War: Live Photos from BB Kings + an Exclusive Interview with Lonnie Jordan ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, November 08, 2008

War: Live Photos from BB Kings + an Exclusive Interview with Lonnie Jordan

War - BB King's, NYC 11-5-08War is now going into its fourth decade and the band played to a full house this past Wednesday at B.B. King's. The band's set was over two hours (with no breaks) and, even though B.B. King's packed the floor of the club with tables, War got the crowd on its feet for a set-closing "Lowrider" jam, which included portions of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and Sly Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher".

It is important to note that this wasn't a nostalgia show as the band's blend of jazz, funk and soul seems just as relevant today as it was thirty years ago. Throughout their set, the band blended a mix of their greatest hits with free-form improvisational jams. Both the audience members and the band really seemed to enjoy themselves.

BrooklynRocks Interview with War's Lonnie JordanYesterday I had the chance to talk with Lonnie Jordan, who is a founding member of War and the main vocalist/keyboardist in the current lineup of the band.

BrooklynRocks: Let me start by by saying that it was a great show on Wednesday night. The band really seemed to have the crowd going. I want to ask where you find the energy to play a 2+ hour set, especially after having done a live set and and autograph signing earlier that day? There seems to be a number of acts (like Bruce Springsteen) who broke out in the 70's who are now slowing down.

Lonnie Jordan: It is great to hear that about the crowd. It was hard to see the audience with all the lights [at B.B. King's] and I was also fighting a cold. We actually did three sets on Wednesday as, after the set at J&R Music World, we did a live interview for Latin America TV. It is all about keeping the energy consistent and playing for the fans. We are now playing shows where there are two and three generations of War fans in the audience. After the shows, I'll be talking to the grandkids of the older generation of fans and these kids know more about my past than I do.

BrooklynRocks: Will War be going back into the studio as it seems that new War releases come out about once every ten years?

Lonnie Jordan: We have a new disc, Greatest Hits Live, that just came out and we are going into the studio in the Spring of 2009 to record a new studio album. It took me this long to commit but, with this new line-up, we are really a family.

We are also going to be recording with Eric Burdon next year and reuniting the Eric Burdon and War Band. We played a warm-up show at Royal Albert Hall earlier this year to see if it could work and it came together like eggs on toast.

[Note: I asked Lonnie if the RAH show was officially recorded as I watched some of the terrible quality YouTube clips from this show and could really see the power and potential of the band. Lonnie said that the show wasn't recorded and the recordings next year will be all new material]

BrooklynRocks: What is your take on hip-hop and rap and are there any younger artists out there who you would like to work with?

Lonnie Jordan: I'm always listening to the other generations - I've been listening to rap since it all started in the 80's. Rap and hip-hop are like art; it is rough and raw music with raw feelings - sort of like blues was in the 50's and 60's.

There is no one in particular that I'm looking to work with but I'm always up to playing with anyone who wants to make music. I'm into jazz, reggae, calypso and I play drums, bass, keyboard and guitar.

BrooklynRocks: How long is War out on the road?

Lonnie Jordan: We will be out on the road until we drop

[Note: Upcoming tour dates are:

Sat 11/08/08 Washington, DC Blues Alley
Sun 11/09/08 Washington, DC Blues Alley
Tue 11/11/08 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
Tue 12/30/08 Las Vegas, NV Tropicana Resort & Casino
Sat 01/24/09 San Francisco, CA Warfield Theatre
Sat 02/14/09 Las Vegas, NM New Mexico Highlands University
Fri 02/27/09 San Bernardino, CA California Theatre Of Performing Arts
Sat 03/14/09 Denver, CO Sheraton Denver Hotel
Sat 03/21/09 La Mirada, CA La Mirada Theatre For Perf. Arts
Fri 04/03/09 Hammond, LA Columbia Theatre
Sat 04/04/09 Austin, TX Downtown Austin]

BrooklynRocks: Do you have any favorites in the War catalogue?

Lonnie Jordan: I really don't listen to any of War's records once the mixing is finished. We will often take some of the older songs and change the attitude onstage which lets us crank out some new jams for the future.

One of my favorite War songs though is "Baby Its Cold Outside" (from 1982's Outlaw) as it is a very emotional song and its one of the band's best efforts.

BrooklynRocks: As War was the last band to play with Jimi Hendrix before his death, do you ever think about how things would have been like if he hadn't passed on?

Lonnie Jordan: I think we would have had a long-term relationship with Jimi. We opened for him and would probably have been his opening band for a long time. Jimi was a good friend and supporter of Eric's [Burdon] and he liked to jam with War. I think we would have had a good long-term relationship and future together.

BrooklynRocks: What are your thoughts on the current state of the world? Do you still think 'the world is a ghetto'?

Lonnie Jordan: We have the new Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson [Barack Obama] who has the magic wand to make things right. When this happens, War won't have to sing about uncomfortable subjects. War though stays away from politics - it is about keeping it fun, happy, joyful and safe.

BrooklynRocks: Do you have any words of advice for young musicians?

Lonnie Jordan: Any young kids who want to be in the industry need to get an education so that they have a backup plan. If the music thing doesn't happen for them, they need to know when to say "next". If there are kids who are on a mission to be in the industry, they first need to understand the business of the music business and then they need to learn to play an instrument. Always remember to keep your focus and keep it safe for yourself and others around you.
That is it for the interview -- it was a real pleasure to talk with Lonnie. After 40 years in the music business, he is still down to earth and a real class act.

War's Website