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Butch Dener Interview

by "Kell"

Copied from the Jimmy Vivino web site, July 2000

[photo] Jimmy Vivino and Levon Helm in Central Park, NY, June 2000
Butch Dener is the Road Manager for The Band & Levon Helm and the Barn Burners.

Kell: I guess what we'd like to know first is how you and Levon Helm got to know our Joey Vino.

Butch: This Joey Vino thang, ??? I only see him drink cognac so where does the Vino come in? (He grins)

Kell: It's just the name Mark gave to him! Vino just sounded good with "Joey!", sorta like the Johnny Bravo thing! giggle So gettin' back to how you met Jimmy?

Butch: Levon & I first met Jimmy V up @ Bearsville Theatre when he played with Jimmy Rogers, Phoebe Snow, & other musicians that came through Woodstock. Then he came & said hello to The Band at Woodstock '94, & friendships were solidified when The Band played the Conan show.

Kell: The Band was on Late Night? When was that?

Butch: Honey, i'm 50 yrs old & have smoked a LOT of reefer, i cant remember what year THIS is, (Grinning)

Kell: (Laughing) Okay, then - moving on to stuff that doesn't involve remembering dates (giggling) - I guess you know why we are doin' this website for Jimmy, to thank him for helping us learn sooo much about blues. How would you describe the Jimmy Man, for people who might not know him?

Butch: Jimmy has always been a generous friend, and generous in the musical sense too!

Kell: What do you mean "in the musical sense"?

Butch: Well, he always has room for another musicians opinion, or playing. He's a real " player's" player.

Kell: And what about as a blues musician?

Butch: In my opinion, & Levon's, too, Jimmy is a true BLUESMAN. He has the respect for those that came before, plays the music with love & plays it right, gives all props to the real original blues cats, & helps all true musicians make a living, by sharing his good talent, good fortune, & good connections. This a musicians friend, Jimmy Vivino!

Kell: Yeah, and did you know he was voted best dressed blues guitarist in the UNIVERSE? (giggle)

Butch: Yeah, but his dressing leaves a lot to be desired as a trumpet player, tho! (grinning)

Kell: Maybe The Sons & Daughters can teach you how to play "THE JIMMY FACTOR GAME". Would you like that? But just one thing we gotta' warn you about. It's not a drinking game like the Conan game is. It's played only for POINT value and for learning blues. Whaddya think?

Butch I'm not much good at games, & I dont drink, ever, so, give it your best shot kids, but i do know other ways to play! (laughing)

Kell: Okay, back to something else we wanna' know about. Could you tell us a little bit about the new CD Jimmy is doing with Levon Helm and the Barnburners? And also, sometimes some of Jimmy's fans get confused about his involvement with this band. It's not HIS band, right?

Butch: Yeah, Jimmy named the band but only sits in with us when he's on hiatus. Scotty Healy sits in too! He loves playin' with the fellas and they love havin' them! Jimmy has come to Levon's Woodstock studio & recorded about 10 - 12 tunes with Johnnie Johnson, Mike Merritt, Levon Helm , Jim Weider, the late Rick Danko, John Sebastian & Happy Traum,& oh yeah, Richard Bell from The Band,, Janis Joplin's full tilt boogie band & The Hawks,on the songs that JJ didnt play piano on.

Kell: Okay, gimme some sort of a scoop on the best track of the CD! Puleeeze?

Butch: Well Kell, wait till ya hear their version of "Shake-a-hand", with Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, & Levon Helm of The Band, Jimmy's cats,, and it will take ya to heaven!

Kell: That sounds great!! For anyone who doesn't know about Levon Helm and the Barnburners, can you tell us who is in this band?

Butch: The Barn Burners are Pat O'Shea on guitar, Chris O'Leary on vocals, harps and slide guitar, Frank Ingrao on acoustic Bass and Amy Helm (who is Levon's daughter) on vocals.

Kell: Where do you play?

Butch: Mostly, in the upstate N.Y. area, but we just finished a 21 day tour down south of the Mason - Dixon Line, N. Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,Arkansas, Oklahoma, W. Helena, Memphis, and Nashville, all blues joints. Great audiences and smart blues crowds! We have a steady (when we're not on the road) every Wednesday at The Joyous Lake in Woodstock and we're playing this weekend ( Friday ) @ The Turning Point, in Rockland County N.Y.

And I know The Sons & Daughters of Paramus know who Levon Helm is, but for anyone who doesn't, look him up and check out The Bands website. He was a Hall of Fame drummer from The Band, did the electric thing with Dylan, played drums on Muddy Waters Woodstock album (which was a Grammy winner) and has about three or four solo records with some of the finest musicians anywhere!

Kell: Can you tell us about the Instructional Video you did?

Butch: Sure! Happy Traum and his wife have a company that films "great" artists instructing less advanced musicians in their style. Levon did one on drumming; Jimmy Weider did one on rockabilly guitar and then we did one at Levon's for the Great Hubert Sumlin, on of course Blues guitar, rhythm, etc. It was David Johanssen, Levon, Jimmy, Mike and what a great afternoon of music. It started our friendship with Hubert which led to Levon being on a new Hubert project with Keith Richards, Clapton and a bunch of some solid blues cats! Jimmy, Mike, Levon Helm, & David Johansen do a smashing job of explaining Hubert's style, & playing some great versions of "Evil," "Smokestack Lightening," & a few more,, so go, listen, watch ENJOY !! It's available from Homespun Tapes, Woodstock, NY.

Kell: I guess it's kind of obvious that you and Levon love playing with Jimmy!

Butch: Kell, when asked if he would play again with Jimmy, Levon Helm said, "ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYONE!" In other words, Levon would be honored to play with Jimmy whenever he asks!

Kell: Thanks so much for giving me your time. It's been great talking with you Butch! I have just two questions left for you. Are you ready?

Butch: Uh-huh!

Kell: Okay, the first one is just sum up how you feel about Jimmy in just a few words.

Butch: Jimmy is my friend and I'm honored and proud to say that! What's the last question?

Kell: If the Sons & Daughters gave you a JOEY VINO SPINNING UMBRELLA CAP of your very own, would you wear it?

Butch: I lived 50 years and still have all of my own hair. Hats cause male pattern baldness,, so i cant wear the SUP too much,, it will age me prematurely! (He grins.) But for Jimmy V, I'll give it a whirl!

Kell: That's funny you say "Whirl" cuz the spinning umbrella cap does WHIRL a lot! It also makes a "whirring" sound as the umbrella spins,but just remember to turn off the spinning umbrella. You don't wanna wear your batteries down!

Butch: Honey, if ya do it right, you dont need batteries! (grins)

Kell: Oh whoa, it's a good thing this we're at the end of this interview cuz this is the part where I say thanks again to Butch Dener, the Road Manager for the Band and Levon Helm and the BarnBurners. We appreciate him being so kind to allow us this opportunity to ask him questions and The Sons & Daughters of Paramus also appreciate his ummm - sense of humor. Butch will be writing an article for Jimmy's site so please check back here for that. Knowing him, we know it will be a HOOT!

Now let me go and give him his SUP to wear. This is Kell saying STAY BLUESIFIED BAAABEH!

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