Jeff “Boday” Christensen: “Just give me the key”

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I’ve no idea what the hell his nickname and professional alias Boday is about and’ve never got around to asking him. The damnedest thing is interacting with Christensen came about entirely as a happy accident. In my never-ending quest to unearth the full story on Stanley Kipper (New Primitives frontman and co-founder with Chico Perez), I got very lucky. Kipper, virtually as an after thought, handed me copy of Straight from the Sun by an album from 1991 by One World, an incredible fusion of R&B, Latin rock, plain old regular rock and a flavorful infusion soul music. Christensen was playing guitar. And I mean playing absolute hell out of the thing, doing, of all things, a funky rendition of the Jimi Hendrix Experience classic “Crosstown Traffic” that you just never saw coming. Which was enough to interest me in interviewing the guy, so, I did.

As for background, listened to his solo albums, done between 1997 and 2008: Boday, Do You Know, French Vanilla, and Butterfly Legs. Straight from the Sun is way out of print (no, you can’t borrow my copy) but the others you order at www.boday.com. Which was enough for to float past him the invitation to record with me (more like begged). So, he did. Along with Stan, Chico and a few other heavy hittin’ folk. It’s always fascinating to watch guitarist with strong chops work. This cat, though, was something else. The fingers of his left hand glide over the strings like a spider dancing on a hot plate. And there’s no style he can’t play – with complete authority. Topping it all off, there’s guys who play half well as Jeff yet have a swollen head along with a snotty disposition. Throughout the entire session (well, he did a little testy for moment) he was down-to-earth, wonderfully agreeable and in general a prince of a guy. We’ve got along great ever since (fact is, if you can’t get along with Jeff Christensen, odds are you just aren’t able to get along with people, period).

Indeed, as we were about to do this interview by phone, I got a call. He had been over his daughter’s house mowing the lawn, ran over a nest of bees and got the living hell stung out of him. Of all the nicest guys on the planet for that to happen to. Typical of guy friends, you get a kick out of one another’s little minor misfortunes (like when Stan’s son Miles absconded to college with Stan’s whole stereo system). I lapsed into hysterics. Jeff, being the good-natured sort he his, laughed right along. Then, we put the conversation off until he could get home, put something on the stings and make himself reasonably comfortable. More of a chat than anything else, we were pretty much all over the map, just shooting the sugar-honey-and-iced-tea about whatever came to mind. Including current part-time touring with rock legends Crow. And that he’s as big a fan of jazz pianist Mary Louise Knutson as me. 

I’ve been trying to interview you, now, the last, what, year and a half? Who are you Greta Garbo?
That’s funny. There has been a lot goin’ on. When the Crow thing takes off, it’s all intense. And, rehearsal, the show’s 75 minutes of nothin’ but music. So, we gotta on our game. That [has] required a lot of attention. It’s a huge guitar hang. We did a show with The Litter and Pepper Fog at Famous Dave’s. It was a pretty fun deal. And The Abate Motorcyle Rally with a few thousand bikers in Algona Iowa. We did it with Jackyl. They are raw. That was hilarious, watchin’ them. They’re just spitting and drinking Jack Daniels on stage. 

So, you been bustin’ your ass.
Yeah. Doin’ session work, too, couple projects. Got pulled into a project with a gal by the name of Mia Dohr. She can sing, man. She’s been singin’ around town quite awhile, got a lot of chops! Used the Casablanca Horn Section on it, sounds real good. My part was mainly keeping the tight rhythm thing going. 

Lucky if they kept the walls on the joint.  I was telling Mary Louise Knutson about you.
She’s a wonderful musician, man. She can play. I’ve caught her live. Very knowledgeable, that’s what I like about her. Can run those standards real sweet. That’s a nice, strong bag for her. Next weekend, I’m doin’ my solo thing with [a] band in the box. Solo jazz guitar, open up the fake book for all these standards. You know, “Foggy Day,” “As Time Goes By,” “All of Me”, stuff like that.  In Red Wing.  I’m doin’ an art fair.  Drums, bass and piano pre-recorded, band in a box, y’ know, it’s real nice. I like that standard bag, too.

Yeah, well, you can play anything. If The Chieftains blew in town and needed a guitar player, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. Talk about eclectic.
Yeah, well, just give me the key.

How’d you get so accomplished?  Did you sell your soul to the devil?
It’s a lot of work, man. Guitar playin’ just gets me. And, then, I love the styles. I was into [Andre] Segovia. To Carlos Montoya, Pat Martino. I mean, shit, all over the place. Ritchie Blackmore and stuff. Ackerman.

Who?
Jan Ackerman from Focus. Frickin’ brilliant. I just took it all in and worked my butt off.

At what age did you pick the axe up? You were in the uterus or what?
Okay, I’m tryin’ to think. Maybe 6th grade. 

Your association with Crow, how far does that go back?
Probably about 20 years. I was in it when [vocalist David] Wagner, he was doin’ a country thing. Kind of pulled them out from the sticks in Ely up north, got the thing goin’. Not with the original guys. After Lonnie Knight left. He was the guitar player who was gonna do it and he left.  I got called. After that me and [bassist] Larry Weigand quite and went to Seventh Wave with Chico and Stan. That was before One World with Gwen Mathews up front on vocals.

I hate Stan, man. The more find about how much he’s done, the more there is to find out. And I guess he ain’t speakin’ to me no more since I gave him that bad review. Anyhow. Did you record with Seventh Wave?
No. Then, Stan and Chic started One World. And we did that album. Larry Weigand was in there. It was really a fun band.

Which brings me to, every guitarist in the world wants to cover Jimi Hendrix.
Yeah.

Most shouldn’t bother. But, you on “Crosstown Traffic,” that exception proves the rule.
Wasn’t that song cool, man?

Was that your arrangement or Stan’s?
Oh, well, Stan said, “What I wanna do is kinda put a one-drop in this thing. And, Boday, put those chords in there.” And, of course, you know, Jimi with the third, major third and dominant seventh. Shit, that seventh goin’ down. So I said, “Okay, I’m gonna use the inside of those chords. Then, we’re gonna clip it.” All of a sudden it starts pullin’ together. And he said, “Take a slide solo.” And, I said, “Okay, here we go.”

What else you got for me?
Another thing that’s been goin’ on. Remember the band back in 1971, Captain Beyond?

Captain What?
They have three records out on Warners. It was the singer Rod Evans from Deep Purple.

I thought that was Ian somebody or other. The guy who did Jesus Christ Superstar.
Evans was the first guy. And Rhino on guitar from Iron Butterfly. And Lee Dorman on bass from Iron Butterfly. And Bobby Caldwell, the drummer, this is his baby. If you wanna pull up You Tub, just check out Captain Beyond and listen to this guy play. Anyway, Rhino passed away Janurary 2.  And they’re talkin’ about puttin’ Captain Beyond back together. 

They want you to play with them?
We’re talkin’ right now. It’s just in the early stages right now.

That band comes to town and I have this much trouble interviewing you, I’ll burn your house and shoot your dog. If you don’t have a dog, I’ll get you one and shoot it.
I’m talking to Bobby for the first time and has got the wrists of Gene Krupa on the snare. That’s where he came from.

Pretty nice.
Oh, he’s badass. He played on “Rock & Roll, Hoochie Kooh” with Derringer. Johnny Winter. Cactus. He was almost playing with Hendrix one time when Mitch [Mitchell] was leaving. Band of Gypsies came around. So, Bobby’s been all over. And Armageddon with Keith Relf from [the] Yardbirds. Said he was the nicest guy. Told me stories about Jimmy Page. We’re really connecting. So, we’ll see if we can get Captain Beyond up and running again.   

Your solo albums are all that real silky smooth jazz. I guess that’s your favorite method of operation?
No, man. I’m havin’ a blast doing that rock thing, again. There’s another project I’m involved in called Arcana Mare. That’s prog-rock.

Hunh?
Like, progressive. Changes time signatures. Makes you think. Joe Satriani types. Really fun.

Having a lot of fun these days.
Yeah, well, that’s what it’s all about fun.

And getting paid.
Yeah, well, that doesn’t hurt, either.