There are many reasons our great city of Nashville is referred to as Music City, USA, and one of them is the fact that musicians and songwriters from all over the world travel here to record. This month’s spotlight is on world-renowned pianist Jan Rietman, who has played a key role in the music scene in Belgium and all over the Netherlands from the late 60’s to present day. As a musician and artist, he’s released 7 albums, scores of hit singles, and produced some great award winning music. He’s also worked in Radio, Film, TV, and he’s a songwriter who’s toured all over Europe. Classically trained and given piano lessons from his mother starting at 6 years old, by the age of 12, Jan crossed over to Rock & Roll. The following is taken from a 20-minute interview done while Jan was working on his new album here in Nashville with producer/engineer, Bil VornDick. Meet Jan Rietman:
Q: You’ve been doing this your whole life. You started playing music in the 60’s?
A: That’s right. I went to music school when I was 6 years old and my mother was playing piano and she taught me and helped me. I went on playing music and went to the Conservatory in the Netherlands and got my first band when I was I think, 12 years old or something like that, and then got into Rock & Roll. That was a complete different world from where I was studying at the Conservatory, because it was not allowed, to play in a band (laughing).
Q: I saw at one point you were going to join a psychedelic band and your mom didn’t think that you should?
A: (laughing) That’s right, we had a small shop where you could buy chocolates and fruit and everything, and on one Saturday afternoon there was a van coming in front of the shop and there were all these people in the shop, and mother saw all these people coming in with long hair. Great guys because one of the guys was called Long Tall Ernie because he was about two meters long, and she ran to the back of the house and she said, “Hey Jan, one thing. You’re never going to play with those dirty guys!”
Q: That was Long Tall Ernie & The Shakers?
A: That was the psychedelic band Moan, and then I wasn’t allowed to do that and then they came back I think in 2 months and then she said, “Okay, I don’t think I can stop you. Go ahead and play with those guys.” and we played for 2 months as a psychedelic band and then we turned into a real old Rock & Roll band, and that was Long Tall Ernie & The Shakers. My first Gold record I got on the birthday of my mother and that was incredible.
Q: You’ve made 7 albums haven’t you, as an artist?
A: Yeah and as a producer I have 15 or 20 Golden records producing artists, and I did some instrumental stuff. I’m going to do a new instrumental again with Bil VornDick. For the first time after 30 years, I think, I made a vocal album again where I was singing again in Dutch. I did a lot of things. I did musicals; I did a lot of television shows, radio shows. We did stadiums, 80,000 seaters, and now I’m getting older and hopefully wiser. I’m 58 and I have the same fun in all the things I’m doing, musical-wise, as I had when I was 12 years old with my first band and that feels great.
Q: You’ve worked a lot in broadcasting?
A: I did I think 500, 700 radio shows, and that became a television show called Los Vast. That was with 20 bands at a time in 2 hours. It was the most popular show in the Netherlands, in Belgium. I did that and a lot of things with one of the most famous comedians over there, Andre van Duin, and I was the sidekick, like Paul Shaffer [of The Late Show with David Letterman] over here.
You can visit Jan at his web site at www.janrietman.biz/ or on Facebook, and you can listen to this entire interview at.
By Bronson Herrmuth