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Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Lief Sorbye of Tempest from 2010

It's been quite a few years since we've done an interview. Can you catch the readers up on some of the more recent happenings in the worlds of Lief Sorbye and Tempest?

Well, Gary, last month we released our latest CD, Another Dawn, on Magna Carta Records, as well as our featured single, “Let's Live For Today.” Now we are touring in support of the new releases, and just returned from spending April playing theaters and clubs on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The tour continues on the West Coast, with dates in California, Oregon and Washington.

What about Caliban? Any new developments in that regard?

While Tempest is touring, there's really not much time for Caliban, but Michael and I do intimate performances occasionally as our schedule allows.

What is the current Tempest lineup?

Lief Sorbye on lead vocals, double-necked mandolins and flute

Adolfo Lazo on drums

Michael Mullen on fiddle

James Crocker on electric and acoustic guitars

Damien Gonzalez on bass and percussion

MSJ: To my ear the last few studio works seem to be more powerful than some of your older ones. Do you hear that as well, and if so, to what do you attribute it?
I think our musicianship is progressing, and our studio experience as well as our relationship with our producer, Robert Berry. It seems a fairly natural progression. Together we are able to create a powerful sound.
MSJ: If you weren’t involved in music what do you think you’d be doing?
I'd probably be performing in some other capacity, since I'm a bit of a ham and can not seem to stay off a stage.
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?
A summer full of fabulous outdoor festivals in the sunshine, reconnecting with old friends and making new friends through our music.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Yes, the current lineup. The longer we're together and the more we play, the more intuitive the performance and the more natural the evolution of the music.

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?

This subject is a mysterious one, full of speculation and conjecture. There seems no clear way of looking at what is happening -- the industry is in a state of high-speed change and flux. Illegal downloads can be damaging to record sales, as well as stimulating the fan base. It's hard to predict which way the industry is going next.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
I prefer to give our fan base high-quality live recordings, that we release ourselves... Personally, I don't take offense to people discretely recording shows, as that seems a sign of a healthy and interested following. Our fans have been recording and trading the recordings of our shows for years.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
If I were a superhero, my first agenda would be peace on earth, and that would require invalidation of the concept of arch nemeses, entirely.

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

For three years, we presented our own festival of arts and music, called Karfluki Fest. We've had some wonderful acts, including Big Brother and the Holding Company, Fairport Convention, It's A Beautiful Day, Fishtank Ensemble, Shana Morrison and Those Darn Accordions; each day included extended Tempest performances featuring a number of Tempest lineups past and present, and the whole event topped off with stunning performances by troupes of fire dancers, jugglers, a giant, fire-breathing dragons, etc. We have arranged for bands and entertainment that we feel stimulate the imagination and lift the spirits of our audiences.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
While on this current tour, I downloaded Paul McCartney's Good Evening, New York City, and Bhakti Yoga of Devotion.

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Richard Thompson recording a live album at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"


Slightly cheesy '60s artists such as Millie Small, Mary Hopkins and The Pussycats.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Music is the language that starts when words stop.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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