To millions of people for over 30 years, Paul Shaffer was a fixture of television as the musical director for NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman and CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. But Shaffer’s work as David Letterman’s bandleader is only one facet of his career. For starters, he was on Saturday Night Live for a few seasons, eventually leaving the program to star in a network sitcom. He has released a few major label albums, guested on plenty of other people’s recordings, and co-wrote the anthem “It’s Raining Men.” Shaffer also remains an in-demand music director and live performer, having served as producer of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony since its inception in 1986, and still pops up in the occasional on-screen acting role, like A Very Murray Christmas, This Is Spinal Tap, Blues Brothers 2000, and Scrooged.
On October 13 and October 14, Paul Shaffer will host If These Walls Could Talk: Celebrating the Life and Times of the Bottom Line. Hosted at the Schimmel Center in Lower Manhattan, these two shows will celebrate the legendary Greenwich Village music venue, which hosted Eric Clapton, Prince, the Police, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, Neil Young, and Hall & Oates within its 30 years of existence; the Bottom Line team has also started releasing live performances from its archives in recent years, including an excellent new title featuring Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson. Besides Shaffer, this Schimmel Center tribute will include David Johansen, Darlene Love, Nona Hendryx, Sean Altman, Jimmy Vivino, and the Uptown Horns, to name a few artists.
To learn more about If These Walls Could Talk, I had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A with Mr. Shaffer, who released a new album earlier this year via Sire Records; The World’s Most Dangerous Band includes appearances by Bill Murray, Shaggy, Jenny Lewis, Darius Rucker, Dion, and Valerie Simpson. Paul Shaffer can be followed on Twitter via @PaulShaffer, while more on Shaffer’s Bottom Line tribute shows at New York City’s Schimmel Center can be found at www.schimmelcenter.org.
Do you remember the first time you visited the Bottom Line?
Paul Shaffer: Yes, I believe it was to see Barry Manilow and it was in 1974.
Do you have a favorite gig or memory of the Bottom Line?
Paul Shaffer: When I played there accompanying McCoy Tyner, who was the legendary pianist from the John Coltrane Quartet. That was one of my biggest career highlights and it happened there. Another one was playing the role of Phil Spector in The Leader of the Pack show.
You will be hosting this event at the Schimmel Center. Does that also mean that you will be performing? Will the songs be focused on a particular era or theme?
Paul Shaffer: We are thrilled to have many performers who played at the Bottom Line multiple times. In many cases, I will be part of a band that backs them up. The performers are going to playing their most well-known songs.
Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band was released earlier this year. Is there more touring planned in support of that album?
Paul Shaffer: We completed a tour last spring in support of the album, and the next thing that I will be doing is performing in the lounge at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas over Christmas time.
Are you involved in any other musical projects at the moment?
Paul Shaffer: I will be re-assembling the World’s Most Dangerous Band to honor David Letterman as he receives the Mark Twain Award in Washington, D.C.
— Pace University (@PaceUniversity) September 19, 2017
Is there a career goal you are still working towards?
Paul Shaffer: Once I host this Bottom Line show, I will have done everything!
May we ever see the return of Artie Fufkin? Or was that Funny or Die video a sign that he is gone from the music industry for good?
Paul Shaffer: The music industry has changed 100 percent, but Artie is the kind of guy who will always weasel his way into something.
Has there ever been discussion about getting A Year at the Top to come out on DVD or in a downloadable format?
Paul Shaffer: Why does everyone remember what I try so hard to forget?
When not busy with performing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Paul Shaffer: Chasing after my kids, both of whom are adults now, so they run even faster than they used to.
Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band aside, what’s been your favorite album of 2017?
Paul Shaffer: The Bruno Mars album.
Finally, Paul, any last words for the kids?
Paul Shaffer: Get down to the Schimmel Center next weekend if you know what’s good for you!
— nprmusic (@nprmusic) July 13, 2017
[Featured Image by CBS]