Arts Desk

Q & A With Jon Rauhouse

Multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse is one of those musicians whose skill and easygoing manner keeps him in high demand. He started playing in bands in 1977 (on banjo), eventually landing with the Grievous Angles in the 90's. He's recorded and played live with Calexioco and the Waco Brothers and even dabbled live with the Boxmasters prior to their tuqes getting revoked.

Jon is an accomplished master of the pedal steel, and has done several recordings featuring the instrument. For the past decade, however, he's been lending his abilities in studio and on the road to Neko Case. I spoke to Jon following Neko Case's two sold out shows at the 9:30 Club.

Interview below the jump.

Black Plastic Bag: You've played with an impressive list of singers and musicians—who is the most exacting collaborator?
Jon Rauhouse: (Laughing) I'd say I'm the most exacting. Neko has a good idea about what she wants when we go in the studio, which makes it very easy on us.

BPB: What is about the pedal steel that brings an almost fetishistic sense it its devotees?
JR: I think its the combination of being a harder instrument to master and the way that it can mimmic the human voice.

BPB: Is there a better collaboration in country music this year than Willie and the Wheel?
JR: Well, Willie and Ray Price comes pretty close. Willie got onstage with us once with the Boxmasters and just went off on the guitar. It's pretty amazing what the man can accomplish in his seventies.

BPB: So you have the Secretary of Education onstage during your show when you come to DC, any other cities on this tour top that?
JR: That was pretty special. Neko has been a vocal advocate for education. The Secretary was low key, no entarouge, and a really nice guy.

BPB: You've played with John Doe– is he as pissed off backstage as he appears on stage or on screen?
JR: Not at all. A really nice guy. I give him a call whenver I see him on TV and he gets a kic out of it.

BPB: You're longest or at least most extensive collaboration has been with Neko Case. What's they key to your longevity with Neko, both on tour and recording, especially considering how her popularity has soared over that time?
JR: We're friends. Its as simple as that. I've been with her for 10 years, and the current band has been going for 5 years, so everyone is good and tight.

BPB: Any new band you like that you've been working with?
JR: I've done some stuff with Rachel Flotard of Visqueen, they're fantastic.

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