Interview: Catching up with Karl Denson

Karl Denson brings his show “Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party with Zach Deputy” to Workplay tonight.

Karl Denson brings his show “Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party with Zach Deputy” to Workplay tonight.

Karl Denson may rival Warren Haynes as the modern era’s “Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” Whether he’s fronting his own group – Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – or performing with The Greyboy Allstars or Slightly Stoopid, the saxophonist/vocalist juggles a myriad of musical projects. Now, Denson has added another piece to his extensive resume by honoring the timeless music of Ray Charles. On Tuesday, November 5, Denson will bring his “Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party with Zach Deputy” to Workplay. Showtime is 8 p.m. Recently, we caught up with Denson by phone from his San Diego home.

Brent Thompson: Karl, thanks for your time. We are looking forward to having you back in Birmingham. How long have you been performing the Ray Charles tribute show?

Karl Denson: The first time we did it was at the last [New Orleans] Jazz Fest and we did two shows. We did a Tipitina’s show and a House of Blues show.

BT: Given that the Ray Charles’ catalog is so deep, how do you create your set list?

KD: We have a solid set list and we just started adding new tunes to it. We’ve just added “Hallelujah I Love Her So” and “Sticks And Stones” – we do more of the Joe Cocker version of “Sticks And Stones.” [Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist] Zach [Deputy] has been getting sweated about not doing “Georgia,” so we’ve got to add that before we get down there.

BT: How many of the Ray Charles shows do you have planned?

KD: We’ve done 15 to 20 now and we’ve got another 15 or so to do on [the current] run.

BT: Your variety of projects must keep things musically fresh for you.

KD: It does keep it fresh and every once in a while it gets a little overwhelming. After this run through the South, I’m going to have a month and a half off, which I’m really looking forward to. I feel like I’ve been running since the summer before last.

Tickets to the 18+ show are $15 – $18 day of the show – and can be purchased at www.workplay.com.

About Brent Thompson

Brent Thompson is a contributing writer for You Hear This and WELD.

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