By Devon Wendell
There has been quite a bit of hype for multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and sardonic poet Doc Wendell over the last decade. As a teen in New York City, Wendell worked in the studio with Donald Fagen and Steely Dan on their “comeback” album Two Against Nature. The late John Lee Hooker nicknamed Wendell “Doc” when he was 13 years old. Doc also got to jam, study, and hang with some of the biggest names in the blues such as Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin, B.B. King, Pinetop Perkins, Buddy Guy, and Johnny Johnson, playing at various night clubs around the tri-state area before he could legally drink.
Since moving to Los Angeles in late 2008, Doc has recorded with such rock n’ roll and R&B luminaries as Bonnie Pointer and Marty Grebb. Now Doc is writing the lyrics and music for what he designates as his first “solo” album which he has titled The Big Bimbo On The Map which he plans on releasing sometime in 2016. Recently I had the misfortune of meeting up with the sarcastic and dismissive Doc Wendell for a Q&A in a small, dingy, smoked filled recording studio in Hollywood. When I arrived, Doc was sitting on a filthy gray couch, chain smoking into a sea shell ash tray, downing Coca-colas, all while thumbing through Mark Voelpel’s book Charlie Parker For Guitar.
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Devon Wendell: Hello Doc. It looks like I’m interrupting you. I write for Don Heckman and had…
Doc Wendell: (Interrupting) Oh you, Don Heckman’s lackey. Where’s Don? He’s got the cool byline.
Devon Wendell: I’m here so you’re just going to have to get used to it.
Doc Wendell: Yeah, I know your angle. You think you’re some edgy New York writer who lives in LA now and hates it…How cliché. You and your anal retentive details on every review, Jesus Christ, Give the readers a fucking break already.
Devon Wendell: At least it’s obvious that you’ve read my work.
Doc Wendell: Unfortunately. You are a spineless publicity whore. You’ve sent every goddamn thing you’ve written to my publicist and even to my personal email address. Even I get bored sometimes.
Devon Wendell: With what? You’re redundant style of blues styled rock, funk, and fake
Doc Wendell: Absolutely. If I don’t have the power to bore myself who will? Oh yes you of course.
Devon Wendell: Let’s talk more about the fake jazz thing. You claim to be a jazz historian and enthusiast like myself but all I hear in your guitar, harmonica, and bass playing are over-indulgent pentatonic scales and patterns and overly pretentious lyrics. Your lyrics on “Vanishing Angel” from John M. King’s Cinder’s Still Burnin’ from 2011 are self effacing at first but then trail off into nonsense.
Doc Wendell: Thank you; that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life. What does “nonsense” mean exactly in 2014? Life is so absurd that it’s like living in some awful Jodorowsky film that never fucking ends. Nonsense has more meaning than anything else at the moment, certainly more than this pitiful interview.
Devon Wendell: If that’s true Sir “Doc”, than you’ve achieved a lot in your career. So you’ve gone from running errands for Donald Fagen to what? Someday releasing your first solo album? When? And, will anyone care by 2016?
Doc Wendell: You’re assuming that someone cares now or ever did and that I give a shit if they care or not. I haven’t lived in this town that long.
Devon Wendell: Touche Doc. I certainly don’t care.
Doc Wendell: Really? Great, want to run my fan club? Maybe be my new manager? The current guy Doghouse Reilly is on his way out so there’s an opening for you.
Devon Wendell: I’d rather have oral surgery from my hind quarters.
Doc Wendell: I can arrange that. I’ll call some of the boys back in Brooklyn.
Devon Wendell: Oh yes, Mr. “New York” has threatened me.
Doc Wendell: More like a promise. You tell me; how did you get Buddy Guy, Gregory Porter, Nathan East, and all of those great players to sit through your pedestrian, almost Rolling Stone Magazine stupid questions?
Devon Wendell: You have the audacity to compare me to a dimwitted, baby boom era obsessed, musically brain dead Rolling Stone Magazine writer? You know what? Take your fake blues tough guy act and go fuck yourself. You play too many damn notes that go nowhere anyway. This interview is over, Doc.
Doc Wendell: Finally you’ve gotten interesting in this interview and you want to call it quits? This is getting good. What else you got for me laddie buck? (Stomps out his cigarette butt into the shell).
Devon Wendell: Yeah, give me a call when you actually learn to play real jazz. Goodnight Doc.
Doc Wendell: Goodnight. That was great. I mean it. Best interview yet.
Devon Wendell: More like your first interview and probably your last.
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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.