It’s hard for me to not like a woman who includes Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines, Patty Griffin, and yoga in an interview. . . and it’s also hard for me not to like a musician who plays the guitar with the fluid passion of a driven soul. . .
How would you describe your music? Use analogies, adjectives, and comparisons – anything to give us a feel for who you are musically.
Soul-driven folk/rock Americana. I get compared to Lucinda Williams, The Cowboy Junkies and vintage Sheryl Crow.
What’s the best thing about playing music? The worst thing?
The best thing is when youâ€™re creatively on fire about writing, and arranging tunes in the rehearsal studio and, on-stage, in sync with your band mates, playing to a receptive audience. Playing music can be joy, community, expression and celebration all in one package. The worst thing is when youâ€™re out of sync with yourself or your band mates or the audience isnâ€™t interested, or if the sound is bad so even if all your pieces are together, the point of your playing is nowhere reachable.
Think of yourself as a spice- what spice would you be?
Cinnamon: a little dark but with some sweetness.
You have one evening where you get to plan everything from food to company to activities (or lack thereof) to setting. What does that evening look like?
Hmmm. A beach side concert celebration, preferably somewhere along Highway 1 above Davenport (along Californiaâ€™s Central Coast), or more southerly, along Big Sur Coast. Weâ€™d be on a cliff above the water. Iâ€™d have all my music friends and yoga friends as guests and the event would be catered by CafÃ© Gratitude and One Lucky Duck, that is all raw vegan lusciousness in the food department. Organic Red wine from somewhere like Bonny Doon Vineyard, Sparkling water, fresh juice. Iâ€™ve been in India three months and am missing Californiaâ€™s bounty of organic food. Iâ€™d play a little but I think Iâ€™d invite a lot of folks from my Bay Area songwriting/music community to play short sets. Then after about two hours of that, Iâ€™d have a band like Gotan Project or a jazz combo see the night out. Thereâ€™s be little beach huts set up for people to spend the night as needed and yoga practice in the morning for anyone who wanted to do that. Just a relaxed, nourishing evening.
Many of my readers are book lovers, so what five titles would you recommend they read?
Some pivotal books in my history of reading:
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
Triumph of Achilles by Louise Gluck
Open Secrets Alice Munro
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Peregrine Falcon. Nomadic, fierce, vocal as needed. I worked with falcons in college and someday would like to be involved with falconry in some form.
What do you think of the state of music today? Are you excited about it? Worried?
Thereâ€™s a lot of great music being made across just about every genre and music lovers can access it just about anywhere, anytime. Iâ€™m answering these questions from India, where Iâ€™ve been for more than three mounts, surrounded by people of all different cultures, making, listening to, covering or studying music beyond my usual genres. Music has a pretty limitless palette, and there are certainly many people interested in making and listening to music. So I think itâ€™s an exciting time. The whole industryâ€¦I canâ€™t really speak to!
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced?
Wow, thatâ€™s a big question! Iâ€™ve been a bit of an experience junkie in one wayâ€”I grew up with a lot of unanswered questions so I think I took it upon myself to really stretch out into the world to see what was out there and find more. A handful of pivotal beauty moments: waking up high above tree line in the Sierra Nevada amid a camping trip; staring at the Southern Cross hovering over Golden Bay in New Zealand; practicing yoga at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India before dawn with an exceptional group of people; special moments with loved ones. â€¦
It’s time to plan your next tour. Who would you most want to tour with and why?
Dream tour would be opening for Robert Plantâ€™s Band of Joy. I love all the music the folks heâ€™s playing with in his band -â€“Buddy Miller, Patty Griffinâ€”do on their own. Likewise, Led Zeppelin was a huge revelation when I first heard them as a kid. When I saw him perform recently, during his Raising Sand tour with Alison Kraus and briefly at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, I thought, what a cool cat. He’s lived through so much, continues to evolve his sound…and appears to be having a great time.
If you were to plan a mix tape of 10-12 songs for my readers, based on your mood today, what songs would you include?
Todayâ€™s a little bittersweet and determined:
1. “Falling Stars”- Sara Siskind
2. “If Not For Love”- Kris Delmhorst
3. “Let Me Down”- Kim Taylor
4. “Iâ€™m Not Yours”- Angus & Julia Stone
5. “Your Museum”- Matthew Ryan
6. “You & I”- Wilco
7. “Undo”- Bjork
8. “Woman King”- Iron & Wine
8. “Wide River to Cross”- Buddy Miller
9. “Change is Gonna Come”- Betty Lavette
10. “Freedom Highway”- Mavis Staples
Deborah Crooks is a seeker. The San Francisco Bay Area-born and bred singer/songwriter grew up at the nexus of two tectonic plates; close to a city known for its history of social, musical and political upheaval. These underlying conduits of tension seem bred into those from The Bay Area, but few more so than Crooks. As a performer Crooks wasnâ€™t born until her twenties, though she remembers writing songs as a young child. Something in those early songs spoke to Crooksâ€™ future , illuminating a self that was yet to be. These days Crooks is a vibrant artist carrying on the San Francisco tradition of powerful female singer/songwriters with literate lyrics and progressive musical attitudes; well respected within the music scene and increasingly so outside of it. You can hear (and buy) her music at her website, and be sure to “like” her on Facebook.”