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Progressive Rock Interviews

Bird Mancini

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Bird Mancini From 2009
MSJ: Can you give our readers a look at the history of your group and your individual involvement in music?
Billy Carl Mancini:  Ruby and I met while both taking part in a talent contest in Tucson, AZ.  Not long after that we started playing music together and…not long after that got married.  We moved to New England and played full time in a band called “The Nick Adventure Band”.  We all lived together in the same house and traveled in a big green bus.  All I can say is you better get along with your band mates if you decide to do this.  Later, we moved to Boston and played for a few years (and two CDs) as “The Sky Blues”.  Ruby has more to say about that below.  We’ve been Bird Mancini since about 2002 and have released 3 CDs under that name.  We often work as a duo now but still put a band together when the gig calls for it.  We’ve recently traveled to Liverpool, UK to perform at The Cavern Club and have a new CD in the works.

Ruby Bird:  Well, Billy and I had played together for years in several bands, the latest of which (prior to Bird Mancini) was called “The Sky Blues”.  The formation of Bird Mancini was a happy outcome to a not-so-good situation.  We were accused of trademark infringement by another group with a similar name.  We decided it was time for a change anyway, and we did what we probably should have been doing all along--focusing on our own original songs.  The name Bird Mancini is derived from our own last names.  We searched the world over and could not find another single Bird Mancini combo anywhere, so that was it.  Bird Mancini is now a registered trademark.  We learned that lesson well at least.  Beyond that, you can check the info section of our website for more personal history and stories if you wish.    
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
Billy Carl Mancini:  Bagging groceries.

Ruby Bird:  Acting, writing or visual arts.  I have a thing for extremely difficult artistic professions.
MSJ: How would you describe the sound of Bird Mancini?
Billy Carl Mancini:  That’s a tough one.  I draw from all of my influences, from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Sergio Mendes to Rush to C,S,N & Y - you name it... So it all shows up in my music sooner or later.  But I guess it’s rock with a pop and blues edge.
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?
Ruby Bird:  Working on the next album.  Very excited about this next group of songs, which we hope will be ready for distribution early next year.  

Billy Carl Mancini:  Yes, the new CD is exciting for us.  We’ve also just completed two Beatles songs for the soon to be released compilation, Across Their Universe:  Lowbudget Records Does the Songs of The Beatles.  It should be available in time for Christmas 2009.  For more info on that check out www.lowbudgetrecords.com
MSJ: Do you think that 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?
Billy Carl Mancini:  I think free downloads hurts musicians.  The exception to that would be the occasional free promo download to get people interested.  Pay downloads and streaming are fine.  It allows musicians to be heard worldwide and gives them an income.

Ruby Bird:  There are a few acts who have become well known due to free downloads or YouTube, but at some point, we need to get paid for what we do or we won't be able to keep doing it!  Music is a very costly business to be in.  Would you expect to get a painting or a book for free?  I don't think a buck is too much to ask for a song that you can play endlessly.  But however you slice it, the internet has changed the music business forever, in many ways for the better.  
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Ruby Bird:  See the previous answer. There are both pros and cons for the musicians involved, and particularly the songwriters.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?
Ruby Bird:   I have no arch-nemesis...at least I don't think I do.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
Ruby Bird:  Billy, Jimi Hendrix, Annie Lennox and Andy Partridge.

Billy Carl Mancini:  Yeah, I’d like to be in that band.  Maybe I’d add Paul McCartney to play bass and Ginger Baker to play drums.
MSJ: 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?
Billy Carl Mancini:  I’ll assume we’re talking about living musicians.  Bird Mancini of course….but also, Paul McCartney, Wondermints, Allman Brothers, dada and Del McCoury.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
Billy Carl Mancini:  The last CD I bought was Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band Between My Head and the Sky.  Also, I love going to thrift shops and yard sales to find old vinyl, cassettes or CDs.  Recently saw a Joan Baez American Masters special so was inspired to buy a “like new” double album of hers called From Every Stage at my local thrift store.  Other recent thrift store finds:  An Evening with The Allman Brothers and 3 Phoebe Snow albums!  And finally, I got The Beatles mono and stereo collections.  Years of listening pleasure….
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Billy Carl Mancini:  Ruby and I went to see Steve Miller in an intimate 1500 seat venue.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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