Walker Art Center

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8-Ball: Bill Frisell

Throughout a career spanning two decades and some 150 recordings, Grammy-winning guitarist/composer Bill Frisell has shared a long history with the Walker. Commissioned in 1999 to create his ambitious Blues Dream (Nonesuch), he has performed here numerous times and is a highlight of the Members’ Preview Party on April 16. Frisell recently took time from his busy schedule to answer some life’s most—and possibly least—pressing questions.

What musical/performing/visual artist(s) turned your world upside down as a teenager?

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis

What’s the last (or favorite) book you read?

Bob Dylan Chronicles Vol. 1

What are you obsessing about these days?

I worry a lot about the war and the whole way things seem to be heading. What a mess.

What image best epitomizes the Twin Cities for you?

One time I played with my band at the Walker and Chuck Helm [former Walker music programmer] came to meet us at the airport. It was about 4,000 degrees below zero and he was wearing this full-body arctic suit thing that made him look like he was from outer space. That was cool.

What is your least favorite sound?

When I’m doing a sound check before a concert and some incredible, loud, sudden feedback comes blasting out of the monitor speakers and destroys half of your brain cells and what little hearing I have left. I also don’t like those announcements on airplanes.

What’s your favorite recording of all time?

There are too many … but Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine, 1964

What was your most character-building experience?

Playing in a marching band from when I was 10 years old … having to show up on time, march in a straight line, wear a really uncomfortable uniform, and play music at the same time.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

It might be nice to be a tree in a really cool place, if you didn’t get cut down.

Bill Frisell

Photo: Michael Wilson