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An interview with Darrell Mansfield

April 8, 2009

Gospel blues. That’s a genre that I don’t get to mention in my column much, especially when we’re talking about the River City Saloon. But apparently that is what is going to happen this weekend. Darrell Mansfield’s press release read like a who’s who in the mainstream rock music business. Van Halen. Loverboy. (Loverboy?!) Bon Jovi.

Well, with a resume like that, I just had to find out a little more about this world-class harmonica player.

I gave a listen to Darrell’s myspace page. The songs sounded like they were recorded at Giant’s Stadium (yes, I know where Giant’s Stadium is – do they still call it Giant’s Stadium?). I wondered how the band would fit all that equipment in our little local venue. Songs included a note-for note version of Led Zep’s “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.” These are some serious players.

Darrel’s answers to my questions were short, but they got the message across. It turns out Darrell has been on stage with Eddie VanHalen a few times (for some benefit concerts perhaps?) and he graciously adds more content to the overwhelming vastness of classic rock trivia.

And that’s just the kind of trivia I like. Enjoy!

Darrell Mansfield will be at the River City Saloon on Saturday, April 11.

Read Jim’s interview with Darrell Mansfield here.

Interview with Darrell Mansfield:

1. You're scheduled for a show in Hood River, Oregon, April 11 at the River City Saloon. This club is mainly known for rock, blues, jam-bands, and acoustic acts. As far as I know, this may be the first gospel-blues/Christian rock band to be on the bill. Have you ever played in the Columbia River Gorge before, and if not, what led you here?

No I’ve never played the Columbia River Gorge before. I’m just touring in the area and this opportunity presented itself.

2. Concerning the songs currently on your "myspace" page - is this the band/format that we should expect at this show?

Actually the songs on my “myspace” page rotate pretty often, so it won’t necessarily be the same format.

3. I must admit, I'm probably more familiar with bluegrass-gospel than I am with main-stream Christian rock. What label is your back-catalog on and where can people find it?

I’ve been on three different labels. I own the rights to my own music now and sell it online and in concert only.

4. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in playing music?

I grew up in Southern California. I became interested in music after meeting Paul and Linda McCartney in Hollywood when they were doing their “Ram” album.

5. Your press release said that you've worked with several mainstream rock acts. What Van Halen album/track did you play on and what was that experience like for you? Do you still do session work?

I actually did three shows with Eddie Van Halen. The last one was at the Celebrity Theater with Billy Idol, Dweezle Zappa, Billy Sheen, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora.

I played harmonica on Loverboy’s last hit, “Notorious.” I also wrote the song “Walk with me Baby” for the Harrison Ford Film “Random Hearts,” and recorded the harmonica and vocals. I’ve done lots of live shows with the Kentucky Headhunters. But one of the greatest experiences I’ve had was in 1976 when I played two nights with Big Joe Turner who called me “the preacher on the Mississippi saxophone.”

I gave Jon Bon Jovi harmonica lessons at Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver, B.C., for a solo he played on the “New Jersey” album.

My last session was with John (Anderson) from Yes. It was so weird that I decided not to do session work anymore publicly unless I really believed in the person’s music and their message. I decided I didn’t want to exploit myself anymore.

6. In 2007, Paul deLay, a well-known harmonica player in the Portland blues scene, died. Did you know him?

I never met Paul. We have many mutual friends, though. It’s a shame I never got a chance to play with him, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about him.

7. Your press release says that you've been inducted into the Blues hall of Fame. Where is that organization located and when will you be celebrating that event?

The Blues Foundation is a nationwide panel of blues scholars who induct new members every year into the Blues Hall of Fame. I’ve already been presented the award as Ambassador to California.

Thanks again Darrell for your time, and good luck with your shows.

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