Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spotlight on Minnesota Singer/Songwriter Arne Fogel

Robert Behrens of JazzMN wrote that Arne Fogel is "arguably the best male vocalist in the region and most certainly is one of the best-informed jazz vocalists in the nation. Over several decades, Arne has earned his place as a professional singer, a sensitive mentor and a respected historian….”

May 17 Fogel will join a host of other talents for A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan for the kickoff event of this year's North Country Dylan Celebration. It will be a night to remember.

EN: What has been your career path from teen to professional jazz vocalist and historian?

Arne Fogel: It’s been a long and winding path. My interest in the history of the things that I'm into goes all the way back to my childhood. As soon as I would become a fan of this or that childhood interest (cartoons, three stooges, etc. for instance), I would do my best to learn the history of that subject. And, I've been interested in performing all of my life. So, it was always a double-edged process: learn about the background of that with which I'm interested in, and then learn how to do it myself. All of the other things in my career, such as radio, teaching, being in the advertising business as a writer-producer, jingle-singer, etc., are or were parts of whatever I needed to do to sustain my interests. I started in RnR bands, graduated to studio work, got into teaching in college, and eventually got into radio as a presenter of the music I love - another form of "teaching", you might say.

EN: When did you first realize music was your passion?

AF: When I was about 13 years old. I always enjoyed music, heard a lot of it around my house when I was growing up (although no one in my family was a musician or performer.) But it really became my greatest interest in my early teens.

EN: What is it that sets Arne Fogel apart from other jazz singers?

AF: Oh, I don't know... I'm not sure that I am a "jazz singer" anyway... I sometimes have trouble with that term. I know too many people who don't have even a rudimentary knowledge of how to handle a jazz beat, but think they can learn a couple of Tin Pan Alley standards and call themselves "Jazz Singers." I think I am a guy who sings classic standard pop music from America's early mid-century, and I sing it in a more-or-less authentic way, which means there is an underpinning of jazz in my approach. But does that make me a "Jazz singer"? I don't know. What makes me different? Well, in the Twin Cities area, just the fact that I am male makes a big difference. This is a field almost completely dominated by women. Also, I suppose the fact that when I am singing this music, I try to keep it as true to form as possible, which means there are little or no R&B or R&R devices apparent in my style. Almost everybody else does those things, but I don't. So I guess that makes me different too.

EN: Are you also a songwriter? What do you like most, creating or performing?

AF: Yes, I'm also a songwriter. I used to write tons of songs in my R&R days, then after that, used that ability to write & produce advertising music, both free-lance and with ad agencies. I learned from the best: Barry Thomas Goldberg & Gary Paulak were band-mates of mine in The Batch, and they were the principal writers of that band and geniuses. I emulated them as well as I could. I also learned a lot from a brilliant guy named Dale Menten, writer and producer. My friends and my teachers. I love both writing and performing! I stopped writing for many years, but started again recently through my work with NYC vocalist Nancy Harms. We've written several tunes together, which she records and performs.

EN: How did you get connected to A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan?

AF: Through my friendship with frequent contributor to the concerts, Barry Thomas Goldberg. It was while visiting him backstage at one of the concerts that a few of the folks there, whom I also know, suggested I participate. Mainly it was Steve Grossman who really convinced me that I wouldn't be out of place and that it would be great fun. Thanks Steve! Thanks, Barry!

EN: When did you first take an interest in Dylan’s music?

AF: Oh, geez, I guess when he first became popular, around "Like A Rolling Stone" time -- summer of '65. I was aware of him beforehand, and always took note of his earlier Columbia albums, but I wasn't really a folk music fan and didn't go back to them until I had come to enjoy his "electric" period in the mid-60s. After that, I went back and discovered the beauty of his earlier work.

EN: Do you have a favorite album or handful of songs?

AF: I love everything from his earliest recordings up through the 70s, and into the 80s. I can enjoy his later work too, but I'm not quite as crazy about him after the 80s. My favorites are things like Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, John Wesley Harding, and I love his stuff with the Band: Planet Waves is a big favorite of mine. I love Blood On The Tracks and Desire, of course.

EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. Sacred Heart Music Center, May 17, 2014. For tickets to this great event visit dulutharmory.org/events.

If you wish to help, visit the Salute Facebook page and share with your friends by clicking the Invite button. 

A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan is a presentation of the Armory Arts and Music Center and Magic Marc Productions.

PHOTO CREDITS: Top to Bottom
1.Travis Anderson   2. Ann Marsden   3.Andrea Canter   4.Travis Anderson   5.Andrea Canter

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