Friday, September 24, 2010

For half a century, Van Dyke Parks has worn many hats — but he's only now wearing that of a touring entertainer. He appears at the Iron Horse Friday, October 1st with Clare (Muldaur) and the Reasons

Over the past five decades, Van Dyke Parks has had many titles: singer, songwriter, composer, producer and actor. However, the notion of being a touring artist has eluded him. That is until now.

The 67-year-old is  on a stateside jaunt. Making the unexpected outing even more unusual is the fact contemporary indie-pop act Clare & The Reasons will be backing up the elusive baroque pop master Parks, who in the past produced Brian Wilson's legendary album "Smile," along with material for U2, Ringo Starr, Cher, Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, Randy Newman and others.
Musically speaking, he promises to bring "a lifetime of recorded songs that I like, that I've never promoted, and some new ones, too, which I intend to record on a new album."

Considering your accomplishments in the music industry, touring appears to be the only thing missing.

I think that's fair and doesn't sound braggadocios because if you do a lot of things you could be accused at being a master of none of them. But I have worked very hard behind the scenes here for so long. I put my children through college, and now I have this opportunity. I turned to my wife and said, "If not now, when?" I mean, I can still hammer out a lot of information at a piano, and that's what I do. And I love music, whether it's music I've been familiar with for a long time or new music, I like to write songs, and I also like traditional forms and folk music, and that's influenced my style of writing. So I think that you can fairly say this is music built for a goat. It is just the broadest of recipes that I think a single person could serve up.

As for your new studio album, due out in 2011, what style will you be exploring?

I'm not going to tell you because I don't know what the style will be. I never have a preconception about an album. I've never had a concept for an album, and I believe that is absolutely counter-intuitive and forbidding any degree of creativity at all.

In looking back at your work on Wilson's famed "Smile," which was recorded and then shelved for 30 years before its release, what comes to mind?

Eight months of hard work when I was 24. I think, looking back, it was excellent work. It was highly controversial at the time. Some people love it, while others dislike it intensely because it broke the mold for the Beach Boys, although I did not work for them. I worked for Brian 

When people wonder openly about what "Smile" was all about, I have generally a spasmodic reaction and ask what they were doing when they were 24? I think it actually was a very ambitious and, more importantly, an able and courageous work. It had courage and it took courage.

Finally, why should fans check out your live set?

I think it's fair to say almost live (laughs). I'm 67, and it's not certain to me if I'll ever do this again, but I want to jump on this. … It gives me a chance to borrow a title I used on an album. It gives me a chance to "Discover America." I am American through and through. It's in the quilt-work of my family. I want to take this opportunity to learn and discover something, but I can promise you the evening is not just a monopoly of Van Dyke Parks. It's a tremendously harmonious evening because it has so many musical elements. I think anyone who comes to this show will step away from a moment of great magic and an unforgettable evening.

By John Benson- News-Herald/Ohio


Who: Van Dyke Parks with Clare & The Reasons
When: Friday, October 1st 7:00 p.m

Where: The Iron Horse, 20 Center Street, Northampton Mass.

Tickets: $22.50 at Northampton Box Office 76 Main Street 413-586-8686 or 

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