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Plastic Jesus

Derek Jacombs is the frontman for a band we are now officially allowed to describe as “long-running”.

His band Kokomo are celebrating their 25th year in business and – as they should – have released a double-disc retrospective collection, Batten Down the Hatches, which comes in a DVD-sized box with a 25 page booklet of track and personnel information.

Kokomo however were something of an internal growth industry.

They started life as the Kokomo Blue but morphed (through the inevitable line-up changes) into Kokomo . . . but Jacombs and others from the band made guest appearances on other people's albums and at some point there was also the wonderfully name Self-Righteous Brothers.

Out of the Bay of Plenty, Kokomo Blues came together as if by accident – or cosmic intervention – when Jacombs was invited to play a blues set at the Tauranga Jazz Festival in '91 and encountered harmonica player Grant Bullot.

They played together, Grant's brother joined them shortly thereafter, Kokomo Blues formed as an acoustic trio playing old time music (Delta blues, ragtime covers), they recorded (initially for themselves then Jayrem), Sonia joined on trumpet and subsequently she and Grant married . . .

It's a long and rather wonderful story (follow it at their website here) about people making music for the love of it.

31835_1And still out there doing it.

They've played folk, jazz blues and wild food festivals (because their music goes down a treat with meat) and in some form or other have at least a dozen albums behind them (including the excellent In the Well on which they make over Bob Dylan songs in their own image) and we commend Bigger Than Brando to you as a recnt sampler.

So this Famous Elsewhere Songwriter Questionnaire to Derek Jacombs is embarrassingly long overdue.

The first song which really affected you was . . .

Green Door – Frankie Lane. I was very small but it rocked my little world (I still love the lyric!)

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

As a child of glam rock put me down for Slade, Mud, Suzie Quatro and (gulp) Gary Glitter

The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?

Tom Waits (though he's never disappointed me yet...)

As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?

Jagger-Richards though both pairs are pretty peerless; kd Lang; no opinion; Kris Kristofferson

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .

Rock Bottom Riser – Smog; Levi Stubbs' Tears – Billy Bragg; Joe the Bartender - Kokomo

Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?

A single phrase with its melody usually

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Really The Blues – Mezz Mezzrow

If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .

Guy Clark, assuming Bob was too busy

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

Little Feat – American Cutie (bootleg live CD). Downloads: Haitus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapons; David Bowie – Blackstar; Wilko - Star Wars

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .

Like A Rolling Stone

One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .

And if California slides into the ocean like the mystics and statistics say it will

I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill

Warren Zevon – Desperados Under the Eaves

Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?

Inspiration – 10 minutes; perspiration – 10 years

Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?

No, but I've had a few choruses come like that

And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)“Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet

Left my clothes and passport in a taxi down the street”

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