In the midst of a substantial career as a solo artist, with 10 studio albums to date, Marshall Crenshaw is once again spending time in a band.
The Berkley-raised singer, songwriter, musician and radio host has been the guest frontman of the Smithereens – sharing the gig with Gin Blossoms’ Robin Williams – since the band’s death in 2017 of Pat DiNizio. It provides a hard outlet, as well as a recognized pleasure, as Crenshaw works on a documentary film and plans for the 40th anniversary of his debut album – and beyond.
• Crenshaw, 67, said by phone from his home in upstate New York that he had been a Smithereens fan since before he arrived, and playing with the surviving trio is “just nice”. “It’s funny. What I like is that it’s a situation where nothing is my responsibility. It’s like a vacation, almost. It’s a great rock’n’roll band. It’s been going on for a while now, but I still do and it’s a really fun band to play with.
• The prospect of making new Smithereens music is “surfacing,” Crenshaw says, but he’s waiting to see what this discussion turns out to be. “It’s really thanks to the (other) guys. My position on this is always, “If you really want to do this and want me to help you, then I will. Whenever it is brought up, I say, “What you have to do is set a date, set a deadline”, and that has not happened. It will be sort of a committee affair. It will be a collaborative thing and I will be involved and maybe other people will be involved. But that’s not for me to decide either.
• Earlier this year, Crenshaw released a two-disc live album, “The Wild, Exciting Sounds of Marshall Crenshaw,” containing recordings from his entire career. “A lot of people seem to like it. I like that too. I really took a hit. I’m still nervous about listening to anything from me, but I really dug it. Looks like the kids are having fun on the first disc and then on the second (disc) I kind of organized myself with some archives that I have here at home. I think it’s cool. It brought back so many good memories. “
• Crenshaw is “quite advanced” in the making of a still untitled feature-length documentary about Tom Wilson, the legendary record producer who has worked with Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Animals, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of the invention, the Velvet Underground and many others before his death in 1978 at the age of 47. “It’s been many years of research and content creation. At first it was just me, but it’s a team effort now, and everyone is really engaged. He is someone who changed popular music; He produced Simon & Garfunkel’s electric “The Sound of Silence” and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” over a 24 hour period. It’s a big bang, right there, and there’s a whole huge story that came before that. If popular music is important, then its history is important.
• Crenshaw recently re-released his 1999 album “# 447” with two new bonus tracks, including the original song “The Will of the Wind”, and he is preparing for the 40th anniversary editions of his self-titled debut album next year and “Field Day” after that. “Fortieth anniversary – it just seems unfathomable. God bless the US copyright laws. I got all my sound recordings from Warner Bros. (Records) and I did a licensing deal for the first and second album with Yep Roc, which is a really good label for that sort of thing. I saw the package. We walked the nine meters. It’s gonna be fun.
The Smithereens, with Marshall Crenshaw, will perform on Friday, November 12 at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $ 40 at 248-544-1991 or at themagicbag.com.