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Neal Fountain


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Making LiveArt and Screaming to be Noticed
with Megaphone Man

by Phil DiPietro


Hailing from the musical hotbed of Athens, GA, 32 year-old Neal Fountain has been playing professionally from the age of 14. Best known as a sideman to prominent local fixtures Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners and drumming phenom Jeff Sipe (aka Apt Q258),  Neal’s name is on the short list of greater Atlanta’s finest musicians.  

Outside of Georgia, Neal remains a relative unknown, even after his band was named Local Jazz Outfit of the Year from Atlanta’s Creative Loafing Magazine and receiving very healthy reviews from,, 52nd Street jazz, Bass Player, Bass Frontiers, and Relix Magazine.  

Guess what, cyberbassfans? Neal’s kinda sick of being a secret!  Global Bass is delighted  to contribute incrementally to some wider musical notoriety for Mr Fountain. 



In 1999, he released (on his homegrown label, Archive Music-see:, “Megaphone Man”, the debut of his  whack power trio by the same name that bravely consisting of bass,  sax and drums. In 1995 he released a CD called “Glossolalia”, a biblical term for  “speaking in tongues”, that featured a then relatively unknown Jon Medeski on organ and other keyboards, and a post Aquarium Rescue Unit, pre-Leftover Salmon (but phishy nonetheless) Jeff Sipe (probably better-known by the handle given to him by Colonel Bruce Hampton- “Apt Q258”).

In between the release of Sun’s Anvil and Megaphone Man, Neal was a touring member of the Boston-based funk mob, Fatbag, Sipe’s Apartment Projects (whose activities, luckily, were documented extensively by their fervent fanbase coming out of the ARU camp) and the Fiji Mariners (who were documented live on an official Capricorn release entitled Fiji Mariners-Live).

Here’s Neal’s deal.

In terms of the bass, how’d it all start for you?

I was brought up in the country outside Macon , GA. I’ve been playing electric bass since I was 9. Until I was 14  I never met anyone else to play with. Until then  I played the bass, alone, 4 or 5 hours a day, not on any kind of organized practicing regimen. I just played it ; all the time. Anyway, that was weird behavior for a kid, but I spent a lot of time by myself at home because my only brother was 10 years older than me.


What about some of your early performances?

In 1984, I backed up a friend of mine (who actually died earlier this year; his name’s Randy Howard), at what’s called the Grandmaster Fiddling Contest in Nashville. I was 16 years old. If you win you get to appear on  the Grand Ole Opry the next year, on the Porter Wagoner Show -- he’s the cat with all the sequins and stuff.

Randy won, so I found myself on the Opry stage at 17. We were supposed to do one song, so we did one and the crowd really liked it and wanted another one.  Randy turned around and said "Let’s be cool and play 'I Don't Know Nobody.'"

Those bluegrass fiddle basslines are kinda the same thing over and over again, so I'd never really learned the tunes; I’d just watch the guitar player's hands and follow her. So I looked at the her and said,"I don’t know 'I Don't Know Nobody.'"  I started sweating like hell, and she said, "It’s in G,"and we were off, and nobody knew I didn't know "I Don't Know Nobody."  

I know you were at Berklee, so can we assume you played mostly bluegrass stuff  in high school and then moved on to Berklee?

Not really. Most of my learning, of actually playing, happened before I went to Berklee. I started playing with this group in Macon, GA, called "Bobby O’Dea [that’s O-day] and Friends." Bobby was an organ player and the Friends were a bunch of  guys in their mid-forties to sixties who had all been members of  Otis Redding’s band, James Brown’s band, and other super old R&B players who couldn't do the road anymore and realized that young chicks would come to see them.  

Anyway, they knew a million tunes. I was 17, 18 and the  only white dude in the band. The drummer, Clarence Rodby, was the house drummer at the Apollo Theatre and was on the road with Sam and Dave for 15 years. We also had Jamaal Thomas (who tours with Maceo Parker now), sit in on drums on many occasions, so the funk and R&B thing was there. 

They weren’t real sticklers for the old grooves or anything but you had to play in the pocket. They taught me the importance of the “1” [as in 1-2-3-4]. So,  that was my University. (laughs) 

We never rehearsed. You just came to the gig and played. Some of the tunes I'd never heard or played ‘til we jumped onstage.  I’d watch the organ player’s hands or the guitar player’s hands and go with it, or on occasion they’d just yell huge clues across the stage, like "B!" (laughs) We’d play at least both weekend nights and usually three nights a week. I’d get between 50 and 100 bucks a gig. 

I played with the "Macon guys" all through college and I had some other things going on as well. Right after regular college is when I originally met Jeff Sipe  (currently with Leftover Salmon, former drummer for the Aquarium Rescue Unit (ARU) and Hellborg, Lane and Sipe).  In 1992 a band I was with opened for the ARU, where I met Oteil and hung out with Sipe and Jimmy Herring.  

Between seeing them at shows and playing gigs with them, we hung out quite a bit. I eventually sat in with them at the Georgia Theatre in 1992, where they  recorded all the tracks for their first live album. I didn’t go to Berklee until 1993.

You sat in with ARU before you went to Berklee!?



Oh, so Berklee  was a real waste of time then.

Who knows? I was only there for one semester. When they dispersed the scholarship checks for the next semester and before I could change my mind, I took my check, went to the bank across the street, cashed it, and bought a Modulus six-string. A 20 minute exchange (laughs).

Six years after that, Modulus sent me a free one.  I asked the rep when it came in the mail, "Where were you when I bought the first one??"  I couldn't believe they were actually going to do it until the UPS truck pulled up in front of my house.  

Anyway, I  basically went to Berklee to meet people anyway, which is the wrong reason to go, but I did end up meeting people I still play with today. 

Also, there were two players going to school there at the time that made a lasting impression. One was Matt Garrison (an interview with Matt is included in this issue~Editor) [former bassist with Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin and Heart of Things, John Scofield] -- fabulous -- and John Roberts on drums, an amazing player, who coincidentally, wound up gigging with ARU after Sipe left. He also played with Janet Jackson.

Tell us about the Sun's Anvil recording, Glossolalia. How did this project come together?

I moved to Indiana with my future wife in '94, right around the time Sipe left the Unit. Me and a friend of mine from Berklee, Jonathan Townes (guitar) decided we were going to make a record, so my wife joined us in investing in what became the Sun’s Anvil, “Glossololia” project. I had seen John Medeski with MMW and thought he was absolutely incredible, so I approached his management and then drove to Chicago, where MMW was gigging.



He said to send him a tape and he’d do it if he liked it. I assumed he liked it, 'cause he did it (laughs).  My friend Rich Cohen, a physics professor in his spare time at Notre Dame when he's not playing sax, signed on and came to Atlanta to record, and Sipe brought the Count M'Butu Experience for all of us to enjoy.

The CD  sounds like a band that’s a tight knit unit that’s gigged  together a long time  before making a record.  I imagine it must’ve been hard to coordinate the gigs.

We never have gigged as a band. Ever. I had played with Jonathan and sat in with Sipe a few times. I only had the whole band for three days. Before the session, we all had a tape with six tunes by Jonathan that we wanted to record together. We went in at about 3 in the afternoon on each of those days. We rehearsed the tunes one at a time and recorded each right after we figured out what we wanted to do on ‘em.  We recorded two a day before dinner, then after dinner, came back and let the tape roll, which is where the other 5 tunes on the record came from. 

I’ve always been extremely happy with the way that recording turned out. There’s another 2 hours on tape that didn’t make it to the release. The last thing I’ll say about this project is this: I have been playing a long time and have jammed with many people, some famous, some totally obscure. In my entire life, the top handful of jams that I’ve ever been involved in were during the Glossololia sessions, and most of them never even made it onto the CD.  

You never know when you put a record together. The concept changes over time and six months down the road I might’ve decided to put out different stuff than what ended up on there.  But Archive is going to release more material from that recording session on a new CD sometime next year. "COMING TO STORES NEAR YOU ON MARCH 15!" (laughs). To everyone reading this: Buy it or die! I need a house! (laughs). 

Anyway, with Sipe committed to Leftover Salmon and Jazz is Dead and with Medeski’s obvious commitments we’ll probably never gig as the band that was on the CD. We may gig as Sun’s Anvil, with other personnel, someday.  Unlike Col. Bruce, I can't tell the future...

Why did you form your own label to release the recording?

At the time we had big plans for Sun’s Anvil and decided a business-like approach was best. We never thought about shopping the project to another label before it was released, although we’d hoped someone would pick it up. Unfortunately, other musical projects for me and work for my wife and a kid, et cetera have gotten in the way of doing more with the label side of it.

So if you weren’t gigging with Sun’s Anvil after the recording sessions what did you do?

My wife and I were in Indiana for two years and then moved to New York, where I got a gig with an 8-piece hiphop/funk band called Fat Bag.  That was a crazy, fun learning experience, playing with a bunch of really talented kids (they were all in their early 20s).  The band was signed to Interscope and really popular in the northeast -- we opened for Jamiroquai in Boston; kicked their asses according to the Boston Globe review -- but unfortunately, from a musical standpoint, my wife and I got pregnant almost immediately after we moved to NY, so we moved back to Georgia and had a baby in ’97. [Neal and his wife and business partner, Graham, have a gorgeous little three-year old girl, Amelia.]  In Atlanta, I started playing with Bruce [Colonel Bruce Hampton, the figurehead of the ARU and now, the Fiji Mariners and Planet Zambee].

Ahhh so that’s how you hooked up with the Colonel…

Ahhh, yes. Sipe started having jam sessions at a local club every Monday. Incidentally, that’s where I met Bryan Lopes, the current crazy saxophone guy in Megaphone Man.  Bruce had formed a new band, so Sipe recommended me and I toured with Bruce for 9 months. We made a record during that time, “Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners-LIVE”, released on Capricorn in 1998.

Give us your opinion of  that particular lineup and time period, musically.

Especially at the beginning, it was great gig. That band had keyboards and bass for all the harmony. Dan (Matrazzo-keys)  got many sounds out of his setup, with clavinet taking the guitar role. I got to play bass solos every night, and some made it to the CD [Neal gets off gems on 4 cuts]. I departed for the usual reasons -- money differences and musical differences. Musically, it really boiled down to repeating the same material with the same approach night after night.

Sometime after the Colonel, you did the Apartment Projects thing?

That was Sipe on drums, Jimmy Herring on guitar and Bryan on sax, in late '97 and early '98. We played in the southeast, as well as in the northeast. That’s when you saw us, in Boston.

I notice that some of those tunes I heard then are the tunes Megaphone Man does now.

Well, the Apartment Projects was mostly improvised music, as is most of Megaphone Man. Most of the “tunes,” or as I’d like to call ’em, “tune landmarks” were me and Bryan coming up with  melody line and a bassline during soundchecks. That’s where the motifs came from.

Did Herring play all the Apartment Projects gigs?

Yeah. Actually, the first gig we played without him was the first gig  called “Megaphone Man” that I booked with Sipe and Lopes. After that, Jeff Reilly took Sipe’s place.

This leads us to  your current project, Megaphone Man.

It’s that trio…me, Lopes and Reilly. Many of the “tunes” or bits thereof came out of  the Projects. There are some familiar landmarks and the rest is just an attempt at instant composing.

You mean instant “improv.”


Why would you, as a bassist, want to form a small band in which you carry more of the harmonic burden?

Well, who wouldn't want to do that?  Basically, I’m at the point where I’d like to guide the music. The harmony, the chords, the rhythmic shifts... I like the power. Admittedly, sometimes we suck and...

Hey! Not that I’ve heard...

Anyway, a lot of the direction is basically on me. So if the gig sucks, I go "Man, I really suck! The obvious flipside is that when a gig is good I can say, "Wow, the band sounded really good. I felt good tonight!"

The point I’m emphasizing here is most bassists can’t do that; they couldn’t carry a gig like that.  We’re not noted for changing the harmony, we’re hanging out on the bass line. We’re not playing chords, double stops, and intertwining, for lack of a better word, little etudes with the sax player. You and Bryan are having a running dialogue there.

Yeah, well that’s what our band is trying to do. That’s what I think music is supposed to be.

Point duly noted...good lead-in to this point. You seem to have relegated the slapping/tapping  and technique things to a minimum, in favor of playing “all the bass”, including a liberal dosage of bass chords, which by the way, do not sound muddy or get lost in the mix. Tell me about your approach to the chordal stuff, which a lot of bassists don’t do, and a bit about how it evolved.

To mention an obvious influence, Oteil is the first guy I heard or saw who took the chord thing and ran with it.

Yeah, but  he’s not “running with it” as much as you are, in the context of Megaphone Man, anyway...

Well, his gig is different than mine…in the Allman’s now, he’s not doing any chord stuff, but he stretches out more with the Peacemakers.  But the point I think we’re getting at is: If you’re a person and it’s your own band that’s doing it, then you can run with it. I’m more comfortable in this band than any other that I’ve played with, in that the people are gonna actually go with you. Then you take turns leading. Lopes’ll start on something and we’ll follow his lead.  Reilly also has tremendous amounts of power in terms of guiding it.

The point I’d drive home in terms of the publication that this interview is destined for, is that I can’t name ten guys who could lead a band on the bass. We’re used to it from guitarists and keyboard players. They have bassists to hold it together.  I mean, this is totally different, even from the Sun’s Anvil thing, when you were taking the ensemble role and stepping out for a few solos.

I’m at the point in my musical development where I’m doing what I want to do. I guess what you’re saying is, it’s getting across to the audience.  I see slapping as a novelty, although I will do it more for some reason when I play with a guitarist in a band.  Maybe to impress all the girls in the audience...or aggravate the guitarist (laughs).

In Megaphone Man, I’ve gotta be covering a lot of ground. It’s just better for me with the tones of the saxophone -- those raspy high tones.  It's redundant to slap and tap to fill up that part of the sound spectrum. There’d be no bottom end to it.  

If you’re walking in a dark alley and you think someone's going to stab you in the head, it's really ominous if you hear footsteps behind you.  I’m the footsteps, Bryan’s the knife. Also, you don’t have any harmonic variation in the trio unless the bass chords take it somewhere else.

The B-3 sound you’re using certainly adds to the chordal work, a great concept. The only other people I can think of doing that are organ players and on guitar, Charlie Hunter.

I love what Charlie Hunter does as a musician but I didn’t listen to what he did with the guitar and say “Hey, I can do that on the bass.”  I just love the organ. Think about it...the Bobby O’Dea band, chasing Medeski for the Sun’s Anvil thing… I love the way the organ sounds.  I’d love to be able to play the organ well. In fact, I just installed a Wurlitzer in my tiny living room.

Does your wife know you have organ envy?

Definitely, y’know, she likes it too (laughs).

How do you get that B-3 sound?

That’s just a stomp box…its called a chorus ensemble. I just turn the depth wide open and the rate…whatever, you know.

Just a chorus box? C’mon.

Its just a regular old chorus pedal. Its  called a Chorus Ensemble.

Yeah, Neal, I know what they are.

Yeah, it’s the one with the four knobs on it….

Yeah, ok, I get it., I’m just a wee bit incredulous due to the sound you’re getting out of it. Humor me here.

See, the question about my approach to it is more important than the sound from the pedal. You have to attack the strings differently when you play with that sound. You’ve gotta keep the bassline going with your thumb and then attack the rest of the chords and leave ‘em …I mean just listen to the way an organ player plays the top chords. They have breath to them. They’re not all right on the beat. You’ve got to separate your right hand from your left. What I do is play, say a three note chord on top and walk the line with my first finger on the left hand and pluck the chord with two fingers on my right hand and play the bassline with my thumb.

You use two fingers on the right, not three?

I don’t use three, no. I use  my thumb quite a bit like when I’m playing those etude types of things we talked about earlier.

In terms of the fretboard, you’re using all the left hand, right? You’re not bringing the right hand over at all to hit the lower notes?

No, but when I want a higher extension, I will play a chord and bring my thumb around the front to get say, the minor 9th.

You go over the top?

No, under the bottom. You pull your elbow back towards your body and pull your thumb underneath to the front.

High strings or low strings?

High.  Let’s say you’re playing a Gm7 at the 15th fret on the E string with your index finger…hit the 10th and the 7th with your next two. If you want to get the minor 2nd above that you cannot grip that with your pinky…impossible.

So..pull the elbow back and put your thumb on the high C and move the minor 2nd to the 9th if you want. You can do that one on a five string. Forget about normal positioning on that. …hell it might just be a circus trick (laughs).

When you’re playing (for lack of a better term) normally, are you just using two finger alternating technique on the right?

Yeah...I never did it any other way.

Well that’s refreshing for us other…human beings. In terms of other musical questions I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess not a big “theory” guy.  You’re an “ear” guy.

Pretty much. In terms of giving you the names for what I do, I know the basics but not a lot. As far as improvising over a jazz tune like “Donna Lee” or “Giant Steps”, I just see the melody running in my head and constantly work off of that and take it where I want to go with it. 

That’s extremely interesting. Most jazz schools or videos that teach theory will show you all the scales, substitutions and devices. Consistently, they will say something like “The authentic jazz player always remembers the melody in his solos.” Evidently in terms of improvisation with  melody as a starting place, you’re going out therefrom rather than the prevalent wisdom .Sounds like talent is starting to come into play (laughs).

I’m consistent with that approach. I write tunes the same way I improvise. I start from the melody and build the harmony off of that. It’s also really important to be familiar with rhythmic styles . For instance, say you’re soloing  on Donna Lee, you could throw in a latin-type section using double stops.  

Knowing those rhythmic concepts while keeping the straight melody running in your head is imperative. Practicing standards from different rhythmic perspectives is another great way to practice . Try “All the Things You Are” reggae style sometime (laughs). 

On the topic, I think music is something that people come to learn in vastly different ways. I know plenty of people that went to music school that got a lot out of it. I learned from playing with records and bands. As an example, I learned how to tune my instrument by playing with the radio and never learned how to read. If you turn the dial, every song is in slightly differently tune.  

Take Jimi, every song on his albums is tuned differently. I mean, yeah, the guitar’s in fourths with a third at the B string, but the actual pitches of the open strings aren’t EADGBE all the time. Once you’ve got your bass in tune, given that the intonation is correct, you’ve still got to play it in tune. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been playing my bass, and it’s in tune and I give it to someone else, and they’re playing it out of tune. They’re actually twisting the knobs because they’re attacking the strings differently.

Your ears are getting bigger by the minute there fella (laughs)...  Is it true you’ve practiced playing along with the TV?  Graham says soap operas are your favorites.

Oh yeah.  Music on the TV changes constantly...trying to keep up is a mini-education in and of itself.  

Retuning at a commercial break is often necessary. It’s also a great relative pitch exercise. Seriously, that exercise…which boiled down to me challenging myself to get in tune and learn as much of the music in 60 seconds as possible, makes sense when you compare it to the type of music Megaphone Man plays.


Let’s talk about gear. Before  you list it, let me ask you about the best instrument/equipment purchase you've ever made.

That’s easy. My 1981 Volkswagen Dasher station wagon (laughs). I got it for $150 at a yard sale. Two weeks later it caught fire while I was driving it. I went to the junkyard, got all the parts, and put it back together. It’s in my driveway now. I’ve had it since before I moved to Indiana in 1994 and I’ve put 95,000 miles on it! Plus my rig fits it there pretty good. It was a great buy for someone brought up in the country who don’t know no better (laughs, as Deliverance theme plays in the background).

Tell us about your handmade 6-string (aka "The Slinky Bass").

I built that when I was 19 years old. I bought the neck and carved the body for it myself. It was a fretted six but I took the frets out and it’s my fretless bass today.

It gets a great acoustic, woody sound. Do you have piezos on it?

No. You can take most fretless basses, roll the treble all the way off, make some adjustments on the amp settings, and play the thing very, very softly with the volume turned up quite a bit, and play in on the neck, maybe 3 or 4 inches from where the neck joins the body.

But I’ve seen many players do this. They do not get near the acoustic tone you’re getting with that.

Well, it has been a good bass for that sound. What it lacks in versatility it makes up for with that tone.

Ok, the rest of the  gear…

I have a great Modulus Jazz-style bass they sent me, as well as the six I bought at Berklee and the “slinky” bass. I have a Fender  endorsement for strings and they’ve been great. I’m not real picky about amps, but the favorite thing I ever owned, and the piece I most regret selling, is a Bose system I used to have. I played through two of those 802’s and a subwoofer…awesome. I sold that to finish paying for the Sun’s Anvil recording. I think your bass rig should be able to double as a home a stereo system, if it can handle it. I think all musicians should play through equipment capable of reproducing the entire range of music, dynamically and frequency-wise.

Let’s pick up on that topic.

Yeah, lots of power and play light. Let the amp do the work. If you start out playing light you can reach a medium. If you play really heavy then the only place you can go, without turning up the amp, is back. It’s a cool thing to practice playing as light as you can, anyway. Think about it. It’s even easy on your hands and your body. I’m getting a volume pedal soon, though. The swells and keyboard sounding types of things all come from  the volume knob of the bass, which gets a little stretchy (laughs).

Now to the influences question: who or what affects you the most?

Bill Frisell.  He’s the greatest guitar player and one of the greatest musicians around today. I’ve tried to do guitar gigs playing the complete “Gone Just Like a Train” record. Coincidentally, I met the bassist on that, Victor Krauss, at the Grand Ole Opry  when I was 15. We both were trying to briefly escape the bluegrass pit. 

I also dig fairly modern composers like Stravinsky and Glenn Gould, who I have to list as an influence just because of he way he was about things, being at the height of  his career and deciding to leave the performance world. Go rent “32 Short Films About Glen Gould.” That’ll get to the heart of the matter. His command of the instrument was wonderful, as was Horowitz's.  

My jazz influences are Coltrane, Coleman, Miles…Keith Jarrett, all of them. 

On the bass, Charlie Haden. Mingus called him “Bass”. He’s played so many beautiful….just things …that are just so unlike anything that would be considered the modern day bass hero mentality. Just playing the same pedal note…differently. He just blows everything away. The Liberation Jazz Orchestra, Ornette’s band, Quartet West, etc., etc., it’s all good. 

I also am a great fan of Theremin music, and basically, the entire idea of the instrument itself.  If  I could learn a new instrument, that’d be the one.  Basically, when you play a Theremin, you’re playing air with your hands…cool.

Maybe you could add Theremin to Megaphone Man. So  listen, if you can play Frisell tunes on guitar, as well as six-string bass, you’re a great person to ask. Why don’t all the six-string bass players out there just tune it like a guitar?

Because of the frequency of the instrument . I think it just plainly does not work. I’ve tried it and I think chords especially sound hideous. By the way, I tune the guitar like a bass, in fourths all the way up. I tune the E string, or bottom string to a low B. I don’t know if Frisell uses alternative tunings himself, but I certainly do on a number of his tunes.

Tell us about  some of your side projects.

Isaac Curry is a vocal project with AOR-ready rock. The band’s got Kofi Burbridge on keys and Marcus Williams (from the Fiji Mariners and Isaac Hayes) on drums.  

As far as the Apartment Projects go, they’re basically condemned since Sipe’s doing other things.  Speaking of Bryan, he’s got his own recording in the can as of winter ’98 that has me and Sipe on it. I hope it sees the light of day soon. 

I have another project I’m excited about called called LIVEART "This is Secret Music". We recorded quickly in two nights in NY.  

So quickly that it’s being marketed at the guitarist’s, (Jonathan Townes) website (  as a “secret” release, as you might gather from the title. It’s finally out now, as of January 2001, and it’s available in regular and  downloadable MP3 format.  

The personnel are Jonathan Townes on  guitars, Andy Sanesi on drums , Alex Lacamoire who’s recorded with John Zorn on keyboards, Danny Sadownick of Screaming Headless Torsos on  percussion  and me on bass. It’s totally improvised music, nothing pre-written, which is different for Jonathan, who is an excellent writer.  

For evidence of that, check out the last tune on Glossololia, called “Penterra”. To me, that song belongs in the Real Book about ten years from now.  But we’ve both fundamentally changed our  approach to writing since then. We’re writing from the ear, maybe  using  theory to solve a musical problem if it comes up, which is rarely.  

Use theory to write and you sound like it. For the Live Art thing we went right to the music, improvising, basically the entire thing. The melodies, solos and harmonies…the music.


What about  as a sales vehicle?

Well, its hyped heavily but it’s too soon to tell for me. It’s one thing if you’re touring and can tell people where to get the CD, but on the other hand, when you tour you usually have recordings on hand for sale anyway. The point I’m trying to make is, maybe it’s a more convenient way and different format for selling recordings, but if people don’t know who you are in the first place, the pointing and clicking’s not comin’ your way, except occasionally out of curiosity.   

Both of my CDs are at my own website,, and at  Most folks who have bought my CDs after listening to the music at  MP3 have done so via check from the order form on my website. Anyway, it sure beats consignment deals.

In terms of touring, what can us non-Georgians look for?

Yeah, Megaphone Man hasn’t mounted a tour yet. It’s the only project I can see putting a tour together with right now. More importantly, of all the things I have going on, this is the one I would most like to see happen for me and for the band.

Plus it’s the project that the other guys in the band want the most, which is very important. By the way, we’re extremely lucky we can even gig locally, at this point. Bryan Lopes, our sax player, recently recovered from a double-bypass heart surgery in summer of 2000. It would be an understatement to say that he’s back, strong—all the way, physically and musically...amazing!  

Also, during the latter part of 2,000 I have been playing less conventional 6 string bass and getting some great sounds out of my Asbory bass, which, as you may know, was recently reissued by Fender. I’m an official Fender Asbory endorsee by the way. I don’t know, maybe you can find out, but I may be the only Asbory endorsee. I’ve also been playing some actual guitar in Megaphone Man as well.

Define your own audience.

Well, I don’t think Megaphone Man is a mass appeal kind of  a thing…I’m not fooling myself…but I think we’d go over well at any festival or venue where people were there to see a variety of stuff; places like the Knitting Factory or festivals like Montreal. I hope an audience will grow from there. On the other hand, guys like Charlie Hunter, MMW, the Flecktones and John Scofield have gained wider acceptance in the “jamband” market, and of course, would be wonderful to be associated with. I don’t care about the terminology…where we end up getting “lumped in” really doesn’t matter.

It’s always good to end on a humorous note. You’re pretty animated onstage. When you're onstage dancing, marching around, grimacing, etc., do you ever get self-conscious about it? If you saw a video of yourself and thought you looked a bit too funky, would you try to act differently on stage?

Oh my Gawd! What are you trying to say? That’s all I do is watch performance tapes of myself. I’ve woken up (Neal sings) in a cold sweat  about how I look up there (laughs). Obviously,  I don’t care.

Which brings me the last  question. Your wife Graham wanted me to ask a last question that would allow folks to skip the rest of the interview. So, would you classify what you do onstage more as dropping science, laying down the law or gittin’ jiggywitit?

Well, in terms of  stage presence, your last question would imply I’m a little too jiggywitit. Someone like yourself who might be more into technique or music theory might say I’m dropping science…but I never look at music like that.  I like to think of it this my current band,  I’m just lucky enough to be trying to lay down the law and keep from getting run over by Lopes and Reilly.

Interesting and strangely written story


 Phil DiPietro








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