Over the years, Long Island Weekly has managed to corral numerous celebrities from the worlds of music, television, film and publishing for some intriguing conversations. The year 2022 was no different. Here are some of the highlights.
The year 2023 will see Buddy Guy embarking on a farewell tour, a well-earned respite for this blues icon who turns 87 on July 30 of next year. The subject of a pair of recent documentaries, 2021’s Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away and this year’s The Torch, Guy is a faithful torchbearer for a genre that’s lost a number of its cornerstone trailblazers in recent years including B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Otis Rush. “The way they treat the blues now, you don’t hear it on your big radio stations anymore,” he remarked. “Your big AM/FM stations don’t play blues hardly anymore. So whatever little I can do to help keep blues alive, I’m open for it.”
Even though director Stanley Nelson’s Attica lost Best Documentary Oscar to heavily favored Summer of Soul, his most recent project was less about racking up awards and more about raising awareness. “I think we’re still dealing with the same struggles—law enforcement, decency and humanity and people wanting to be treated like human beings,” Nelson said. “Hopefully, a bunch of things are coalescing at the same time and for a tiny bit of that, it’s the film Attica making people start to rethink the prison system. As filmmakers, we try to keep insight as to what our real goals are and what they are here is making sure we have as many people as possible see the film. The awards nods are all great, but in the final analysis, that will push more people to recognize and see the film and that’s what we really want.”
The blues might be a strange place to associate with Compton, a Los Angeles neighborhood more associated with hip-hop acts like N.W.A., but it’s where much-loved American artist Keb’ Mo’ (born Kevin Moore) calls home. In speaking with Long Island Weekly, he shared what his community was like growing up. ““At the time, Compton was middle-class people trying to get their kids through college. A lot of the men had good jobs at the Douglas Aircraft Company and Lockheed. They were machinists and had health plans. My mom was a hairdresser with a shop. There were a lot of businesses because people had jobs in that area. Kids were doing alright.”
One of the side benefits of the pandemic was the existential pause button that got pressed allowed people to do some otherwise neglected house cleaning. A nesting project of this description allowed Joan Osborne to fortuitously unearth a box of previously unreleased performances dating back to the ‘80s that allowed her to release this year’s 13-track Radio Waves. “Most of my life’s work has disappeared without a trace,” she said. “I’ve made 10+ studio albums, but the vast majority of the songs I’ve sung hundreds and thousands of times over decades of touring across the globe, has never been recorded. I found all of this stuff and normally, if I was in my busy pattern, I might have looked at it, taped the box up again, shoved it back in the closet and not given it a second thought. Because I had the time, I was able to listen through a lot of this stuff and give it the attention it deserved.”
Consummate character actor Héctor Elizondo has been plying his trade for nearly 60 years, appearing on stage and racking up roughly 157 credits in film and on television. And while the 85-year-old thespian saw his latest project, the Chuck Lorre CBS sitcom B Positive get canceled after two seasons back in May, the Manhattan native appreciated the chance to still practice his craft. “I love the environment because seniors are very rarely highlighted in their life,” he explained. “The life of a senior isn’t as valued as much and this is of course a culture that genuflects at the altar of youth, but not at the altar of experiences and a life well-lived. These are the people who raised the children, paid the taxes, fought the wars and have been the good citizens. Too many are forgotten at a time in their life when they are still very useful.”
This year may have seen the release of Joe Satriani’s latest recorded effort, The Elephants of Mars, but it also allowed him to return to an early love–painting.
“I wound up with this new career as an artist that just sort of fell into my lap,” Satriani explained. “The two really seem to help each other out—the painting and the recording. I recently flew out to Gatlinburg, TN, a beautiful little town in the Smoky Mountains. I did an art show and a private musical performance for the patrons that was at the [Gaitlinburg] Convention Center. It was such a crazy thing to do, especially after years of pandemic. Just to be able to play guitars I’ve painted for people that bought them and see all my canvas work in one big room—it’s great.”
For Brooklyn native, the major role he plays in the CBS crime procedural East New York is a sort of homecoming for him. “[With this show], the stars felt like they aligned in regards to what’s happening with law enforcement and what’s been happening in New York along with women empowerment and having a character who is really a strong voice. We’ve come up with this ensemble of actors that is really tight and wonderful, but the characters are really compelling, unique and they each have their own spin on [the storylines]. It felt like something I really wanted to be a part of. And also for my old neighborhood—to kind of give props to it and give back in a way.”
Convalescing off shoulder ceremony and eager to hit the road coming out of the pandemic, Carle Place native Steve Vai has a new record called Inviolate. He shared that nothing delights him more than coming back to Long Island. “It’s always a hoot [coming back],” he said. “It’s a little bit of a push because there are a lot of people to see in a short period of time. But I cut my teeth on Long Island in high school playing all the bar circuits in the ‘70s. Whenever I’m on
Long Island, it’s the feeling you get when you’re on what feels like your home turf. I’ve been living in California for 42 years, it feels like home, but it feels like a second home whenever I set foot in New York. And they’re so vastly different that when you’re on your home turf that’s 3,000 miles away, you’re there. You’re in the environment.”