Are you are working on a new Ghostbusters project?
We have a live-action Ghostbusters project that we’re very excited about. I can’t say too much about it but it sort of blends the new and the old and we’re looking forward to that we have an animated idea, which is really neat, and then we have a concept floating around called Ghostbusters High, which is basically them meeting in 1969, the three of them and having an adventure in high school kind of a little you know like “Stranger Things,” except they’re older. And from that we would probably develop a television show.
Would you direct or be in that?
However I needed I will pitch in, mostly probably writing duties. There are so many great young directors around who have really come out of video and come out of social media, you know making short films for You Tube, and then they know how to edit and they know how to exploit the medium a little better than I do. I think younger sensibility might be needed there.
Since the Blues Brothers, haven’t you continued to support blues music?
There was the “Elwood’s BluesMobile” (radio show). We were on for almost 30 years of broadcasting and then we’ve had to end it because the syndicator said nobody’s buying advertising on a blues show. They’ll buy it on a country show, a rap show, a hip-hop show, they’ll buy it on that kind of music. They’ll buy it on talk or sports, but they’re not buying advertising it on a blues show. So after almost 30 years of promoting the artists, selling tickets for them, selling records, interviewing and getting the word out to over 185 stations to almost 600,000 people, that’s all over. So that window for artists is closed, making it all the more harder for blues artists to make a living.
Can you tell me how Oregon singer and harmonica player Curtis Salgado helped the Blues Brothers?
Well, first of all, Curtis Salgado is a Blues Brother. We wouldn’t have been able to have done some of the material we did without him. Working on the harp, he was so good and generous with me and he really taught John (Belushi) a lot. And when John came home from the “Animal House” set he was really fired up on blues music and ready to put together the revue that we did that we took on tour.
Is it true that Belushi was new to the genre?
John and I met in Toronto for the first time and we were listening to Downchild Blues Band, the great blues band from Canada, and he said, “What’s that?” and I said, “It’s just a local blues band, you’re from Chicago, you should know.” He said, “I’m into heavy metal (and) I like Grand Funk and Cream,” and I said, “Well, you teach me about that and I’ll teach you about blues. It’s all from the blues anyway.”
The next time I saw him in New York, prior to “Animal House” and prior to even doing the show, he had a stack a blues records. So he was into the research but he needed a real mentor, a tutor and a professor of blues to really bring him along and that’s really what Curtis Salgado did. He took him deeper than John thought he could go.
Did the Blues Brothers start with Duke Robillard and Roomful of Blues?
We thought about having Duke in the band in the band but there were there wasn’t no room in one band for both Duke Robillard and John Belushi, or Jake Blues. It had to be one or the other. But Duke Robillard is one of the most powerful artists in the world. It was two alpha males up onstage and we knew it wouldn’t work.
But then Willie Nelson said we’ll play behind you, so one of our first backup bands was Willie Nelson, his band with Mickey Raphael on harp. We had the full uniform, the briefcase, the keys the handcuffs. We did the whole act. I think we did three or four songs with Willie at the Lone Star Café. Amazing. And then Steve Martin was another honorary Blues Brother because he said come and open my show at the Universal Amphitheater. So John took his paycheck for “Animal House” and he bought the sound truck and the equipment and the staff and labor and recorded our first record, “Briefcase Full of Blues” and that went on to sell 4 million copies, quadruple platinum, which many artists today would take and be very thankful.
I remember a San Francisco Chronicle review of a Blues Brothers concert. It wrote Dan Aykroyd might not be the greatest harmonica player in the world but he looks like he is.
We never touted our abilities as musicians or dancers or vocalists. Even today, we’re going to play the Mystic Lake Casino in Minnesota (Saturday) right after we do the Hard Rock. We play casinos all the time and so we’d love to come up to Tahoe and bring our show. But we always said and we’d say today with John’s brother Jimmy doing the show we are the weakest components in our band and certainly we were with the original band in the band I have now.
We hired the greatest guitar players in the world, Duck Dunn, Steve Cropper and Matt Murphy, we had one of the top R&B revues in the world and we were frontmen. So we took a little sprinkling of musicianship, a sprinkling of capable vocals and some you know choreography and moves, which John was more than capable of as a because he was all-state football player and he was he was in shape and I was in shape at that time; so little sprinkling of dancing, a little sprinkling of humor and vocals all of the spirit of like when Wynonie Harris or Cab Calloway or Jimmy Lunsford or Johnny Otis. Those guys were clowns. They came out there and it was a clown show. They were trying to make people laugh. There was double sexual innuendo going all along, you know Wynonie Harris’ “all she wants to do is rock, rock and roll all night long.” That was where rock and roll was originated in that song in 1948.
We took humor we took vocals we took dancing and we sprinkled it all together into a mix and and then have the greatest band behind us and that’s what we do and that’s why I’m still doing it 40 years later. I’m still doing that same act with Jimmy. I’ve got an amazing harp player in my band now, Jimmy Wood, who has played with the Stones, the Imperial Crowns. All of the band members that I have now are Grammy winners, producers. They’re outstanding people.
The Original Blues Brothers Band released “The Last Shade of Blue Before Black” was produced By Steve Cropper and Blue Lou Marinia and released on Oct. 6. Matt “Guitar” Murphy appears on the record. Are you familiar with it?
Yes, absolutely. Matt is not playing live gigs too much anymore but he’s in the studio and I just wrote some notes for that for that record because that’s the original Blues Brothers Band. They’ve got Rob Paparozzi and Eddie Floyd, so it’s a really hot show. They play mostly in Europe. I’ve joined them of couple of times on special occasions but we’re covering the legacy of North America, Jimmy and I, and they’re covering the legacy in Europe.
Who are the blues bands that you really like right now.
Of course I loved Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. I love Nathanial Rateliff & the Night Sweats I love the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The 24th Street Wailers, Homemade Jamz, they are great. And I listen to classic R&B. The Stax/Volt catalog is on all the time. And I always have a little Junior Wells around.
Why do you think the blues is so important to support and to our culture?
One of the greatest contributions to the world is that music because basically it’s given us country and pop, hip-hop, rap — the whole world moves to the beat of the rapper now.