Little Feat members Paul Barrere, left, and Fred Tackett are touring as a duo. (Courtesy Emily Spires)

Little Feat guitar greats revive ‘70s tunes in new ways

On the 1977 live album “Waiting For Columbus,” Little Feat was a juggernaut, thanks to the twin guitar assault of Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett. “We were like a train coming at you,” says Barrere, currently touring in the more intricate, acoustic duo Barrere & Tackett, playing re-imagined catalog chestnuts (like “Old Folks Boogie” and “Down on the Farm”) and recently co-written tunes as well. “We’ve gotten to go to a lot of places that Little Feat wouldn’t have gone to, like pubs in London and all over Japan and Spain. And we still rock it, but we can really get into the songs, and tell stories about where they come from.”

You did session work for many diverse artists in the late ‘70s — Little Feat members seemed to be everybody’s favorite studio band.

Well, that was during the time when I wasn’t as bright as I am now. I was just kind of intoxicated, in a lot of ways. And that’s how my liver went south on me — my drug use, And cocaine always begged for alcohol to rein it back. So it was overindulgence and what have you, until I wound up with Hep C, and it took me a couple of years to beat that. But then they found a tumor in my liver, and two years ago they put some isotopes in the tumor and arrested it. But then again, I’m almost 69, so it’s just part of getting old. But thank goodness I’m getting old, you know?

How was it backing Robert Palmer on his brilliant early dub-influenced solo work?

That was a hoot. It was a lot of fun working with Robert. We recorded half of his “Pressure Drop” album in Maryland, while Little Feat was recording “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” Then Richie (Hayward, late band drummer) and I got to play on “Some People Can Do What They Like,” too.

How did you get a tropical feel in Maryland?

Music is universal. I’ve recorded some amazing reggae right here where I live, in Los Angeles. We’re players, you know? And it’s all about the players. When I joined the group, Lowell George said, “Rule No. 1, there are no rules. We will do any kind of music at any time, as long as it’s authentic.” And that allowed me to write a country song, “Missing You.” I never would have come up with something like that if somebody had not told me, “The sky’s the limit.”

What important lessons have you learned?

Like Richie used to say, “Don’t sweat the petty stuff. And don’t pet the sweaty stuff!”

Barrere & Tackett
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 12
Tickets: $29 to $59
Contact: (510) 238-9200,

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