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Keyboardist Chuck Leavell Says the Stones Tour Is...

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Rumors, rumors, rumors. They are fodder for the machine we call Tinseltown and keep those wagging tongues well occupied. As tantalizing as they might be and despite the official announcement of GRRR! with its painted gorilla on the cover, the Rolling Stones have yet to officially confirm their 50th-anniversary concerts. Even against the backdrop of Rolling Stone magazine and Billboard both independently reporting that the band has booked November venues, the fact remains we can hope and I can ask, but we still don't know.

In a sit down, let's-get-your-rocks-off discussion with iconic keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who is most known as the guy who tickles the ivories for The Stones, I also learned he has worked with the likes of John Mayer and has a certain attraction to the bygone sounds of 1930s, '40s and '50s blues.

Joshua Estrin: You have spent over three decades in the music industry. Does it feel that long?

Chuck Leavell: I know it might sound like a cliché, but the time has flown by and yet it also feels timeless. I have seen so much life and I am grateful for all the combined experiences... But when did these 30 years happen?

JE: Tell me more about your love of the blues?

CL: My son-in-law gave me a collection of songs and I basically drove around in my pick up truck and fell in love with what I was hearing. So much so that I kept listening and decided to do an album, Back to the Woods. I'm more than just a Stoner, ya' know.

JE: You are more than just that guy from The Stones. So what are some of your other passions?

CL: I have been called a lot of things, the nicest of which is an environmentalist or enviropreneur, and I'm not sure exactly what that means but I know I care a great deal about the planet, about the future and the possibility that if we don't do something right now things might not be what we expect. I want America to wake up and so I took it to the Internet in 2009 with the Mother Nature Network. It's a place where real people can get real answers about the environment. It 's a clearinghouse of information rather than one cause or one mission. I guess I should also admit I dabble as an author and wrote Growing a Better America: Smart, Strong and Sustainable.

JE: I promise I am not going to ask you about the alleged tour. So what about this tour buzz?

CL: (Laughing) You said you weren't going to ask.

JE: Oh yeah, oops. Well I thought maybe I would just give it a try.

CL: Nice try. (Laughing)

With a wry sense of humor, an earthy warmth and charm, and a desire to create music that will sustain the soul as he also works to sustain the planet, Chuck is simply the kind of guy I would welcome into my home and beg to help me with my iTunes playlist as well as my overwhelmingly epic brown thumb.