“Drop Top Drive By” Chat w/ Sheila E Special “Playboy Jazz Festival” Edition

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“Drop Top Drive By”
Chat w/ Sheila E
A “Playboy Jazz Festival”
Special Edition

Teaser Interview by A. Scott Galloway

When fiery drummer/percussion goddess Sheila Escovedo, a.k.a. “Sheila E” hits the stage with her new band at The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywoood Bowl this Saturday June 16, she will be coming in from Netherlands. When she leaves, she will be heading out to Germany, Switzerland and a stop at London’s super hit Jazz Café spot. You cannot hold this lady back as she is always super busy, in demand and sharing her gifts in a plethora of diverse projects.


Most recently she participated in the all-female all-star Grammy-winning “The Mosaic Project” with sister in rhythm Terri Lynne Carrington. (who will also be playing the “Playboy Jazz Festival” on Sunday, June 17). Her most recent side lady gigs have been on albums by a wide ranging cross section of friends that includes funk master Bootsy Collins, modern gospel pioneer Andrae’ Crouch, ivory soul singer Joss Stone and all around keyboard/music master George Duke. She got her big screen animation vibe on with contributions to the  soundtrack of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (currently the #1 Movie at the box office this weekend), and on the little screen at home, she was colorfully showcased during talk show host David Letterman’s “Late Show Drum Solo Week” (see video below to have your mind blown).

And if you are one of the Minneapolis Funk headz that is happy to see The Family reunited (now known as fDELUXE), you have Sheila to partially thank for that as it was her having them get back together for her L.A. children’s charity concert that sparked them to want to climb back into the craziness all over again.

Simply put, Sheila makes things happen! And for this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival, she is mashing up a special line-up culled from the many bands she leads. There’s her Minneapolis funk band, her Christian-based Jazz band E Train (you NEED their 2000 new millennium album Writes of Passage in your life… seriously) and, of course, The E Family, the band she shares with her father Pete Escovedo, her brothers Peter Michael Escovedo and Juan Escovedo y mas familia! Together, they have a new CD, Now and Forever, out on Sheila’s Stiletto Flats Records (via the Concord Music Group) that features special guests Gloria Estefan and Philip Bailey (of Earth Wind & Fire) plus a Salsa-fied cover of a song by Contemporary Gospel superstar Israel Houghton titled “All Around.”

Whether slammin’ on her drum set barefoot (as she did her last time out at Playboy) or rockin’ her timbales and congas in suave’ sexy 6-inch heels, Sheila E always has something earthy and exciting underfoot.

Here’s what she had to share about her special upcoming Jazz Festival show and tour during a quick sit down on the grounds of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.

Scott Galloway: What do you have in store for us with this all-star band made up of members from all 5 of your existing ensembles?

Sheila Escovedo: We’re gonna put together something special that makes sense. And, of course, it’s going to be a little bit of everything because that’s who I am. Being a part of a big pot of gumbo, throwing everything in there, mixing it up, and making it spicy and hot. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Musically, it’ll just be about picking out the right songs. I have so many from so many different albums. There’s Latin jazz, there’s pop, there’s funk – it’s going to be a little bit of everything.

SG: What recording are you working on next?

SE: We’re still pushing The E Family CD, Now and Forever. I’m working on a couple of movies and I’m working on my own album right now – my first solo album since 2001’s Heaven.


SG: You play festivals all around the world. What makes the Playboy Jazz Festival unique?

SE: Playboy is definitely known for having the greats perform there. To share the same Hollywood Bowl stage as so many other people that I’ve grown up listening to – even from back in the day when you had Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra – is an honor. It’s pretty amazing to see those old backstage photos of the legends that played here before me. It’s almost surreal.

And the fact that Bill Cosby is a part of this. He’s been a friend for a long time. He’s been at the festival from the beginning and only missed maybe three years – 31 of 34. He loves it so much like we all do. We love to come perform for the people here. It’s very special.

A. Scott Galloway
Music Editor
The Urban Music Scene