Music icons open up to Holger Petersen in Talking Music 2

Chatting with B.B. King, Steve Miller and more

Veteran broadcaster and record producer Holger Petersen (Radio and Television Arts ’70) has once again shown his talent for getting some of the biggest names in blues and roots to open up in an interview.

His second book, Talking Music 2 – a collection of 25 interviews released in late 2016 – is full of facts and insights that will intrigue casual listeners and may even surprise the most dedicated fans.

As with his first book, Talking Music: Blues Radio and Roots Music (2011), the interviews first aired on Petersen’s radio shows, Natch’l Blues on Edmonton’s CKUA Radio, and CBC Radio’s Saturday Night Blues.

Among the most fascinating is a conversation with an 80-year-old B.B. King during a tour stop in Edmonton in 2005. The interview reveals the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s insecurity around never finishing his formal schooling, even though he’d been given several honorary doctorates prior to his death in 2015.

“I’ve travelled to 90 different countries around the world, and always find something to remind me I didn’t finish high school,” he says.

Petersen, who also co-founded Stony Plain Records, called the interview a “magical hour” that included a tour of King’s MP3 collection, featuring 5,000 songs from artists like Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

“I took my record collection and put them all on MP3s,” King tells Petersen. “Times have changed.”

Clear in every interview is Petersen’s interest in and respect for his subjects.

In another interview, Steve Miller (who had hits with songs like The Joker and Abracadabra), vividly recalls meeting blues musician T-Bone Walker.

“I remember T-Bone showing up at our little suburban house in Dallas in a flesh-coloured Cadillac with leopard skin seats, in a suit, with a great big Gibson guitar,” says Miller, who was nine years old at the time.

Clear in every interview is Petersen’s interest in and respect for his subjects. He has obviously researched each musician thoroughly prior to interviewing them, and leads the conversations effortlessly down interesting and unexpected paths. He gets beyond the music to the personality behind the songs.

“I deeply appreciate their generosity in sharing their love of music, their culture and their unique stories,” Petersen says of the musicians he’s spoken with over the years.

“Spending time with the artists interviewed in this book has been a rare privilege.”

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