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Published: 2012/04/28
by Adam Majewski

Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret: Basically Frightened and Playing for The Cause

Humble is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Colonel Bruce Hampton, so when I sat down with the Colonel he was modest while sharing his feelings about Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret. during our interview. The film, which comes out at the upcoming Atlanta Film Festival, explores the music of a man who many consider the father of the modern jamband movement.

Before a very busy night with three shows at the Iridium and a visit to the Beacon to sit in with the Allman Brothers, the Colonel was gracious for taking the time to talk to me. I soon understood why other wonderful musicians revere him: he is funny, intelligent, and wise.

AM: How are you?

Col: Over 60 and perfect.

AM: I want to talk a bit about the movie coming out soon, Basically Frightened. It’s been a long time in the process.

Col: Thirteen years. [laughs]

AM: How did it feel to have a movie made about you to begin with?

Col: I’m a very shy accountant on the bottom level, so it was very awkward and I hope there’s more about music than about me. I’m not an egotist seeking publicity, but they’ve asked for twenty years and I said it’s time to do it.

AM: What was it like to have all those musicians praising you?

Col: It’s very humbling to say the least and I pay them a lot of money to say it. [laughs]

AM: Some musicians who respect you very much like Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring said in the movie that they wouldn’t be in music if it weren’t for you. Do you think that that’s true?

Col: Wow…No, they’re both masters at what they do. They were great very young. Derek has been doing it since he’s eleven and Jimmy since he’s a teenager. Both are very talented…Ridiculously talented. They both have worked harder than anybody I’ve ever seen. It’s ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. I’ve never seen any two people work harder and they were already very talented. They’re just good guys above that.

AM: Does it mean more to you if a musician’s a good guy at heart or more talented?

Col: It means everything. A good person means everything. There’s three main problems in a musical band. The ego is number one. The worst thing you can have is an ego. The second is a relationship with somebody else. The third is drugs, drinking, and the rest of it.

AM: Are those all three things that you’ve tried to avoid in the bands that you’ve been in?

Col: Yeah and I’ve tried to avoid people that have them. I look for people who have sincerity and essence in their daily life, too.

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There are 5 comments associated with this post

Parker April 30, 2012, 09:25:47

I can’t wait to see this movie. Music to Eat of my favorite all time albums.
Incredible how many legends the Colonel has played with and helped develop.

Parker April 30, 2012, 09:25:48

I can’t wait to see this movie. Music to Eat of my favorite all time albums.
Incredible how many legends the Colonel has played with and helped develop.

pleasure May 6, 2012, 17:58:13

the colonel is truly a pleasure to see live. Kind of an oddball, but the MAN. Still tearing it up constantly whether with sit-ins or his own show. God bless the Col.

Mark May 7, 2012, 15:54:45

I lived in Atlanta in the late 80s about a block and a half from the Little Five Points Pub when ARU was the Friday Night House Band. I brought many of my Philly friends to see them and all were blown away. Bruce used to play this instrument (looked like a small electric guitar or mandolin – don’t recall its name). Bruce would riff about “wraslin is real” and “lizards and campo-phonique. The band would leave the stage and lead the crowd in drumming jams with plastic gallon milk jugs. Matt Munday was an incredible mandolin player and the Reverand Jeff Moser would play banjo. The band stripped down in the later years, but the core of Otiel (From Egypt) Jeff Sipe (aka Apartment 252) and Jimmy Herring (no nickname) was alway amazing with Bruce pulling all the strings. All so bizarrely avant guard. Many times they would play with Widespread Panic, but ARU always stole the show IMHO. Oddly enough, Bruce’s first claim to fame was the Bruce Hampton Greece Band. What a diverse and great musician. Just a really nice guy too if you ever get the chance to meet him.

Mark May 7, 2012, 15:56:31

Correction, that Grease Band…

Erik May 9, 2012, 11:27:35

Mark, that would be the “chazoid.” :)

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