If you told me you’ve never danced around in your bedroom belting “You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl” into your hairbrush, I would look you right in the face and call you a bold-faced liar. It’s actually physically impossible to hear one of Rick Springfield’s many hits — songs the like of “Jessie’s Girl,” “Love Somebody,” “Affair of the Heart” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” — and not feel compelled to sing along. For those of you unashamed of your bedroom vocal gymnastics, the crooning coveter of his best friend’s girl will be performing on Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Sunset Green Event Lawn, the newest addition to Key West’s growing lineup of first-rate concert venues, and the more the merrier when it comes to singalongs en masse.
Rick is also touring his newest album, “The Snake King,” a bluesy take on rock ‘n roll steeped in dark and evocative imagery. In advance of what I can only assume will be a spirited display of seasoned musical prowess and perhaps less-seasoned (but no less enthusiastic) audience participation, this lucky reporter got to sit down with Mr. Springfield to chat about what makes him tick.
Florida Weekly Key West Edition: How does it feel to play a show and have multiple generations singing all of the lyrics to your songs?
Rick Springfield: It’s pretty great to see it. I was fortunate to be writing in a time of radio when a good song had a chance to be heard just because it was a good song. That doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all corporate and short playlists and new rock radio is basically dead. I think that’s why people love live shows. They can still commune with like-minded people in the church of rock and roll.
FWKW: When you started making records, did you ever think you’d be performing well into your 60s? (You look and sound amazing, by the way.)
RS: I never thought about an expiration date. I still don’t. I think we’ll all just do it until we drop. As long as you’re enjoying it, why stop?
FWKW: How do you think the music industry has changed since you started performing?
RS: Night and day. I feel for all these great bands and artists that I hear who are making amazing music and have no real outlet other than touring in a van or performing peer to peer. Radio doesn’t want to know. If it isn’t rap or some pop song written by a thousand people it won’t be heard on modern radio. The business side has always been full of leeches and talentless jerk-offs, but the positive side is that the artists are mostly pure and true and just want to do what they love
FWKW: How did you transition from music to TV and film? What’s your favorite role you’ve played?
RS: I don’t really know how anything happened or happens other than I have a desire to do it and just go forward, head down, damn the torpedoes. I think acting and music feed the same beast in artists, which is why you get so many actors trying to transition to music and vice versa. Playing with Meryl Streep and having Jonathan Demme direct (in Ricki and the Flash)has been a highlight so far. I love them both.
FWKW: I’ve watched clips of some of your recent live performances and you’re a madman on stage – where do you get the energy?! How do you keep it fresh and exciting for yourself and for the audience?
RS: I draw energy from the music and from the audience. I love to play guitar which was really what started it all when I was 14, but the energy thing is just something I feel. There’s no real premeditation to it and some nights are better than others.
FWKW: How long have you been playing with your current band lineup?
RS: The last member joined about two years ago. It’s the best band I have ever played with. They are monsters!!
FWKW: What do you want the audience to leave with after they come see one of your shows?
RS: A very expensive Rick Springfield T-shirt 🙂 I want everyone to walk out feeling better than when they walked in.
FWKW: How do you think your own personal style has evolved from “Beginnings” to “Snake King”? Where did all the blues/gospel influence on “Snake King” come from?
RS: I have always loved the blues. Most musicians my age are blues-based players. That’s the music we copied as kids and it’s still inside us, the love of it. Yeah, “Beginnings” to “The Snake King” is a pretty big jump. Just life, really.
FWKW: What do you do in your down time when you’re not touring? Any weird hobbies?
RS: I collect stuff. Toys, antiques, religious artifacts and I buy stuff online that I have absolutely no use for. Mostly I write. That’s my relaxation.
FWKW: And finally — who are you listening to these days? Who inspires you?
RS: Every song, every book, every article, every person I meet inspires me. As far as what I’m listening to, it varies. My last playlist last night was: Porcupine Tree, Christine and the Queens, Zoot (my old Aussie band, we’re putting together a retrospective from 1969 to 1971), Beck Ola (Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart’s band from the 60s), Tom Petty, Gerry Rafferty, the 1975 and a bunch of other stuff I may have been too buzzed to remember. ¦ ¦ ¦
…Well, at least he’s honest. Rick’s concert will take place on the
Sunset Green Event Lawn, an expansive, multipurpose event space located at the 24 North Hotel on N. Roosevelt Blvd. Maybe it’s the wannabe flower child in me, nostalgic for the era of concerts on open lawns, picnic blankets spread and barefoot music lovers dancing, but lately I’ve been craving an outdoor venue where I can lay back, listen to songs I love and stare at the stars pretending I’m in the middle of the woods (although the middle of the ocean ain’t so bad either).
According to Lee Sheehan, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Keys Collection (of which 24 North is a participating hotel), “Our vision behind the concert space was to create an immersive experience for guests and locals to congregate underneath the colorful Key West skies. The verdant landscape and laid-back environment invites guests, visitors, and locals to take their shoes off and experience the best of Key West with live music and tapas-styled food. The lawn is designed to accommodate comfortable seating with Adirondack chairs, cabanas, or hammocks for enjoying events.”
In the next year alone, Sunset Green will also host Michael Franti and Spearhead, Lyle Lovett and Earl Keen, JJ Grey & Mofro, Air Supply and The Beach Boys, all thanks to Rams Head Promotions, an Annapolis-based restaurant and entertainment company that currently owns and operates five locations in Maryland and provides programming for the Key West Theater on Eaton Street. Rams Head has been responsible for bringing dozens of renowned bands and musicians to town, including Marshall Tucker Band, Lee Ann Womack and Citizen Cope. Surrounded by luxurious pools and lush greenery, Sunset Green Event Lawn is a natural addition to the Rams Head cache that provides the ultimate escape to indulge in the Key West lifestyle. And being able to relax and listen to music in an open environment away from the sounds of trolleys and incessant scooter horns is something I think we can all appreciate — no matter how you feel about “Jessie’s Girl.”
You can buy tickets for all of the Sunset Green shows at www.keywestconcertseries.com or at the Key West Theater Box Office, located at 512 Eaton St. ¦