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The February 2010 Patterson Hood Interview

Patterson Hood Interview
February 2010
By James Calemine

On the eve of his annual Guitar Pull, I called Patterson Hood. Best known as the leader of the Drive By Truckers, Hood contends as one of this generation’s most resonating musicians. His work speaks for itself. This is not the first interview we’ve conducted. Today’s Q & A focused on his guitar pull, movies, Athens, Georgia, Vic Chesnutt and various other story-wise facts…

Today Patterson was at home in Athens. Last weekend he performed at the Vic Chesnutt Tribute, tomorrow is his benefit to help Robert Osborne’s Athens Film Festival and then he hits the road with the Drive By Truckers behind a new album. he's a busy man, so I wanted to keep this short. I look forward to tomorrow night. guests at Hood's guitar Pull include Patterson, Daniel Hutchens, Don Chambers, William Tonks, John Neff, Brad Morgan, Dave Marr and David Barbe. More with Mr. Hood in the Spring when The Truckers start moving down the highway…

James Calemine: Congratulations on the Grammy for the Booker T record…

Patterson Hood: Thank you. I was honored to be part of it. I’m thrilled that it’s done so well.

JC: Tell me how you started your Annual Guitar Pull in Athens for the Robert Osborn Film Festival?

PH: Well, I’m an old movie nut. They have a Classic Film Festival in town they do and actually we went the first year they did it in 05. It was the weekend before my daughter was born. My wife was nine months pregnant; it snowed that weekend so the attendance was dismal. We live a block from The Classic Center where it takes place and we were having our baby the following Monday. We thought it was a great weekend to spend in this auditorium and watch old movies on a huge screen. It was amazing. They showed a virgin print of Hud that had never been projected. Amazing stuff. We had the greatest time. I told my wife because of the snow attendance was bad that year, and I hoped they would be able to keep doing it. So I found out who was putting it on and I emailed them and offered to do a benefit to help with any money issues and they took me up on it. I’ve done it every year since. Now, my wife and I are on the board of the Classic Film Festival. It’s just something I do.

As far as folks who I get to do it is a combination--obviously all are friends of mine, and people’s music that I love, but we all have some common ground. Pretty much on one level or another we’ve all worked with David Barbe. All of them share my love of the movies. Like this year, I asked Danny Hutchens to join up with what we were doing because I heard he has a fondness for old movies. Don Chambers recently joined the board as has Dave Marr. Dave Marr could write a book he knows so much about old movies. He knows more about them than I do. It’s a fun thing. We get up there and take turns doing our songs and backing everyone up on their songs. We’re all friends. I’m sure we’ll raise a few glasses. It’s just a great night. In the past it’s been held in a restaurant in town. Then we moved it to the 40-Watt where there’s actually production, better sound and all of that. I hope people come to it. It’s a great night of music.

JC: Well, we’ve been talking movies…tell me about you recording a couple of songs for the film That Evening Sun starring Hal Holbrook.

PH: Yeah, I did a couple of songs for it. Michael Penn did the score. He did a really great job. I was particularly happy with the way his stuff sounded next to mine. That was my worry. I knew he’d do a good job, but I think of us coming from pretty different backgrounds musically, so I didn’t really know how compatible it would be or would it sound weird with two different things happening, but it blends really well.

The movie is floating around. It’s in a limited release right now. It’s just got nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Of course, we were keeping our fingers crossed about an Oscar nomination particularly for Hal. He was nominated for his last film, Into The Wild. Many—including myself—think he should have won, but it didn’t pan out this year to get an Oscar nomination, but the Independent Spirit Awards is a good help. It keeps winning festivals. Every festival they take it to ends up winning. It’s won 8 or 9 different film festivals. Usually it wins Grand Prize or an Audience Favorite Prize, which in its own right is kind of telling. It’s a great film.

JC: Your old friend Ray McKinnon is in the film, and you’ve worked with him before. It’s like how Sam Peckinpah used to use all of his buddies in his films…

PH: It’s interesting you say that. One of my friends is one of those buddies. I’m friends with Donnie Fritts and I think he was in five or six Peckinpah movies. He actually had a pretty big role in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. He has a pretty big role in that one. He also has a pretty big role in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

JC: You have deep roots in the state of Alabama. Talk about why you made Athens, Georgia your home.

PH: Athens is just a wonderful town. This past weekend for the Vic Chesnutt tribute was once again why I love Athens so much. It’s a great town. I love the collaborative spirit that is in the scene here. Sure, it gets a little segregated at times, but lately particularly there seems to be a little more toleration, which can only strengthen the whole scene. Of course, Vic was a big part of that. He was always collaborating with different genres of bands. He’d make a record with Widespread Panic and go and make a record with Elf Power. That’s really cool. I’ve always thought that was one of the many things I loved about Vic as an artist kind of person. I’m proud to be living in Athens. It’s a good place for me to be.

JC: I’m looking forward to seeing this new Truckers documentary

PH: I’m sure it will be coming to Atlanta in April for the Atlanta film festival…

JC: Well, we’ll get into this new Truckers stuff in the Spring. I know you hit the road after this guitar Pull. I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow night…

PH: You got it man, thanks…

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