Part Two of the interview with Steve Howe, guitarist for Yes. (read Part One HERE). Yes will be performing at The Louisville Palace on Saturday, March 26.
CW: You've been able to play and record with your sons, Virgil and Dylan. What's it like, as a father, to watch them develop their own tastes and abilities?
SH: Well, no different than if they aren't in music than if they are in music. My daughters, who are both very musical, both said to me "Look Dad, we're not going to go into the music business. Can you accept that?" I said totally! I'm equally enthusiastic about what my daughters do as I am what my sons do. Of course, I know my sons are in for a pretty tough time. In this business unless you get that luck, that opening, that lucky draw somewhere down the line, you're going to have a pretty tough time. Certainly, with Dylan going into jazz, he knows that's not the big bucks at the end of the rainbow, but it's about doing something you absolutely love. I love seeing [both of them] playing music, but I also love seeing my daughters get where they're going. They're all major inspirations. My sons at first, I thought this was great, but what really sidewinded me, got me by surprise, was when we had daughters, and how different that felt. I meet a lot of dads who say "I've got three sons" or "I've got three daughters", but having a balance of them shows you a very wide picture of life, because your daughters take after your wife, and the sons take after you. It's been a blessing that I like very much.
CW: You've said you were influenced early on by Les Paul, Barney Kessel, Chet Atkins and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Do you find that after 40+ years, you're still influenced by others?
SH: Oh, yeah…the whole time has been an influence. There's been no time when I just singled off the people I started with and said "that's it." But I didn't know if you would ask me the question "Do I still enjoy those people?" And I would say it's increased my enjoyment for people like Wes Montgomery and Chet Atkins. Those two in particular. I find it's a bottomless well. I keep keep plowing into Chet records, keep plowing into Wes records. And here I am in Chicago, and haven't mentioned Kenny Burrell, one of our living geniuses of jazz guitar. So both things happened…the depth of my enjoyment and research into guitarists like Les Paul, Jimmy Bryant, Chet Atkins, Mel Travis, and then the jazz players like Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery, and the classical artists…there's a new guy named Flavio Sala; he's a brilliant young guitarist. He [Flavio] came on the scene, and I heard him, and I was riveted, like I was when I first heard Albert Lee. There's a wealth of talent to enjoy, and I'm constantly looking for that next guy to enjoy. Fortunately, that keeps happening, and I find guitarists that really, really blow me away. I didn't know that would be the case, but it is; I've got a constant enjoyment for great guitarists.
CW: Do you have a proudest moment in music?
SH: There's two ways of looking at that. The first time we had the high chart position in England was great, then high chart position in America, and that was great. The first time you get a gold album…that was a great moment. But I think one of the constants to appreciate is where you are. If you can have the humbleness to stop and think about where you really are and how lucky you are not to live in some place like Libya, or one of the places that have all the turmoil. There's a different type of turmoil in America and Europe. It's more personal than political. There's countries with a lot of problems and stress….like Japan has had more than it's fair share of problems. Taking stock of those moments can pull you out of that sadness really. Yeah, I could revel in some of my achievements…winning top guitarists five times was pretty heavy. Every musician needs an ego. If you say you don't have one, you're fooling yourself. Reveling in your own success is a pretty sorry excuse for a life for an entertainer. My approach is that music is something beautiful, and I've been given a gift that enables me to make it beautiful. Otherwise, it could be kind of trashy.
CW: Do you have any special memories about Louisville?
SH: That's a tough one. Towns, even in England…if someone asked me "What's so special about Manchester?", I couldn't tell them! What it's about, is when you're playing, and the sound of the audience, it does resinate, and a lot of it comes back when you're actually there. I've been in a thousand cities, and I can't remember Sydney much better than I can Osaka, but when I get there, it's all different. It's actually being there that makes it all work. I know there's a warmth, a friendliness, in areas where I've made friends, who show me what they're like, show me that they're honest and true. Occasionally, that touches you, and then you realize there's something very individual about that place, but I've got to be there for it to be on my recall. I know that will happen…I'll get there, see smiling faces, people helping people, and can say "I'm in Louisville."
Yes performing at the Louisville Palace, Saturday March 26, 7:30pm
Tickets: $25, $35 and $49.50
Some classic Yes from 1973 to get you in the mood.