Thursday, July 19, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Interview: Dan Aykroyd on everything from 'Blues Brothers' to seahorses

"Sean — it's Aykroyd!"

Dan Aykroyd is calling me on a Tuesday morning. He is immediately, exhaustively in trademark crazed-carny mode. His voice is both booming and 100 mph, as if he's selling the Bass-o-matic all over again.

"Let me just say I'm excited about returning to the seahorse-breeding capital of the world!"

The 61-year-old comedy stalwart — Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters, let's even give a shoutout to Spies Like Us — is talking about Tampa Bay, or maybe Florida. Not sure. (Do we breed seahorses here? I guess we do.) You get used to his patter early, even if you never quite catch up. This is a man with myriad interests, a restless loopy brain, from the Crystal Head Vodka company he founded to an obsession with UFOlogy. The latter he expounded upon in 2005 DVD Dan Aykroyd: Unplugged on UFOs, which was decidedly not as popular as some of his other films, say, Trading Places, My Girl or Tommy Boy.

On Saturday, Aykroyd will be at the Taste of Pinellas in Albert Whitted Park with his Blues Brothers Band, the winky boogie act that he, as "Elwood Blues," started with John Belushi ("Joliet Jake") in '78 as an SNL bit. They made dark suits and dark shades supercool, still a viable Halloween getup. He carries on the Blues Brothers vibe with John's Hollywood bro, Jim Belushi ("Brother Zee"). Who's up for another helping of Rubber Biscuit?

"We actually have the blood of Jake onstage with us," says Aykroyd, who is being figurative … I think. "That Albanian blood, and the energy and the power John had. I still don't know where it all came from."

The show will "absolutely" pay homage to the late, larger-than-life John, including a don't-miss opening number. The setlist nods to songs from 1980's Blues Brothers movie, famously directed by another speed-talking restless spirit, John Landis. Aykroyd says the rumors of the movie being an out-of-control mess are overhyped, but there was madness.

"The only chaos was caused by John's use of coke when the nights were getting long," he says matter-of-factly about his best friend's ultimately fatal addictions. "It was gruesome."

The Blues Brothers has aged well, a crar-crashing, guns-blazing, Nazi-thwarting cult favorite not to mention a rich musical education, packed with such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and the one and only James Brown as the Rev. Cleophus James. In a nice twist, Aykroyd has a role in a new Brown biopic, Get On Up, out this summer.

"James Brown was a consummate professional, a businessman with incredible managerial skills," he says. "He was hilarious, contradictory. I remember James on the Blues Brothers set saying: 'Sometimes I smoke, but no one can know about it because I'm a reverend!' He was a funny man."

Brown, who died in 2006, and Belushi are just two of the fallen giants, the "masters," with whom Aykroyd has worked that left us too soon. Harold Ramis died a few months ago, and Aykroyd is still wiped out by that. When I tell him that my daughters are hooked on his antibuddy-comedy The Great Outdoors, he remembers fellow Canadian John Candy, who was felled by a heart attack in 1994: "Candy was a spectacular man. When we first met, Candy was a Kleenex salesman and I was a mail driver. Candy was strong. He would pick me up and put me over one shoulder!"

A lot of what Aykroyd goes on to say about, well, everything, whizzes right by me; there's talk of "recidivists" at one point, then getting "Britney Spears up on a chair" during another. (He does not talk about the fate of Ghostbusters 3; the second one was lousy, so frankly, I really don't care.)

The only time Aykroyd slows down is when discussing Donna Dixon, his Bosom Buddies bombshell wife of 31 years, easily one of the most enduring marriages in Hollywood history.

"You gotta find the right person — look them in the eye, have them look back, and know their soul," Aykroyd says of his wife. "She's a Southern woman who is understanding and doesn't mind dealing with the boys from time to time. I call her the White Goddess." Dan Aykroyd pauses, his grin wide and audible. "And I'm the Green Demon."

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
SoundBytes: The Struts, After the Burial, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and more

SoundBytes: The Struts, After the Burial, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and more

— Glam-rockers the Struts, most recently seen locally opening for the Foo Fighters at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, have announced a much more intimate show on Oct. 14 at the Orpheum. Spirit Animal opens. Tickets go on sale Friday. ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Leslie Jones from ‘Saturday Night Live’ coming to the Tampa Improv

Leslie Jones from ‘Saturday Night Live’ coming to the Tampa Improv

You always have to keep your eye on the Tampa Improv's calendar, because every now and then, they'll sneak a pretty good show up on you.Case in point: Leslie Jones.The Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live star has just announced a weekend of dates at t...
Published: 07/18/18
SoundBytes: Ray LaMontagne, Minus the Bear, Boosie Badazz and more

SoundBytes: Ray LaMontagne, Minus the Bear, Boosie Badazz and more

— Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne is heading back on the road, and coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Nov. 11. It's an acoustic tour, but he'll be joined by Wilco bassist John Stirratt. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.&#...
Published: 07/18/18
Smashing Pumpkins or Dave Matthews Band? Plus Rascal Flatts, Chicago and more concert picks

Smashing Pumpkins or Dave Matthews Band? Plus Rascal Flatts, Chicago and more concert picks

The best concerts this week in Tampa Bay.
Published: 07/18/18
Kim Walker-Smith talks postpartum depression, women in ministry and more

Kim Walker-Smith talks postpartum depression, women in ministry and more

Kim Walker-Smith, the lead singer for renowned worship band Jesus Culture, felt overwhelmed and dazed following the birth of her second son.She cried without knowing why. She mumbled her words. When her mother suggested postpartum depression as the c...
Published: 07/17/18
SoundBytes: Brian Setzer Orchestra, Behemoth, Koo Koo Kanga Roo and more

SoundBytes: Brian Setzer Orchestra, Behemoth, Koo Koo Kanga Roo and more

— After avoiding this marketplace for years, the Brian Setzer Orchestra will bring their wildly popular annual Christmas tour back to Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall on Dec. 5. Tickets are $52.75 and up. Click here for details. (And for a review ...
Published: 07/16/18
Penn and Teller postpone Mahaffey Theater performance due to Teller’s back surgery

Penn and Teller postpone Mahaffey Theater performance due to Teller’s back surgery

Raymond Teller, half of the great magic and comedy duo Penn and Teller, tweeted last week that his recent back surgery "was an even bigger success than I'd expected."Good news for him! But it's still bad news for Tampa Bay fans.While Teller is recove...
Published: 07/16/18
Underoath coming to the Yuengling Center in Tampa

Underoath coming to the Yuengling Center in Tampa

Underoath's comeback is getting bigger than ever.The (formerly) Christian metalcore band, one of the biggest acts ever to come out of Tampa Bay, broke up in 2013, reformed in 2016, and have been touring the world and playing to huge audiences ever si...
Published: 07/16/18
Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus talks vocal longevity, picking future A-listers as openers and more

Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus talks vocal longevity, picking future A-listers as openers and more

With more than a dozen No. 1 hits like Bless the Broken Road and What Hurts the Most, Rascal Flatts remain one of Nashville's most reliable headliners; their summer tour hits Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday.But two decades in, ...
Published: 07/16/18
Review: Sam Smith lightens the mood in joyful concert at Tampa’s Amalie Arena

Review: Sam Smith lightens the mood in joyful concert at Tampa’s Amalie Arena

We should all can the sad-boy talk. Live and in person, Sam Smith smiles a lot.He smiles before and after almost every song, waving and pointing to the crowd. He even smiles when singing all his huge, heart-filled hits – yes, even the really, r...
Published: 07/14/18