex piano, 88-note weighted piano, it’s got some great Rhodes sounds. Also it’s got some great piano sounds and stuff on it and a list of other and stuff that I don’t use very much. But, tremendous stuff, man. I mean Korg has produced the new Triton as well. That looked after me across the years and they’ve always come out with great stuff that’s easy to use on stage – and very durable. So that’s my rig, really.

S – People out there reading this interview, now, they want to go out and buy your CDs. Where can you direct them?
Brian Auger- – At this particular time, there shouldn’t be any in the shelves, really. But you can go to www.brianauger.com, which is my website, and all of them are up on the website. We have an order form, or you can order with a credit card and send the order through to us and we’ll get them to you.

S – OK, we’re gonna put this at the bottom of the page, so people can go directly to you and buy these things. You’ve got a great book. I tell you, I’ve listened to your albums from 20, 30 years ago and they sound fresh.
Brian Auger- – Oh, thank you, yeah.

S – I mean art doesn’t deteriorate over time, it’s like a fine line.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, I think some of the things have really held up well. But I mean, I’ve never gone out to kind of fire?? the music at a specific market or anything like that. We’ve always gone into the studio and tried to make the best music we can make. And because it’s really jazz based, what happens is, we can play these tunes over a length of years, but the solos are always different. And the whole thing’s kind of like move towards, you know, music lives and it kind of assumes its own arrangements. I played with Steve, I played some phrases unconsciously I’d be doing it every night, playing a little lick, and Steve would catch it. Steve’s a great listener, a great groover. And I’d go “Wow, I didn’t realize I was playing that every night.” And that would become part of the arrangement and the tune would kind of expand on its own.

S – You’re also playing organ with a band called Cab, is that right?
Brian Auger- – Yes, that’s just a project with a dear friend of mine, Barney Brunell, who plays bass, who played with Chick Corea for about three or four years after Stanley Clark left, and Tony McAlpine , an absolutely amazing guitar player, and Dennis Chambers. That’s Connor’s idle. So Connor got to hang out for a couple weeks with Dennis while we were doing the album, and was just in heaven.

S – Are you guys at all based back in London?
Brian Auger- – No, no, I’ve lived in the states since 1975. So I’ve been here a long time. Been out in California, presently we live in Venice, California – we’re happy there. And we two to three tours of Europe a year, I get out to Japan now and again, and I’ve just really decided that this new band, we’ve got to come out, come what may, in the states. And, fortunately, we’ve managed to find a means of doing that.

S – Yeah, the crowd here loved you tonight. They wouldn’t let you off without a standing ovation, you had to come back and play – that was great.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, so we’re just having a great time. Basically, we’re going through, we’re showing the band, and it’s making enough to cover our expenses and pay for the band and everything. That’s all I need to do, because I really want to establish the band in the American market, so we’ll have a real good touring base for the band, apart from Europe, which we’re doing really good in. And we still have one foot in the jazz world and one foot in the , you know — it’s weird, I kind of sometimes fall through the cracks, because jazz players think I’m a rock player and rock players think I’m a jazz player. And it’s kind of been like that. But, I don’t really care, man. I want to use these years to play. I’m gonna play till I leave the planet, that’s the idea, and I’m happy doing that.

S – Yeah, well I think you’ve given a shot in the arm to both mediums. Rock where you did something and something more contemporary and Jazz can, the concept of jazz is that it has to keep moving on, I think.
Brian Auger- – I think that’s it, man, and I always felt early on in London, I used to play on Ronny Scott’s and stuff, and I felt that right from the beginning when I’d start to play piano, I learned how to play a piano…… out of a bay window downstairs in a house, and I would open the windows and all my friends, my little kid friends, would sit around on the window sill and I’d play inside the house. So, to me, music is not some sort of science that I need to blind people with, it’s not a question of technique, it’s not a kind of ego-driven thing, it’s not a competition with anybody else. I only compete with my own ignorance in all fields. Basically, it’s trying to communicate with people. And I think that that happens if it comes from the heart and it hits them in exactly the same place. And if it doesn’t do that, then to me it’s a waste of energy. It either has that element to it or it doesn’t mean anything. I grew up on black American music, for some reason. I’m in England, and that’s what attracted me and that’s what I got drawn to because it had a fire and a spirit, particularly from the rhythmic side. And it was so exciting to me that that’s the way I wanted to play. And I also want to play for people. I can stay at home and practice all day, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. The reason for us being out here, as tough as it is, is because I love to play to people still, and that’s what it’s really about for me.

S – Man, we’re glad you’re out here.
Brian Auger- – Well, you know, it’s a great pleasure to me, particularly because my kids have graduated and the reinforcements have arrived. And they’re in the band, y’know, they’re kicking my ass every night. And that’s just an amazing thing, I mean I never, ever expected that. But, I couldn’t be happier, man. I must be one of the most lucky people on the earth. I never expected to make music that was gonna make millions of dollars, I didn’t want to retire early, I’ve never been in that field at all. I don’t care about the record companies, they deserve all the bad luck that they’ve had for being really, really stupid, and not moving on when they should have, and not being interested in quality music. Jazz is basically the biggest contribution to the arts that America has made – full staff. Yeah, you know, you’ve got some great writers, I mean I’ve read Faulkner, I’ve read Hemingway, and I’ve read all sorts of American writers that I think were fantastic. But then we’ve got William Shakespeare and we’ve got our contemporary writers. But in the area of jazz, who did that? Only America has come up with jazz and jazz has come from like blues and gospel and kind of developed itself in small bands to big bands. Become something that has influenced 20th century music completely.

S – I thank the Europeans for supporting it though.
Brian Auger- – Well, and the Japanese. You know, somebody like Duke Ellington man, I mean this guy is just an icon of music of the 20th century. It’s somebody that’s turned everything around somehow or other and, y’know, Black American music has really given us so much – and the spinoffs are rock and roll, and fusion music and all those things. All that stuff has come out of American music – basically, jazz has fed the stream and to see how neglected it is in America is just, for a European like me, I’m dumbfounded. I cannot believe that the Americans would leave something like that and not teach it to their young kids and not present it for what it actually is – it’s just amazing.

S – It’s embarrassing.
Brian Auger- – It is – I’m embarrassed for the American public, that they have not started this, and that they haven’t taken it to their heart. The fact is, if you’re talking about freedom being the epitome of what we all struggle for in America and what the Constitution is all about, how much freer can you be than to play music where you get to solo? You’re totally free – you’re making it up, spontaneously. I mean, isn’t that American. It’s as American as you can get.

S – I agree with you 100%. In fact, if you ever decide to run for office – you have our vote.
Brian Auger- – No, no, no, I would never do that. I’m afraid that, I think that what happens is, in every political sphere by the time you get anywhere, you’re so compromised that it’s difficult for you to do anything. And that’s unfortunately the world of politics – I could never deal with that. And the deal is, it would be so apparent what my strategy would be, that I would last five minutes.

S – That’s great. I know you’ve got family back at the bar, I’m just curious, though, have you ever played an instrument a melodica.
Brian Auger- – Yeah, I know what you mean, a melodica, yeah.

S – We have a website called Melodicas.com. I’m just curious, do you have any melodica stories?
Brian Auger- – Yeah, I think it’s a really cool instrument. And the reason I used to take one with me at one point, was because I couldn’t have a keyboard, there was no portable keyboard or anything, but I could actually make up melodies and write them by playing the melodica and going “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” and, y’know, just messing around. But then it has a great thing of it’s own – it has a sound of it’s own.

S – Yeah,
Brian Auger- – There ya go.

S – Well thanks alot for your time.
Brian Auger- – You’re welcome, man.

For more info on Brian & the band and a really cool website goto to www.brianauger.com