Interview with Patty Larkin - Angela Page

After airing Laugh Track Cut “At The Mall” when Patty mimics Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Ethel Merman..

Angela: The very talented Patty Larkin, and Patty are you on the line?

Patty: I certainly am.

Angela: Thanks for calling in,.

Patty You’re welcome, good morning.

Angela: Good Morning. Do you get those women confused sometimes?

Patty: (as Marlene Dietrich) sometimes I do.. id just depends on really...is really concentration you have to work very very hard at it... (as Patty) It’s my version of juggling it is- part of the joy for me is to get into the characters as I’m performing.

Angela: Yeah, I was hoping we could do the interview with one of these women...(laughing) No it’s nice to hear your real voice.

Patty: ( Laughing) You wouldn’t want Ethel this morning, No you really just wouldn’t (interrupting herself in Ethel’s voice)...want her talking into the phone like that because everything would jump off the meters.

Angela: I get this feeling you must really love old movies, or did you follow these people as a kid?

Patty: Yes I love old movies, I do. I love... I would watch them all the time. I don’t know what it is about that period. I think that, upon reflection, the three characters are extremely strong women and they were in their real lives too. I heard an interview with Ethel Merman and she was unbelievably strong- scaribly so, Marlena Dietrich -one of the few women to say no when Hitler asked her out for a date- Carmen Miranda, very wacky but was one of the most popular performers of all time during her time and of course from her country she was extremely popular so I think that there is something wonderful to channel them as a touchstone.

Angela: It is wonderful, but you just said Ethel Merman was scaringly strong.. and isn’t that so true, we call women, when they get a little bit over the line, a little too strong, it’s scary!

Patty: It was an interview with Terry Gross on NPR - she basically, she was just so focused- it was amazing. maybe scary is the wrong word to use. She was asked whether or not she developed a character throughout the run of a play or a musical and she said “No, I get it right the very first night. I demand that of myself and that never changes.” Terry was like “Well don’t things kind of.... don’t you grow into them and become more involved in the character” (interrupting herself) “No why should I?” That kind of thing- like, no - what? you an idiot?

Angela: Well Patty, you could be an impersonator if you want to drop the folk music thing.

Patty: Oh good.

Angela You seem to have a knack for that. I’m looking at your CD’s here...91 Tango 93 Angel’s Running 95 Stranger’s World 97 Perishable Fruit every two years since 91..

Patty: Actually since ‘85

Angela: Yeah, well I’m expecting one in 99 then.

Patty: Yeah, I’m hoping to get something out. I’m in the process of demo-ing some new material. I will be on a new label, I’m not sure which label yet, but we’re looking at a few labels. High St. the label I’ve been on is no longer in existence.

Angela: Right

Patty: It’s an exciting point I think and sort of want to get something out in 99, maybe a live CD that I already have in the can or maybe

Angela: That’d be great (live CD)

Patty: produced..... Yeah, I think it would be really good to put another new live one out.

Angela: I really like your “In the Square” which I omitted there-

Patty: Thank you

Angela: On Stranger’s World you had Cockburn on. We spoke about two years ago and I asked you whose CD you’d like sing on, or who else you’d like to sing on yours. Do you remember who- or have you changed your mind?

Patty: I might have said Bonnie Raitt

Angela: That’s good too....you said Thompson.. Richard

Patty: Richard Thompson I’ve worked with, but I haven’t worked in the studio with him in those last two years.

Angela: I’d love to hear you and Bonnie Raitt collaborating.

Patty: That’d be fun.

Angela: It would be! Is Fenway Park the biggest crowd you’ve sung to?

Patty: 25,000 uh...yes!

Angela: (laughing) That’s gotta have been fun

PATTY: Yeah, it was, but the cool thing was - speaking of old movies - that um, it was the scariest thing - it wasn’t about me and I didn’t have a guitar on, so there were a couple of different things from a normal folk performance but also, after I finished the anthem of course, everybody cheered and the team comes on and it was very exciting, and apparently my nostrils were ten feet high on the big huge screen and um. But the coolest thing was walking back behind the home plate, this little boy behind the plate goes (in a Little Rascals voice) “Hey Patty, would you sign my ball, my baseball?” And then it became like a 1940’s movie as I was walking to my seat. Everybody was like “Hey Patty, nice job” - “Hey nice going Patty” - “Way to go Patty” - you know, like I was part of the team!

Angela: Right, I just think that the tendency to say “...and for my next number...” - you know, after 25,000 people are clapping for you...

PATTY: I don’t think they wanna hear it, they wanted the game...

Angela: So, I feel like you’re really undefinable even though all the folk shows play you. Do you think you suffer sometimes from being uneasily definable?

PATTY: Well, yeah, I can’t answer that, I was thinking about that last night in fact, but I mean I think that I do what I do and I have many musical influences and interests and I think that to me that that’s the joy of this format or this genre which is new folk or folk or contemporary or alterna-folk as someone recently called it. But I think that it allows me to dip into the different styles and it may be hard for me to be defined for people but I think that there is enough of a sense of what’s going on now that I’m within that general vacinity of acoustic music.

Angela: For people who have just tuned in, this is Angela Page on Folk Plus and we’re talking with Patty Larkin who’s going to be at Orange County Community College tomorrow and you can call here for details...

PATTY: Uh...

Angela: ...and for the phone number...

PATTY: ...uh, no, I’m going to be there NEXT Friday...

Angela: No, that’s right - Eric Anderson is there tomorrow, I’m sorry, ....

PATTY: Oh my God, I had a heart attack, I’ve got to be there, I’ve alot of driving, I gotta go Angela...

Angela: That’s right - you gotta go, sorry, you’re right - you’re on NEXT Friday. I’m so used to talking to someone who’s playing the following day.

PATTY: Oh, OK.

Angela: ...and it’s Eric Anderson tomorrow so, let me take that back. Patty Larkin, Friday night, the 23rd. So you have a long time you an check your calendar, make plans, call your friends... Tell me about July 18th in Boston.

PATTY: Well, that was a couple of years ago that was actually the day that “Strangers Role” came out. It was astounding because not only did I get to sing before the 25,000 people at Fenway Park, but it was also that the mayor declared it “Patty Larkin Day” in Boston which it was, you know, at first I thought it was, uh embarrassing and I just wasn’t interested. But when I got there, I basically was very moved and I felt very honored. He had a declaration that was read and I did a show at a music store and sales from that week at the music store, partial proceeds went to the Boston AIDS action committee. So the AIDS action committee came down and said a few words. Basically it was the city thanking me for my non-profit work and for my music. It can’t get much better than that I don’t think!

Angela: That’s something! Mayor Menino?

Patty: Yeah.

Angela: Well we’ve been talking about Aids awareness, violence, prejudice, hate crimes today in the last two hours, through song we have been talking about it. I have actually cued up your tune Angel’s Wings. Would you introduce it yourself, and we will go to that cut?

Patty: Yeah, I think that this is a very intense time- well an intense week for people in the gay community and nationally, internationally - a very heavy week. I have been interested in AIDS action and awareness and research and fund raising for years. Within the last couple of years, maybe three years ago, a woman came up to me and asked me to write something about domestic violence. Is aid that I could think of very many songs, even three or four off the top of my head that were great, very poetic and powerful but I said “Thanks, I’ll think about it”. What her comment made me do was just, listen more carefully and read more carefully. I think there is an epidemic of violence in this country, but also in Boston it was astounding to count just how many incidents of domestic violence and deaths from spousal abuse in the Boston area within one year. I really wanted to write something and this is the song that came out.

Angela: It makes me think when you say “an epidemic of violence” we have an epidemic of violence even against our earth. One of your classic tunes I don’t want you to go without mentioning Metal Drums and now fabulous a tune that is. I have been trying to get extra information on that and its just not anywhere on the Internet.

Patty: On the incident you mean?

Angela: Yeah

Patty: That is really kind of a journalistic style song about W R Grace’s (?) contamination of an entire town- Holbrook Mass. There is a movie coming out called Civil Action from the book of the same title. That is W R Grace in Worburn (?) Mass. where they did another number. Both in the 60’s. I think that if you went to Holbrook Mass, or even a superfund site...

Angela: I’ll try again, I wondered if perhaps you weren’t using the exact town’s name- I wanted to make sure before I continue...

Patty: No, it’s Holbrook, but I think I changed the name of the company because I was advised to, but I kind of regret it- I think Baird and McGuire was the original company that declared bankruptcy although W R Grace is obviously still ...

Angela: I always wanted to hear you slur that “protecting their ass.......ets” line- everytime you do that...

Patty: Yeah

Angela: Thanks for the interview- This is Patty Larkin. Next Friday night she is at Orange County Community College Theatre on South Street. Thanks for talking with us Patty.

Patty: Thank you Angela. Thanks for playing the music.

Angela: Bye Bye

Patty: Bye