INTERVIEW: “Piano” Jack Spann

spannIt’s an incredibly huge honor to say that you’ve played on a record with David Bowie. It’s another even bigger thing to say that you were involved with Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar”, which was a masterpiece in it’s own right, as well as a curtain call. “Piano” Jack Spann has the distinguished to claim the latter, as he was involved with “Blackstar” in the demo stage. The talented New York-based musician also plays with his band, which will be making a stop at Summerfest on July 1st, opening for Collective Soul at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard. We talked to Spann about his work with not only Bowie, but his upcoming album, “Beautiful Man From Mars”, as well:

B&E: Hi Jack! Describe the sound of your latest album, “Beautiful Man From Mars”:

JS: Hi Allen, I’d call it a mix of piano rock, synth pop, and skiffle.

B&E: How did working on David Bowie’s “Blackstar” come about?

JS: A mutual friend with whom I had worked hooked me up with Tony Visconti, who in turn hired me to play piano & keyboards for the David Bowie recordings at the Magic Shop, NYC.

 B&E: Did that recording experience change anything in your process when it came time to make your album?

JS: It didn’t change my process, but it became a major reaffirmation of some of my musical principles, like stick to your guns, work your ass off, look for a different sound, and value the positive in yourself.

B&E: If you had to pick one, would you prefer being in the studio with artists like David Bowie, or playing festivals like Summerfest?

JS: Well, luckily I don’t have to make that choice!  I’d have to split somewhere down the middle:  I’d  love doing either thing, as long as there is an appreciative audience, no matter how small.

B&E:  Lastly, if you could put together your own festival lineup with any five artists, living or dead, who would they be?

JS: On my God. This is the best question.  Taking for granted that I am there, and I could play with anyone of these folks, I would say:

1) Art Tatum, 2) John Lennon, 3)Freddy Mercury, 4)Buddy Holly, and 5) Etta James.  Lest people say this list is too male-heavy, I would say my next five would be:

1)  Janis Joplin, 2) Kate Pierson, 3) Cindy Wilson (B-52’s) 4) Carol Kaye, and 5) Beyonce, as long as she would only sing backup.

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