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Exclusive Interview With Dennis J. Leise

When did you first know you wanted to become a musical artist? What was the first song you ever wrote?

I think this goes back to when I was a kid, learning recorder or trombone.  I was influenced by my older siblings who all played music, but only a few took it past playing their instruments in high school.  The first song I wrote probably came from some blues improvisation on trombone.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

It shifts around, but at at this moment, I’d say in the top 5 has Willie Nelson, Woody Guthrie, Bad Religion, Tom Lehrer and Louie Jordan.

What’s in your IPOD this week?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Tango music from the 1920’s.  It helps get me through winter.  I’ve also been listening to a newer artist that I’ve recently come across that goes by the name LORN.

How’s the music scene in your locale?

The local music scene is struggling as it seems to be everywhere.  The number of decent venues that pay is down and the scrum to get a gig at them vs the other musicians around is as toxically capitalist as you can imagine.  Getting people out the door to see shows was rendered even harder by COVID and we’ve not fully recovered.  Getting people engaged once you do get them out—not glued to a screen on a phone is a challenge as well.

What do you like most about playing live?

If you can get past the barriers above and get actual attention/engagement from an audience, it’s a really fulfilling thing that has a rewarding give and take.  Otherwise it’s fun to just get together with some friends and make music.

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

Yes—there is a song called “Where Is It Going To Be”.  It’s an uncomfortable but important song.  Looking at the charts on places where it is listed, it gets almost no play, but it’s among the best I’ve written.

What’s the best concert you’ve been to? 

My friend Joel Paterson from Chicago did a short Midwestern tour with one of my favorite Western Swing bands from out in LA, the Lucky Stars.  I caught their first and last shows, the last being in a small club in downstate Urbana, IL.  The magic those guys put together that night was astounding and I will never forget it.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Joe Walsh.  I’ve been a life-long fan.  He was the first Rock Concert I ever went to and, as I was warned by my older brother and his friends when we went, it was among the best I’ve ever been to.

What are your goals for the future?  

I’m at an age and situation where I’m not too determined to play out, but at the same time I’d love to go on a tour, should opportunities present themselves.  I continue to write music and may be heading back into the studio later this year to get some ideas flushed out.

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