Guitarist Jimmy Page’s Favorite American Band Arrives at the Capitol Theater
Co-founding and playing alongside Little Feat – which legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has called his favorite American band – is just a fraction of Bill Payne’s busy career.
A touring member of the iconic Doobie Brothers, Payne is also an intermittent keyboardist for Leftover Salmon, as well as a songwriter, photographer and aspiring memorialist. For Payne, none of these groups need to take precedence over the others, since they are all at the service of the same thing: music.
âMy house is with one of these guys. It’s a bit like the old saying, Home is where I lay my head at nighthe laughs. “It’s not exactly like that, but since I hadn’t done a lot of dates with Little Feat over the past few years, I was very grateful that Leftover Salmon included me in their scene, and I I’ve known the Doobie Brothers forever, so playing with these people is a real treat, and we’re family too. I have these extended families. A lot of it is being a musician and being part of this big family, which is a pretty cool thing. “
That’s not to say Payne doesn’t look forward to her 50th anniversary tour with Little Feat, which will take her to the Capitol Theater in Port Chester on October 18. With five long decades under his belt, including the 1979 death of a close friend and Little Feat’s co-founder Lowell George, Payne is largely introspective about upcoming shows.
“It’s different, and I’m delighted with it,” he says of the tour. âI’m not 100% sure about the future, but 50 is a hell of a marker. I hope to write something by the end of the year on what this anniversary means to me. I’m still pondering the principles of what Lowell and I thought in 1969: What kind of group did we want? How restrictive were we going to be when it came to group members? What does Little Feat mean in relation to this living breathing apparatus? It was a crazy race, and it still is.
To keep his work up to date, Payne says he listened to a lot of varied music and read a virtual avalanche of books. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Chopin are just a few of the artists Payne says he enjoyed, while non-fiction books on former Secretary of State George Marshall and the scientific merit of Greenland currently populate. his bedside table.
âIf someone is playing music, that’s what it is. It’s our life; it is our language; it is our love. We don’t just share it with others, we share it with ourselves.
According to the rocker, his reading also sparked in him a mixture of fear and hope for the current state of the world. âAll of these things open your eyes,â Payne says. “I am a child of the 60s, and I never thought I would see darker days than the ones we saw in 1968, but those days are darker, in the sense that they are so complicated as to what. that people actually believe. It’s scary. I have two granddaughters, 11 and 5, and I worry about them. Because if you’re reading about WWI or WWII, it doesn’t take much to put people on a madness course, and we’re in a madness course right now.
Yet, thanks to creativity, Payne also has hope. âSo the music I play is a refuge. Music is not the benign characteristic that many people think it is. If you only listen to pop, you are not going to think that music can uplift the soul or damage it. So I take things seriously, but I don’t take them so seriously that I lose that aspect of having fun doing them.
Indeed, it’s almost impossible to imagine Payne never reveling in creativity. He’s cooking up a possible sequel to his hit 2005 solo album, Cielo North, and has already produced five songs with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, as well as a handful with the late novelist Richard Wheeler.
“I also wrote a few songs with my son and did one called ‘Carnival Ghosts’ with Joe Henry, which I want to use as the title of my book,” says Payne, who hopes to someday write a memoir and does not yet have another intriguing musical project on the horizon. âI can’t name the artist yet, but he’s someone I’ve always wanted to work with,â he teases.
Now 70, Payne’s touring schedule is more intense than ever, but the reason for his hard work remains eminently clear. âI feel like I’m still expanding,â he says. âIf someone is playing music, that’s what it is. It’s our life; it is our language; it is our love. We don’t just share it with others, we share it with ourselves, and we are all so lucky to have music.