with Joe Kidd:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Joe: My first serious and intentional writing began when I was 17. Just out of high school. It was a time of revolutionary thought. I left home. Hitch hiked east and south. Spent a season with a traveling carnival sleeping under the ferris wheel at night. Drinking wine and listening to stories. Sang on stage with The James Gang, also with Buddy Miles Express. Hungry all the time, but free. Unknowingly, I was my own version of Siddhartha. Influences then were the events and people around me, certainly The Beatles, my father gave me two books when I was very young, Rumi and Mark Twain. They have had a deep and lasting effect.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Joe: You know, I am not sure. I have sat in the room with Dalai Lama, shook hands with sitting president Clinton, received communion from living Saint John Paul II, attended Muhammad Ali’s birthday party, seen all 4 Beatles in concert. I look to heroes. Not necessarily for writing influence. People like Geronimo, Bobby Sands, Socrates, King David. Bob Dylan has made a huge impact. Carlos Castaneda, perhaps my favorite poet Arthur Rimbaud. I love movies like Cool Hand Luke, Braveheart, Once Upon A Time In The West, Falling Down, Emperor Of The North, Cuckoo’s Nest, A Perfect World. I try new things. Give everyone a chance.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Joe: I grew up in Detroit. Middle class. I got all the toys. I was always active, always smart. Played the guitar and saxophone at a young age. Mom was a Kentucky girl, always playing country music Dad listened to classical and movie soundtracks, he had emphysema early on. We moved to Buena Park California where I went to high school. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Steppenwolf, The Stones, Grateful Dead. That’s what was happening.
My father couldn’t tolerate the air pollution so we returned to Michigan after a few years. By then the Detroit/Ann Arbor music scene had become a powerful source of energy for me. MC5, The Stooges, White Panther Party, Grande Ballroom, WABX-FM, everything was important, everything was political, everything was great, everything was possible. We made it through the assassinations, we made it through the Detroit riot. We wanted the war to end now. We wanted all humans to be treated equally and fairly. I stayed in a commune in Ann Arbor for a while. We lived on brown rice and mescaline. All of these things and so much more.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Joe: The accomplishments that I am known for are the CD titled Everybody Has A Purpose that I did with my partner Sheila Burke. Also the book I published in 2020 titled The Invisible Waterhole. In 2017 Being inducted into the Michigan Rock & Roll Legends Hall of Fame along with Edwin Starr and The Spinners was a surprise. There with Smokey Robinson, Mitch Ryder, countless others. I live meaningfully every day. My higher education was formed at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. I wrote a lot there. Theology and church history. I write and create for the future as well as the now. That is the most meaningful action I can take. Traveling and touring. Sheila & I have traveled 26 states and 12 countries in North American & Western Europe. Sharing the stage with other artists in countries where we are the “world music artists” speaking in a language that many do not understand. It is a new challenge and a powerful rush. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment was creating my daughter Jackleen Diana Eve. A talented pianist, writer, and photographer.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/performer?
Joe: My mother’s brother Tommy was a traveling musician for a while. Mom wanted me & my brother to be like the Everly Brothers. We were 9 & 11 when The Beatles appeared on TV. Like so many my age, that changed everything. We were different people with different souls after that night. The poetry and songwriting came naturally like breathing air and drinking water. So, it probably just happened as soon as I could form letters on a page.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Joe: I write music, book, & film reviews for a number of international magazines and websites. I am often called to write political speeches for candidates. I own a small orchestra of musical instruments that I practice with in our studio. I have a garden of Sunflowers and Indian corn. I cook great meals. I love to drive long distances to places I’ve never been.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Joe: https://amzn.to/2WvfYcB for the book “The Invisible Waterhole”
https://amzn.to/3f1kGoA for the cd “Everybody Has a Purpose” with Sheila Burke
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing/music?
Joe: I generally write alone. I find it difficult to collaborate. Poetry always solitary. In my life I have been able to write songs with only two others. In the past, with my brother John who died in 2018, and presently with Sheila Burke. She is a crucial part of our music together and a stellar multi talented artist. I stand on the shoulders of countless others both living and deceased. I owe so much to so many. I am always happy to be in the company of greatness. Peace to all who read this.