British actor-musician 'gets' America's roots music
BURBANK, Calif. – Hugh Laurie's got the blues, and he couldn't be happier as he opens up to MSN Music in this exclusive interview. Seated in the artists lounge at Warner Bros. Records, Laurie is eager to talk about his lifelong love of music – American music, more specifically the jazz and blues that were seeded in New Orleans and the Mississippi delta.
If the Oxford, England, native's accent is unmistakably British, his musical accent is convincingly American. A pianist strong enough to anchor a blue-chip band top heavy with American A-list musicians, and confident enough to invite two New Orleans piano legends, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, to appear on his 2011 debut album, "Let Them Talk," Laurie also plays guitar, drums, saxophone and harmonica.
He has offered glimpses of that skill set throughout his acting career, from the roles that made him a star at home to his breakthrough role on "House," where he blew off steam in character on electric guitar. Now he has just released his second album, "Didn't It Rain," which premiered Aug. 6 on MSN. The new set was previewed in a new PBS special, "Live on the Queen Mary," his second concert special for the network.
Any suspicions that Hugh Laurie's music is a mid-career lark are undermined by the musicianship that powers both albums, as well as Laurie's full-tilt commitment to the Copper Bottom Band, the formidable crew he's built around the musicians picked to play on both albums by producer Joe Henry. European concert dates, including the Montreux Jazz Festival, followed the first release, and a U.S. tour supporting the new album kicks off in October.
In this exclusive interview with MSN Music, Hugh Laurie recalls his first musical loves, why America's music is its greatest gift, how his albums navigate across that terrain, and the high-wire exhilaration of working with his band.