When I Asked Al Kooper

When I asked Al Kooper if he would be selling shirts at his show (which was a couple of weeks ago at the United Methodist Church as part of their Acoustic Music Series), he said angrily, "I'm not a salesman! I'm a musician. People are coming to hear me play, not have me hawk things."

"What about selling your CDs? I can't find them in any stores."

"They only sell them in Japan. I'm big in Japan. You have to get them there."

The sold-out show started more than half an hour late. He did a tribute to Ray Charles but then said that Charles treated his band members horribly, as did James Brown, who he added "would charge bandmates $15 every time they messed up."

Kooper talked about how Paul Shaffer played one of his songs (that Brown made famous) for three straight years on Late Night with David Letterman. "I got such big checks from them doing that, I remodeled my bathroom."

If he was going to talk money, I wondered, why not tell us how much he got for discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd and producing their first three records on his own record label. Or how much he got being Dylan's keyboard player. I guess another time.

The acoustics at the church were great, and upcoming shows include the Limeliters, the Strawbs, and Fairport Convention -- although they won't have vocalist Sandy Denny, who died decades ago, but it doesn't matter who their singer is. Anyone's got to sing better than Kooper.

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