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Video:  Playing For Change—WE ARE ONE – Benefit Concert

Doobie Brothers and Little Feat help Playing For Change with Benefit Concert at The Mayan in Los Angeles this Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Event:  PLAYING FOR CHANGEWE ARE ONE, a benefit concert.

Celebrating 10 years of positive change through music.
When:  Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at The Mayan in Los Angeles.
Where:  1038 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA  90015   P: 213-746-4674

Playing For Change Foundation supports free music education for children across the globe. Come out and help—be a part of the change. This special benefit concert will feature Doobie Brothers members Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John McFee, along with Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney and Fred Tackett. The evening will showcase The Playing For Change Band made up of 10 musicians from 10 different countries including vocalist Nahko, drummer James Gadson, multi-instrumentalist Ellis Hall and harmonica master Lee Oskar.

We talked with The Doobie Brothers’ Patrick Simmons about the need now, more than ever, to come together—and unite with other musicians to help children around the globe.

Photo credit:  Anddrew Macpherson

Photo credit: Anddrew Macpherson

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS’ PATRICK SIMMONS Interview with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

What is the level of your involvement with Playing For Change?
We took notice of what they were doing musically—with the earlier videos of musicians from around the world. It was impressive for everybody in the music community. I’m friends with Peter Bunetta, so I heard about it from him first—a couple of years ago. I said, “Anything we can do, you should get a hold of us.” About a year ago, they came to us through Tom [Johnston], and asked us if we would be into doing a PFC version of “Listen to the Music” as they had done with some other songs. Of course we said, “Certainly.” They did a worldwide video of that tune, with musicians around the world participating. We also sang and played on the track. It was a fun process in the way that it was recorded and shared.

Was the process challenging?
It’s truly a cool process. The track was initially cut to a click, and all the musicians joined in and added their parts. The actual finished product came out great. It’s such an uplifting process, and that song is a signature tune for us. It was our first really successful song. The message is the right message for this organization, in terms of sharing music, which is probably the main focus of Playing For Change—to encourage music around the world, in schools and communities. It’s about sharing and learning, among other things that they do. It was perfect for us, and perfect for the song. That’s how we started working together, and now we are a bit more engaged, and we’re getting ready to do a Benefit Concert in Los Angeles—this Tuesday, October 3, at the Mayan.

What attracts a well-known band like the Doobie Brothers to this project?
It’s fabulous to do something globally, especially in the times we live in. I don’t want to get too political but it’s tough with the current administration we have, as opposed to the last administration—which was the opposite, 180 degrees. Trying to pull the world together is obvious for all the adults in the room. We need adults running the country and representing us to the world. But these two schoolyard bullies are drawing us closer and closer to annihilation. People should be very clear that if something happens in one case, it’s going to happen everywhere. It comes down to a lack of knowledge and education.

What is the responsibility of musicians during times like these?
You can speak up, and use your music to bring people together. But it’s a new paradigm in terms of how people get their information. Unfortunately, most people get their information from the sources that tell them what they want to hear. They don’t pay attention to Rachel Maddow, CNN, or other reputable news sources. They pay attention to their Facebook page and Fox News—because it reinforces the views they already have. I suppose it happens on both sides, but much more often on Fox News. It’s shocking sometimes. I hear out and out untruths. I hear things that are detrimental to the welfare of our nation. It’s frightening.

What can musicians do?
Musicians and artists do their best to be as inclusive as possible, and reach out to people. Unfortunately, some people don’t want us to reach out to them. They’re rather we left them alone. For people like Jerry Falwell Jr. who claim to be Christians and don’t stand up and speak out about this hatred and racism, I’d say, “You need to get back to reading your Bible, brother—because you’re reading between the lines, instead of reading the lines that mean something. You’re misreading and coming up with something that just doesn’t see the good.” The Christian doctrine has been so twisted to accommodate prejudice and hate—hate for people who are different. There’s no way the Savior would have accepted that—he died fighting for the opposite. These guys don’t have a clue—even regarding their own doctrine. All they want to do is create something that dwells in hate rather than love. It’s a pretense. It’s a mind-blowing thing. They live in an era of denial, and that denial is pushing people away from their message.

Is there a song you would sing to help alleviate fears?
I wrote a song a couple of years ago called “Don’t Be Afraid”—about how fear can limit your ability to move forward with your life. My hope is that people don’t let fear get in the way of making decisions to move forward. It will only impede their growth.

The Doobie Brothers-1Does music have the power to change?
I have hope. I have hope all the time. I’m sitting here complaining, but the fact of the matter is I’ve been through Nixon, the Bushes, Reagan. I hate feeling this way, but in my lifetime, the political agenda has been a right-wing, business oriented, political agenda. Or it’s been a more liberal, populist view—looking out for the little guy. I’m not ultra-liberal. I am probably more conservative these days in understanding of what it takes to develop your dream. It takes a lot of hard work. But I’ve been through Nixon-Reagan-Bush—politically and economically, and we made it through. We went on to better years with Clinton and Obama, and with Jimmy Carter.

How did President Jimmy Carter help?
Many people malign him and laugh when they say, “Oh Jimmy Carter, look what happened.” But he was the guy saying, “Turn down your thermostat—the country can save trillions of dollars, if people would turn down their thermostats and keep it down to 68.” Even to this day, if you ask the average person, they’ll say they keep their thermostat at 68. After Carter, people closed the door when they had the air conditioning on. Keeping it at 68—saved energy.

People don’t realize all that President Carter has done and continues to do.
Jimmy Carter aligned with Habitat for Humanity, and you see how much he’s done for people in need, and for the spirit of the country in terms of helping and highlighting the needs and difficulties of a group of people who can’t buy a house. He’s done so much for the average American, and the spirt of the country. He was highly underrated as a leader.

Is there a new Doobie Brothers album coming soon?
We have been recording. We’ve got some tracks we’ve started working on—and they really came out well. But we’re just scratching the surface. Hopefully this winter, we’ll buckle down and finish up the product. I’m not sure if we’re actually going to do it as an album, or if we’re going to release a few songs here and there. That’s possibly what we’ll do. I think that’s the new approach to marketing—release a song at a time.

Photo credit: Patrick Simmons

Photo credit: Patrick Simmons

Is this new paradigm difficult?
You almost have to give your music away these days. That’s OK. We work hard, and we have worked hard, and we’ve been fortunate. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the music for us. Certainly we try to make a living and do the best we can for our families. We love music. That’s what we got into this for. In that respect, we’ve been livin’ the dream for a long time. It’s an interesting musical thing going on right now in the community—with the internet. We’re learning. I’m always learning new things. It’s just a new approach to marketing music.

Who inspired you to write songs?
Other musicians inspired me. I’ve always loved music. Every musician is a fan, and a listener. A lot of those early songs, I don’t even know who wrote them. But Dylan, of course, would be one that every writer looks to. The Beatles—Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison. I loved Hoyt Axton. I thought he was always a great songwriter and a really cool artist. I was a folk singer, so I liked Tom Paxton. I was a blues guy, and I loved the blues—Howlin’ Wolf was always one of my favorite guys. Bobby Darin. (Laughs), the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Bill Haley & His Comets, Buddy Holly, and so many more.

What do you think about the current wave of racism and hatred in America?
It baffles me that anyone would take exception to the phrase Black Lives Matter. It’s basically saying—I’m a racist—I don’t think black lives matter. I’m going to find an excuse to not think they matter. Because it’s political, I’m going to go against it. It’s just sad because they deprive black people of the dignity they deserve. This is a friking nation that thrived on slavery not that long ago. People think it’s been a long time. But America is one of the newest countries in the world. And it was founded on the chains we put on our black brothers. It’s mind-blowing to me that anybody in their right mind would ever not want to make up for the injustice that has been served out to our African-American citizens.

The Doobie Brothers-4

Why do you think it has lingered so long?
It’s a mind blower. How can you be trapped in that racist viewpoint—after all these years? We are products of what we’ve learned, and what has been beaten into us. There are a lot of people who are still living in that space. They want to be there. I believe they like being racist. (Scoffs) But it can change so quickly, and so easily. All you have to do is to get to know people, and it changes. And it’s just not African-Americans that are having issues. So many minorities are suffering from this hateful rhetoric that’s going on right now—and it’s coming from the top, at this point. It’s really bizarre.

Do you remain hopeful?
Things are changing pretty fast in Charlottesville and that part of the country. I had hopes there would be a new generation recognizing the mistakes people have been making, and try to put it right. I’m still crossing my fingers. And I’m doing the things we need to do. Playing For Change is one way we can reach our brothers and sisters across the globe. I have hope. I have hope all the time.

Come and listen to the music:
This Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at The Mayan in Los Angeles.
1038 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA  90015   P: 213-746-4674

Playing for Change - We Are One-flyer


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