Interview with Richie Havens (II)

richie havens
Richie Havens

Interview and Photos by Scott Preston

A sense of timelessness rings throughout Richie Havens’ latest release, Nobody Left to Crown, as though the passing years have only strengthened the meaning of his soul-filled folk rock. Nobody Left to Crown, which was released to the US on Verve Records on July 29th, attests that Richie Havens has never been more relevant, necessary even, than he is today.

Gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music, Richie Havens has a soulful singing style that remains as unique and ageless as when he first emerged from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s. It’s a voice that has inspired and electrified audiences from the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in 1969, to the Clinton Presidential Inauguration in 1993 – coming full circle with the 30th Woodstock Anniversary celebration, “A Day In The Garden”, in 1999. Richie Havens is not a man to easily abandon his hopes for a better world. “We are at the dawn of major change”, he declares with a broad smile. Nobody Left to Crown is his heartfelt and unwavering contribution to these fine aspirations.

Richie Havens will be making 2 appearances in the Ohio/KY area. Sept 5, 2008 Richie will be performing at The Ohio Theatre in Cleveland, OH and on Sept 7 he will be at the Carnegie Performing and Visual Arts Center in Covington, KY.

Cincy Groove: How did your European tour go earlier this year?

Richie Havens: It went well. I’m actually flying out tomorrow to goto to England for three days to play the Rhythm Festival. I’m actually on the road every weekend all year round. I really love performing as much asI do.

Cincy Groove: What were some of the things that inspired the writing for “Nobody Left to Crown”?

Richie Havens: The songs themselves in a way capture what they are trying to say in a way that when they are put together they finally condense and make sense as a whole. The minute I finish an album its time to start again right at the beginning. It took about a year to get all the songs together for this new album.

Cincy Groove: Are you involved in any political campaigns?

Richie Havens: I’m not right now, but I would like to be. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get to actually be there at a speaking engagement with the a candidate. Then I realize they might actually want me to answer some questions (laughing). I really think its about the change that everyone is talking about. I was working last night so I wasn’t able to catch the speeches at the Democratic National Convention. But I’m going to try and watch them soon , so I can catch up on whats going on.

Cincy Groove: How was your experience singing at the Cannes Film Festival this year?

Richie Havens: That was a very interesting event, my appearance was a surprise for Sean Penn. Sean had just been elected President of the Cannes Film Festival. So they called me and asked if I could come out and sing my song “Freedom” for Sean. They told me he is a big fan and is always mentioning Richie Havens and Freedom. I actually met Sean Penn way back when he had just started his career, so this was the second time I had met him. He was sitting on one side of the stage while they showed clips from his career on this big video screen. At the end of the presentation they had for him, the last thing they said was “And now welcome Richie Havens!”. It was a complete surprise for him. They showed his face on the screen, his mouth hit the floor and he started crying it meant so much to him. Sean really is a sensitive guy and I knew that even when I first met him years ago.

Cincy Groove: How do you feel the internet has affected the music industry?

Richie Havens: Like everything, the industry needed a shakedown. It really levels the playing field and allows everyone to do what they want to do. Young bands still ask me, “We have this finished record, what should we do with it now?” I just tell them to put it out there on the web for the whole world, you really don’t need a record company nowadays. I just tell them to do it themselves, I really encourage that.


Upcoming Richie Havens tour dates:
for complete show details visit
August 29, 2008 Rhythm Festival 2008 Clapham, Bedfordshire, UK
August 30, 2008 Rhythm Festival 2008 Clapham, Bedfordshire, UK
August 31, 2008 Rhythm Festival 2008 Clapham, Bedfordshire, UK
September 5, 2008 The Ohio Theatre Cleveland, OH
September 7, 2008 The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center Covington, KY
September 13, 2008 Tupelo Music Hall Londonderry, NH
September 15, 2008 Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour 500th Broadcast Concert Kentucky Theater Lexington, KY
September 19, 2008 Le Poisson Rouge New York, NY
September 20, 2008 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Bethel, NY
September 21, 2008 Crossroads Garwood, NJ
September 27, 2008 Jonathan’s Ogunquit, ME
September 28, 2008 Higher Ground South Burlington, VT
October 31, 2008 Massey Hall Toronto, ON
November 2, 2008 Centre In The Square Kitchener, ON
November 3, 2008 Hamilton Place Hamilton, ON
November 4, 2008 Centennial Hall London, ON
November 7, 2008 Pantages Playhouse Winnipeg, MB
November 8, 2008 TCU Place Saskatoon, SK
November 9, 2008 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Edmonton, AB
November 12, 2008 Epcor’s Centre for the Performing Arts Calgary, AB
November 13, 2008 Orpheum Vancouver, BC
November 14, 2008 McPherson Playhouse Victoria, BC
November 15, 2008 Admiral Theatre Bremerton, WA
November 21, 2008 Sellersville Theater 1894 Sellersville, PA
November 22, 2008 Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts Patchogue, NY
November 28, 2008 Stone Mountain Arts Center Brownfield, ME
November 29, 2008 Stone Mountain Arts Center Brownfield, ME
December 4, 2008 Sun Music Hall Floyd, VA
December 5, 2008 McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square
Charlotte, NC
December 6, 2008 The Orange Peel Asheville, NC
December 7, 2008 The Community Church Concert Series Chapel Hill, NC
December 11, 2008 Rhythm and Brews Chattanooga, TN
December 12, 2008 Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA
December 13, 2008 WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham, AL
December 19, 2008 Infinity Hall Norfolk, CT
December 20, 2008 Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
January 16, 2009 One World Theatre Austin, TX
January 17, 2009 City of Lake Charles Arts & Culture Historical Central School Lake Charles, LA
January 18, 2009 Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts Baton Rouge, LA
January 23, 2009 Anthology San Diego, CA
January 24, 2009 The Palmdale Playhouse Palmdale, CA
February 6, 2009 Firehouse Coffeehouse Littleton, MA
February 7, 2009 Veritas Auditorium Chicopee, MA
February 8, 2009 Saint Joseph College Carol Autorino Center/Hoffman Auditorium West Hartford, CT
February 20, 2009 Kirkland Performance Center Kirkland, WA
February 25, 2009 Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities
Kayhi Auditorium Ketchikan, AK
February 28, 2009 Mariner Theatre Homer, AK
March 1, 2009 Alaska Center For The Performing Arts/Discovery Theatre Anchorage, AK
April 17, 2009 Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
Macomb, MI
April 18, 2009 Jasper Community Arts Center Jasper, IN
April 23, 2009 Thrasher Opera House Green Lake, WI
April 24, 2009 Stoughton Opera House Stoughton, WI
April 25, 2009 ECC Blizzard Theatre Elgin, IL
May 15, 2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, NY
May 16, 2009 Algonquin Arts Manasquan, NJ