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Bill Payne, brings “Tracing Footsteps” to Missoula an Interview

Check out this great interview and article about Bill Payne's "Tracing Footsteps" Tour in Missoula's "Lively Times", written by Wilbur Rehmann, below or on their web site.


Bill Payne, of Little Feat fame, brings “Tracing Footsteps” to Missoula

Published: April 29, 2013

Keyboard player Bill Payne shares songs, stories and photos at the Top Hat.

By Wilbur Rehmann

Western Montanans are in for a musical treat when Little Feat’s founding keyboardist, Bill Payne, plays a concert at the Top Hat in Missoula on Wednesday, May 21.

“Musicians are a special breed and a good community of people,” says Payne, who lives in the Paradise Valley and will share the stage with the Bozeman-based band, The Hooligans. “Montana’s a good, creative place for me.”

Payne – considered by many piano rock musicians, including Elton John, to be among the best – likes to express what he sees with his playing, and also with his photography. In Missoula he’s stepping out with his solo show, “Tracing Footsteps,” that shares some of all of it – what he’s experienced on the road and what he’s seen through the lens of his camera.

“I call this tour ‘Tracing Footsteps’ because I have been following different threads in my life, from music to photography, and all the people I’ve met who have been a part of my life all along the way,” he says.

Besides Payne and the Hooligans, the show will also include some eyewitness stories by Grateful Dead biographer and publicist Dennis McNally. “Dennis will join me and talk a little about life with the band and tell a few stories,” he notes. “And I will be playing a lot of music, solo and with the Hooligans.”

He has about 15 songs worked up for the tour, including a new tune written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, titled “Seventh Daughter,” as well as plenty of Feat fan favorites.

Little Feat began in 1969 as a collaboration between Payne and guitarist Lowell George, who had recently been fired by Frank Zappa from the Mothers of Invention. The group went on to become hugely popular and recorded numerous hit albums including Dixie Chicken and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.

In addition to his long tenure with Little Feat, Payne has spent 40 years playing keyboards with people like Jimmy Buffett, the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger and James Taylor. In addition to his trademark barrelhouse blues piano, he is noted for his work on the Hammond B3 organ.

Payne is also an accomplished songwriter whose credits include co-writing the Little Feat classic, “Oh, Atlanta.”

Bill Payne, left, with the Hooligans

He and the Hooligans have played more than 40 shows together, and join forces “whenever I get time off from Little Feat and can work in a gig with them somewhere in the region.” They’ve been recording an album over the past year, slated for release later this summer.

Tom Garnsey of the Hooligans, and also of Vootie Productions, says he first met Payne at a restaurant in Bozeman. They struck up a conversation and Garnsey invited him to sit in on one of the Hooligans’ gigs.

“We are thrilled to be playing with Bill – one of the giants of the piano and keyboard,” says Garnsey. They’ve also been writing some songs together, including “If I Had a Mind to“ and “Devil in Your Smile.” Garnsey says both tunes will appear on the new album and are apt to be part of the Missoula play list.

At 64 years old, Payne isn’t slowing down. Instead, he seems to be forging ahead with storytelling and music. “I’m playing with three bands right now,” he says.

In recent years, Payne has turned to photography as another outlet for his creative energy and that, too, will be on exhibit at the Top Hat show. His images include stunning color and black and white photos from his travels around the world, including many shots of landscapes and people in Montana and around the Paradise Valley, where he bought a house and some acreage in 1980.

“I’ll also be answering questions that people bring to the shows,” Payne says. “I’m looking forward to it.”

If you want to hear classic rock ’n roll, played by someone who helped shape it, then be sure and catch the show at the Top Hat.

Tickets are $20; call 542-0077 or visit Learn more about Payne at