This month a new music-themed talk show will debut that flips the script and lets musicians choose their own interviewer. Speakeasy‘s first class includes Roger Waters, who chose TV journalist Bill Weir; John Mellencamp, who picked Rolling Stone founder Jann S. Wenner; Carlos Santana, who selected the “King of Calypso” Harry Belafonte; Nile Rodgers, who opted for singer Valerie Simpson; and Rush‘s Geddy Lee, who requested Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. Since the show is a public television series, broadcast times and channels vary (more details below).
The producers of the public-television concert series Front and Center spearheaded the show, which they filmed before a live audience at New York City’s McKittrick Hotel. “Artists of this caliber have doubtless done thousands of interviews throughout their careers, answering the same questions over and over again,” Speakeasy creator and Front and Center Entertainment founder Don Maggi said in a statement. “The beauty of the Speakeasy format is that it affords these artists a level of comfort, which in turn stimulates a unique, compelling and topical conversation that we would otherwise not have an opportunity to hear.”
Because of the format and the pairings of artists and interviewers, each conversation is wide-ranging. Waters offers his thoughts on world peace. Mellencamp discusses songwriting and politics, while sharing stories about his personal experiences with the likes of Stephen King, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Rodgers discusses the formation of his disco group Chic, as well as stories about producing Madonna, David Bowie and Diana Ross. Santana talks spirituality and social activism. And the Rush bassist opens up about his family, and how his parents met a concentration camp during World War II.
For information on where to watch Speakeasy, visit American Public Television’s website.