By Michael Aushenker
As captain of the roots revival act Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars, singer-songwriter Jonny Kaplan has found much inspiration in predecessors The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.
In an unfortunate turn in 2007, Kaplan emulated Dylan circa 1966 when the avid motorcyclist got into a horrible accident following the release of his group’s third album, “Seasons.”
It took months for the 20 bones he broke to heal while the collision emotionally flung him down a dark rabbit hole.
But a blessing emerging from this horrendous accident was when Lazy Stars keyboardist Rami Jaffee offered Kaplan use of his recording studio, Fonogenic in Van Nuys, to create his band’s album “Sparkle and Shine,” released in late last month.
Now, Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars are back on their feet and performing Tuesday at Piano Bar in Hollywood.
“Jonny’s always had a knack for finding great players and letting them fly with his songs,” Jaffee said. “That’s what sets him apart from most songwriters I’ve worked with. It really shows when the Lazy Stars play.”
Jaffee should know. Organist for Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters and a founding member of Jakob Dylan’s The Wallflowers, he rounds out a band of musicians on “Sparkle and Shine” who have amassed amazing credits.
Dave Krusen is a former drummer for Pearl Jam.
Alternate keyboardist Adam MacDougall joined The Black Crowes in 2007.
Violinist Jessy Greene, who also plays with Foo Fighters, has worked with Pink and singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy in his bands Wilco and Golden Fog.
Bassist Brad Smith is a founding member of Blind Melon.
Jaffee’s girlfriend, actress Daryl Hannah, also sings on two “Sparkle and Shine” tracks.
Kaplan has worked with artists Wilco, The Wallflowers, Kings of Leon, Lucinda Williams and Keith Richards.
The Philadelphia native came to Los Angeles to break into the music industry and currently lives on a sailboat in Marina del Rey.
“It is an incredible way to live close to nature in one of the biggest cities in the world,” Kaplan said. “The only con for me … is no bathtub!”
Kaplan, who has toured throughout the world and was performing in Buenos Aires earlier this week, likened the Marina lifestyle to “coming home from tour to a permanent vacation.”
But on the serious side, Kaplan said “Sparkle and Shine” signals a “maturity” and “diversity” that had eluded him on previous albums.
The barn-burning title track bristles with a honky-tonk energy and polish echoing early Stones and Wilco albums. Some of Kaplan’s songs have already appeared on the soundtracks of network and cable TV programs, including “Homeland,” “House” and “Grimm.” An episode of “Graceland” recently used “Sweet Magnolia Flower,” a cut from the new album.
“I dig his songs,” Krusen said. “They’re very easy to find the feel and, to me, that’s the biggest factor of what a great song is.”
Krusen and Jaffee promise much musical combustion onstage when the Lazy Stars hit Hollywood next week.
“I’m guilty for favoring live music, so if I go see a band and they don’t have fun, I’m kind of bummed inside,” Jaffee said.
Jaffee and Kaplan became musical blood brothers some two decades ago when their bands intersected as products of a scene that Jaffee helped cultivate at Canter’s Deli’s Kibbitz Room in the Fairfax district.
“We were coming up together in the early ‘90s, crafting our roots rock revival, side by side with his band Hummingbird and my band The Wallflowers,” Jaffee said of his Jakob Dylan-fronted group.
“Through the years, I’ve recorded on all of Jonny’s records, even from those days,” he continued. “The Wallflowers even stole his secret weapon, Leo Le Blanc, a pedal steel player who played with cats like John Prine in the ‘70s. We convinced Leo to play with us, as he was the magic touch on [The Wallflowers’ best-selling album] ‘Bringing Down the Horse.’
Jaffee is with the Lazy Stars for all their live gigs but was touring with Foo Fighters when Kaplan started recording the new album, giving Black Crowes’ McDougal a chance to do some piano work before Jaffee returned to Los Angeles to record his tracks.
In addition to praising Kaplan’s songwriting skills, Krusen said Kaplan also has a knack for keeping things fun.
“I’ve had a blast playing music with him so far, and I look forward to much more of it,” Krusen said.
Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars play at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at Piano Bar, 6429 Selma Ave., Hollywood. jonnykaplanmusic.com; pianobarhollywood.com