Randall Bramblett’s Bright Spots
When you reflect back on your days with Chuck Leavell’s band Sea Level in the late 1970s, what was that time period like?
Wild and full of promise at first, but frustrating and too much excess at the end. We ran out of steam.
Do you feel Sea Level, was a band ahead of its time with its blending together of jazz, blues and other sounds?
We were doing what several groups were doing at the time but more southern.
Can you talk about Chuck and the influence he had on you as a musician?
His piano playing always challenges me and he keeps his head together. He works very hard. He’s inspirational.
Can you also talk about another member of Sea Level, the late Lamar Williams. I feel most people forget he was even a member of the Allman Brothers Band. What was he like as a person and as a musician?
Lamar was a very sweet and gentle guy. He had some unique ways of playing and interpreting music.
You also spent 16 years touring with Steve Winwood. What do you take away from that experience?
It was very important in getting me back into touring and writing. He’s a fantastic musician in all ways. I got my confidence back a lot from playing with him.
How did playing with Winwood revive your confidence as a musician? And what happened previously that made you lose it?
I hadn’t been playing much when Winwood’s musical director called me. I was in school studying social work and trying to find a stable profession since I had a family. Playing with him led me to buy a tenor sax and eventually a flute and really woodshed. Practice, practice, practice. I wanted that gig and I worked hard to catch up to the players in the band. It was frightening to be so far out of the loop but I caught up pretty well. I started writing more too after being on the road with him for a few tours.
What did you learn from Steve about being the leader of band?
He understates music a lot and shows a lot of respect for his players. He lets them do their thing within the songs.
During the summer of 1994 you joined Winwood and Jim Capaldi for a Traffic reunion, opening the Grateful Dead’s tour. What are your memories of that ?
That was a memorable summer indeed and the Traffic tours were a highlight of my career. The Dead, Woodstock and many more great shows. I was just amazed at the size and enthusiasm of the crowds. I also really loved the Traffic songs and Jim was a man with a great rock attitude for music. Jim was a great person and had a great feel for the essence of music. I miss him.
In 2013, you released your sixth studio alum, Bright Spots. How was that album different from your previous records?
It was a little more roots – all out with horns and background vocals. The record was also more bluesy. I did of part of the album in Nashville with some aces, who are top level pros. I was lucky to work with them and they were great.
Any plans for a new album in 2014 or perhaps 2015?
I’m just writing now.
Can you talk about your songwriting process? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I write in a journal, kind of free form each morning. There’s a good book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in which she suggests writing three pages of unedited, stream of consciousness every day. It helps free up the creativity. Sometimes, I hit on ideas or scenes or moods that I make note of in the back of the journal. When it comes time to start writing, I tear out the pages and take them downstairs where I use a program called “acid” for loops and weird sounds for rhythm and my electric guitar for line and chords. I play around with the ideas I have, until something clicks and a song starts to develop. I have to get in the receptive frame of mind for a few days and then I can come up with some good stuff. Inspiration can come from nature, relationships, places, aging, death, philosophy…anything that is genuine and interesting to me and that I think, will mean something to other folks too.