At The Agora
It has been a while since Sass Jordan has released a new album. Things are about to change when she drops Rebel Moon Blues on March 13th.
This eight song blues album features seven cover tunes and one original song titled “The Key.”
Not only is Sass getting ready to release a new album, but she is also preparing to hit the road with A Bowie Celebration. This band features band members that have toured with David Bowie including long time members Mike Garson, Carmine Rojas and Gerry Leonard. Jordan will be joined by Joe Sumner, Cory Glover of Living Color and Evan Rachel Wood as vocalists for this tour.
We had the chance to speak with Sass about her upcoming new album and her appearance at The Cleveland Agora on March 25 as a member of A Bowie Celebration: The Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust Tour.
Greg Drugan: So you have a new album coming out, what made you decide to put out an album of Blues covers this time?
Sass Jordan: Well, I was talked into it, but don’t tell anybody! (laughs) Originally, this record company guy that I know said that I needed to do a Blues record. I was like, are you out of your mind? Then about a year ago, Derek who produced the record said “You know, it’s not such a bad idea to do a Blues record. Imagine if you did a song like, “Still Got The Blues” by Gary Moore, that sounds like something you would do naturally. I was like, “Hell yeah!” It made so much sense. My whole life, I’ve been listening to the Blues and it’s a part of my cellular memory for as long as I can remember. The more I thought about it, the more sense I made. Then the songs started to come to me, then I brought it to my band and everybody was like “this is such a great idea, let’s do it!”
GD: I like your song choices, you have some big name artists that you covered but you chose songs that aren’t as popular. Was that a conscious choice or did you go with songs you liked personally?
SJ: It was the songs that I liked personally. There was no rhyme or reason for the artists or the songs. The songs were like, “do me!” and I was like, “you got it, baby!” There’s only seven songs, which is why I’m going to make another record like this, because there are so many songs that need to be done. I’m really happy! We’ve been working these songs into our live set, and they work so well!
GD: Rebel Moon Blues is a great title, how did you come up with that?
SJ: Thank you! It’s a whisky I’m making, coming out in Canada called Rebel Moon Whisky and it just made complete sense to call the record Rebel Moon Blues. You know Blues and whisky go together! There’s also an underlying meaning, because the moon is the feminine, and rebel, the rebel female. I’m an old white lady, not necessarily something that’s synomanus with a Blues singer. (laughs) I haven’t been a Blues musician per se, these genre names are so limiting, even though the lines between the genres are so fluid, you are always dipping in between genres. A lot of what I’ve done is Blues-rock. It all comes from the same thing which is jazz and Blues.
GD: It’s been a few years since you have released a new album. Do you feel now is the right time for new music, or were you just ready to get back in the studio?
SJ: It’s all of the above and I was asked to do it. Somebody gave me the money to do it. Now that I’ve done it, I’m like, “what took you so long, missy?”
GD: Like you said, there are seven covers but you do have one original track titled “The Key” on the album. How did that song come about? Were you inspired by the music that you were playing?
SJ: Actually, no, not really. When you listen to that song, it’s really not Blues, it’s more Tom Pettyish. But it’s close enough and incorporates many of the same elements. Nobody in this day and age seems to want a new record by artists they knew thirty years ago. Sadly enough. So then I was like, I will do one. I would love to write a bunch of songs and have them all be hits. Who wouldn’t? (laughs) What am I really doing when I’m writing a song? I am just channeling my desire to be of service to the world. To make people feel better, to be uplifting, to have some sort of emotional catharsis. A way to connect to each other and that’s why I do it. It makes me happy and it’s fun!
GD: You will be coming to Cleveland soon as a part of the Bowie Celebration Tour. Have you ever done something like this before?
SJ: I don’t think I have. This is unique in that it’s all alumni of people that have been in Bowie’s band during his long and illustrious career. It’s not the same as if it was just a bunch of musicians playing Bowie songs. It’s actually people who played with him. It makes a difference to me. The only people that didn’t play with him on this tour are the singers! There’s three of us (singers) and we divide the songs between us. I’ll take a lead on one song then Cory will take a lead and then Joe. The most amazing thing about it Greg, is that you would not believe the power in that music. It moves people. People of all ages are in the audience. It’s extraordinary. It’s so touching and so moving to see the joy and the connection that people have with that music.
GD: Are you guys doing the entire Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust albums in their entirety?
SJ: That’s what I hear. Knowing Mike, he likes shows that go on a lifetime, so I’m sure he will add a couple more songs not on those albums. There will be some extra treats!
GD: What is your favorite David Bowie song to sing?
SJ: I don’t have one! There’s too many! I don’t have a favorite of anything! I love singing “Moonage Daydream.” I used to do that song in my show, many, many years ago. I love them all.
GD: Going back a couple of years, What was it like working on Love, Janis? You have the perfect voice to cover Janis Joplin.
SJ: That’s ironic because I was not a fan of Janis Joplin. They offered to fly me from New York to Toronto to audition. I was absolutely positive there was no way on god’s green earth that I would get that job. First of all, I didn’t care for Janis. Second of all I was like, “what the hell am I going to be doing on Broadway?” But, I’d be flown there for free and I could go out to dinner with my best friend who lives there. That was why I was going. Much to my total and utter chagrin, I got the fuckin’ part! (laughs) This was the worst thing that could have happened to me, but I couldn’t say that! I got it and it was incredibly challenging. I had to do nineteen Janis Joplin songs a night plus the speaking part. I had to do all my own costume changes, which there were eight in the show. It was really hard and it was really terrifying. I ended with a hell of a lot more respect and admiration of her by the end of that. I wouldn’t put on a Janis Joplin record today, but she was great.
GD: How long did you do that?
SJ: It was five months, September to January. One great thing that came out of it was that I met my vocal coach and that changed my life. He taught me how to sing multiple nights for the rest of my life and I know how to do it.
GD: Early in your career, you had a young Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters as your drummer. How did you find him?
SJ: Nobody had heard of him. He was Mr. Nobody from Laguna Beach. He showed up. He was a friend of a friend and he was as green as a bean! He came in and played three songs at the speed of light. But there was something special about this kid. There was something lovely about that kid where we were like, “we will whip him into shape.” That’s exactly what happened and as you can see, he went on to be a much bigger star than any of us! (laughs) That was pretty evident when he walked in that that kid was going places. To this day, he is one of my dearest friends and one of the kindest, most generous, loving, wonderful human beings on the planet. I love that guy.
GD: Your song “Trust In Me” with Joe Cocker is on the best selling soundtrack of all time, The Bodyguard. What’s it like knowing so many people have heard that song?
SJ: Isn’t that insane? It doesn’t really mean anything to me. Most of the people who bought that record bought it for the Whitney Houston song. It’s really a Whitney Houston record and they slapped that Joe Cocker song on there because Kevin Costner’s favorite artist is Joe Cocker. Joe Cocker had recorded that song about four years prior with a singer from Australia. Kevin Costner was driving around LA and he wanted to use that song and he wanted to replace that female singer with someone else. He was driving around and my song came on the radio and he said, “that’s the voice I want.” That’s how I ended up being on that song and I’m really glad it happened because Joe Cocker is one of the greatest fuckin’ singers ever! Then the best part is, I toured with him after that and he had no idea that I sang on that song! (laughs) We had to tell him! Because my voice was added four years after he recorded it.
GD: Are there plans to tour with your solo album? We would love to have you back in Cleveland!
SJ: Oh god yes! It’s never a question of not wanting to, it’s the question of is there enough money to be able to do it. If you are dealing with someone like me who hasn’t been in these markets for years and years, it’s difficult to predict. There’s so many acts out there and you have to let people know that you are still around.
GD: Sass, thanks so much for time. I wish you well on your new album and both tours. Your solo tour and the Bowie tour! I look forward to seeing you soon!
SJ: Awe, thank you Greg! Sounds great and take care for now!
Be sure to check out Sass Jordan’s new album Rebel Moon Blues when it drops March 13. Sass will be joining A Bowie Celebration with some phenomenal artists on March 25 at the Cleveland Agora. Tickets start at $29.99 and can be purchased here.