MRM recently had the opportunity to speak with Foghat guitarist Bryan Bassett. Bassett spoke about his origins, Wild Cherry, Molly Hatchet and Foghat. Make sure to catch Foghat in Buford, Georgia at the Tannery Row Ale House on Friday, October 7. Get your tickets HERE!
MRM: Where are you “calling” from?
Bassett: I’m calling from Edgewater, Florida.
MRM: Were you prepared for Hurricane Ian?
Bassett: As a Floridian, I’m always aware of and prepared for extreme weather events. This is a bad one for my fellow Floridians on the west coast. You and your reader’s prayers and donations to the relevant charities will be most appreciated.
MRM: We will do! Speaking of Florida, are you still a college music professor down there?
Bassett: I enjoyed teaching at Daytona State College for many semesters. A change in their adjunct professor program ended my time there, but I enjoyed my time there with so many talented young students.
MRM: Well, let’s start from the beginning. Where did you grow up?
Bassett: I grew up and spent my formative years in Pittsburgh, PA. It had a vibrant music scene in the late ‘60’s and ’70’s with many venues to play and many talented musicians and bands performing in them.
MRM: How did you start in the music business?
Bassett: Like many musicians my age, I was enthralled with the British Invasion bands and received my first guitar as a preteen on Christmas. Jamming for hours in basements and garage parties…and finally a couple years later as a club musician was my beginning. I think my course in life got set during those years of semi-pro gigging. We set up our gear in the afternoon…usually played 4 40-minute sets…tore down the gear and loaded the van…got a few hours sleep and headed to the next gig. I think we were playing 4-5 nights a week. I loved it, and I was hooked.
MRM: Could you speak about your time in the funk rock band Wild Cherry?
Bassett: Sure, it was quite a special time in my career. I was in-between bands in Pittsburgh and Rob Parissi was just disbanding an earlier version of Wild Cherry to go into the restaurant business. I was a fan of his and asked him to call me if he ever decided to start another band which he did several months later. We held auditions for a rhythm section and Allen Wentz and Ron Beitle came in as bassist and drummer. We were quite popular in the tri-state area. And about that time the music scene was changing, and we had to adapt our style to more dance and funk music. It was at that time that Rob wrote and we recorded “Play That Funky Music” which is quite autobiographical about our experience in the local club scene. We were signed by Sweet City / Epic records and within several weeks the song had climbed the charts to number one. We got to tour with some of the most amazing artists of the day…the Jackson 5, Earth Wind and Fire, The Average White Band, The Isley brothers, The Commodores and so many others. We received two Grammy nominations and won an American Music Award, so for a young musician it was quite the fantastic experience.
MRM: How did you end up first meeting Lonesome Dave (Peverett)?
Bassett: After leaving Wild Cherry and relocating to Central Florida in the mid ‘80’s, I began working at King Snake Studios as an engineer, session guitarist and producer. I also had a blues quartet named Blue House, and we performed throughout Florida and had a house gig in Orlando. One evening, the great guitarist Pat Travers brought Lonesome Dave to one of our performances. Dave knew most of the songs on our setlist and asked to sit in, which he did, and we soon became fast friends. He had just returned from England and moved to Orlando and was anxious to begin performing again. So, for several months, we played around Florida sort of as a blues review. My band would open the show then we would back up Pat Travers for a few songs and then back up Dave for a few songs. Eventually Dave wanted to start touring, and I joined him on the road for close to four years.
MRM: What was it like joining Molly Hatchet?
Bassett: In 1992, all the original members of Foghat got back together. I had just finished a tour in Europe with Dave and we toured with Molly Hatchet. When we returned to the states, Danny Jo Brown, knowing of my situation, asked me to join Molly Hatchet. I actually loved working with him and playing the Hatchet song book. As a guitarist, it was quite challenging, there are so many harmony lead guitar sections. It was fun to work on those parts and perform them. I thought we had a really great version of the band. We were signed to the SPV record label in Germany, and I recorded three albums with the band and wrote a few songs as well. I’m very proud of the guitar work Bobby and I did together, and I remain friends with all the guys.
MRM: What did it mean to join the legendary Foghat?
Bassett: When I first met Dave, I was a bit awestruck, of course, but we became such close friends that I felt very comfortable working with him, and I loved his music. When I had the opportunity to re-join the band in 1999, I was thrilled and I’ve been in Foghat ever since. I found it to be a perfect situation for me. I get to play music that I like in the style that is most comfortable to me…I get to engineer, produce and write songs with great friends…so all in all the past 20+ years have been wonderful.
MRM: I got to see Foghat on tour with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy a few years ago. What was that tour like for y’all?
Bassett: The shows were great, but all the fun backstage was what I remember. Jeff and Larry the Cable Guy are two of the funniest people on the planet and just nice guys. I thought it was an interesting format – comedians and rock bands – and the shows sold well so hopefully we get a chance to do it again.
MRM: Could you run down the current lineup of Foghat? I believe I saw where longtime singer Charlie Huhn recently retired.
Bassett: Yes, Charlie decided to retire from the band this year. We had 20+ great years on the road together.
Founding member Roger Earl is still laying down the beat. Rodney O’Quinn is holding down the bass and singing some lead vocals for us. Our new vocalist / guitarist is Scott Holt, an alumni of the great Buddy Guy’s band. Roger, Scott and I have been friends for several years. We would get together to write and jam and just hangout. We had a side project called Earl and the Agitators which released a CD a while ago. When Charlie decided to retire we were actually having one of our writing sessions with Scott at our studio in Florida. So we asked Scott..instead of writing new songs how would you like to learn 20 Foghat songs..haha. He said yes, and we’ve been having a ball playing all this year.
MRM: What can everyone expect when Foghat comes to Buford, Georgia at the Tannery Row Ale House on Friday, October 7?
Bassett: Well, we always play the hits that our fans like to hear, and we’re gonna throw in a couple extra blues numbers…maybe something a little funky and a couple deep album tracks. So come on out and boogie with the HAT!
MRM: Thanks for the interview. Anything else you would like to add?
Bassett: You can always keep up with what we are doing at www.foghat.com. Thanks.