Discover Jersey Arts 5 Interview: Deb Callahan

Discover Jersey Arts 5 Interview: Deb Callahan


Deb Callahan played the Marina Stage at the XPoNential Music Festival on Saturday, July 23. Cat Cosentino sat down with Deb for a conversation. Cat Cosentino for Jersey Arts: How is it working with your band, Gary, Tom and Allen?

DC: It’s great working with them. I’ve been working with Allen for about 9 years, and I’ve worked with Gary maybe 6 and a half ot 7 years, and Tom like 83 years. Gary and Allen have played together in bands before, so yeah, they’re both familiar with each other.

JA: I hear you have a new  baby--how does that alter the lifestyle of a musician?

DC: Well, Allen is the dad, we have our own partnership going and its good because we know each other, really well, and I think we have a good understanding. I know some partners where it could be a stress on the relationship but we have a good rapore. We both have our talents; we are not competitive with one another. We actually write stuff together.

The touring part..I’m not touring as much because I’m actually a little busier than I thought I would be with the new baby. We just did a tour out in the Midwest, we were out in Wisconsin, Illinois.. that’s probably my only week tour I did… We do little jots here and there….the Heritage Music Festival.

We have a great childcare person!

JA: I know it’s a little early in the game ot tell, but is the baby showing hints of becoming a drummer, a bassist…a singer?

DC: It’s hard to tell (laughs).. I mean, he’s kicking a lot. Got a lot of rhythm…and you asked how it affected my writing. I haven’t really been writing that much. I’m feeling like…doing a wave of writing, sometimes I’ll write in waves. I’m not one of those people who are always writing, those who write 3 or 4 songs a week. I’ll get little ideas. I have a little tape recorder so I’ll sing or talk into it, but I really….it is affecting my performance a little better. I’m actually more confident; somehow having gone through giving birth I can do ANYTHING. I think I have been a confident performer.

JA: What CD are you most proud of?

DC: The last two I thought we really hit our stride. That was in late October, early November. Tell It Like It Is was the name of the last CD. When we do a CD together, we further our bond. For me, I feel like I came together as a songwriter and a singer. I thought it was my best work covally, I think Allen feels it was his best guitar work. Then there are some members of the band who will always like the first album…and I notice things on the CD like the bass isn’t mixed high enough, or the vocals aren’t mixed perfectly. Other people listening to it don’t tend to think about that, they just care if they connect with the song.

JA: Musicians often talk about passion. Some are a little fresher in the business, or are perhaps on the brink of entering and have not been struck with such a wave of recognition for their passion or path. How has passion played a role in your career?

DC: I think that’s the only reason why I do it. It’s certainly a difficult career. I feel like I haven’t hit it big, so to speak, I’m not on any major label. But I have a degree in social work, so I also do that and could be making more money with that. Allen says to me “why aren’t you making more money doing that”, but I say “because I love it.” And I love it when it fits together seamlessly; that’s when its wonderful. I love singing and performing and bringing music to people. I want people to make a connection to other people.

JA: When you perform, how does the landscape change..what falls away, what reconstructs?

DC: It’s so nice when you could just be inside the music and not think about other extraneous tuff. I have to say XpN is very well organized. The sound was really good. It’s hard when you’re thinking…it’s hard to be inside the music and asking yourself “oh can I hear myself? Turn me up” or  the sun’s in your face and you’re going ot faint, or if you’re feeling a weird vibe from the audience or the place. But when everything can fade away…I think music can take you away from…let’s say if a tragedy happens in your life.. I think music can make that fade away.

JA: How does social work relate to your music?

DC: It’s interesting how the two interplay. Sometimes the things I write about are either directly or indirectly experiences of mine. Food On The Table was very much influenced. I did a lot of work with single mothers who inspired me twith their strength because they do what they can to put food on the table, they are doing what they can for themselves, working a bunch of jobs…(how about the Credit Card Blues song?) Well, (laughs) that was inspired by my own woes actually.

Deb Callahan's newest dvd, "Live from the World Cafe," is available now.

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