Jack Silverman: How did you hear about the Refugee All Stars?
Joe Perry: I have a farm in Woodstock, Vt., and one of the directors of the movie lives in Woodstock. Two winters ago, we were up in Woodstock with Steven [Tyler]. We were spending the weekend up there hanging around and we saw this movie playing. We thought it was actually going to be a live band, but it was a movie. So we went in and saw the documentary. It was absolutely mind-blowing. It’s such an amazing story—we were speechless. We talked to Zach [Niles, one of the directors], because we got to know him a little bit, and he said they were going to try to get them here in the States. So as they were lining up gigs, they called because they were looking for some help to bring them up to Woodstock. My wife and I said, “How much do you need? We’ll write the check.” So we did, they came up, and we saw them play last summer. It was great. They’re an incredible band. And when you see them back-to-back with the movie, it’s stunning. We all talk about the power of music and all that. But when you see how important the music is to them, how it kept them alive, it’s amazing.
JS: So you’ve become a supporter of the band.
JP: I’ve been trying to help out, talking about them in interviews, things like that. When I found out we were going to be in town at the same time, I just wanted to get out there and wave the flag a little bit.
JS: You’re playing Nashville the night before the Refugees’ Belcourt show. Will you stay and see them play?
JP: Yes, we’re going to stay and see them play. We’re looking forward to it. They have their more modern style of music, the reggae-influenced music. But then they come out and do an acoustic set, more traditional African music with all the great harmonies, and it’s really amazing. We were blown away.
JS: Have you had any other experiences with them?
JP: I hooked them up with Gibson to get them some guitars. One of the guitar players is left-handed. Somebody had showed him a Gibson SG, and when he saw those extra frets he could get to, he said, “I didn’t know they made guitars like this! There are so many more notes I can get to!” So I had them find him a left-handed one. He didn’t know they made left-handed guitars. We got them some guitars, and I helped them out with whatever equipment they needed.