Dan Navarro

A Road Warrior’s Warrior

Dan Navarr0

 First- I’d like to wish everyone a Happy whatever you’re celebrating today. Me? I celebrate all of the holidays. I want every Christmas to be merry, every Chanukah to be Chappy, every Kwansa to be blessed for you and yours, and a fabulous Festivous for the rest of us!

Okay Second,  when have a chance – subscribe t0 Tales of the Road Warriors on your favorite podcast app or go to talesoftheroadwarriors.com and subscribe!. If you listen on Apple Podcasts – please subscribe and rate this podcast 5-stars. It is much appreciated!

Third – if you’d like to sponsor Tales of the Road Warriors let’s talk! Email me Hal in Philly at halinphilly@gmail.com

Okay! That’s it! Time for the holiday episode with a true road warrior, Dan Navarro best known for being in the super duo Lowen and Navarro – writers of We Belong, the mega hit for Pat Benatar. It has since been recorded by several others and featured in many movies, tv shows and including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,  Pitch Perfect 2,  Deadpool 2, and the season one finale of Dynasty and In the season 3 Finale of Santa Clarita Diet and just recently in a new Pepsi commercial.

Unfortunately, we lost Eric Lowen in 2012 to ALS otherwise known as Lou Gerhigs Disease. It was a terrible  blow the songwriting  community. But Dan Navarro continues to soldier on. He is a true road warrior in every sense. In fact, when I talked with Dan, he was in his car on the way from a gig the night before in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – to Baltimore, 45 miles.

Going into this conversation, I knew we had some mutual friends, but it wasn’t until I was listening to this episode while I was editing it, that I realized that I had seen and

heard Lowen and Navarro a few times at the Poppy’s Star in Encino. I remember always being struck by their hamonies and hilarious banter. We worked for the same guy, but at different restaurants, and to be honest, I never stopped to introduce myself at the time, because it was usually after a shift waiting tables in the other room and entertaining my own customers while Lowen and Navarro were entertaining the customers in the bar. I remember thinking  – Wow , these guys are amazing! I did stay and listen one night and got to listen to their angelic harmonies and hilarious banter. But I couldn’t stay, because I got lucky that night and left with a school teacher I met at the bar.  Well, I’m really glad I had a chance to catch up with Dan Navarro this time around. Better late than never, right?

A few nights before this conversation this took place, I attended a Dan Navarro show at a tiny listening room in Ardmore, PA. The owner, Laura Mann is a singer songwriter, herself and has co-written some songs with Dan. So when he comes to town, he’ll usually do a show there.

BTW – Laura often sits in with Dan for several songs and – all I can say is wow wow wow WOW. I’ll see if I can get Laura to share some of her on a future episode.

Okay, so now – Let’s check in with Dan Navarro – – –

Dan Navarro Links

Dan’s Website


Lowen and Navarro


High Pockets in Hollywood

Great American Food and Beverage Company

Ricki Lee Jones, Katie Sagal, Jamie Sheriff, Eric Lowen

Voiceover community. Not meeting Lombardo Boyar

Missing a ramp during the conversation

Listing a variety of mishaps hat happen and responding with humor and finding the good in every situation.

Future dates.

All Wood and Led with James Lee Stanley

How to say “Good Luck” to a Musician

Dan Navarro on TotRW – Full Transcript

Hal InPhilly  0:00

How’s the road treating you?

Dan Navarro  0:02

You know, the road is good right now it’s not that’s not that cold outside, compared to yesterday, went down to 27 degrees last night. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I’m on my way to Baltimore 45 miles away and have an afternoon show. That’s my last one of 2019. And, umm… Life is good!

Hal InPhilly  1:08

I actually saw you for the very first time here in Philly. Well, Ardmore, and you had a special guest, Laura man. Right, playing with, you know how that collaboration…

Dan Navarro  1:21

Well Laura, actually I met through a mutual friend, who was her manager at the time, a guy named Alan Hale, who worked with me at high pockets back in the late 70s. And so he became a you know, he had a band, he became a songwriter, because obviously, as no one knows better than you everybody who works there has to play and say, you know, the band part didn’t quite work out. He got fairly productive as a songwriter. And then he, you know, got a couple of publishing deals, and then he started becoming a manager. And he said, I want you to work with this young woman that I’m working with named Laura Mann, and this was probably 25 years ago. And we’ve stayed in touch over the years. She’s had a fairly, you know, very successful massage business and she still pursues her musical dream, puts records out every few years and decided to open this venue. So, I was one of the early actually booked me in it about a year and a half ago. It’s but I think it’s the third of the fourth time I played it. You know, it’s gone really well. It’s been I mean, it’s … Philadelphia had always been a tough play for me. The Tin Angel, we would do reasonably well. And we only played World Cafe Live once, and it didn’t go well. And, you know, we never played the Main Point.  Eric, and I didn’t do well on WXPN. So consequently, we didn’t have a whole lot of radio to push audience to us. So we were kind of slogging around a little bit time. But

Hal InPhilly  2:44

I’m surprised because, Philadelphia is usually a very good place to play. A lot of musicians like Philly, but they can be really hard on an act too.

Dan Navarro  2:57

Well, the thing is that it’s not so much the town was hard. We got our live following pretty much from radio in the early 90s. We, you know, put our first record out in 1990 Lowen and Navarro, and we cracked about 50 stations nationwide. And we were able to go play those areas and the crowds were big and strong. I mean, we were drawing 200 to 700 people a night depending on where we’re playing. But there were certain pieces that never came to the party Philly never really came. I mean, we played world cafe with David die once, but XP had never really got into us. Only Pennsylvania action was WYEP Pittsburgh, you know, consequently, it’s always been like for me in Pennsylvania. Never played Godfrey Daniels Allentown wasn’t really a place for us. Washington DC was super, super, super strong. And I could still do eight to 10 shows a year in the DC area and tend to play Philadelphia once now lately, twice a year. It’s you know, it’s just the luck of the draw.

Hal InPhilly  4:00

Well, you seem to have, like packed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the room when I was there and the crowd was great.

Dan Navarro  4:07

Well, thank you it is a smaller audience, but I would rather and this is part of my my touring philosophy. fulfill promoter expectations, I would rather drop 50 people to a 50 seat room, then 100 people to a 200 seat room. Not a good room. And Laura’s really great and Lauren, I’ve written together three songs over the years wrote one back in the 90s, one in the early us and one only a few months ago. So I mean, literally 90s and teens, we seem to do a song every decade.

Hal InPhilly  4:39

Now, you mentioned high pockets about a minute ago. A lot of people probably probably don’t get that reference. So you want to talk a little bit about those days.

Dan Navarro  4:49

Sure. Back in back in the 70s into the 80s. There was a restaurant in LA called the Great American food and beverage company that had a flagship location in Santa Monica and Every employee in the hosts hostesses, waiters, barman, busboys, all had to perform. It was part of the ethos that you were it was, you know, singing Raiders. And unlike a lot of places where singing waiters were doing show tunes, or opera or something very specialized, you do whatever you want. And on so a lot of songwriters and artists went through their, on their way up or on their way down, or as a place to stay musical while doing a reasonable day gig with a flexible schedule. They had three locations one in Westwood Village called the small cafe that wasn’t around long and one called high pockets specialize in pita pocket sandwiches on top of the normal ribs and chicken and and omelets and these I think these things called the orgies that was like this massive ice cream tree.

Hal InPhilly  5:53

Yeah, you know, I used to work behind the bar there with Llyn Blaikie in the Santa Monica,

Dan Navarro  6:00

Blakie, and these names man these names I remember Llyn. Llyn Blaikie is a Facebook friend to this day, I worked at GA  a few days I worked there for a very short time in the early 70s like 73, 74 and then I kind of went away. I’ve developed strong friendships with people over at High Pockets, which was in West Hollywood, at Santa Monica and La Cienega. And so I was hanging out there. And one day I started said, you know, why don’t I just get paid for this because I’m hanging out and playing and I was working at Tower Records at the time in Westwood Village, and I realized I could work one fewer day a week, make the same exact pay plus tips and play music and hang with my friends so I could tower mp3 years and went to go work overnight pockets and I spent three years there. You know, the thing is, it was to some it was you know, they thought they were being full time musicians and nobody really was. Bands came out of it. An artist came out of it. Rickie Lee Jones worked with the one in Santa Monica. Katey Sagal as we’ve talked about, you know, the actor is also a musician. Had a band called The band with no name with my god with Alan Miles and Jimmy Lott and Carolyn Ray and Franny whose last name I can’t remember his friend McCartey now? Yeah, McCartney. And they did a record for Casa Blanca. Peter Tork. work there for a little minute. You know, the one where I was. Cindy Lee Berryhill work there. Robert romantics and actor who was in Fast Times at ridgemont High was a cook. And so people would filter through there, you know, during certain periods in their careers and their lives when they needed the steadiness of a real job. Except I met my lifelong music partner Eric Lowen, and you know, we cracked it as songwriters and became artists and loan in a bottle together. And that’s where I met him. I wouldn’t have known him otherwise. And you know, Severin Brown was there and 70s a real close friend of mine, but I came in because I was close with Severin and close with a guy named Lawrence Cohen. And so I basically hung out with my two best friends and got to do this. But it also taught me something. It taught me how to perform when people were not paying attention. It taught me how to project and not just pull everything in really tightly and gave me the ability to perform with some energy. You know, we talked about Jamie Sheriff and put a record out on Polydor and done a lot of recording since. Jamie was the first one to turn me on to the places that I’m working at this place and on the Great American Food and Beverage Company. It finally closed down in the early early to mid 80s.

Hal InPhilly  8:35


Dan Navarro  8:36

most of us, many of us are still in touch with a good dozen people from those days.

Hal InPhilly  8:42

Did you go to the party at Richard Barron’s studio after Poppy passed away? We had like a reunion there. I did.

Dan Navarro  8:49

Yeah, I did. the one on Hollywood Boulevard?

Hal InPhilly  8:51

Yeah, yeah,

Hal InPhilly  8:52

Yeah, I did go to that party. And there have been reunions since that I haven’t been able to make and there’s a Facebook page for people from that era. You know, from both the three GA restaurants and also from Poppy’s Star, which is a restaurant he started after he sold out of great American. Yeah, Poppy, was it? Yeah, Poppy was a figure and a half, man, a remarkable man. And it was an approach to life. It was an approach to art. Friendships. I mean, it was the 70s. So let’s just say there was a lot of intramural dating. It was a kick.

When Lowen Met Navarro

Hal InPhilly  9:25

So he so you met Eric Lowen in there?

Dan Navarro  9:27

I met Eric low in there. Eric had come to the restaurant as a customer with an artist named Bert Sommer that he had played with on capital. They’ve had a deal on capital. He was a side guy. And Bert is kind of the number was upstate New York guy who had been in Hair, and he had also been an artist at Woodstock. He was one of the only people who didn’t make the movie at once in Woodstock, which is unfortunate, because his manager Artie Kornfeld was one of the organizers of Woodstock. So, Eric and Burt are there Five pockets, you know, sitting outside on the rail, right? And they’re kind of going –  Burt’s kind of being derisive on Lou these chops. This is us in two years.  (laughing) – Two years later they got dropped by Capital.

Dan Navarro  10:13

Eric went audition immediately and got a job. He ended up replacing me for three weeks when I went on the road with severan Brown and Lisa Sobel playing, you know, clubs in and around Portland and Seattle. When I got back, he had my gig. I was a Saturday night bus boy. So they made me a Saturday night, as they may be a daytime lunch busboy and then a daytime lunch waiter and the tips were really dreadful. Three weeks was all it took for me to get my shift back, but they made Eric the manager. So part of our legend is that we did not like each other. He was a usurper. He went from taking my job to being my boss. And He was tall and blonde and beautiful and I had a D 28. He had a D 35. So, big high money

Dan Navarro  11:06

Guild guys,

Dan Navarro  11:07

Umm, uhh… Martin’s. Martins!

Hal InPhilly  11:11

Oh, OK, ’cause I had a Guild D35. So I was thinking Guild when you said that

Dan Navarro  11:14

D 35 in Guild is a different guitar but yeah, they call it because they were dragged down shape. That’s what the D stands for. Right? And I hated him. I just thought he was a dick. And he did not like me much either. I thought he was full of himself and I thought I was full of myself. And you know, we were not wrong.

Dan Navarro  11:31

One night, we’re hanging out after hours and doing, you know, singing together with everybody, as we often did, because it was really the hub of our social lives. And we started to sing harmonies with somebody. We both hit the same note, heard that and both instinctively moved to the note of third below. Both of us heard that and both went back up to the original node. And I look at looked at him. I made a sideways V sideways peace sign with my fingers and flippped them went from the palm of my hand in the back of my hand, just basically going switch! He stayed high. I stayed low, and we locked and it was like, “Man, really?”

Dan Navarro  12:17

You’re the one?? Oh, and we, there was nothing in my life that was ever easier or emotionally more fulfilling instantly than singing right there with Lowen. And we had it! Whatever it was. The tambors The blend. The ability to follow each other. We both frankly sang kind of loud, We couldn’t sing softly, we sang kind of loud, so we weren’t really singing harmonies, we were singing competing leads when we worked together. And you know that so we decided one day, you know what we’re playing Saturday nights now. It’s was the hot night at the restaurant. Let’s learn some songs to up the ante and we rehearse some things. And we were packed from that moment on new Literally Saturday nights were absolutely jam packed always. And it became really fun. We did that for close to two years, 79 and 80. And then at the very beginning of 1980, I left to go live in London. I wanted to start a band with him he didn’t want to. And a lot wasn’t working for me anymore. I had  broken up with my girlfriend. I had a second job and my boss was gonna move to London. And he, you know, I’m losing my second job, my girlfriend’s gone. My friend doesn’t want to start a band. So I said, You know what, I’m going to London with you. And right before I moved, Eric said, Hey, I’m ready. Let’s start a band, you know, and then I’m moving on moving overseas. So for a year, we communicated by telephone from London to LA. And that’s where our friendship really deepened. And I came back and we joined a band that was lead by another High Pockets guy named Mark Bryson, that was called Bon Mott. Used to play all the local clubs, Madam Wongs West, Madam Wongs East – you know, Blue Lagune, Hop Sing’s. And

Hal InPhilly  14:05

Did you play At My Place?

Dan Navarro  14:07

We did At My Place once or twice. We weren’t quite slick enough for At My Place because we were kind of trying to do the the skinny tie band thing. Truth told that we were we wound up. We discovered this later, we didn’t do it on purpose. As they came out, we realized we were cross between Huey Lewis in the news and Men at Work. We did not copy them. They came out after us. Well, they didn’t copy us. I didn’t know anything about us. But

Hal InPhilly  14:34

That’s a good blend. I like that

Dan Navarro  14:36

it was but we were pushing a sound that was already hits for somebody else. So it sounded like we were following.

Hal InPhilly  14:43


Dan Navarro  14:43

So we never we never got signed. And we got close a couple of times. But out of that, I get sort of asked to leave the band in 1983. I got came back from England in 81. And join that band and we’re doing studying to anyone at Two and a half at three. I leave the band, and I’m dying on the vine and Eric calls up one day says, hey, let’s write a song together. He was not much of a writer. he’d written four songs and his whole life through him with me. I’d been a steady writer, I joined the band because he basically said, we’re doing a couple of your songs, why don’t you come join the band? And they did that when I came home from England. Well, so basically, Eric and I decided to get together to write this song for no reason. And that was “We Belong”. And a year later, it changed our lives. I mean, it kind of just, I mean, there isn’t anything successful I’ve ever done in my life that was easier than that. It’s like It’s like all the doors opened.

Hal InPhilly  15:47

How did you first learn that you know about the song being picked up and your reaction? What was that like?

Dan Navarro  15:56

Well, I mean, I wanted to soil myself basically,  Eric started taking it around to publishers. And interestingly, of course, typical of our relationship. I said, for God’s sake, don’t put the ballad on it, but all the up tempo stuff, they’re not even gonna bother to listen to the ballad and demo sucks. Well, he did it anyway. He said, Sure, absolutely anything you say and then he did when he pleased. And he took it around to several publishers, all of them rejected it. I mean, CBS Music, Bug Music, I think we took it to Almo Irving, and took it to, we took it to a friend it was an A&R guy at EMI Records, and he loved it, and wanted to place it with somebody but wasn’t able to get it off the ground. We had a mere placement with an artist, we didn’t really want to do it. And so we went back to Jamie Cohen, who’s the guy at EMI and said, Man, you gotta do something. And he said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll give it to the publishing guy. He gave it to the publishing guy and the publishing guy sat on it for about three or four months. calls up at one point said there’s there’s nothing for us here. And thanks very much. Two months later, out of the blue, he calls up Eric and says, I want you to do a handshake deal with me. I got an idea for the song for a major female artist. And one week later we found out it was finished. Wow. Now since then we’re of the belief that an either intentionally or accidentally ended up in a box of tapes. And they realized they didn’t have a deal on the song that she started. Let’s just throw this into. And she pulled that out of the box and said, I want to do this one. I give her credit for Amazing, amazing ears to hear what she can do with it, and what it would be on it. It blew our minds. I was still I was working in advertising. Eric had already closed high pockets and was painting houses part time.

Hal InPhilly  17:53

Well, it absolutely spoke to her obviously.

Dan Navarro  17:56

It really did. She was she was pregnant with her first child. She wanted to do something different than all the rockers she was getting. And it worked, you know, so that’s what kind of did it. We were terrified. I mean, sitting there realizing that she had won three Grammys in a row or maybe even for my first thought is, oh my god, this is first single, this is gonna be a hit. I can’t believe I mean, I was stunned. And we just rode that wave. I didn’t quit my job till six months after the record came out. But we decided to dive headfirst we had friends saying, you know, Dan, keep your day job, take the money and buy a house. And now I’m diving. I want to you know, I’ve wanted this and I’m going to take the chance I’m going to take the break and, and go for this and Dove headfirst into the professional songwriter world. started another band to try to capitalize on but I wasn’t in that band because I quit the other one. That was a source of a lot of friction. I did that for three years and then said, you know, I’m not digging this friction, I’m going to start working with other people because I want to say that the band that came up out of it was called 20 times. And Eric, it was not doing well. It was another situation of three years and not getting a deal with all this time. So I got Eric was the lead singer of that band. And I was writing with them for them, and I was helping produce them, but I wasn’t a member of the band. And I’m not like that. Part of it is when the band started, I was still working my day job. I didn’t really they didn’t want three guitar players. And I didn’t play keyboards very well. Right. So they just said there’s no real spot for you, which I resented. I did get invited into the band at the very end, just standing there playing tambourine and singing, you know, co leads like Gene Clark used to birds and outlasted one show before three of the other guys quit to do other things. The band broke up. But in the meantime, right around then Eric said, I got this idea. Let’s go play. Let’s go to know amp night at the central which is now the Viper Room. Right? And let’s do this acoustic duo we’ve been talking about for seven years. We decided to do it just as a lark. Three months later, we started doing a weekly at a seafood restaurant in Mar VISTA called the breakaway. Oh, that actually became the hub of the scene. Right? When we started it wasn’t but we were doing two sets. And we were given a third set away to friends. And we started curating a night there every Wednesday night for two years. And that’s what

Hal InPhilly  20:38

we’re going to do the open mic at the marvista at the at the breakaway.

Dan Navarro  20:43

Yeah, and you know, Jay Tedeschi was bucking that we were one of the first xe booked, we held down Wednesday nights and you know, there was something about the regular play and doing it every week that it started to get good and we also started develop to develop The stage persona that was essentially no different than Smothers Brothers, we started making fun of each other and cracking jokes at each other’s expense. And then we would do these gut wrenching ballads. And then they were jokes and each other’s expense. You know, we kind of learned the stage crap that we never quite learned in the old days. I mean, by the time I started doing it, man, I was 1988. I was 36 years old. And I’m starting to play out after five or six years, I mean, that was four years, really, because I left I left my mom in 83, so five years and not playing the band, or singing regularly. And all of a sudden, I’m going to do and I had to get my guitar chops up and I had to, you know, get my voice suit and wear out and get happen. somebody walked in one night I didn’t know the hell we were in the non cool we were. He come in because we had some backups on the record on this guy’s label. This is Stephen powers over chameleon. We sang on a walking wounded record. He goes Who are these backing sex You know, that’s low in the world. So came in to see us. And he offered us a deal on chameleon. We’re going like, do you have any idea how uncool we are? I don’t know. I like what I heard. So we did our first record at 38 and 39 years old figuring Well, we’ll just 3738 we’ll see how long we can keep this ball in the air. And December 14, is the 2019 is the 30th anniversary of starting the first album.

Hal InPhilly  22:29

That is very cool. See, you really weren’t as uncool as you thought when I was 36 – 36-years old, I was bartending at Jerry’s famous deli. Oh my god. I was rubbing elbows with very famous people, but usually by accident, I would brush their elbow while setting their drink down.

Dan Navarro  22:47

For the grace of God, man because like I said, we got lucky with We Belong. I consider it to be a fluke. But because we had the energy and of course the income to be able to just dive into the community of songwriters and we do Didn’t get a publishing deal in 86 we’re writing with everybody we’re pitching to everybody. We managed a couple of cuts here and there. Dionne Warwick cut one of my songs Four Tops got one of Eric’s. None of them were heads but they were album tracks in the day when an album track could make you some money. You can make 1015 grand off a ride along on a million selling album by having an album track. In 87… Really the very tail end of 86 we’ve had a bit of another bit of good fortune in that we started. We became friends with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, and they were getting ready to make another record and they were trying to handle it all themselves. So she said let’s write together. And we wrote two songs with her.  One of them ended up on the final bangles album. One of them later ended up as an unreleased track on the Greatest Hits along with that other track and Michael Steele from the Bangles I had actually known from my Tower Records days in the late 70s, so, she’s kind of going like, “Well, here you are!” She knew that I’d become a songwriter and had a cut when I was at the record store. So she said, Well, let’s write together. So I wrote a song with her, David White, and Eric, that also ended up on a Bangles record. So I was getting cuts here and there, and some of them were doing better than others. But we still wanted to be artists. And I gotta say, from the moment we got signed to Chameleon, we almost never wrote songs to try to pitch. We wrote songs for us. And they were artists songs instead of generic cut songs. Which means our cuts went way down. We still got cuts but, very, very rarely. But we were doing great on the road and the songwriting world as we’re holding up. Coincidentally with that, in 88, I started doing session work as a singer again, at 36 years old. I broke into the session world first time doing Spanish language jingles. And from there I moved it into Spanish and English language movies. And I’ve moved into voiceovers and I’m still doing a couple of movies in here.

Hal InPhilly  25:10

I meant to ask you to know, Lombardo Boyar.

Dan Navarro  25:16

I don’t. I don’t know on bottom we are. Oh, is that a voiceover guy?

Hal InPhilly  25:20

Oh, yeah. He Yeah, he was on Happy Feet. And he did the voice of the Mariachi in Coco.

Dan Navarro  25:29

That’s interesting because I did both movies. I did the voice of I sang Leader of the Pack in Happy Feet for the character that Carlos Alazraqui voiced, but I had the vocal on that. I did a couple of other tunes.

Hal InPhilly  25:47

That’s why I thought you’d might have met him. Yeah, but then again, when you do voiceovers, you don’t always meet the people you work with

Dan Navarro  25:52

You don’t see the people you work with at all. And, in fact, I left the studio I went I also did backing vocals with with a 10 voice group on two sons on Coco. Proud got us on and invoke a logo. So we worked on the same things, but I’ve never met him. Well, I’ll tell you what,

Hal InPhilly  26:11

do you know who he is? I don’t know anything about him. No. Okay, well anyway, if you want to really get a taste of Lombardo Boyar, there’s a movie it’s on Sci-Fi network, but but you can find it online. It’s called Big Ass spider. Okay, and he plays in it. He he plays a security guard who teams up with an exterminator played by Greg Grunberg And they have to kill this spider that was created in a laboratory that close to immense proportions, but it’s very tongue in cheek

Dan Navarro  26:46

I’ll check it out. The Voice Actor community is a very tightly knit group of people. I know a lot of people in a largely because I started in in 2000. Doing Walla, which is unidentifiable background sounds not a particular character on family guy in American Dad. It’s a side career that has brought me 31 years of Screen Actors Guild health insurance, to pensions want an outside and one and after that I can literally draw anytime I want. So somehow in the midst of this songwriter thing and artists thing, I developed this voice thing. And so I’ve really had these three separate areas of career on discrete pads that don’t really cross, you know, and it’s been it’s been weird and fun, but part of it is just the whole mentality of you asked me if I can do something… Unless it’s sing like Cyndi Lauper – I’ll say yes. And if I don’t know how to do it, I’ll learn by morning. And if you have to dress in a pink gown, so dressing up pink gown you do it. That was such a fun session to do I dressed in a pink choir room to sing  backups to Camilla Cabello on the on The Ellen show that aired two days ago. Pretty wild

Hal InPhilly  28:01

I’m guilty… I checked it out.

Dan Navarro  28:04

I’m getting a lot of heat for that in a fun way and people going, Oh, cutie pie. But you know, it’s good fun man. And, and the thing is that I know, people who do what we do, who kind of say, Well, I don’t do this, I don’t do that. And my attitude is – I’ll do anything. I mean, it’s not that I don’t have pride or scruples, what it is, is I take a lot of pride in fulfilling a job. You know, someone says, “Can you do this?” and I can pull it off” I enjoy that I take pride in it. There isn’t virtually anything. I’m going to say. “I can’t do that”. Now that said at least three times, people have said I want to hire you to do a country vocal for Coca Cola. And I want you know, that’s really cool, but I know somebody better and I give me your number, which has always endeared me to that producer because you’re giving up a lot of money. Here I go, Yeah, but you’re going to be much happier with what this guy does, and they call me later. You know, it’s happened more than a couple of times. It’s just how I roll.

Hal InPhilly  29:04

I can dig it

Dan Navarro  29:05

You know, I’ve been recommended for things there was a period of time with Billy Steinberg was sending me cowrites that he didn’t have time to do you know, not as it turned out, none of them turned into anything but that’s not the point. You know, I mean, there’s nothing I would love more than Billy Steinberg’s castoffs and I don’t mean that derisively I mean, exactly the opposite. If he didn’t have time to have a recommendation from Billy counts for a lot in my world,

Hal InPhilly  29:30

When you did co writes and collaborations with others. diid you make appointments to get together sit in the same room or did you do it over the phone? How did it, how did it usually work wih you?

Dan Navarro  29:43

I’ve done it every which way. Usually I’ll get the same room and try to start something from scratch. Sometimes something would happen sometimes it wouldn’t. I’ve done situations where I’ve been brought in to doctor existing songs. I’ve done a few cowrites over the phone, Skype is much easier because you can see people and actually true nowadays FaceTime is easiest, ’cause I’m a Mac guy and an iPhone guy. Way back in the 90s. I did a cowrite with Gretchen Peters. That was by fax. She faxed us the lyric. I moved some things around, wrote some stuff in there and send it back to her. And like, three hours later, she was, “That was fast” and the lyrics spoke to me. We added like maybe one verse to what she did and kind of move some lines around. But we did that by fax. This is way this is you know, I had a computer but I didn’t really have email because I wasn’t on the internet. This was ninety-… Oh god, what year was that? It was 95 I don’t think I got the internet on 97

Hal InPhilly  30:44

I must say the other night when I saw you at the living room. And I thought the show was over you got down off the stage. You did this whole acoustic with no electricity and was like a sing along at a campfire.

Dan Navarro  31:00

It was pretty wild, it’s it’s you know it. It’s really dynamic. It’s not passive silence people have to keep stone quiet or they can’t hear. And 1000 people will keep stone quiet if you’re in that situation and they know they’re not going to hear you any other way. So they, when they’re allowed to cheer the it’s usually an explosion. We’ve been doing it for you know, I mean, we now I, of course, Eric Lowen retired in 2008 and passed away in 2012 ALS, but I, I’ve been doing it since we started in 1989. Just because it was a fun, cool, weird thing to do. And I’ve seen others aren’t, you know, we opened for the Bodeans, 17 shows in 1993. And they started doing it. Once in a while they would credit us I didn’t really mind that. I mean, I got it from Steve Wynn, you know, so I didn’t make it up. I didn’t mind that they didn’t credit us and we didn’t own it. But it did lead to a friend pretty close friendship with Sam Llannis of the Bodeans. Now he went on his own about eight years ago, because he basically said you taught you guys taught me something about the essence of true performance. These are the kinds of things that you know the road stories are often about logistical stories. Highways, hotels, overbearing fans, blown up sound systems. But the thing about the road stories the ability to continue to produce a performance that you know you can choose to have your schtick or your set or your stage patter and do it every night. But low and and I got into the habit of not preparing anything with regard to that. We would see how the room felt and we would put it out there. I mean, I worked from a set list the other night at the living room. I also veered off the set list about eight songs in and changed it up because I felt the room. That’s the part of this that is to me, so inspiring that makes it worth continuing to do 30 years in, y’know, a million miles probably. And more highways than I can count. This trip right now. It’s looking like I’m going to finish up in about 575 miles. In August I did 1300 miles and five days on the ground. I fly to a hub city and drive around this process is is in you know, yeah, it’s grueling. It’s hard and I know a lot of people absolutely hate it. I’m not one of them. I thrive on this. I hope I never have to retire. I hope that you know, either I dropped dead on the road, or that I’m at a point where I go, you know, I’ve had enough I’m ahead of the game. I still have my health because the conventional wisdom is and it’s not going to go away until I’m infirm and can’t do it anymore.

Hal InPhilly  33:49

Everything about opening up your own little place like Laura did. Little little cafe of some kind at some point?

Dan Navarro  33:55

Well. yes and no, I have a performance concept, that I do at music conferences where I’ll stage a showcase room and present other artists called Cantina Navarro. I staged it at McCabe’s guitar shop at the end of October, three young artists I open with one song, and then then in the encore, we do one or two songs together, and then I leave. But otherwise I’m presenting other artists and I emcee. So yeah, the idea of running an actual location is on the tough side but, I’m not ruling it out. Especially once if it does get to the point where traveling is tough. Then I’ll do it since like when Rodney Dangerfield it. He did that early so that he would have a hedge against the road. Something that would produce some income in case you couldn’t go on the road. And it became very successful.

Hal InPhilly  34:45

Dangerfield? Yep,

Dan Navarro  34:47

yep, Dangerfield’s in New York City.

Dan Navarro  34:50

Now, I mean, you know, some of my favorite road stories are pretty weird.

Dan Navarro  34:55

And there are a few that have involved. You know,

Dan Navarro  34:58

let’s just say brand new instant personal friends on the road

Dan Navarro  35:04

you know there’s one time where

Dan Navarro  35:07

Two women decided to invite the bass player and myself over to their house for Remy Martin and weed. And when we got there and we found out that they

Dan Navarro  35:18

Oh, did I just miss my ramp?, I think I just missed my ramp. Hahaha, there’s a road story!

Hal InPhilly  35:26

“I was doing this podcast and, heh, hehheh…  passed my ramp…!”

Dan Navarro  35:29

No, it’s really true …aannnd… It’s only a one mile backtrack and it’s actually it’s only one one mile down track. No big deal.

Dan Navarro  35:40

Anyway, all this is to say that what they did for a living were balloon arrangements and tie dyed sarongs. So they really wanted us to put our time on put on their timelines and wrongs. So of course, we had to remove our pants to do it. And the bass player had a prosthetic leg. He had lost his leg when he was nine years old. No way was below the knee. He could do anything. No one really knew that this is what his situation was. So he warns the one of the woman, I need to warn you, I’ve got a fake leg. She put her hand on his arm and said, It’s okay. I’m a healer. And my first thought is, I don’t think you’re gonna be we looked at each other, right, pulled our pants back up and got the heck out of there. Because we go you’re not going to be healing this dear

Hal InPhilly  36:34


Dan Navarro  36:36

Then they’re turned into a situation for a number of years where I had a fan in Annapolis, Maryland, who started buying me Irish Car Bombs to drink you know, an Irish car bomb is that was essentially for 20 That’s right. Of course you were a bartender. Exactly right. I mean for the general public: It’s a Guinness it’s a Guinness boilermaker with Bailey’s and Jamison Baileys an Irish whiskey. Well, it’s also intended to be guzzled. And the audience would basically sit there watch me do this and I’d have three or four of them in the course of the night. Not the wisest of moves on stage. I mean I quit drinking two years ago and I should mention quit drinking five years ago and got completely sober two years ago. So those are long I think in the past but I remember toward the end of some of the longer sets they’re kind of were tuning was relative and timing. The results

Hal InPhilly  37:29

were staggering.

Dan Navarro  37:31

Literally! Exactly! But it was amusing I was always gain for whatever the audience had in mind, the way that guy started with us by the way, the guy was buying me the hours car bombs was he was heckling us and he wouldn’t stop. He was funny, but he was heckling us. And so Eric finally went “Oh for God’s sake, get up here! You’re going to do this come on up stage!” So he walked on stage and he did seven prepared minutes. He was a standup. And he was wonderful. He was so funny, we laughed and part of the thing that I loved about the road was rather than sitting there going, I can’t believe this asshole did this. We were going, “What’s in there? Let’s make something of this. Let’s give the audience something to play with. Let’s…” You know, and we made lemonade. The guy is to this day a dear friend, I literally just sang at his wedding three months ago. And he built me a guitar as a gift. He’s a dear friend. I’m going to see him tonight at the house concert I’m doing and this is out of a guy who erupted by heckling us at a 350 seats sell out. That could have easily been us going, “Uh, security! Get this guy out of here”. We didn’t do that.

Hal InPhilly  38:43

No. You, you

Dan Navarro  38:45

We went with it.

Hal InPhilly  38:46

You boosted his career.

Dan Navarro  38:48

Well, we boosted his career, but we also boosted the audience was coming undone, they were laughing so hard. His name is Brett Bean, he’s a great guy. I gotta tell you, man, it was one of the best And the road stories. The road stories are about looking at whatever it is that’s happening and finding the good fortune in it, rather than the dark side the hard part. You know, there’s something good in every weird situation that happens on the road. You just got to be open to it and willing to see it. I’ve laughed my butt off at more oh good god, I broken strings I broken, Eric’s broken headstocks off guitars. I had a cable on the wrong fret for half of a song once and realized halfway through it. Oh, wait a minute. I forgot the words. The I forgot the opening lyric to a song and we vamped until I was ready. Three and a half minutes before I went, it’s not coming and we stopped and change songs. And laughed our heads off.

Hal InPhilly  39:51

I know that feeling. Now, but what’s up and coming in the Dan Navaro Universe?

Dan Navarro  39:57

You know, I’m booked steady through the The end of April and right now the summer is wide open, but I’m already booking September, October, November. Not sure why September why the summer is not happening, but I’m doing four shows around the DC area in early January. I have a songwriting workshop I do in Washington DC that’s happening January 5. It’s called songwriting and the creative muse. After that, I’m doing the 30A Festival in the South Walton Beach, Florida on the panhandle. It’s a wonderful festival. I did the Folk Alliance Conference that weekend that is January like 16th, Sep January 17 to 20th. And it’s a really cool fun festival. 200 songwriters, 25 venues, and it’s a little bit like a South by Southwest except it’s spread out over a over 25 mile stretch and some beautiful, beautiful part of Florida on the panhandle with the you know, the south facing Gulf Coast.

Hal InPhilly  40:54

It sounds wonderful. That’s big deal.

Dan Navarro  40:56

Oh, it’s really really cool. All of my friends do it. So it’s a you know, I play every day. And they put us up and they feed us and we play you know, we embed two person rounds and three person rounds and solo shows and day and night. It’s it’s in its 11th year and it’s a really cool festival. early February I’m doing a series of deadhead shows, from the standpoint that I’m going to play in Newton, Kansas in a house concert, my first show in Kansas ever followed the next day by a show in St. Joseph, Minnesota, where I’ve also never played, I can’t drive and it’s a 12 hour drive, so I’m gonna fly it. Then I got three days off, and I’ve got two shows in Minnesota than a show in Chicago than one in Port Clinton, Ohio. I go home for two days and go back out again. So I’m out for three weeks in January, three weeks in February. I do the upper Midwest every winter. Toward the end of March. I’m doing Phoenix. In April. I’m doing the North Playing in Cambridge, New York, probably Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Massachusetts as well. Again with the I’m doing, I think New York. And you know, I do New England usually every April. Also do it. I just did it. I just did New York couple of days ago. You know, it’s moving around a lot everything’s on their website at the end of our calm and on my Facebook page and I have two Facebook pages. I have a personal one that I’ve talked more but there’s the one that’s where I have all my music information DanNavarroMusic and all the events are there and one of the one of my years

Hal InPhilly  42:38

Oh, God, you recently did a project with James Lee Stanley, the All Wood and Led”

Dan Navarro  42:46

All Wood And Led. James Lee is known for his “All Wood And…” series he did two records with John Batdorf to have called “All Wood and Stones”, which are acoustic reworkings of Stones tunes, and it was really good. He did “All Wood and Doors” with Cliff Everhart, and I went to him a couple years ago and said, “Dude, I want to do this with you… ‘All Wood and Led'”

Dan Navarro  43:06

We have reinvented the songs. They’re not strictly acoustic, but they’re complete reinventions. And I have to tell you it’s it’s a wonderful record. And the chances are very good we are going to get skewered. Because, to a lot of people, Led Zeppelin a sacrosanct. But, you know, we just decided to do them our way. We’re right now we only have one tour date booked in November of next year but I want to try to get us out earlier you know, the main thing is that I’m, you know, we’re both pretty busy solo guys and I’m and I’m booked but we’re going to try to fit it in. It is my goal to basically leave Los Angeles on January 3 and not go home till Christmas. That would be success in my life.  Y’know?

Hal InPhilly  43:49

Ho ho ho.

Dan Navarro  43:51

Ho ho ho. The road. The road is a teacher The road is a mistress The road is a is a dear friend. It’s a Bugaboo. It’s It’s crazy. Making, it’s possibly inspiring. Because it is real, it’s abs, I have learned this country on the ground. And from that standpoint, it is it is just nothing but wonderful. I enjoy the process. And I hope to, I hope that I’m done with it by the time that I stop. And

Hal InPhilly  44:22

Well I hope I get to see you again before you’re done with it! I know you’ll be back in Philly, in April, back at the Living Room.

Dan Navarro  44:28

Yeah, I am counting on a minimum of three more years… Till I’m 70. I don’t really want to stop. I honestly believe that I can do this till I’m 75 without much issue. I’m not afraid to say because it’s out there on Google. I’m 67 years old. I’ve been you know, I’ve been touring for 30 years and didn’t really start to me till I was 37 and the whole thing to me is about: H ow long can I keep this doing because I’m not doing this by accident. I’m not doing it by default, and I’m not doing it because I need the money. Even though the money is, you know, it’s not riches man, it’s not even close. It’s working man’s income. But I really love doing it. I love the process. And so my attitude is: Bring. It. On.  And I get to see people wouldn’t you know, we have a background that overlaps, but it wouldn’t know you if it wasn’t for the road.

Hal InPhilly  45:25

So that precisely, and I think you’re going to hit 70 easily. I always talk about Les Paul, who played every Friday night in a little club in upstate New York till he was 94. He just up until the day he died. He had a steady gig and I’m like, I want that to be me.

Dan Navarro  45:41

That’s my hero, man. Those are my heroes. And these are the people my true hero right now is a guy that I’m friends with. Who is David Amram. He was a classical composer, a jazz French horn player of film score. A writer. He hung with jack Kerouac. He hung with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. He’s done everything. He just turned 89 years old and I just sat in with him. Yeah, exactly. I sat in with him in Los Angeles doing a gig. He’s doing Folk Alliance. He comes to all the festivals. He comes to the most of the music conferences. Plays pennywhistle on everybody stuff. He is just one of those figures. He’s the real thing, and has lived an entire life of music and art. I’m blessed that he considers me a friend. And he calls me “Pops. And it’s I’m just sitting there like, I’m hanging around with – He hung out with Dizzy Gillesp ie man!!  And I’m sittin’ up going,”He he calls me pops”! and so I’m just going, “This is what it’s all about.” He’s my hero. If I can go till I’m 89 I’m going to be the happiest man in the world.

Hal InPhilly  46:47

Well, here’s to your happiness Dan. Good. Great talks on YouTube. I

Dan Navarro  46:52

look forward to next time I get to hang with you.

Hal InPhilly  46:54

It’s gonna happen. I’ll be

Dan Navarro  46:57

got it. Well, I’m at my gig. So I’m gonna go inside. setup and

Hal InPhilly  47:01

throwing up set it up again. Now I know like actors always say Break a leg when we say break a string that

Dan Navarro  47:08

string people say but I like Break a leg. You know my favorite is is don’t fuck up which is a good one. I’ll as I said, I will say busta gam or snap a pin or something that’s, you know, a little Jazzbo way of saying “break a leg”. But,  there are two schools of thought thought about Break a leg one of them is is the opposite of what you really want. Because to say good luck in the theater is like saying Macbeth in the theater. It’s a ticket to bad luck, right? Someone else told me a story that that in in the Royal Court when a woman curtsied she bent a knee and that and when men would bow they would also bend a knee like a curtsy, not just a straight bow with stiff legs. So the whole idea was be lucky enough to be in the presence of the king of the queen. “Break a leg” “Bend the knee”.

Dan Navarro  48:00

I don’t know if that’s accurate, but I like it

Hal InPhilly  48:02

It works

Dan Navarro  48:04

it works. And it’s all about the whole idea is again, and I’ve said this repeatedly and I continue to, We GET to do this. It’s not a matter of whether we have to, if you have the energy and the stomach, and the bandwidth, and the sense of humor for the road, you’re never gonna want to come off as well. And for me, the tough one was when I was 44. When I was 43, I got married when I was 44. We had a son and leaving them behind. We never did the three month touring that the big guys would do. were usually at the tropics to be able to bring people with you. But we would do is when we first got together we would do six weeks. Once my son was born, we would stop at 25 days and that diminished over time. I will say I got divorced in 2002 and Eric in 2014, contract and Lou Gehrig’s disease from now From 2004 on for 10 solid years, I did nothing but five days every two weeks. Leave on a Wednesday play Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Go home on Monday. Nine days home, five days out, nine days home, five days out, lather, rinse, repeat.

Hal InPhilly  49:17

We’re out of the five days out.

Dan Navarro  49:20

We would go wherever we would fly to Chicago do five shows around the area, go to Minnesota do five shows around the area go to DC to five shows around the area, Denver, Phoenix, upstate New York, New England, Seattle, Texas, but we would go out for five day runs because his stamina couldn’t handle doing more than that. And I also it also meant that I didn’t have to prevail upon my ex wife to do several weeks and jeopardize blowing a stinky into the custody arrangement. I toured on my free time in a 50-50 custody arrangement. So we would trade off weeks and I would do five days on my week. Free, a free so I was a full time half time dad after divorce. My son didn’t have to want for me because he didn’t see me when he was normally not going to see held as your son now. He’s 23 He lives in New York City. He graduated NYU a year ago. I will say my divorce went way better than my marriage. My ex wife and I are really good friends. We raised him well, because we prioritized his needs. And changing touring was prioritizing his needs rather than saying, sorry, I got to be out for three weeks. And she had to have been for three weeks in a row. And then me having him for three weeks in a row would have been tough.

Hal InPhilly  50:38


Dan Navarro  50:39

Plus, and if I wouldn’t do that, it’s like, Okay, you got him three weeks in a row. And now we’re going to trade weeks and suddenly the balance was tipped, and it was important for me to do 50-50

Hal InPhilly  50:47

Any music in your kid?

Dan Navarro  50:51

He’s very musical. He plays guitar and bass. He plays baseball and he plays guitar, but he chose he wants to be a filmmaker so he got his degree in screenwriting from NYU. He’s still plays, but he’s really a writer, and a really good one. He only just started singing a couple of years right before he graduated college last year he took, he took a voice class at NYU with my dear friend, Janice Pendarvis, sang with Sting and Bowie and everybody. And, you know, he was looking for voice lessons. And I went, you know, my friend, Janice teaches at NYU, and you’re going there. So I asked her, she goes, Yeah, I teach classes in NYU. So he took it. So basically, we didn’t pay for it. He took a class for credit.

Hal InPhilly  51:31

Killer. What a deal!

Dan Navarro  51:33

Yeah, he’s a good one. But like I said, you know, these elements of life dictate how we can do this. And so there were compromises that got made but the compromises got made on the amount of free time I had, not in how I dealt with my family. People would say, Well, how do you do this? I don’t sleep much. I sacrifice sleep I sacrificed. for 10 years, I didn’t have any more than four days a month of true free time at home. So I didn’t date for a long time, because it just wasn’t around. I would date somebody and go, yeah, I’ll see you in a month and a half. As it is. I see somebody now who lives in Florida. And we manage to get together about once a month. And that’s what we do is very difficult. But anyway, that’s, you know, so you make the compromises, but the compromise it’s not going to be made is quitting for reasons other than the desire to quit, and I don’t have that desire to quit yet, so I keep doing

Hal InPhilly  52:28

it. No, as a matter of fact, I was impressed by when you played it, the living room. He did the entire thing without a physical intermission.

Dan Navarro  52:36

I played straight through I actually like intermissions really more to you know, sell booze at the clubs or some merchandise.

Dan Navarro  52:44

Laura requested that we go straight through so didn’t go too late which was fine with me. The other thing and this is unusual for guys my age who are doing this is I don’t like sitting when I play.

Hal InPhilly  52:55

I’m the same way I don’t I can’t play so my down.

Dan Navarro  52:57

Yeah, I don’t like sitting when I play It’s kind of important to the energy level to me to stand. I can do it. It’s just not as much fun for me as static. And so that’s what I do. And last night I wound up doing two one hour sets. The guy requested a third he was paying us handsomely. We did a third. That was just covers and then afterwards, I did the unplugged thing for about 40 minutes. So I, I had a long night.

Hal InPhilly  53:22

Yeah, I call that pulling a Springsteen.

Dan Navarro  53:26

Exactly. And I’m not complaining. Anyway, my brother, I’m at the house concert.

Hal InPhilly  53:22

All right, Dan, don’t fuck up.

Dan 53:40

You got it. (Laughs)


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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