Indie Film Pioneer John Sayles


Filmmaker John Sayles has been making independent films for over 25 years, going back to The Return of the Secaucus Seven in 1980 and his fourteen movies since then have run the gamut of genre and subject matter, as Sayle continued what John Cassevetes started in terms of inspiring filmmakers to make strong character-driven films by any means necessary, with or without studio backing.

Three years after his political thriller Silver City, Sayles is back with Honeydripper, a look at the origins of rock ‘n’ roll in a small Alabama town in the ’50s, centered around a small juke joint owned by Danny Glover’s piano player Tyrone Purvis. The business has been slow and is in threat of being taken away from Tyrone if he doesn’t pay his back rent, but the club’s salvation comes in the form of Sonny, played by musician Gary Clark Jr., a young out-of-towner who shows up with his electrified guitar promising the wildest Saturday night the town has ever seen. sat down with Sayles, joined by his long-time producer and companion Maggie Renzi, for an extended interview about the movie and other things going on in the industry these days. So what have you been doing in the three years since we talked to you for “Silver City”?
John Sayles: Trying to raise money, and actually, I’ve been raising money by writing lots and lots and lots and lots of screenplays. That’s eventually how we financed the movie was we wrote lots of screenplays and money we have left over from other movies that made some profit, so mostly that’s what I’ve been doing and now I’m writing a novel because I’m on strike.

CS: Is it safe to assume that you build up ideas over the course of the years until you’re able to get them financed to make them? What’s the process on deciding which idea to make next?
Sayles: It’s kind of stop and go. “Eight Men Out,” I wrote that screenplay eleven years before I got to make it, so just having the idea and wanting to make it next doesn’t mean you get to make it next, and so some of it is just about how ambitious is this? Literally at some point Maggie had to say, “Well I’m gonna go look and see how much money we have because we’re not raising any money for this. No one wants to finance this.”
Maggie Renzi: Incredibly, we already knew we had Danny Glover in the lead, we knew we had this amazing music, we even knew I think very early that we had Keb’ Mo’. We knew that there was a lot of music and this nostalgic 1950’s thing, and a really good script, and nobody would give us money. What they said was, “Can’t you make it for two million dollars?”
Sayles: And we couldn’t make it well for two million dollars, and that’s the difficulty. We’ve gotten used to working with people who are in guilds and unions, including the actors. It’s one of those things that if you have a little experience you’re a little bit better at looking at the movie, imagining the movie and trying to imagine this movie if we only had two million dollars to spend, it just didn’t work. We only had five weeks to shoot as it was, so that’s really tough for this ambitious a movie. So a lot of what happens is I write them, I read them over, I kind of feel like, “Okay Maggie, do you think we could raise some money to raise this?” And sometimes it’s “I don’t think so right now” then you try to write something else that’s more doable.
Renzi: In the meantime, we’d gone down, we’d look in Arkansas, we ended up looking in Alabama and found the locations we liked in Alabama, so we knew it was possible. We could budget it, we worked with Susan Kirr, the production manager, on a budget. We haven’t been idle exactly, but we’ve been working on this.
Sayles: We missed the cotton is what happened. There was like a countdown, that if we start on this day, there will still be some cotton in the ground. If you shoot it the first day and all of a sudden it’s clear, we don’t have enough time to prep for the movie, cast it, and everything, and still have cotton in the ground.

CS: Basically, you went and did pre-production for the movie and got stuff prepared for when the financing came through so you could get right into it.
Renzi: We thought a lot about it. What you can’t do is you can’t be sure you can get the cast and the crew you want, you know you just can’t because people get busy, even on this one, Danny said yes but then a couple of other jobs came along including the “Eternal Sunshine” guy, which is such an interesting thing for him to do and another smaller one that I can’t remember, so he committed to those which pushed us into a situation where he worked like the devil for three and a half of the five weeks. He couldn’t be there for the first week and a half.

CS: It’s very fortuitous that you got the movie out this year, where there’ve been lots of great music movies. I know you have a background in music, John, having directed a few well-known music videos. Why did it take so long to do something focusing on music and was it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Sayles: Yeah, it is something I’ve always wanted to do. Over the years, one of the best things about making movies is I get to be in on the music sessions when we score them. I don’t write music really, I make up a melody and some lyrics and there’s a few in this movie where I get a co-credit, and I hand it over to my composer and say, “Make this into music.” I don’t read music, but when we do those sessions I really want to be there because I direct musicians the way I direct the actors, so basically we’ll be talking about the keys and how many bars and all this kind of stuff and then I might just say, “Well here’s the scene and there’s an undertone of bitterness, or don’t resolve this, you know we’re going to resolve it later in another musical cue.” Musicians, just like good actors, can take that and get it into the music somehow, so that feeling about musicians and that special way they talk to each other with their music has always been in my head of how do you make a movie that gets some of that into it and what music means to people. So many good musicians I know can play anything, they have what they prefer to play, but if they get a gig… Art Barry who is a horn player who we met when we were doing “Eight Men Out”–he was in our kind of twenties jazz band–he was with The Dukes Men playing Duke Ellington for years, but then he was off on the Bruce Springsteen tour where he did “The Seeker Sessions.” This is a guy who could just sit down and say, “What are you guys playing?” I was always interested in that, and I was born in 1950 when this movie started and what the must’ve been for the players when they heard that solid body electric guitar and the amp that came with it the first time. It’s such a seat change. It’s all of a sudden, “Oh my god we have to listen to this guy. He might take over,” and that’s what happened.

CS: Now obviously you were way too young to have been in any of those clubs, but did you ever get down to the South during those times?
Sayles: I was in the South actually, I had relatives in the South, so I was there quite a bit, I remember the chain gangs and the cotton and all that stuff, the colored drinking fountains.
Renzi: John was disappointed that it just looked like regular water.
Sayles: I thought colored water was going to be cooler. I went up and came back and said, “It’s clear just like all the other water, maybe it’s not working.”
Renzi: His parents shook their heads.

CS: I assume you still had to do some research about the origins of rock music, though, so what did you look into?
Sayles: What usually happens is I do initial research to write it and then our art department does the rest to get the details down, so the year 1950 is definitely about my research into when did that solid body electric guitar first hit the scene? The idea is that Sonny is a guy who repaired radios in the army, he’s read an article in “Popular Electronics” about this guy Les Paul and he says, “I could make one of those,” and he cannibalizes various things including an acoustic guitar and he makes himself this thing. So you start with 1950 then you say, “What else is going on in the South where all this music comes from?” and one of the big things was that the Korean War broke out and Truman decided to integrate the armed forces, combat troops. The real worry there was not what’s happening on the base, but all of our bases are in the deep south, what happens when these guys go into town and they feel like they’re equal soldiers and the town doesn’t think they’re equal anything. The nicest part of it was just listening to a lot of music; just to think what was in the air? What was on the jukebox even in Clarksdale, Mississippi or Harmony Alabama? What it was was this incredible mix of gospel–Rosetta Tharpe was on it and she was playing electrified rhythm and blues guitar. She had an acoustic with a pickup, but gospel. Swing was still there, jump music like Louis Jordan, you know pop ballads, Perry Como was out there, rhythm and blues was very, very big–that was its heyday. Originally, Ruth Brown was going to be in this movie playing the character of Bertha Mae and that was her heyday from about 1950 to 1953. In that era she could sing anything, but it was really rhythm and blues, and then there was this proto-rock and roll that was really rock and roll, but they weren’t calling it that, including Hank Williams. You hear “Moving On Over” in this, which is basically just “Rock Around the Clock.” It’s rockabilly, but they hadn’t laid a name on it. For me just listening to all that stuff and saying, “Oh God, look at all the things that are out here.” Then the next step is I always write a bio for all the characters, sending my bio to Danny Glover is basically, “You’re life is the music from the beginning of the blues.” If he’s fifty-something in 1950, he was a kid when the blues really developed, it didn’t develop until the right around the turn of the century and then, “You’re history is the first half of this century with music so you’ve been there for King Oliver and Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong and then the swing bands and now the boogie-woogie era, which was very short right into rhythm and blues.” The question is can this guy make the next leap?

CS: You sound like an encyclopedia of rock music, so did you know all of this stuff beforehand or was this stuff that you found out in research?
Sayles: I knew a lot before, but then you go into the specifics and I was never the kind of guy who knew what color label a forty-five had from a certain thing. I knew the players and as I kind of delve into music more, I knew more about it, just to listen.
Renzi: But also our music supervisor. Sometimes people’s music supervisors bring them music, which was not John needed, but Tim Burnett our music supervisor brought us musicians, so that’s how we found Eddie Shaw, who plays the sax player, Arthur Lee Williams the harmonica player, Anderson Huggins who plays Danny’s hand in the movie, Stephan Hundley the boy who’s the drummer, and Mabel John, originally he brought us Ruth Brown and he had kind of as a backup Mable waiting in the wings because Ruth’s health hadn’t been good, but she was actually having a very good year, so we were hopeful, and then Gary Clark Jr. actually we found because our friend Louis Black who owns South by Southwest and “The Austin Chronicle,” we told him about the movie and that we were looking for a young black guitar player and he said, “Oh you gotta come to Austin and meet Gary Clark” because Gary’s been gigging in the clubs there since he was fourteen.

CS: So he’s mainly a musician?
Renzi: He’s only a musician. He likes it though, we’ll see.
Sayles: And Keb’ Mo’ was your idea.
Renzi: Yeah, Keb’ Mo’ was my idea and then of course Mason Daring who’s been our composer for all our movies, he brought us all the musicians that play on the soundtrack, both the ones that recorded in Boston and the ones in the pre-record in L.A. where we laid down some tracks. The music in the movie is all live. We laid down tracks so that we could get everybody’s arrangements in different keys.

CS: I know you tried to record a lot of the music live on set so what were some of the challenges of doing that?
Sayles: We had separation.
Renzi: We basically had a recording studio for all the stuff in the Honeydripper Lounge. The rest of it, our sound mixer Judy Karpe just mixed, so Keb’ Mo’ playing by himself, I’m trying to think of what else, anything that’s not in the Honeydripper.
Sayles: Gary singing “Midnight Special.”
Renzi: Gary singing “Midnight Special,” that stuff was our sound mixer’s job and she just did the best that she could do, but then for all the different tracks we had to separate we went to a recording studio in Atlanta under Mason Daring’s supervision.
Sayles: And then Judy Karpe got it to sound the way it sounds.
Renzi: What’s interesting is the Audio Engineer’s Society just did a little evening about it in New York to talk about it because it is unusual to record that much live.
Sayles: We pre-recorded the drums just so that every take is on the same beat, so Gary’s big finale when he walks outside the club and comes back in is the best parts of three takes, and later on in the editing I cut it pretty close and then I have Mason and Dave Shacter’s engineer listen to it and they said, “You know you’re off the beat by two frames. Let’s slide it a little bit.” But you have to find those gaps where the drum beat hits exactly to keep the same rhythm and that’s actually unusual in real life, every time they do it, even the drummer will be slightly different, but we wanted at least to be able to from edit one take. It makes a big difference especially for those solos because they’re acting at the same time that they’re playing. In “Limbo” we wanted Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio to sing live and never have to lip sync, and her first song, as she’s singing in front of this big wedding reception, she’s also breaking up with her boyfriend who’s in the band and she’s also worried about her daughter who’s working as a caterer, and so that’s a lot to get into a song and there’s no way to do that in lip sync.

CS: At the same time you were making this, “Black Snake Moan” was being released and while it’s a different movie, it also look at blues music of the south. Have you seen it and were you concerned when the movie was released that your movie would be compared to it?
Renzi: We haven’t actually seen it and we both need to because we’re both fans of “Hustle & Flow” but somehow we never caught it. Stephanie Allain is a friend and a producer of that. She actually introduced us to Craig Brewer and we had an idea that they might be able to lead us to some money, which they weren’t successful with, but so we were aware that they were working on it.
Sayles: It didn’t last long though. We’d been all over mostly in Alabama shooting a movie in a town where there was no movie theater so all of these friends of ours having movies come out, if they didn’t last for five months, we haven’t seen them.

CS: How did you end up working with Emerging Pictures to release this?
Renzi: What we decided after “Silver City,” which was so badly distributed and basically abandoned after the first weekend by Newmarket Films… we decided that this one has all the earmarks of a really popular movie and if we could really connect with the audiences who would like it, we could really do some business. It was sort of two things, which were: who could help us connect to that audience and why should they make all the money? This time, there weren’t any distributors that came to mind, we’ve worked with a lot of them and they’re not very good. They’ve gotten lazier over the years, and they’ve gotten kind of defeated.

CS: A lot of the companies have changed as well, like IFC.
Renzi: Yes, it is.
Sayles: It’s musical chairs though.
Renzi: In many cases it’s just the same players, they’re just in different combinations, you know? So I approached Ira because I was interested in this possibility of releasing the film through digital cinemas. In fact, that’s not what we’re doing, although digital cinemas will be part of it and so many mainstream cinemas now have digital projection, it’s actually an element of it. In talking with Ira, I realized I had a partner who had done it for a long time, who had become seriously disenchanted about the business and had left to teach at Columbia where his mind kind of changed and he hooked up with this young people including this guy Josh Greene that he works with. I asked him if he wanted to try working on this thing with me. That company is set up basically to find you distributor. I said to him, “I don’t think that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about creating a distribution company for this film and this film only.” As we talked, we began to bring on more people, Mark Wynns who is a young marketing consultant from Atlanta, and then Mark brought us to Will Packer who is the producer of “Stomp the Yard” and recently “This Christmas.” We have four sets of publicists, the Falco people and Block Korenbrot in L.A., both of whom we’ve worked with before, an African-American publicist, a real hot shot named Arian Reid with AR PR to go particularly after that African-American and urban audience, and then Cary Baker, who’s company is called “Conqueroo” who is a music guy who is just totally plugged into that.

CS: So this obviously wasn’t one of those movies where you just make the movie and give it to the studio.
Renzi: No because I see what the results are. “Silver City” failed not because it was a bad movie, but because Newmarket failed to connect to the audience that would’ve loved that movie which were people that were working for change that year. It came out during the election year, and it was a natural, but they failed to close the deal with that audience.

CS: This wasn’t too long after Chris Cooper won his Oscar, right?
Renzi: Absolutely, not to mention, Kris Kristofferson, Daryl Hannah, Richard Dreyfuss, you know, there’s a million ways to sell it, and they didn’t sell any of those ways, so we created this company so that we wouldn’t blow this opportunity.
Sayles: So Emerging Pictures is one of the pieces, a major piece, but it’s not an Emerging Pictures release.
Renzi: It’s also Will Packer’s company and Anarchist Convention are really the three companies.
Sayles: It’s really a one time company for this. We shouldn’t have given it a name.
Renzi: Yeah, it should be called “Just This Once” or something like that, or “Get It Right This Time.”

CS: I presume this was shot digitally?
Renzi: No, it was shot on 35 mm.
Sayles: I asked Dick Pope, who was the cinematographer, I just said to him, “Look my last two movies were Super 16,” and every DP I know will beg to shoot Super 16 before they have to shoot digital unless it has a very particular digital look you’re going for, you just get a lot more on a film still, and he just said, “I’m going to be fighting grain the whole time and with very dark skinned people in front of white cotton,” we ended up with 35, so we bit the bullet. He did a nice job with it too.
Renzi: I was talking about this with an audience recently, it’s beautifully lit, you know, a lot of movies aren’t lit anymore. You look at a movie like “Once” for example, which is okay a very low budget movie, it is not lit. Whereas, what we did is we spent our money and our time and equipment and got it really beautifully lit, that’s where we got that honey lushness.
Sayles: That’s part of the storytelling.

CS: These days a lot more people see movies on DVD and Ed Burns just did something interesting with his new movie by releasing it on iTunes. Do you feel that it’s important for a movie to get a theatrical release to be considered viable?
Sayles: I think it’s going to take a while for an older audience, and this is a movie doing really well with adults meaning, for me, people over forty-five, for those people to get wired enough to really reach them without at least advertising a theatrical release, so very often a theatrical release is seen as the loss leader. I mean, this is one of the things the strike is about. The studios are saying, “Oh, we don’t want to give you all those residuals.” These aren’t residuals, it’s the first time these people are seeing it, sixty-five percent of people aren’t seeing it on the big screen for the first time, so it is an admission to the movie, even if it’s on your cell phone it’s the first time that guy is seeing it, and that’s what we’re supposed to be paid a percentage for. There’s no way that every movie is going to get a theatrical release because there’s only fiftytwo weeks in the year and there are thousands of movies made.

CS: Well, the way things are going, there won’t be that many movies made next year.
Sayles: But those from the bottom up movies are still going to get made. It’s a great way to start to get known if you’re a new filmmaker just like if you’re a new band, to give your movie away basically, but eventually to make another movie, you have to make some money back, and until it is figured out how to make money back, it is great to get your movie seen, but either to attract an investor, or to make enough money back to put your own money in the film, eventually you have to make some money back.
Renzi: Also, I’m not willing to give up going to the movies. I mean, personally we don’t go to see live theater very often, it’s so expensive. We don’t go to hear live music more than once a month, so what do we leave the house to do? Except maybe go to somebody else’s house to dinner, we go to see movies. Maybe you go to do things in nature, but that’s one of the two things that we have left. I think what we need to is we rebuild it, you know, I think we need to work on film clubs and all these other ways, and making the viewing system better, why not? And there are new theaters opening all the time, how many times do you read Michael Moore just helped to open a theater, revive a theater in a small town? People are doing it everywhere and they are excited about it. People love the movies, there’s not a therapist in the world who doesn’t recommend, “Go see movies.”
Sayles:I think those alternative forms of distribution that have opened up are non-feature length things. Where there used to be no way to see those, except for a film festival that had a shorts competition, that’s what the net is perfect for.
Renzi: And educating yourself, you know, which is one of the things that we’ve been championing lately, which is that all these young people are into films only their film education started five years ago, and that’s the thing that’s so fantastic about DVD. If you want to, you can study the Western, you know, you can study British post-war black and white films, and that’s what it’s great for.
Sayles: And freeze frame and all that stuff.
Renzi: Or you could review the last fifteen John Sayles films, that’s what it’s for.

CS: Will there ever be a boxed set of John’s movies?
Renzi: No, there’ll never be a complete box set.
Sayles: We own the rights to three and the British put out a box set of those three.
Renzi: Finally, there was, for the first time, a complete John Sayles retrospective, which was awesome. It’s really, really great. It’s fabulous to be taken so seriously as artists, not once did anyone ever ask us about our box office.
Sayles: Only the last two of our movies were ever shown. It was nice because it kind of built up for an audience, “Why are we doing a retrospective of an audience we’ve never heard of?” They’ve heard of as little as me as we’ve heard of any Greek audience.

CS: So where is the separation between John Sayles, Indie Filmmaker, and John Sayles, Hollywood Screenwriter? I talked to Frank Marshall just a few weeks ago, and “Spiderwick Chronicles” sounds like it’ll be great, but did you work on “Jurassic Park 4” for a while, too?
Sayles: Yeah, that was a couple years ago. I have no idea if they’re making that, or if they’re having it rewritten, or whatever. Writers are the last to learn this stuff; I read it in the trades. “Spiderwick,” I’m one of three writers listed out of nine who worked on it. I loved the books that it’s based on, the posters look cool, but I’ll see it the first time when everybody else does because I’m going to be on the road doing our stuff when it premieres.
Renzi: David Strathairn is in it. He plays Arthur Spiderwick and he’s our next door neighbor, so we were comparing you know, what he learned.
Sayles: I don’t think much of my writing is left in it, because I was in the middle of the process, but I think I was the first people who took these five children’s books and made it into one movie.

CS: It’s interesting that a movie can have so many writers and only a few are credited. I spoke to Rod Lurie a few months ago and he couldn’t even get a writing credit on his own movie.
Sayles: On his own movie means that he was not the original writer. One of the things that the Writer’s Guild does, for instance, “Spiderwick” had an automatic arbitration. I don’t know why because they had Kathy Kennedy on it and seven other producers, and so the minute that a director or producer asks for a writing credit, there’s an automatic arbitration because what they’re afraid is that somebody changes two things and says, “Well I want to make some money as a writer as well,” which was the battle in the days before there was a guild, and they go through arbitration and they say, “Yeah, this guy deserves to be one of the three writers.” So with Rod Lurie, they probably went to arbitration and decided that he didn’t change enough. The thing is, it’s not whether you made it better or not, it matters how much you change it. So for instance, the only time that I asked for a credit on a movie where I didn’t get it was on “Apollo 13” and it was basically, “Well you have to change it forty percent.” And as I say, you can make it thirty-nine percent better you don’t get credit, you make it forty-nine percent worse, you get credit. I feel like if I had a woman stowed away on “Apollo 13” I would’ve gotten credit.

CS: But you would have had to change history to do that. With that in mind, it must be nice to do your own thing.
Sayles: I’m writing a novel now and it’s even better because I don’t have to worry about raising money for it.

CS: Is that non-fiction?
Sayles: It’s fiction. I’ve written three novels and two short stories before.
Renzi: It’s set in 1900, so there’s a huge amount of historical research.

CS: It would be interesting for someone to show a retrospective of John’s films in chronological order.
Renzi: It would be cool to see. The shocking thing is that there’s never been an American retrospective of John. There was an almost complete one in Minneapolis in the Walker about fifteen years ago. It’s an interesting thing that you have to go to another country.
Sayles: It’s just not a thing that we do here like the Europeans. Martin Scorsese, I don’t remember ever hearing about anyone doing a Martin Scorcese retrospective.

CS: I’m sure that the Film Forum or the IFC Center, one of those places, will eventually run down the list and get to John.
Renzi: Or certainly the Walter Reade Lincoln Center, that’s what they should be doing it seems to me, or the American Cinematheque. Obviously the American Cinematheque in L.A. is going to show four of the films, five including “Honeydripper” which is a look back, but not exactly a retrospective.
Sayles: It’s tough to get all the rights and all the prints.
Renzi: It’s a lot of work.

CS: Was this novel something you always planned as prose or was it originally an idea you had for a movie?
Sayles: This actually was a screenplay that I wrote several years ago and at some point I realized two things. One is, we’re never going to be able to raise the money to make this thing, and number two, is I kept feeling like I was cutting it and compressing to get it to be closer to two hours. Good stuff. Now that I’m writing it as a book, it’s totally changing, but also it’s able to expand into all kinds of interesting areas. If HBO were to give me four years, for instance, I could do this book on film as a four-year to five-year miniseries, but as a two-hour movie now, you have to take one little aspect of it and say, “We’re going to make a two-hour movie about that one little aspect.”

CS: That seems to be where things are going these days. I also wanted to ask about your horror background because you wrote so many genre and horror movies in your early days but you never explored it in your own filmmaking.
Sayles: Yeah, the closest I think is “The Brother From Another Planet,” almost a science-fiction movie.
Renzi: And the fantasy movie is “Secret of Roan Inish” that you wrote for Corman.
Sayles: Yeah, there are elements of magical realism in a lot of our movies like “Possum” and this movie, but horror, not really. The last one I did that was a horror movie I wrote for Guillermo a couple drafts of “Mimic,” which was a giant cockroach movie. I did a really fun movie for James Cameron called “Brother Termite” that I wish he would make. That’s about bald-headed aliens that have taken over the White House and that’s got some pretty horrible stuff in it. You know, it’s one of those things, it’s almost like Nelson Algren, the fiction writer, used to say, “I go where I’m needed.” I’m not needed in horror. There are so many interesting horror movies, low-budget, high-budget, no-budget, it’s just such a saturated genre that it doesn’t feel like that’s where I need to go. Somebody asked the other day on a radio show, “While you made ‘Eight Men Out,’ do you think there’s a good movie to be made about the steroids scandal?” And I basically said off the top of my head, “Yeah, but I’d make it into like a science fiction horror movie.” And then I realized… remember “Alien Nation”? They’re basically drinking this thing that’s like a steroid and it’s psychological as well as physical.

CS: I just spoke to Frank Darabont, and I thought it was interesting that he made all these Stephen King dramas before finally making a horror movie himself.
Renzi: What did he make?

CS: He directed “The Mist.”
Renzi: Boy, we are really behind. Well, John was counting today when we were on the bus over from Hoboken, we’ve been to thirteen film festivals since we started campaigning for this movie.
Sayles: And four blues and jazz festivals.
Renzi: With the Honeydripper All Star Band which has been touring.

CS: Have they played in New York at all?
Renzi: They played in New York at River to River in July and they were awesome, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, they were really great, but they’re fairly pricey because there’s a lot of them and they fly them all over the country, but they’re going to do an interesting thing in Austin. Do go online to see this grassroots thing that we’re doing, it’s actually fairly interesting, which is really enlisting people in communities to buy theaters. It’s a version of the church support kind of thing, so check it out. Anyway, we’re doing a cool thing in Austin, not with the whole band, but Gary Clark’s going to come and play with Eddie Shaw and a couple of the greats.

(Unfortunately, after the interview was over and our tape was stopped, John and Maggie told us a great story about how a certain presidential candidate was a fan of Sayles’ work, so it’ll be interesting to see if Sayles’ profile increases if that person is elected next year.)

Sayles’ latest Honeydripper opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, December 28, in Chicago, Atlanta and Boston on January 18, 2008, and in other cities on February 1.