In honor of the Radiators final series of shows, The Last Watusi, I've been posting recent transcripts with members of the band. Coming up this week are three final shows in New York -- Wednesday and Thursday at Brooklyn Bowl and Friday at the Best Buy theater. The final three shows -- June 9-11 -- will take place at Tipitina's in New Orleans. Here's Camile's interview conducted last month for the piece in the Jazz Fest issue of OffBeat. I will post a transcript with drummer Frank Bua later this week.
John Swenson: This has to have been an extremely emotional time for you.
Camile Baudoin: As we go on the emotions get more and more intense, we're feeling the death and rebirth at the same time. You see people being sad about the end but feeling really great about the years. It's been a run... the last couple of nights I've run into half a dozen Tulane people at gigs, from when we used to play the Quad. So many of our friends are family and close friends. That's what makes it really, really hard. It's not as nonchalant as other bands might have it. If you get too popular you can't really have that close fit of knowing that many people. It's really been incredible. Sometimes you almost laugh because these big burly guys are just sobbing. It's been a hoot. The band's really feeling good.
J.S.: What is it about this bond between the band and its fans? It's completely unique.
C.B.: It's sincere and real. That's the first thing that comes to mind, would these people be my friends if it weren't for the band? Obviously I probably wouldn't have met them otherwise, but aside from that I'd be surprised if 85-90 per cent of the friends that I've made on the road wouldn't be friends anyway if I'd met them through other circumstances.
J.S.: Is this something to do with New Orleans magic or is it something bigger?
C.B.: (laughing) There's nothng bigger than New Orleans. The circle of friends is amazing. The band has brought together groups of people all across the United States. People are saying: 'What are we gonna do now? We don't know how to keep in touch without you all.' Well, you'll learn. People come up and say thank you all the time. I say thank you to you to because it takes all of us to make this special. Those people are special. I can't tell you exactly what it is but I can say it's gotta be real, it's gotta be true, it's gotta be genuine. Because it wouldn't be this real if it wasn't.
J.S.: It must be difficult ending your playing relationship with Ed after all these years.
C.B.: Ed is a dear friend and the person I've known longest on this earth. We went to kindergarten together. I've known the man over 55 years.
J.S.: Does that make it easier or harder that you know him that long?
C.B.: Yes (bursts into laughter).
We may play together again in some other configuration. I think like Ed, when we're through everybody wants to take a little breath and just kind of ponder everything. We've been nonstop for 33 1/3 years. We've been on longplay for a long time. We've been together so long everything around us has changed. When we started out you used to wear a suit to go on an airline. Now you've got to take all your clothes off to get through the goddam gate. The road wears. People age differently. I know Ed loves music. And he's a poet. I think he hit a physical and a mental wall. You can't make your body do something that it just can't do anymore. And it could get worse as well...
J.S: What's next for you aside from the solo album you're working on?
C.B.: I've always dabbled with side things like playing with the Mardi Gras Indians. If somebody calls me and I can do it that's great. Right now I'm just taking my time. I'm doing a CD from my early days it's either gonna be called Old Bayou Blues or Living Room Music. It's about my parend, my godfather, who taught me guitar when I was growing up... just going back to my roots. I figure it's a good place to start. Like the band I'm very eclectic, playing with the Radiators you can't help but be because you've got to go everywhere musically. It's just two guitars and a violin. I'm singing some simple country and western songs, I'm playing with David Doucet from Beasoliel and Harry Hardin the violin player with Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. It started out as a recording in a club and it's turned into a studio project. It's taken a little longer... it feels good.
J.S.: There's talk of another version of the band emerging from all of this.
C.B.: I don't know where things are gonna go, but what I'd like to see happen is the four of us doing something with somebody else and developing a little thing, mostly Radiators songs and that kind of music, and just play a little bit, just to have something going on. We've been doing it for so long. But at the same time to allow everybody to do other projects that they want to do on the side. That would be perfect.
J.S.: There is the sense that you'd like to move forward and do something else.
C.B.: We'd have to shave something off that name. I'd feel a little uncomfortable calling it exactly that. We'll figure something out. I hope so and I think so as much as... I'm scared to death in some ways but at the same time I'm getting so much positive feedback from people. Look, doors close and doors open, it's really true. It's a turning point. This will definitely make me more creative, keep my spirit and energy going, after doing kind of the same thing for 33 years it will be good to just change it up a little bit.
J.S.: Do you have any personal goals?
C.B.: Somebody just asked me that and the first thing that came to mind is maybe I'll have a little bit of time to practice.
J.S.: How about unrealized ambitions?
C.B.: Just putting together some CDs, going through the different musical stages of my life. The next CD might be about some '60s music. All kinds of things are going through my head. We used to be Earl King's backup band. I thought about doing a record called Songs in the Key of Earl.
J.S.: You also played with Zigaboo Modeliste. You knew each other in high school, right?
C.B.: We go back a bit. We used to hear each other all the time but we never played together. A couple of years back we got a chance to do some gigs at Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras that were just a hoot. It's all serendipity. I dropped my car off at a place under the bridge to get a brake job, under the Crescent City Connection, and I know of a little breakfast place about three blocks from there. I guess it was about three months ago. I'm sitting there eating breakfast and in walks Ziggy and his wife Kathy and there they were at 7:30 in the morning at this litte breakfast place completely out of the way and there we were. I was just like really shattered at that point, burned out and wondering what was going to happen, and it was nice to be able to talk to an old friend like that. Zig went through a similar thing with the Meters. What a kind pair of ears and what a kind man...
J.S.: Have you gotten offers from other bands?
C.B.: I've had some offers and maybe if it was something I really wanted to do I'd do it but it would be kind of hard to jump onto something like that knowing that 4/5ths of the people I've enjoyed playing with for so long were waiting for me to play with them. That would be a true dilemma.