Annie Haslam/Renaissance TheYestival-Interview w/classical guitarist David Cohen
Annie Haslam Renaissance – Grandine il Vento
Interview with classical guitarist David Cohen
Michael Dunford (1944 -2012) guitarist and principle composer for Renaissance passed away on November 20, 2012 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Annie Haslam stated that the band will continue touring in the future, despite losing “our ‘guiding light’ Michael Dunford”. In February 2013, it was announced that Ryche Chlanda would be the guitarist on their 2013 tour.
Saturday August 3, 2013
Susquehanna Bank Center Camden NJ
Annie Haslam is a singer-songwriter with credits worthy of some of the most well known entertainers in the world. Primarily known for her role as the lead singer with the English classical rock band ‘Renaissance’ she later became equally heralded as a solo artist. Annie has traveled the world delighting audiences, most recently as far off as Japan and Brazil with her five octave voice and warm personality. Despite such a busy and varied life in music, Annie recently has been bestowed with an entirely new gift; she has embarked on a whole new journey in the form of oil painting. This came as a complete surprise and wondrous discovery, both to her and her fans. On somewhat of a mission, Annie has been painting fervently for since 2002, with colors and movement that make you want to walk right into the canvas. She has been described as a ‘Dream Expressionist’. Her art is organic, yet with a dream-like feel, it is contemporary but does not seem to be influenced by anything other than her own feelings and thoughts.
David Cohen: The first time we spoke you said “I was also one of those people that was a little afraid of change. The older I get the easier it is to change. It’s a hard thing to do, change something you know.” that has always stuck in my head.
Annie Haslam: If you can’t confront those things you can never change and move on.
David: When we first spoke you stopped singing and had no intention of singing again. What changed your mind?
Annie: Well, I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted do more singing.
David: What brought Renaissance back together for this CD?
Annie: In 2000 we recorded Tuscany and a short tour of Japan in 2001. I called Micky on that one to see if he wanted to do something but not with all the original band. We just wanted to work with John Tout and Terry Sullivan. Roy Wood filled in on bass and some backing vocals. After we did that album we didn’t intend to go any further with it. Micky and I kept in touch because we were friends and also in charge of re-releases and such. A few times after that he called me to see if I was interested in getting the band back together and I didn’t want to do it. Then in 2009 he called me and said, “Listen I know what you’re going to say”, and I said I didn’t want to do it. But then I said yes but only if he got John Scher involved (former band manager). So we started getting all the arrangements together and then there was a conflict with the dates with Jon Camp. So he pulled out and then Terry and John followed. At that point we didn’t know if we could pull it off with just MD and myself, but John Scher had the confidence and so the rest is history. John knew I had kept the band name alive over the years and also had a fairly strong fan base, whilst touring and recording with my own solo band. It was decided to go forward, but we didn’t make that decision lightly, but this was our only chance or it wasn’t going to happen at all.
I contacted Rave Tesar and David J Keyes who were in my band and then we contacted Frank Pagano and then found Tom Brislin who was on the Yes Symphonic Tour. We did the tour – it was named our 40th anniversary tour.
David: The first show without Michael must have been difficult.
Annie: The first show was very difficult for us, we were almost all in tears. It was very difficult for me. I knew Micky for forty-one years. Micky was right next to me onstage and I felt that gap. What we did was put Ryche (who was now playing guitar) next to Jason with Dave in the middle. This worked better for me and for Dave as we sang together and the closeness helped the healing process we all needed. That’s how it has always been anyway, bass in the middle.
I was consumed by a lot of emotion, sadness and doubt that I may be doing the wrong thing carrying on without Micky.
Having someone else on stage playing his parts was quite unreal, but Ryche did a good job.
David: There’s so much interaction with fans now with the Internet and Facebook. How did the fans react that you were going on with Renaissance?
Annie: Very positive – supportive. There were a few people who wrote and said it’s time to let it go, without Micky it’s not Renaissance. That’s ridiculous because Renaissance is the songs and my voice as well. It was very powerful with the both of us. I was thinking of not doing it. But then I thought of the fans and the music that needed to be heard. The songs were so powerful and emotional, how could you not go on? It’s the joy of going out and singing and making people happy that is the most important thing to me.
Part II …….coming Part III……coming