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An Interview with Grammy-Nominated Trout Fishing In America

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Following a successful stop at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, four time-grammy nominated Trout Fishing in America will play in various venues around the country. You can see them at the Robert Irwin’s Central Garden at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles August 22 & 23.

This fantastic duo is on tour promoting their new storybook-music CD My Name Is Chicken Joe (for more information, please visit http://www.thesecretmountain.com) which I can wholeheartedly recommend. Not only is the book filled with funny illustrations and original, sometimes zany song lyrics, but when you listen to the accompanying music (11 songs in total) you’ll soon be humming along. I can see why it’s so easy to get hooked on Trout Fishing in America!

I recently interviewed the multi-talented Keith Grimwood who plays bass, sings, and writes songs with Trout Fishing in America. (In case you’ve seen a picture of the group, Grimwood is the shorter half of the band.) He’s really excited about the new book and I am sure you will be, too.

Q. Why write a book called My Name is Chicken Joe?

We have always felt that our songs are very visual and the idea of having them illustrated has always appealed to us. The trick was to make the connections to make it happen. Roland Stringer, of The Secret Mountain publishing company, and Dick Renko, our manager, are friends. Well, as I understand it, they got to talking one day and the idea of a book/CD came up. We jumped at the chance right away.

Q. Which came first, Chicken Joe lyrics or music?

Whew…you scared me! I thought you were going to ask, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Now that’s a really hard question.

dsf7008_medWhen we write, I generally start with lyrics and Ezra starts with music. Then we get together in a co-writing session and see if any of my words fit any of his chord progressions. That’s how this song got started. So the answer is that they started separately, but pretty much at the same time. Don’t you wish that chicken or the egg question was that simple?

Q. I love the character of Chicken Joe and how he pops up throughout the book. Is he based on a cat you know?

Chicken Joe is one of my cats. I have a lot of cats but Chicken Joe is one of our favorites. When he was a little kitten, he’d turn up missing when we went to feed the cats in the morning. We’d find him out in the chicken coop. He’s a smart cat. You may not know it, but hens generate a lot of heat. They really kept him warm. That’s how he got the name Chicken Joe.

Q. The illustrations are wonderfully evocative yet simple – how did you find your artist?

Roland sent us examples of several artists that The Secret Mountain had worked with before. We were particularly fond of the beautiful watercolor works of Stephane Jorisch. He sent us some initial sketches and we gave him a few suggestions. He really captured the personalities of all these animals. I especially like his chickens. They look like a bunch of punk rockers to me.

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