The multi-talented Hugh Laurie will be appearing in Seattle this Friday. No, his visit has nothing to do with the Seattle International Film Festival. While many fans know him best for his acting chops in his award-winning role as the cynical curmudgeon Dr. Gregory House in House, he’s also a talented musician.
Laurie released his second blues album, Didn’t It Rain, last year. A fan of the blues since childhood, he pours his heart and soul into renditions of classic Big Easy/American blues songs and saloon standards like “One For My Baby.” He lovingly calls the songs his step-children, and the opportunity to sing them; a dream. Who knew a Brit could belt the blues like he was born on the bayou? He’s pretty darn good at it, too.
That brings us back to the reason for his visit. Laurie will be singin’ the blues with The Copper Bottom Band on Friday, May 23 at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are still available.
I got the chance to chat with Laurie about his transition from acting to singing, his upcoming project (hint, it involves George Clooney!) and ask a classic Seattle question.
Most people know you from the TV show House, but you are quickly making a name for yourself in the blues music scene. How did a guy from England discover New Orleans blues music?
I just loved it from the very first moment I heard it. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. I heard a song on the radio, and I thought, this is the music of the gods. This is what I want to hear and play and be around all my life, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve had another job as well, but this is the thing I’ve loved since I was a kid and will love to the day I die... which could be next Thursday. I don’t know, but however long it is, I’m gonna love it.
What Inspired your latest album, Didn’t It Rain?
It’s different in character to the first album (Let Them Talk). The first album was a dozen songs that I’ve loved all my life, and it was that simple. That was the intention, just to express my love for those songs. The second one, I wanted to be a little more romantic. Instead of just a bunch of guys hammering out tunes, I wanted it to be a dialogue between men and women.
Is there an interesting story behind any of the songs you chose for the album?
We do a tango because we went to Argentina. We saw some incredible dancing and heard some incredible tango playing, and we just thought, we have to do one of these. That’s basically how I got to meet the wonderful Gaby Moreno who sings in the show.
What can people expect when they come to see your live show?
I hope they will do all those things that you’re supposed to do; laugh, cry, dance and all that stuff. We’ve done 150 shows or so now, and I was always keen that the show shouldn’t be a recital or an execution of an album, say. I wanted it to be dramatic and funny and exciting; for it to be a real show. That’s what I want. Hand over heart, I can say it is that.
For your acting fans, can we expect any new projects in the future?
I have made a movie for Disney. We finished about a month ago. A movie called Tomorrowland with George Clooney, which I just heard this morning will not be coming out until May of next year. So, there will be close to a year of post-production.
If you could only continue with one career for the rest of your life, music or acting, what would it be?
Oh my God, I would pick music. I would definitely pick music. Some people may say that’s because it’s so new to me. I still feel like I’m 10 years old. I’m meeting my heroes. I’m playing music with my heroes. This is just sort of the greatest adventure of my life. It’s possible, I suppose, after a few years I’ll settle down and see it in a more sober light; but right now, right in this moment, I can think of nothing better on this Earth to do. I’m incredibly lucky to be doing it. It’s an honor, to be honest. It’s an honor.
Since we’re in Seattle, I have to ask, how do you take your coffee?
I take it incredibly strong and incredibly black. A triple espresso, that would be my first order. I know a lot of people like this frothy milk thing, but that’s not for me. I like it strong and black. I like to be able to tip the cup and wait a couple seconds before the coffee moves. That would be my ideal.