Interview with Peter Veteska: Blues Train Running: Video, Photos

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Interview with East Coast guitarist Peter Veteska & Blues Train: steaming full-bore blues, funk, soul and swinging good time music

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues people and culture? What were the reasons that you started the Blues and Jazz researches?

I grew up in a very tough neighborhood in Brooklyn NY for me Blues is about overcoming adversity and meeting life challenges head on. It is through that experience that I relate to the Blues. Blues is a guttural music, It’s about expressing a feeling despair or jubilation through music. There’s a simplicity to Blues which makes it challenging. Jazz however is a different skill set They are both improvisational. So, for me, fusing the two genres works It’s important to push the boundaries with music other you’re just doing what’s already been done.

How do you describe your songbook and sound? Where does your creative drive come from?

Our songbook consists of originals and covers. Each song is inspired by different things for example Alibi is about me growing up on the streets of NY when I was a teenager. The previous album title is a variation of “Shaken but not stirred’ So I changed the last word to deterred. It addresses my attitude when people criticize our musical approach, some feel that we’re not pure blues, in which I respond, if you don’t push the boundaries it’s gonna sound recycled and rehashed. Let’s face it, if you’re coming out of BB or Albert your just not gonna do it as well they did it.
Fresh, vibrant & diverse …infusing elements of Jazz, Funk & soul Although my sound is guitar driven, I like to add sax & B3 to add more layers to our sound I make a conscious effort to avoid musical clichés. So, we usually cover lesser known Blues classics. When we record a classic, such as T-Bone Shuffle I create my own arrangement and the song takes on a new life. I put much emphasis on my vocals as well. East coast urban blues! Creative drive; I’ve listened to many artists and different genres. Jazz R&B Soul/funk. I get inspiration from numerous artists and life events. I like forging ahead and creating a new sound.

How do you describe new album “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side” sound and songbook?

This is my fifth album. The previous albums were pushing the blues envelope a bit. I was injecting some jazz & funk and found I was straying from the pureness of the blues. With this album, my approach was different – most of the songs stay true to the blues genre, and none of the tracks were previously rehearsed. We did them live in the studio with one or two quick rehearsals and on some tracks the rehearsal was the actual take with minimum overdubs. I want the songs to sound live and have energy. I also did away with my pedals to get a more organic and less overdriven sound – except for the title track. As for the song book, I wrote five songs and co-wrote the sixth. There was a huge change that took place in my life, and love and passion played a large part in the songs’ inspiration, lyrically and musically.

Are there any memories from “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side” studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

A few studio sessions stand out. I asked Mikey Junior to join us for two songs. When he arrived, he marveled at the sight of an original 59 Fender Bassman amp. He started playing through it and his energy level just blew through the roof. He used this on the opening track, “Am I Wrong.”

The second was the session with Delaware bluesman Roger Girke who contributed co vocals and guitar on “Heartbreaker.” It was just a fun session – the musical chemistry was great as we worked through different tempos and final arrangements. That session also included some stellar session work from drummer Alex D ‘Agnese, bassist Coo Moe Jhee and B3 legend Jeff Levine who laid down a live killer solo and intro. During much of the session work, our drummer Alex was battling a serious decease and still showed up and gave 100%, in my opinion doing some of his finest drum work.

What touched (emotionally) you from Ahmet Ertegun’s Heartbreaker and Willie Cobb’s You Don’t Love Me?

It’s usually the groove that captivates me. The Ray Charles version of “Heartbreaker” is such a great groove and I loved his vocal approach. That’s what moved me. I think it’s a mistake to try to recreate what a master has laid down, which is why I took it in a different direction. The Allman Brothers version of “You Don’t Love Me” is the version that inspired me as a guitarist in the early to mid-70s. This song for me was huge, especially Duane’s playing and the way they jammed on it. We opened up the song in the extended outro. The energy of the rhythm section picked up a few notches and the back and forth with Jeff’s amazing B3 playing was sublime.

What do you love most and what is the hardest part of writing a song? How do you want it to affect people?

Personally, I don’t find writing to be difficult unless I force the issue. Most of my recorded original songs flow out of me and are initially written in 30 minutes or less. I then work on them for about 2 weeks and fine tune every aspect of the song. My favorite part is once we record the backing track. Once that is complete l go back and do my finished vocal and guitar tracks. At this point it becomes very gratifying. I do however enjoy the whole process. Obviously, each song is different – some songs are strong rhythmically, others melodically. Above all, I want the audience to be moved by the song.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

More emphasis on the music and less about the image.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

We’ve recorded four studio albums and all four have been recorded at Shorefire Recording Studio. Mixed, engineered and co-produced by the owner, Joseph DeMaio. During the recording process you need an independent ear that can guide and advise you in an objective way. Joe has provided that for us and has become an extension of the band. You go into the studio with preconceived ideas, some work and some don’t. I rely on Joe for his musical input because his wealth of experience Is invaluable. He is respectful of the artist and knows when and when not to offer his opinion.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in the music circuits and roads?

To stay humble, be kind to the people you meet. Life is a big circle. Most musicians are very passionate about their music and don’t take criticism well, so don’t offer it.

Do you consider the Blues & Jazz a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

Jazz & blues do overlap each other, but they are certainly two separate genres. Obviously, there’s more complexity and skill with Jazz. Jazz players play all the chord changes when soloing. The first- and second-generation blues artist played mostly pentatonic scales while soloing. There’s a simplicity and yet a complexity to that style of playing. Many of today’s blues players play the changes. That’s how I approach it. When your soloing frames out the chords it has much more melodic content. Bending & vibrato is also very important in blues playing. Blues is certainly more feel.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I met many fine musicians mostly at various blues jams. Two people in particular helped me by giving me guidance & advice. Bob DelRosso who is an incredible blues guitarist helped me with my tone & discussing the importance of dynamics. His feel & pocket is second to none and always plays in the moment. Ernie W also gave me immeasurable advice by telling the importance of being a good rhythm guitarist and slowing down on my solos and landing them correctly less is more, this applies to most creative things music, art, architecture etc.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

As is with country music the blues music today is infusing other genres of music. Rock, jazz, funk country etc. some of it is done quite well but much of it strays off too far from blues. It’s important that we don’t dilute what the first-generation blues greats created. I’m all for pushing the envelope but we must respect the past.

What has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from local NYC blues scene?

NY Blues Hall of Fame the Criteria they used for induction was unexpected. I was inducted after 4 years on the musical scene although I was deeply honored I’m not sure if it was deserved at the time.

How has the Blues and Jazz music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Blues music as I’m discovering is like a big family. Weather on a local level or national there’s tremendous camaraderie and some very interesting Individuals.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

I think it’s fair to say at least from my perspective most blues guys & gals’ politics lean to the left. Blues emanates from black culture who struggled & suffered in America where there was a lot of racial tension. I see many of today’s blues musicians DJ’s & publishers speak out against our establishment in FB posts. I think they have an impact.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Witness live & in person a young BB King live at the Regal in that Legendary Concert. The passion & energy that he played with electrified the audience It was the birth of the electric blues.

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos by Patti Martz

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Interview with Boris Hrepić Hrepa & Antonija Vrgoč Rola: The bridges of music: Video, Photos

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Interview with Boris Hrepić Hrepa & Antonija Vrgoč Rola of Sunnysiders: celebrating their 10th anniversary with a new album titled ‘The Bridges’

How has the Blues and Rock influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Rola: Love for blues and rock is definitely a foundation of mine views of the world. The world around us is filled with numerous of different way of living, but the world of music, and blues and rock especially is one of the best and purest. That love defines me. Singing has been a great love of mine since early childhood. I was a member of several children’s choirs, and at home I sang along with the radio turned on all day long. The radio also played all night long so I probably sang in my sleep too. I learned a lot about rock from my elder brother who was a big fan of ZZ Top and other hard blues rock bands, but I started to listen more classic blues when I met Boris. I can’t imagine even a day without music, the music that connects people all over the world.

How do you describe Sunnysiders sound, music philosophy and songbook? What do you love most working with Boris?

Rola: The first thing about our music is not even music, it’s lyrics. Our first time in Memphis in 2011, when we passed to semifinals, everybody told us that our lyrics were fresh and funny. We knew well that in Memphis we can’t compete with our virtuosity and perfect blues, so we wrote original and different songs and we played it with our style. When Boris picks up the guitar, he always plays something new, composing a chord progression or a riff, and it is not always good and original, but when it is good I say ‘stop, this sound good for a song’. I’m sort of a filter for his everyday composing.

How do you describe “The Bridges” sound and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

Hrepa: I recorded 18 albums in my rock and blues career, but this one was the fastest and easiest one I ever did. We, along with our friend and producer Leo, made a decision to mark our Sunnysiders 10th anniversary with recording an album The Bridges with lot of our friends as guests. We made a list of guest and then selected or wrote a songs for them. Almost every song was tailor written with our guests in mind, and with that kind of thoughts it is easy to write a song. We began recording the album in the beginning of November 2019 and finished it mid January 2020. The basic structure of songs was recorded at Sound Station Studio in Zagreb, while our guests did their parts in various homes or professional studios, located from Manchester to Shanghai. The music was, is, and it will always be one of the strongest, easiest, deepest and fastest connections between people no matter where they come from, how different they are, how old they are, what languages they speak and what skin colour they are. These connections are The Bridges.

Are there any memories from The Bridges studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Hrepa: The whole idea of album came after the last Thrill Blues Festival. The day after we took a trip to Split (capital of Dalmatia) with Manu Lanvin, a French bluesman and a headliner of the festival. We also visited our best man Miki who has a studio in Split where we showed Manu a song that was written with him in mind. He was thrilled, and he grabbed one of the guitars from the studio and recorded a crunchy riff and a solo. He said ‘Yeah’ and asked for more, but we had just this song in our new basket.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Rola: Last January, the Blues Hall of Fame member, British guitarist, singer and songwriter Norman Beaker and his trio recorded 18 songs for their new album at the Sound Station Studio in Zagreb. I had the honor of being invited to sing backing vocals and play tambourine on several songs. Especially focused on playing the tambourine, I didn’t want to fall out of the rhythm and and spoil the heavy groove that Norman, John and Leo recorded. I was sure it would take me a few tries until I got it right, but after the first take everyone was thrilled with my dedication and precision that they nicknamed me a Deadly Tambourine. The next day at a joint lunch as a joke they worried about my arm muscles because of the great enthusiasm while shooting tambourines. Couple of days ago in one review of our new album they wrote that I play mean tambourine. I like that.

How started the thought of Thrill Blues Festival (Croatia)? What is the hardest part of make a blues festival in Europe?

Hrepa: At November of 2017 I got a call from Darko, a guy from Trilj who is popular Croatian musician and also in music business. He had just read my book “I found a very good band”, a book about my passion for music, and there was so much about the blues in it. He came up to idea of organizing a music festival in his hometown and he asked me about a blues festival. My grandmother was from Trilj, so I know the place, the park, the river and the bridge, and I said this was a great idea, and I was sure it would work. It is not easy to make a blues festival anywhere in Europe, but here in Croatia is especially hard. It is easier in Norway, the Nederlands, France, they have a lot of blues clubs and strong blues scene, and Croatia is also at crossroads of western and eastern culture. The blues is here, but on the margins. The Thrill Blues Festival has a strong team of fighters, so we made a surprisingly good festival.

Are there any memories from the Thrill Blues Festival which you’d like to share with us?

Hrepa: There is a one from last year’s festival that I often retell. It was around 3 A.M., the afterparty at backstage just finished and I was sitting with Harrison Kennedy from Canada and James Perri from Chicago. We were tired but satisfied. Then, at the other bench across us, I saw a huge local hillbilly guy. He had a scary look, but he was just sitting and staring at us with a big missing tooth smile. He called me and asked me if he could take a picture with Harrison and James. I said no problem (who will say no to that kind of guy). After the picture taken he told me: „Thank you for organizing this! I never ever heard this kind of music, the blues, but this is the best music in the whole world!“ … And this is the best compliment I’ve ever got.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Rola: I wish I’d lived in the 50s or 60s. I love that period, I enjoy watching blues documentaries from that time, but right now I am missing everything not that long ago, I miss time before corona came, concerts, festivals, traveling, hanging around with our blues friends.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Hrepa: Mmm, a hard question. There is a lot of things in musical world that can be better, but I am doing my best to share a good vibe with my music and everything, and that is all I can do. I would like to bring back many great people and musicians who passed away but this is beyond my abilities.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Hrepa: When we were first time in Memphis, at the 2011 IBC, I joined one big jam at the Tin Roof Blues Club. It was a dream coming true, playing on Beale Street with Afro-American blues musicians. I’d waited my whole life for that moment, to grab a guitar and play. When my turn came I immediately started to play licks throughout the whole song. One guy from brass section, a trumpet player, leaned forward to me and told me quietly to slow down, not to rush, and that I have to wait for a signal from singer who was always the master of ceremony. I stopped, and I follow the singer. It doesn’t seem like a big lesson, but for me it was.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Rola: There is a one special moment in history of blues where I would like to be. I would set up clock in Delorian on June 26 (also the date of our son Tibon birthday, 1933, around midnight, in one special Chicago nightclub. I would lean on the bar, drinking whiskey, chilling and watching cutting contest, a guitar battle, between Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie. Sure, before that I would pay a bet on Minnie.

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos by Milka Grozdanic & Jerry T

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Interview with Lucas Spinosa: Louisiana music is here to stay: Video, Photos

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Interview with Louisiana Music Hall of Famer, Lucas Spinosa: a keyboard player with a remarkable talent for songwriting.

How has the Blues and Louisiana’s music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Being born and raised in south Louisiana, it’s music is a natural educator. I grew up being infused with blues and other styles from the south. It has helped me to embrace others and learn from diversity. Music in the south has become the foundation of my everyday life.

How started the thought of “Friends & Legends of Louisiana” project? How do you describe album’s music philosophy?

One of my closest friends and music confidants, Mike David, and I were researching new project ideas. We wanted to produce something that headlined some of the best talents in south Louisiana. Something that would really show off the melting pot of sounds that we grew up on. Luckily, between the two of us we had plenty of contacts. We were fortunate to enlist some of the best vocalists and musicians around. The album represents the diverse sounds and abilities of each performer. I wrote each song in particular for each vocalist and directed each player to enrich the south Louisiana vibe.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences?

I was lucky enough to meet Stevie Wonder when I played as a studio musician early in my career. He and I sat at the piano together and played songs from his album “The Key of Life”. I realized then through our conversations that music really was the key to life. I was able to meet a variety of artists through my sponsorship with Coors Brewery in the 1990’s. I was able to travel the country and perform openings for various artists (Tracy Lawrence, Tracy Byrd, Martina McBride, Ray Charles) which truly helped me to grow as a musician and performer.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

When I was a young man, I was told by my peers “to always try to play with other musicians that are better than you”; so, you can learn from them. To this day, I surround myself with the best of the best and it truly pushes me to write, produce and perform at the highest level.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

In 1996, I was fortunate to play a show for the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. The show included Tracy Lawrence, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles and others. It was such a great show and gave me opportunities to observe and gain perspective as a musician.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the traditional sounds of Otis Redding, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Conway Twitty, BB King … These are sounds that really define musical excellence. Some of the sounds today, in my opinion, are simply not musical at all. My biggest fear is those sounds will become the new norm and the true old timers will fade.

What would you say characterizes Louisiana’s scene in comparison to other US scenes? What touched (emotionally) you?

Louisiana music is here to stay. A lot of music scenes come and go. But the sounds of Louisiana … the New Orleans jazz, the R&B, the Swamp Pop and Rock ‘n’ Roll of Louisiana … will forever be in the history books. We here in the south have an emotional bond with our music and will keep it in tradition and not be moved by progressives.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Stay true to yourself, don’t try to be something you are not. Do not let the outside forces try to change you to something they want you to be. Each person is unique and should always be confident in who they are. I’m built from rhythm & blues, swamp pop, traditional country and rock ‘n’ roll; that’s what I’m made of.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I want my music to make people smile. If through my music I can make people fell good and be happy; it’s makes me feel full in my heart.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would travel to the future … I would like go tour overseas with the “Friends & Legends of Louisiana” band. Spread the gumbo of sounds throughout the world!

Interview by Michael Limnios

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Korona Blues in Sorlandet with guests from Australia and the USA: Photos, Video

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September originally set up a program with guests from Australia and the USA in Fiona Boyes and Heather Crosse respectively in addition to good Norwegian names like Steinar Albrigtsen and Monika Nordli, Nave & The Ghost Collectors and Jolly Jumper & Big Moe and The Jimbo Jambo Band. It was not supposed to go that way, but it was a concert.

The coronavirus led to cancellations, and it was unclear for a while if there would be any blues at Brekstad at all this weekend. But the gang behind the festival did not give up so easily. They put on a replacement concert, a so-called corona concert, at BarRock in Brekstad on Saturday 26 September. This was a double concert with Mats Nerli and Jolly Jumper & Big Moe and The Jimbo Jambo Band. Only 70 tickets were displayed at the door, and there was table service and full focus on arranging an infection-free event. The nightclub BarRock has for many years collaborated with Ørland Bluesklubb and stood out once again with fast and friendly service.

Koronablues på Ørlandet

Koronablues på Ørlandet

Jolly Jumper & Big Moe and The Jimbo Jambo Band at BarRock.

Mats Nerli

Mats Nerli from Istad outside Molde started the evening at 20. Mats was well described in the previous edition of Bluesnews after he played at Skjærgårdsblues on Veiholmen outside Smøla this summer. Mats delivered the same concept at Brekstad. On the repertoire were his own songs in Norwegian language costume, tied together with good stories. He was very well received on Veiholmen, but the concept suited Intimate BarRock even better than at the large community center on Veiholmen where the festival was forced to hold the concert due to infection control. Mats captivated the audience for 90 minutes with a small warning early on that talking during the concert was not so popular on stage. And from then on the audience listened.

Mats Nerli (pictured above) solo differs from his band Nerli There which is an americana / rock band that mostly sings in English. Solo, he appears more in the direction of a singer / songwriter. Both melancholy and humor are prominent in lyrics and performance. He should be ready for a larger audience, even though he himself says he is a little unsure whether, for example, easterners will understand the Romsdal dialect. There should be absolutely nothing in the way of that, and organizers across the country can be sure that guests will appreciate both lyrics, songs and performances.

Jolly Jumper & Co

At 10 pm, the trip had come to Jolly Jumper & Big Moe and The Jimbo Jambo Band. The band hardly needs any further presentation, and especially not at Ørland Blues Festival where the duo Kjell Inge Brovoll and Jan Erik Moe have been involved every year since the beginning. It will be 21 years in a row! Daniel Røssing on piano and Arne Skognes on drums complement the duo perfectly. The band delivers sky-high quality in several blues genres, and it was a playful set of 90 minutes where, among other things, Pengegaloppen by Vidar Sandbeck was also served in a light blues format. The boys were not allowed to leave the stage until an extra number was given.

It was probably not the big audience visit that the organizer hoped for, but the artists still delivered a fantastic concert. Primus engine and sound engineer Syver Srøbka said after the concert that it was a pity that people do not show up when you try to arrange something in the local environment that in terms of quality absolutely meets goals and should be to your liking. He still wanted to thank the attendees and the artists who really delivered this evening.

In the neighboring village Råkvåg there was the same evening a blues concert with local Blue Aspic, but since there was so limited capacity in both places (in Råkvåg there was room for 50), it was not expected that this would create major problems for any of the organizers.

We wish the festival good luck with the planning of next year’s festival. And then the blues jam, one of Norway’s best jam sessions, is back as well. See you at Brekstad in September 2021.

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Primus engine in Ørland Blues Club, Syver Srøbka.

Primus motor i Ørland Bluesklubb, Syver Srøbka.

Primus motor i Ørland Bluesklubb, Syver Srøbka.

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Interview with JW Jones: Blues has always evolved, and it continues to: Video, Photos

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Interview with Canada-based blues musician JW Jones, fresh off the heels of winning “Best Guitarist” at the IBC 2020 released new album.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I think I am a sum of the parts, so to speak. My initial influences as a drummer were really Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix before I switched to guitar and dove in to the blues greats like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, and then to the following generation like Kim Wilson and Jimmie Vaughan of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, Junior Watson, Kid Ramos, etc. There are bits of all of these guys, from Chicago to Texas and West Coast to pushing the boundaries of rock-blues. I like to bounce around from super traditional to more of a free-form, jam-band style, to keep things interesting for the musicians on stage and the audience alike.

Creatively, when it comes to songwriting, I usually write from my own experiences, but sometimes enjoy taking someone else’s story or perspective and working from there. When it comes to playing music, it’s about staying fresh and constantly bringing new songs and ideas into the setlist.

Are there any memories from new alum “Sonic Departures” studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

There are so many! This album literally has more instruments playing at one time than anything I’ve ever recorded thanks to the 17 piece big band including 13 horn players. What a sound! Working with Eric Eggleston to create loops from existing parts… pieces of horn lines, drum parts, bass lines, and creating what could almost be considered a song within a song as the intros to Blue Jean Jacket and Snatchin’ It Back.

For the tune Drownin’ On Dry Land, so I just said to the horn section “whoever wants to solo, let’s just all solo together and see what happens”. When you’re playing with pros like that, everyone knows that the most important part is listening. You’ll hear me playing guitar lines that are similar to what a trumpet played right before me, and you’ll hear the horns working off each other, and how it becomes a sort of organized chaos. Every time I listen to the ending solo section of that tune, I hear something new which is special to me. That was recorded in the first and only take because if we rehearsed it… if we had time to think about what we might play, it would take all the magic out of it. What you’re hearing there is a seriously inspired performance, and it just doesn’t get any cooler than that in my books!

Finally, having my wife Brit sing on the record, and sampling my then 15-month old daughters voice was really special and wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for recording from home during COVID lockdown.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Blues has always evolved, and it continues to. I am not sure that I miss anything, but rather celebrate the amazing recordings that the legends left for us, and be part of the movement to keep the music alive and introducing blues to younger audiences.

What would you say characterizes Canadian blues scene in comparison to other European and US scenes?

I have been very fortunate to tour all over the world, and the international blues community is an incredible force. We are all linked by the love of the same music, and there are blues societies in every corner of our great country as well as across Europe and in the US where it all comes from. Instead of comparing them, I think of them as all being part of the same team. “It takes a village” as they say!

What touched (emotionally) you from Buddy Guy, George Thorogood and Chuck Leavell?

It’s the little things that mean the most to me. Being on stage with Buddy Guy when he says “I hear you”. That doesn’t mean he CAN hear me, it means he hears that I am playing the right riff, an appropriate riff, a riff that shows the influence from the greats, at the right time. Or just hanging with him at Legend’s in Chicago, sitting at the bar talking about our mutual hero, B.B. King. Touring with Thorogood was incredible! We didn’t hang much because there were some tight schedules, but he was very kind to us, and we were thankful to be invited to join him on tour. I met Chuck Leavell backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in Quebec City, and we exchanged contact info. He’s been an incredible supporter since then, and what I love about him is that he always takes the time. He’s never missed replying to a message, and is one of the sweetest guys in the business. I hope to work with him on a live show or recording someday, but he’s a busy guy with his solo career, being a tree farmer and conservationist, and a gig he’s had for many years… being on-call with that little blues band from England!

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

It’s a slow climb, but it’s worth it. The most important moments to musicians and artists are always deeply entrenched in the music and art. Those are the times that our hearts are bursting and we feel like we belong, that we are loved. These moments are the core reason why we started this journey in the first place. No one learns their first song on an instrument thinking they’ll win awards or play on big stages. They do it because they are excited about hearing the results. It’s always about the music. It’s also important to pay it forward. I wouldn’t be here today without support of so many people… and I feel that it’s my duty to pass that on as they did for me.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Some musicians and songwriters are deep into the political side of things, and I respect that. I just want to play music, have a good time, and bring joy to the people. Along the way, if I can tell stories that resonate with the listener, that is fantastic.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

It’s November 5, 1966, and I am in the audience at the International Club in Chicago to see B.B. King. The live performance that resulted in the album Blues is King, which to me is the most soulful performance by anyone, anywhere, that I’ve ever heard. The chills I experience listening to it would only be amplified to a whole other level. What a feeling that would be, to see the King in his prime!

Interview by Michael Limnios

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Interview with Lisa Mann: My musical philosophy is to give yourself freedom … Video, Photos

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Interview with powerhouse bassist and front woman Lisa Mann: mastering everything from rock to rhythm and blues.

How has the Blues and Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

First, let me thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions! Blues is a music born in the American south, created by the black community, however it has become a source of pride to all of America. When I travel to the EU or UK and see how popular blues music is after so many decades, it warms my heart. It just goes to show how music is a universal language that can be enjoyed by all people, and how it can help cultures reach out to each other across the world.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I like to describe what I do as “Tough Girl Blues.” It was a fan that gave me that phrase- she had a playlist of blues female artists with that name, and she told me she had put my songs in it. I’ve had some hard times, and I have made decisions both bad and good. I have also seen friends take difficult turns in their lives, and written songs about them. So lyrically, I like to write about real life. Musically, I love to draw from many influences, from straight ahead blues to blues-rock, rhythm & blues and soul music, country and Americana, and even hard rock and metal! My musical philosophy is to give yourself freedom as a songwriter to play whatever you hear in your head and heart. I don’t know where that drive comes from, but it is definitely there. I would be very unhappy if I didn’t follow that drive!

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many amazing musicians. The best meetings are on stage. I’ve been able to jam with Candi Staton, Bob Margolin, Janiva Magness, Bobby Rush, John Nemeth, the late Frank Bey, Sugaray Rayford, and so many more. Sugaray Rayford is a friend, my husband plays bass in his band. He and his musical director Drake Shining have given me some wonderful advice over the past few years. Also, John Nemeth gave me some great advice at a large festival many years ago. I was working on a new CD and we ran into each other over breakfast. I asked him if he had any advice for an emerging artist, and he said to me, “Make the best possible CD you can.” And that hit me right in the heart- that was exactly what I wanted to do. I just want to put my heart and soul into the music and create songs that will touch people.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I am very sad to see so many of the classic blues artists pass away, so what I miss most is the people. I have seen Etta James, Koko Taylor and BB King perform, and have worked with many of our local Oregon talents like Paul DeLay, Linda Hornbuckle, and Janice Scroggins. It is very hard to see them grow old, or get sick, and pass away. But my hopes for the future are the people who studied the great blues masters, especially young artists like Ben Rice, Larkin Poe, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. My fears are that it will continue to be more difficult for talented young artists to make a living in blues music, and they will turn away from it.

What touched (emotionally) you from the late great Sister Rosetta Tharpe? Are there any memories from “Old Girl” album’s sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I didn’t know much about Sister Rosetta Tharpe until she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have a dear friend who puts together a women’s blues review, she suggested we do a tribute to Rosetta Tharpe. All the women involved, including myself, did a lot more research on her in the process, and now we are all huge fans of her music! She was such a spirited and fiery performer. She really let the spirit move her, and that is very inspiring. It is also inspiring that she mastered her instrument, and became very proficient at playing guitar. Especially since it wasn’t something women were supposed to do at the time. Recording her song “That’s All” was a special session at Primal Studio in Portland Oregon. Guitarist Jason Thomas, drummer Dave Melyan, and I recorded that song live, in one take. I usually like to multi-track songs. I had intended to track the music live and then come back and sing vocals again on top, but the engineer Kevin Hahn suggested we keep the original vocals. I messed up a few words, and didn’t sing some parts the way I wanted to, but it was spirited and lively, in the way Rosetta herself performed. So, we kept it as a live take, without mixing it down too much. It is very raw, but we were “in the moment” so it worked.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

When I was a young musician, I often had a hard time sticking up for myself. Sometimes young female artists get taken advantage of. Working with my friend Sonny Hess, and other women who have been in the business for a long time, helped me learn to stick up for myself, and also to stick up for my band. As a bandleader, you have to make so many important decisions. It takes time and experience, and often failure, to learn how to properly manage a band.

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I really want people to appreciate the fact that Blues music came from the African-American community, especially now. And I want white blues musicians to stand up for the black artists out there, many of whom are suffering, or their loved ones are suffering. When I was in the International Blues Challenge many years ago, I was competing against Lionel Young in the finals, who won the entire challenge. Before his winning performance, he had been briefly arrested by police in Memphis Tennessee because he was running down the street so he wouldn’t be late. He was arrested for running while black! It took a white fan to vouch for him in order for the police officer to let him go. All because he was running, because he was late! White blues artists and fans need to say that Black Lives Matter, not just because we benefit from their artistic contribution, but because it is the moral thing to do.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

That’s a hard question! I think it would be amazing to go back in time and attend one of the historic music festivals, like Woodstock, or Wattstax, or Monterey Pop. Or to see BB King Live at the Regal!

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Miri Stebivka & Kelly Ralph

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Interview with Rick Berthod: Meeting BB King & Albert Collins was life changing: Video, Photos

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Interview with Nevada-based blues guitarist Rick Berthod: High energy and soulful blues with Peripheral Visions.

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Music has made me into the person I am today. It has taken me upon many journeys, from my first guitar almost 40 years ago to when Rita King inducted me into the Las Vegas Blues Hall of Fame in June 2017. One of the best moments of my life. Music has defined me my entire life.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I would describe my sound as Blues based guitar music with some soul in there. It’s about the entire band playing the shit out of their instruments and about being in the moment of the music.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Meeting BB King & Albert Collins was life changing. I’ll never forget when BB told me “Just do what you love & people will see your passion”. Albert Collins work ethic had a huge impact on my life. Albert would drive his bus and you could find him under the hood working on the motor before a show at the venue or hotel parking lot.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

There was just something special about old school recording. All musicians in the studio, live recording, the warmth of analog tape, laying down tracks until you get that magical recording.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

The first time I opened for BB King… BB was booked for two nights in a row at The Strand in Redondo Beach. I opened for BB that first night and it was an amazing show! Later that night, we were in BB’s bus and he asked me if I was opening the show the next day. After I told him they only booked us for theone night, BB replied”I want you to open for us tomorrow”.

Needless to say, I opened up for Mr. King the next night and 3 more shows in Southern California. A highlight of my career and life.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would like to see younger people accept and embrace live music. Technological advances have changed the music world. The young kids of today need to experience the raw honesty of live music in an intimate setting. Backing tracks, lip-syncing, auto tune need to go away.

What would you say characterizes Nevada’s blues scene in comparison to other local scenes and circuits?

The Nevada blues scene is alive and well. We have venues where you can see new artists as well as famous players. Las Vegas has a history which represents glamour of Vegas as well as the hunger, pain and sadness that also exists on the streets here.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Magic happens through creativity and spontaneity. Success is achieved through communication and collaboration.

What is the impact of Blues on the racial and socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

The Blues, (as is all music) is artistic expression. Some think of the Blues as sad and lonely music, but it can bring joy and happiness as well. Music can take people to a place where they forget about their everyday problems & make people smile more often.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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Interview with Eric Hughes: Bluesicana Greetings: Video, Photos

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Interview with Eric Hughes: embodies the sound of Memphis through his live shows and award-winning recordings.

How has the Blues and Soul music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

My travels have given me an opportunity to compare Memphis music to so many other styles, and so many other places. No matter where I go, I bring some of the sounds with me from home. There is a saying here that goes: “It’s much cooler to be a musician FROM Memphis than to be a musician IN Memphis. Sometimes it takes removing something from its environment to truly see its value.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

Although one foot is rooted in blues, my music is not afraid to break boundaries of style, genre, and classification. I would describe my music as “Bluesicana”.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I have met, jammed with and learned from too many of my blues heroes to mention here, but enjoyed my impromptu guitar lesson from Honeyboy Edwards, loved meeting RL Burnside, and having my songs recorded by other artists- a particular honor.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the value and attention that music once had, when people really listened deeply to a recording or to a live show. I miss crowds of people dancing, and I miss talking to audience members- shaking hands, conversation between sets- without fear of getting sick. I miss performing for people who actually came to hear live music, instead of playing with their phones and talking loudly. I miss traveling.

What does “Beale Street” mean to you? What touched (emotionally) you from the feeling and atmosphere of place?

I have played around four thousand shows there, I receive mail there, I practically live there. It’s home. I have loved it since the first time I went. The sound of people, of music, the energy and vibe… I love meeting people from all over the planet who have come to hear Memphis music.

What would you say characterizes Memphis Blues Scene in comparison to other US local scenes and circuits?

Memphis blues is more varied, and thusly harder to describe. Memphis blues has a wider range of influences that other blues genres.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I want my music to be enjoyed, simply. I am not trying to change the world, but merely make it more enjoyable.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Hard work. The fun-filled few hours onstage are made possible only by unseen hours of hard work, frustration, and ridiculous obstacles: none of which the audience knows about (they’re not supposed to know about). I have also learned that your show has very little to do with how you think you’re sounding or how fulfilled you feel at the time; it has everything to do with how you make the audience feel.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I’d like to visit Beale Street in the 1920’s, when music from orchestras down to jug-bands were performing live.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Michael Bach & Steve Roberts

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Oslo Blues Club is up and running again: The rest of August, the club will run double concerts: Photos, Video

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Many blues clubs have not had concerts since the infection control measures were introduced in March, and most of the audience have only seen concerts on digital streaming online.

Some blues clubs have gradually had some smaller concerts, while others are in the process of starting the autumn season. Oslo Blues Club is among those who have started up again, despite the infection control measures that still create challenges.

JazzBluesNews had a chat with leader Rolf Johannessen in Oslo Bluesklubb on the occasion of the club’s first concert in almost five months.

– Our previous concert was March 7, with Southern Avenue, and after that all our events have been canceled, says Rolf. – We had planned a summer party, and our anniversary concert with Østkanten Bluesklubb has been moved twice. We were also not allowed to be in Notodden, where we live every year at the Red Cross house.

Today’s event is a kind of replacement for the «Trappa concert», which we have every year in Notodden. Then we rent a band that plays by the stairs at the Red Cross house, where we grill sausages and make a nice, free event for our members.

The rest of August, the club will run double concerts. There will be two concerts on the same ticket, with the concert starting at 15.30 and 18. 15/8 The Greens play first, before Joakim Tinderholt Band takes the last set. 22/8 it is Trond Granlund who plays first, before Vidar Busk and Marius Lien take over. 29/8 it is Håkon Høye’s turn, before Erik Harstad rounds off.

– We thought we would give a little back to the members who have been waiting for an opening since March, Rolf explains, and also give a job to the bands that have had their concerts canceled this spring.

What measures have you had to initiate to be able to arrange concerts that satisfy today’s infection requirements?

– We can have a maximum of 90 people here at Sosialen, and there will only be seats. We want people to buy tickets in advance, then we will have data for any infection tracking available. Any available tickets will be sold at the door, but I hope it will be sold out. I think people are craving concerts now. We on the board have spent a lot of time getting to know the current rules for infection control, and we have drilled the staff.

– We can only hope that people dare to go out, and that they come to a concert.

– Our audience is a bit over the years, and should probably be a little careful, says Rolf. – That is why it has been important to do things properly.

– Do you dare to plan ahead beyond what is currently set up by concerts?

– We aim to continue with our regular program. We have a Swedish band, Among Lynx, coming in early September. They are from what is now a green zone, so we hope it will go well. In October we have booked several American bands, we will probably have to cancel them. We have not received any official message yet, but they are not allowed to travel to Europe nor come to Norway without a 10-day quarantine. But we look forward to getting started again. When I meet members outside, everyone asks: When will there be a concert again?

Mr. Oslo Blues Club, Rolf Johannessen on stage at Sosialen.

Here, Rolf, also known as Mr. OsloBluesklubb, has to leave and work a bit again, the final preparations before this afternoon’s concert with the OBK favorites Jelly Roll Men must be arranged.

And if the audience has been waiting to experience a concert again, the band has also longed to be on stage again.

– We are really tired of sitting at home and not being able to play for people, says Kent-Erik Thorvaldsen.

Outside the Social Center, there was a queue of people already half an hour before opening. When the members eventually came in, not everything was as before. The joy of meeting good, old blues friends you have not seen for a long time was palpable, but unlike before, people did not meet with a good hug. The distance of one meter is kept as good as possible.

The Jelly Roll Men, from left Øyvind Stølefjell, Kent Erik Thorvaldsen and Thomas Grim Thorvaldsen.

Jelly Roll Men delivered an excellent concert, and showed in full why this band has become one of the club’s favorites.

While the rest of us heard good, old blues, grill master Terje Åsvestad was grilling sausages in the backyard. These were served for free during the break. and tasted really good.

And after the concert, Sosialen arranged a shrimp buffet; delicious summer food that tempted more people to stay a little longer on the shady outdoor terrace at Sosialen this warm late summer evening. Kent Erik was also tempted to play a little more, so we got a nice little solo show as a bonus.

With the measures that were taken at the “sausage party”, it seemed that the infection control was well taken care of. Everyone was showered with alcohol in their hands on arrival, and the name and telephone number were noted for any infection tracking. The social room has set up partitions with Plexiglas between the seating groups, and there is better space between the tables. Arrows are marked on the floor that regulate the queue at the bar and ensure that people do not get too close to each other. The audience also behaved in line with what is recommended, and it felt safe to be at Sosialen this afternoon.

The combination of real, live blues of the very best kind and a meeting with blues friends made it a wonderful summer evening in Møllergata. Then it is only to be hoped that the audience fills the seats on the club nights ahead, and again comes out to enjoy the live music.

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Kent Erik delivered an extra concert in the backyard.

Oslo Bluesklubb er i gang igjen

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Interview with Harvey Dalton Arnold: Music is maybe the most powerful tool in our world: Video, Photos

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Interview with North Carolina-native singer & guitarist Harvey Dalton Arnold: Passion for the blues

How has Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I was raised in the American south in the 1950s and 60s in a time of racial segregation and little tolerance for change or individuality. When my father invited a black farm hand to play blues piano in our living room one afternoon, that forever had an impact on me. I think I was 5 or 6 years old. I played blues and rock n roll from an early age eventually it led me away from my small town and into the big world where the people and musicians I’ve met have taught me to have an open mind, respect for others, and to try to be a decent human being to people that are different than you. Musicians need folks to play with, so we also learn to tolerate craziness, bad habits and egos or else we’d all be solo artists. LOL

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I think my sound is pretty basic raw and honest. I don’t try to dress it up or make it slick. My last 2 albums have been recorded basically live, so it’s pretty natural good or bad. I wait for the song to come to me; I can’t sit down and say I’m going to write. The spark or idea could come anytime and then it torments me until I finish it. Usually between in my head and a guitar. My songbook shows pieces of my life being blues, gospel, bluegrass or rock n roll. Our journey makes us musically who we are.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I’ve been blessed with great memories from opening for The Stones in Anaheim Stadium, CA to playing with Dickey Betts of The Allmans at Radio City Music Hall, NYC. But my biggest thrill may have been recording with Bill Szymczyk who had huge hits producing The Eagles. I was in total awe that he had produced ‘The Thrill is Gone’ with B.B. King. AND HE LIKED MY SONGS!

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I did 4 albums (3 studio and 1 live) with the southern rock group The Outlaws in the middle to late 1970s and each has a different producer. It raised my eyebrows to the totally different approaches to recording each one. Those were my most important meetings. My best advice was from a 91-year-old bluesman who told me to never try to sound like anybody but myself.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss hearing guitars in popular music and human beings playing instruments. There are some occasional bright spots, but it was much more real and with more feeling before the digital age. I hear reason for hope in young musicians honoring blues and pioneer rock n soul. My fear is that they can’t figure out how musicians get paid for their recorded work via the internet. They are struggling with that now.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

It’s a real fantasy that everyone in the music business were rewarded for talent and character and less on being manufactured into a star through technology and corporate politics.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?

I’ve learned the basics along my musical path: Be on time, be easy to get along with, play less than you think you need to, know when to shut up musically and literally and never spend music money until you see it in your hand.

How do you describe “Stories To Live Up To” sound, music philosophy and songbook?

Stories To Live Up To is a bunch of songs that I’ve written with the intent of kind of painting a picture or telling a story. I’ve been playing and writing mostly in the blues vein that I love so much, and I believe that this album is a fresh adventure for me. The album was recorded at Cowboy Technical Services Studio with Tim Hatfield, the owner engineering. We were all in one small room with no isolation, and we mostly played live, including my guitar solos and vocals. The record is not perfect, but its very human and has a spontaneous soul about it… I’m very proud of it and it was my most satisfying, fun recording experience ever. I look forward to supporting this CD with a video and live gigs in the future and my heart goes out to my friends in NYC as they and all try to survive the virus pandemic.

Do you consider the Blues a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

As a musician I consider the blues a form of expression. On the surface it seems like a simple form, yet it can convey all emotions. Some people hear the word blues and think of sad and lonesome music, but it came into being as a means to uplift the spirits.

What would you say characterizes North Carolina music scene in comparison to other US scenes and circuits?

The NC music scene is extremely more diverse than I think people realize. I don’t know how we compare to other scenes in the US, but you can find most any genre here in NC with really talented musicians.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of American Roots music from Blues and Folk to Southern Rock and Americana?

I would say the lines between all of these are beautifully blurred. If I had to categorize today’s music, I would have an extremely hard time.

What were the reasons that made the 1970s to be the center of “Southern Rock” researches and experiments?

I believe that the seed of all southern rock began with Duane Allman; it was his creativity that produced the Allman Brothers Band. In combination with Capricorn Records, which recorded a lot of great early bands, southern rock became what it was. The first wave of southern rock bands (Allmans, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, Outlaws, ARS) did not try to sound alike or duplicate one another. I cut my teeth on those bands and to this day include their music in my live sets.

What is the impact of music on the racial and socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music is maybe the most powerful tool in our world. It should be handled that way, never used to hurt or divide. Use it to uplift souls and bring hope. I do however believe in its use in forging positive social change. I’ve had an Alzheimer patient sing along with the words to a song with nurses amazed. It happened to touch where nothing else could. Music is a powerful thing.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I’d love to spend a day in Mississippi to hear firsthand the birth of blues music. From the singing in the fields (it was wrong, but it was real) to hearing a few minstrels along the road or buskers on a Clarksdale street corner. If I could end the night in a small joint drinking liquor and watching Robert Johnson or Charley Patton play, that would be just fine.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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Interview with CD Woodbury: World’s Gone Crazy: Video, Photos

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Interview with blues, roots, and rock musician CD Woodbury: Northwest’s best kept secret.

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

OK, before I get started on this question, this is a collection of some really heady and heavy questions, and I thank you for that… but some of these seem a bit out of my element, or at least I may be having trouble finding the context, bear with me… Let me refer to this one – “blues and rock counterculture” and “how it influences my views of the world.” …It’s 2020, eight years ago, just prior to being nominated Vice President, Paul Ryan listed Rage Against the Machine as his favorite band. He was nearly immediately reminded by Guitarist Tom Morello that he represented the machine they were raging against… but I bring this up in the context of the question because during my adult years I can think of few relevant rock bands that tried harder to represent any type of counter-culture, and few things more establishment than Republican Vice Presidential nominee.

So then, rock as an extension of American counterculture generally is thought of as the 1960’s to 1970’s with some extra years before and after. Rock and Roll itself is defined as an appropriation of the evolution of music from an oppressed minority in my country emerging from blues music, which I also have to address and acknowledge as a culturally appropriated style – any mention of which makes some people emotional and uncomfortable, and in mentioning may probably make my still barely emerging career more difficult, but here we are… I was born in late 1969, and I feel every bit my age. I began listening to music of the 60’s and the 80’s blues revival as something I found a bit more interesting than the corporate pop and rock between the emergence of MTV and the dawn of the Grunge era, but as a tie in to world view? This was either the music from the culture politically of the parents of kids my age (not so much mine, my Dad was into Swing and Country, my Mom into early 60’s Folk) and the music with deep and direct cultural ties to 400 years of black folks’ experience in America.

All that to say, while I love the music, it touches me deeply, and I’ve spent my life crafting my own art as influenced by it. If rock music were ever countercultural, it certainly isn’t today. So, I am an outsider of time for one, and an outsider of the culture of the other. I can talk about how deeply these styles touch me, and how I tie it into my own experience and by extension my own art, but I feel any commentary or observation from that viewpoint is a bit embarrassing and irrelevant in the face of anyone with a direct experience. It’s a long way of saying that while I’m proud of my art, I have to be aware what portion of it I’m a tourist, and this is right at the center of it.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

… music paths… important lessons… “Don’t let your dingle-dangle….” OK, I don’t know how to elaborate on getting near constant reinforcement of “be yourself” and “be true to yourself.”

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I sometimes point out that if I tell someone that I’m a blues artist, especially if they see me as a white guy, your typical immediate reaction is that either I’m a musicologist or I’m playing “biker butt rock” (Okay, less snarky: throwback, 60’s influenced blues-rock). I like listening to skilled traditionalists and I like listening to quality modern blues-rock and I have a deep respect for those artists who do it well. But I try to be neither, because I only know how to be me, and I’m not certain I’d really stand out and get anywhere near my potential as an artist focusing on that.

I believe that a big part of “keeping the blues alive” means keeping the blues a living music. I’ve spent some time in music school, and certain styles, like classical and jazz, are overall not considered “living” forms of music, even though new compositions are created all of the time. It comes first from “only this… can be this…” and from that point both can no longer grow, and starts to be learned in schools rather than on bandstands. I like to “fold in” influences from styles that have grown out of the blues – jazz, rock, country, funk, the music of New Orleans, back within a framework of the blues… and try to find ways to either add on or completely abandon standard forms like twelve bar blues.

Perhaps because of who I am, I might call what I do American Roots, but whatever you call it, American music is centered around the blues. I present myself and call myself a blues artist or “contemporary blues” because that’s the closest “pigeonhole” the music industry will offer me, and where I seem to find the most audience interested in what I do. I never know how to describe my creative drive or where it comes from. I often repeat the cliché “you don’t choose music, music chooses you.” Certainly, a part of that drive is that I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I love performing, but I have a hard time meeting people, and just “reading” people to know which personal interaction was formative or helped my career as an artist the most. Best advice… so much offered. The one bit of advice that comes immediately to mind was from my days in the US Army, where a sergeant marching my training platoon said “Don’t let your dingle-dangle dangle in the dirt. Better pick it up before it starts to hurt.” And I have to say, that’s one bit of advice I’ve had no trouble following.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Geeze, if you think my answers above have been long… I better pass on this one. As I am writing this, With COVID-19 raging, and my country’s complete lack of agreement even on the fundamentals of realty based on their tribal political associations… I’ve sat at home with no gigs for four months now. The only gig stories I want to talk about are “where and when in the world will I see one again?”

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Hmm… I make new music inspired by sounds of past eras. I’ve lived in a world where recording have existed for over a century with massive catalogs no one could ever listen to in a lifetime, and I believe good new music is being created all of the time. I don’t know what’s being missed when anyone is brave enough to search it out. I guess my hopes and fears surround whether artists outside of the mainstream, most successful, can survive and live. That the art of making organized noise is valued enough that people can dedicate their life to that craft.

What would you say characterizes Pacific NW blues scene in comparison to other US local scenes and circuits?

It has the advantage of Seattle and Portland both making strong arguments of having the largest Blues Societies in the nation, if not the world. Being real and honest, a big disadvantage to the region’s “scene”: it has to deal with being historically the whitest/least racially diverse section of the country, and how that relates again to more than 400 years of race in this country and the culture of this music. Being in the upper corner, geographically it’s harder to break out of or tour from.

Musically, it’s a good scene for innovators and people seeking a contemporary, hip sound: Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Cray, Curtis Salgado… In my opinion even the more “traditionalist” artists of the area like Paul DeLay from years gone by, or Johnny Burgin today have a certain more hip and urban vibe to what they’re putting out there. I would say whatever flavor of blues you do, the NW is Drums, Bass, Guitar trio central, too. Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, my touring act…

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

The impact of The Blues on the socio-culture implications of what? I, uh… I’ve been to college, taken some psychology, some anthropology, some ethics 101 level philosophy; I think even if I guess and correctly parse out the question, I wouldn’t come up with an answer that makes sense.

How do I want the Blues to affect people? I want them to feel. Maybe want them to think a bit as well. Think is a nice bonus, but definitely feel. How would you want any form of music, or really any form of art, to affect people?

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I don’t know if I would, anything from “A Sound of Thunder” by Bradbury, to light entertainment like “Back to the Future” would be a big ass warning not to go tramping around anywhere. Then there’s the whole “Terminator” style time travel, where you can’t even send clothes with you… not doing that either. Can you guarantee no Ill effects? Can I bring anything in and take anything out? Let me take ten thousand dollars back to 1959 and let me go guitar shopping for a day.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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Interview with Gregg Martinez: Bayou Blues, Creole Soul: Full concert video, Photos

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Interview with Gregg Martinez: A rhythm and blues singer and purveyor of the south Louisiana genre called Swamp Pop.

How has the NOLA music and heritage influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I live and I am based out of New Orleans, but I was born and raised in Lafayette, heart of the Cajun country so my heritage is that. The majority of Cajun people never move away from their native region- been that way for many generations. I, on the other hand, did relocate a couple of times and have traveled extensively both statewide and abroad, but that heritage was always a huge part of me wherever I went. However, the music of New Orleans has had a huge impact on me, especially blues and New Orleans funk.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I describe it as Bayou Blues/Creole Soul, which means Soul/Blues with a distinct Louisiana flavor and personality. My music philosophy is very simple. Heartfelt, sincere, authentic, organic music that tells a story and paints a picture. My songbook is very diverse: I am a product of my influences which includes most of the Soul legends (Cooke, Redding, Pickett, Aretha, Al Green, Bobby Bland,) but also an eclectic list of others including Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, Luther Vandross, Delbert McClinton… I have recorded standards such as September Song, That Lucky Old Sun, to R. Kelly songs, even a Merle Haggard song. My creative drive was always there, I don’t remember ever not singing. I started publicly at eight years old in church, but the old folks told stories of me singing well before that.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Meeting jazz musician Joe Ambrosia in 1984. His influence with a prominent booking agency set me on a new career path of national touring. Which led to meeting Keith Benson, session drummer with the legendary MFSB- the Sound of Philadelphia (O-Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Spinners, Patti Labelle…) Learned a great deal from Keith. Best advice was to treat everyone, no matter their station, as important, and no matter where you go or how far, never forget where you came from.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

First time at New Orleans Jazzfest was a dream come true, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was memorable, Festival International in Lafayette, LA with my heroes in front of thousands of friends and family. Opening for BTO in TX- crowd was farther than I could see, and opening for Bobby Blue Bland. Recording in Muscle Shoals, AL was also a dream come true.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Don’t get me started. I’ll just say I miss everything about the music from the past- today you’ve got rap.

What would you say characterizes Louisiana’s music scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

Easy one. Louisiana is the most musical state in the country. No other state has the various cultures that we do. Many states have no culture of their own at all. LA has several, and the music scene reflects it.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?

Everything is relative to the amount of work you put in. When I was in my twenties, I was mostly interested in the lifestyle that being a music artist brought. I didn’t take it serious or begin to work at it until mid-thirties. By then I had squandered many opportunities that don’t come around again. You need to have a vision for your career, set short term and long term goals, and work like hell to achieve them…

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music has had a tremendous impact on social awareness and pop culture. Two cases in point when I was growing up: Bob Dylan had a huge impact on raising awareness during the turbulent 60s that still resonates today. The Beatles changed the way young men looked worldwide. I believe music should inspire, uplift, invoke depth of feelings, and at times bring joy to peoples’ hearts.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Assuming you mean from a musical aspect I would say January 24, 1967- the day Aretha Franklin recorded her first hit I Never Loved A Man in Muscle Shoals, AL. By all accounts it was a tense, yet electric, and ultimately historic recording session to witness.

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photo by Gus Bennett

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