WDD: How has the 2005 tour been going overall? Have the European fans been as fired up as the American fans? What's the vibe like at these shows?

CJM: 2005 has been going very well. In Italy I did two kinds of shows. One 
was my usual solo shows and the other was being part of a show called 
PEACE AND LOVE which was mixed media: slides and light show and 
painings, all about the history of the sixties and music. I sing 5 
songs in the PEACE AND LOVE show and there are other musicians singing 
other songs from the sixties. Both shows have been well recieved. But 
the Italian audiences do not speak a lot of english and do not know a 
lot about the American sixties. The English shows of me solo were very 
well recieved and I tried to perform lots of songs from lots of 
different albums.

WDD:  Last year, the critics quickly labeled CJ Band as another 
"nostalgia" offering. This year they seem to have changed their tune 
and are enjoying "Cakewalk To Baghdad" and "Support The Troops." Can 
you talk with us about any/all new material forthcoming besides these 
two songs?

CJM: The band has a killer version of the Buffalo Springfield song FOR WHAT 
IT'S WORTH that has been going over very well. We also do songs from my 
TWO. These are going over well and are good dance tunes. We shall 
continue to add to the repitoire from old and new material.

WDD: Is this new DVD from England, taped last year, the Isle Of Wight 
performance? You must feel very proud to take your place next to all 
of the others who have played there. Was the crowd as huge as the 
1970s attendees to some of those classic shows?

CJM: The DVD performance is not from the Isle of Wight but from Portsmouth
The audiences are certainly not what you would call huge.

WDD: Can you update us on the Bernie Krause CD? What is the idea behind 
this CD?

CJM: The Bernie Krause and Country Joe CD will be ready for sale any day now as it is being manufactured as I type. It will be for sale on my web site and possibly later on from a label that handles relaxation type CDs. The idea was to make an album of all instrumental music by me performed on accoustic guitar and harmonica. Drawing upon material from back to the 60s like Section 43 up to the present. It was to be an album for prayer and meditation. I wanted to place the music in a natural enviornment. So I asked Bernie Krause to create some enviornments from his vast catalogue of natural sound scapes. He did create 9 original soundscapes and the album we created is the best 
psychedelic music I have created since Electric Music For The Mind And Body.

WDD: Are the attendees to the shows vocal to you and the Band about the current Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts? Are you seeing that same anger as Vietnam, espeically from the Veteran population that attend the shows?

CJM: I would compare this time to the time period very early in the Vietnam War. At first there was not a lot of anger about the Vietnam War. The Iraq War is very unpopular in Italy and England, much more so than in the USA. It is hard to find a military veteran anywhere who is excited and positive about the Iraq War.

WDD: Any plans to sit down with the Fish (Barry Melton) and remaster the CJ Fish catalog and/or reviewing material for a CJ Fish Box Set i.e. live material, outtakes, alternate versions of songs?

CJM: Vanguard Records controls all that material and has no plans to remaster or do any thing new with the material.

WDD: On your website you have been posting chapters for an eventual auto-bio. Any time frame for this project's release?

CJM: It could be 20 or 30 years.

WDD: Any TV show appearances planned for the US i.e. Jay Leno, Letterman, Conan O'Brian?

CJM: I doubt that they would touch me with a ten foot pole.....or a twenty foot pole.

WDD: There is a link on your site to the well casted Berkeley Movie, which features 10 songs from CJ Fish, that must make you feel very proud! How did this Berkeley movie come about and do they know when the picture will see mainstream release?

CJM: The movie is the creation of film maker Bobby Roth, who also has directed about 30 TV shows. This is his third self scripted and directed movie. His last one, which had John Ritter's last performance 
in it, was titled JACK THE DOG , got shown on Showtime once. His movies will probably never be seen in theaters in the mainstream. The movie is very good and I will keep you posted on what happens to it. It is planned to be submitted for entry in fall film festivals.

WDD: You and many of the Bay Area's finest bands are currently enjoying the 40th Annniversary of your musical contributions. Are you very suprised the CJ Fish music and the psychedelic sounds in general have made it this far? Are you amazed that the music keeps inspiring generation after generation?

 CJM: Yes I am amazed and delighted that people still want to hear my music. I make my music mostly for myself and always have. It is a fringe benefit to me that I can make a living off of it.

WDD: You had the chance to see Sam Andrew (Big Brother & The Holding Company) his past March. Any new music/projects coming from him? Also, what are your thoughts on the new "Search For Pearl" reality TV show that is forthcoming? Obviously, Janis Joplin could never be replaced, but if they had to really choose, I think Melissa Ethridge would be the leading favorite based on her work earlier this 
year when she took part in the Janis tribute at the Grammys.

CJM: I dont know what Big Brother has planned aside from lots of touring and perfoming and the upcoming Search For Pearl project. I think that there are quite a few people who could fill the role of Janis in the context of the reality TV show idea. I like reality TV a lot and think that the show and music will be a lot of fun. I am sure Janis would love the idea and be thrilled that people still love her and her music.

WDD: Recently, you were seen on Streaming Video doing "Only Love is Worth This Pain." An amazing song with some amazing sounds! Can you talk about some of the gear, effects and amps you are using for this tour?

CJM: My music is pretty low tech. I use reverb sometimes and that effect is a phase shifter by Jim Dunlop set to the old school setting about mid range for a taste of old school psychdelic sound

WDD: Is there a chance to see the 1994 Pepsi commercial and Speilberg's cartoon of you on-line/Streaming Video anytime soon?

CJM: Hmmmmm I could put it up.....I guess....wonder if I could be sued???!!! 

WDD: Last summer, ZACHARIAH was re-released on widescreen DVD. Any plans that you know of to do the same for "How We Stopped The War," "A Day In The Life Of," and "Gass-s--s?"

CJM: Well HOW WE STOPPED THE WAR is owned by Dave Peoples and Country Joe and The Fish and I have just about given up of there ever being a release on that. Part of the problem is that it is only 30 minutes long and in black and white. There just seems to be no desire on anyones part but me to release it. Very complicated. Also the DAY IN THE LIFE is owned by KQED community TV out of San Francisco and I think too complicated to get a release on. Gasssssss maybe ... that is up to Roger Corman I would suppose.

WDD: Besides Clichy and the new Berkeley movie, are there any other past or present movies that you have contributed to in terms of scoring?

CJM: Que Hacer, a movie filmed in Chile during the Salvadore Allende elections by Saul Landau, Nina Serrano and Raul Ruez in 1971. Gregory Pickup's movie Tricks, about the Cockettes with a guest appearance by Alan Ginsberg in drag about the gay scene in San Francisco in the early 70's. I think that is all.....Oh, Country Joe and The Fish are in Revolution, also.

WDD: Are there plans for a traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall around Berkeley or anywhere else in the country that you are aware of? Where there any special activities planned for Memorial Day this year that you produced and/or took part in?

CJM: This past Memorial Day I was in New Mexico near the memorial park called Angel Fire...I believe. Traveling walls are always going around but I am not too involved in Vietnam War stuff anymore. I don't get asked anymore and am a bit burned out from all the stuff I did in the past.

WDD: Berkeley is considered the "Free Speech capital" to the rest of the world. Does it still feel free with all that is happening in the news? There seems to be an assualt on free speech in this country since the now infamous "Janet Jackson's Boob" stunt at the 2004 Super Bowl. A lot of cities around the country are facing local budget problems and many city sponsored independent media outlets are facing cuts/elimination, just as network TV stations are facing heavy fines. What are your thoughts on this?

CJM: It goes in cycles. The 50's were not very liberal times ya know! Berkeley is still a very nice place to be.....for me anyway.

WDD: North Korea and Iran seem to be progressing with completed fuel rods. Does this current dialogue over WMD concern you? Are we seeing a return to the Cold War/Cuban Missle crisis kind of thing?

CJM: I am powerless over North Korea and Iran. I try not to worry about WW3 too much and just work for peace in my own way. We can never return to anything we can only live today and work for the future.

WDD: Your thoughts on the current "politcal correctness" theme that seems to dominate the daily news/media as of late?

CJM: Hmmm does that mean getting the facts straight before printing the story? I am all for that.

WDD: Here's an offbeat question, who would win a mud wrestling match between Florence Nightengale and Susan B. Anthony in both ladies' prime?

CJM: Well first Nightingale is spelled with an "i" after the night part. Sounds like a fantasy of yours and I must ask with or without clothes? And are you talking about like a wet T-shirt kind of thing? You need a 
lot of therapy!
   Country Joe      David Cohen     Bruce Bartol    Chicken Hirsh
                                                   April  2004
Photo by Ron Cabral
Photo by Dave Diamond
Country Joe McDonald
            June 2005
Photo by www.countryjoe.com
Country Joe McDonald, 1969
Recently, I caught up with Country Joe McDonald in Cleveland Ohio, where he was giving a series of interviews at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with Rachel Donahue and other media outlets. I was able to get his thoughts on the latest with himself, the Country Joe Band, politics, the world of music and so much more.

Part of this interview was done live, the other part through e-mail. All combined, Country Joe was on a roll during this insightful and humorous interview!  Enjoy!
"Wildman" Dave Diamond, July 2005
Photo by Ralph Solonitz
   Rachael Donahue & Country Joe McDonald
                               June 2005