Dan Patlansky In Conversation Touring 2017 and Beyond

Dan Patlansky In Conversation Touring 2017 and Beyond

Dan Patlansky In Conversation
Touring 2017 and Beyond

BD: Morning Dan, great to see and catch up with you in Sheffield at HRH Blues and the opportunity to talk this morning

 BD: Dan Patlansky, Back in UK and Europe for an exciting tour. Latest single Sonova Faith from the award-winning and acclaimed album Introvertigo.  Returning to venues new and old favourites? With a new band tell us about your touring plan. Starting off at Mr Kyps with Ash Wilson opening and HRH festival you have hit the ground running

DP: Yes, back in UK and Europe with second round touring with Introvertigo.  Following the achievement of Introvertigo being number 1 Blues Rock Album of 2016 by the influential American website Blues Rock Review.  So we are back with a new band of session musicians from Germany bringing a different feel from my South African band. Part tour back at The Globe in Cardiff which will be such fun with Ash Wilson opening a great band, great songs the combination will be a good night of live music following on from Mr Kyps. HRH Blues was amazing great crowd and some amazing bands the atmosphere was really positive.

BD: Having heard your acoustic set at HRH which was wonderful, elegant, beautiful with lingering notes that I wanted to last forever; have you thought about doing more acoustic in the UK?

DP: Yes, it was fun. Acoustic is a different beast to playing electric. In some ways limiting with the change of guitar style. It is a challenge in the way you play and think about the music. As for playing acoustic in the UK; back in South Africa we often do the combination acting as our own support act. Yet to do that in the UK. Perhaps for the future; the logistic of travelling with an Acoustic rig as well as electric will be another travelling challenge. For acoustic at HRH I borrowed Big Boy Bloaters guitar, it was great to play and a big thank you to Big Boy Bloater’s loan of his lovely acoustic guitar. It was a different vibe when I played the guitar showing the power of acoustic.

BD: We all love to hear you get that special sound out of your Strat Old Red and is certainly how you continue to build your fan base. Tell us about strings, pickups and I believe you are retiring the beautiful guitar. How will you find a replacement?

DP: I play with twelve gauge strings, they are considered heavy, but I have always used them. I don’t just use them for the showmanship of the last number. I like the sound they produce. I use standard Fender pickup. For the last number, I turn my amp up to achieve sonic textures, feedback making it as musical as possible.  I always have the amp fairly high, I play loud which is why I have speakers facing the wings and turn them up which can surprise front of house guys.

Old Red not being retired just refining parts of her. Just the neck is being overhauled. The neck has become a liability, 1960’s Fenders used Brazilian Rosewood, this is now a restricted wood and can cause a problem at customs in some countries. In addition, the neck is getting tired and twisted. When I get back home from this tour I’ll be getting a new neck for the guitar.  A face-lift, not retirement.

BD: How do you keep the tracks we love to hear you play the sound is so fresh and vibrant when playing live? It is as if we are hearing the tracks for the first time as you add interest and surprises.

DP: This tour there is a new dynamic with the German musicians. It is though the nature of the music improvising. I may be playing the same song every night on tour, yes the melody, lyrics and chords stay the same but I go in different directions. Not always the way I expect, I grew up playing Jazz music the king of improvisation so every night has its own journey. Can be good or not that is the nature of the beast. It keeps the music exciting for us as musicians and puts a fresh breath into every night’s performance. We are definitely not playing by numbers, traditional blues is steeped in improvisation. I am just keeping that tradition alive and flourishing through my music.

BD: With a hectic touring schedule here, Europe and South Africa what are your plans for 2017 and beyond?

DP: Yes touring is hectic but always great to catch up with friends and fans we make on the tour. This will be the last UK tour focused on Introvertigo. I have dates in South Africa when I return. Then in June we go back in the studio with new songs, new ideas for my next album which will be released Spring 2018. Then back touring South Africa. We are also possibly back in the UK November 2017; where we could be previewing new tracks from the forthcoming album. So watch this space once dates finalized we will be letting the fans know.

BD:  You are back in Cardiff at The Globe, what makes venues fun to return to? Is it building the fan base?

DP: Yes, excited to be playing back in Cardiff. I love the vibe of the venue. Why return to venues, it is a bit of both the venue and the audience is a big part of the show. The Globe is a great little venue, great audience who have such a positive response. I love the sound of the venue, the guitar always sounds good to me on stage which is really satisfying. The Globe is a loud room, lots hard surfaces. It is a venue I will always look forward to playing. The Cardiff crowd are always up for loud music and to enjoy the blues.

BD: Thank you for sharing with your growing group of fans. We have asked you your fantasy band, what you are listening to in previous interviews. So today who would you invite to play with Dan Patlansky band?

DP: Dream scenario would be David Gilmore from Pink Floyd. Gilmore got me into music generally and in particular the guitar.

BD: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and looking forward to seeing you play live in Cardiff on 4th May.

Dan Patlansky In Conversation Touring 2017 and Beyond

 

Dan Patlansky In Conversation Touring 2017 and Beyond

READ what Bluesdoodles said about the TEN Doodle paw album  Introvertigo – We voted the album as the best Overseas album heard over at Bluesdoodles HQ.

Introvertigo with its carefully crafted lyrics that blend urbane wit and honest observation, this is blues pertinent to today’s lifestyles, not so much whisky and women more the corruption of power and social interaction. Ten tracks there are no fillers every number is full of strength and tonal power but there is not an off note or lyric.  

FULL Review – HERE

Dan Patlansky In Conversation Touring 2017 and Beyond

Erja Lyytinen Talking about Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour

Erja Lyytinen Talking about Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour
photo credit Laurence Harvey

Erja Lyytinen Talking about
Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour

 

 

 

BD: Hi Erja hope you are well, thanks for taking time to speak to Bluesdoodles, lots happening new album Stolen Hearts  released 7th April and lots of touring including the UK from 9th April

EL:  Really well thank you it is great to catch up with you again Liz.

BD: Before we talk lyrics, songs and touring how is life back in Finland juggling being Queen of The Slide Guitar with being a Mother

EL: Basically lots of balancing. Right now the twins are in daycare. Touring needs to be planned just organising life as off on a mini tour of Germany & Holland. It is all a rollercoaster ride often rather manic but definitely fun. You just have to jump-in and hope it all goes smoothly, often it doesn’t and you just go with the flow, that way you minimise the stress.  Society and others have high expectations, which we are expected to obey. That we are all brilliant multi-taskers. Well, sometimes you have to concentrate on one thing and let the rest wait. The twins are used to me touring I have been doing it since they were two and half months old. February was a period of intense touring across Scandinavia with 24 shows in 27 days it was rather manic, we got through. Sometimes when I am in Finland the children can come on tour with me which is fun. I have a nanny to help and the twins love sitting in on the sound checks, playing with guitars we have really fun moments making lots of memories. I am a musician, a rock star but when I get home after a tour I am Mama again. The secret is to be versatile and I am definitely super happy. So glad I had the courage to have children, continue my musical journey one thing for certain is three years on I am a different person motherhood has definitely changed me.

BD: Stolen Hearts, your tenth album. Has a different shape to your Live In London and studio The Sky Is Crying. With eleven tracks that shimmer with blues that rock. Tell us about the thinking behind the album?

EL: Tenth album is definitely not a scary place to be. My expectations through life was that I would record lots of music. In fact, Number 10 does feel a good figure.  This one feels like me, it is honest and a way for me to open up on the album. Reflects my life since motherhood and my life over the last two and half years has changed the way I look at things. I now try not to stress, not to be perfect. By the same token, I do lots of things and want to be good at what I do. On the album, this new feeling of relaxedness comes out. I now really enjoy being on stage, I now can open up and share. The album is very personal, the lyrics are heartbreaking stories. It is the end of a period of my life when I had the feeling that everything was going to collapse, eventually, it did, it took time to get out of that dark place. Music became my analyst where I could analyse my thoughts and feelings. This process deepened my musical expressions, now I am not afraid of being vulnerable, not afraid of being weak through that knowledge I have found an inner strength.

Erja Lyytinen Talking about Stolen Hearts and Being On TourBD: You took the decision to record the album in two countries your homeland Finland and then U.K. Was it the lure of Chris Kempsey at the State of The Ark Studios?

 EL:  We recorded the backing tracks in Helsinki, some of the songs I had recorded one and half years ago and I needed to give myself more time as they didn’t sound right.  We used Sonic Pump studios in Helsinki it is new with energetic young guys running the studio. Perfect place to record the backing tracks with the band. I wanted to take the album to the next level to give something new. Not just go to my home studio for the vocals and guitar, thought it would be nice to go abroad. I love England, I sing in English, so be good to have a producer who could check out my lyrics and pronunciation. It is so easy to phrase words that should be beautiful but mean something else English is so complicated with sayings and double meanings.  I spoke to Alan Darby who is the songwriter I worked with in 24 Angels, which has a brilliant video. He suggested Chris, I checked out his CV and was blown away what an amazing history behind him having worked with so many Rock greats including The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Bad Company. I contacted him and we started emailing, sent a demo from my home studio of rough over dubs. He instantly messaged back lets do it. He was so active in the 70’s & 80’s and the album was using lots of sounds from that era.

We went through studios and State Of The Ark was available it was cool a small boutique studio, with a homely atmosphere. It was an amazing experience from the first to the last track. I would recommend that everyone explores new soul mates in music it is invigorating.


BD:
  When reviewing the album, on the first listen what struck me was the range of tones and styles across the album from Heavy, brooding Rocking Chair (a new sound for Erja) through to the acoustic feel of Broken Eyes and the prog of Black Ocean. The diversity works there is a continuity in the lyrics, the emotional journey and the heartbeat of the blues ensures they all make sense.  How did you come to create such different sounds and take the decision to record them?

EL: Yes, you are right it is the power of the lyrics they give the whole album a sense of context. I had other songs left out these were the ones that worked brilliant together. The album is about sadness, heartbreak, fear of loss, frustrations. Into the personal mix there is hope, happiness lust and sex.  I cried when I listened to the whole finished album the emotions are so close to me they are personal.  I did for a moment consider dropping Broken Eyes as it is a different tone from the rest but then I realised that it fitted perfectly lyrically. The lyrics are the link but Chris Kempsey is the genius that mixed the album. The engineer that mixes the album can either kill it or make it. Chris used a mix of Pro Tools and Analogue a mix of old and new reflecting the essence of the album.  Old rock is behind the music, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. I decided to forget about the radio, I am not pop, so like the bands of the seventies if the track is seven minutes like Black Ocean it stays that length, I wanted the long killer guitar solos. It is my music, my album and it was a joy to work with Chris. The mastering done at Air studios started by Beatles producer George Martin; working with Ray Staff was a professional joy. What a humble, lovely guy who had mastered icons including Bowie.

BD: 24 Angels, a single from the album, how do you make the decision on which track works as a standalone track? This number Co-written with Alan Darby, certainly sounds like your vocals are flirting with the mic and blues guitar that rocks?

EL: This track was the second, the first single was the title track Stolen Hearts last autumn to boost my tour last year and highlight the forthcoming album. The album was planned to be released earlier with crowdfunding campaign but for various reason it was delayed that is the way often in the music world. 24 Angels is a story worthwhile telling to people with pictures. It is multi-dimensional with lyrics that are about morality and forgiveness; about doing something to someone or someone doing something to you and the resulting suffering.

In the video, a relationship ends in a fight with hints of him dying in a car crash. It is that mix of forgiveness and regrets. Whilst writing the lyrics I was thinking of people walking the last walk on death row would you be regretting, how much you would suffer do you understand all that when walking the path.  When I write I go to the very extremes. I have now opened that box and have for the first time explained my thinking behind my songwriting. This one I co-wrote with Alan Darby, a few years back he came up with the lyrics for the chorus ‘Bring me water, make me stronger’. He also put his emotions into the song. There were only simple chords before Alan jumped in and worked on the Erja idea. He made it rock more which really works. He is a sensitive guy with a long experience in songwriting for many including Eric Clapton & Bonnie Raitt among others.

 BD: With the album taking you on new directions where are you planning to take us on the next road in Erja’s musical journey?

 EL: Blues will always be at the heart of my music. I mainly listen to blues at home. But I like to make it modern for these times. It is more acceptable to do blues differently. There is a blues revival, with European invasion into blues music.  I will always have my own style, I do not want to go back for one thing, it is impossible to get the sound nowadays. I am involved in a Jimi Hendrix tribute in May already sold 1000 seats. The show will be a celebration of fifty years since he visited Helsinki.
In music, you meet people and we all know that Rock n Roll can kill you. You have to take care of yourself so take care of myself try and eat healthy. Returning home after 31 shows in 37 days where you have no time for sports. It is important that you take it easy and do exercise take care of your heart physically and spiritually.

Now I have opened Erja’s box I have a couple of songs in the style of Stolen Hearts and have some ideas for the next album but they are my thoughts at the moment. I feel really strong about my writing new stuff at the moment.

 BD: Having toured the new album, I believe you had a February launch date in Scandinavia.  Do you have a personal favourite that really works on stage in front of an audience?

EL: I have had positive feedback in Scandinavia, where audiences can be a bit tight on the blues. I did wonder if they would like the new songs, a different Erja, but they seemed to like my new songs the edginess. So the feedback has been amazing. Personal favourite Black Ocean.

Looking forward to being back in the UK for five shows including launch party at 100 Club, London; HRH Blues and a double-header with your own Chantel McGregor. Hoping to be back to do more later on with a longer run of shows.

BD:   Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what Erja Lyytinen track would you liked covered and by whom?

EL: Listening to Robert Randolph, his steel guitar sound is fabulous. Also, listening to John Mayer he is smooth, easy-going and Eric Johnson loving his new album EJ,

Who to cover my song What a question! It would have to be Stolen Hearts by Jimi Hendrix.

BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing the new numbers live at HRH in Sheffield.

 

ERJA LYYTINEN
APRIL 2017 UK TOUR DATES

Square & Compass, Ilminster
Sunday 9 April 2017
Box Office – 01823 480 467

The 100 Club
Record Release Party
Tuesday 11 April 2017
Venue Tel: 020 7636 0933
Book Online – WeGotTickets.com

Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion

Wednesday 12 April
Book Online from SeeTickets.com and Ents24
Venue Tel: 01903 366 017

Durham Gala Theatre, Durham
Co-headline with Chantel McGregor
Thursday 13 April 2017
Book Online: Durham Gala Theatre
Box Office: 03000 266 600


Hard Rock Hell – Blues Festival

Sheffield Academy
Saturday 15 April 2017
Box Office: 0203 287 4994

 

Erja Lyytinen Talking about Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour

Sari Schorr In Conversation about New Album

Sari Schorr In Conversation about New Album

Sari Schorr In Conversation about New Album

 

 

BD: Hi Sari hope you are well, thanks for taking the time to speak to Bluesdoodles, we spoke last year on the release of Force of Nature, and your tour now you are back in the studio and Deja Vue about to tour the UK again.

SS: Thank you for listening to me and supporting music. Everything is going so fast. I am trying to slow down and savour every moment. The reality is I am having too much fun. Last year there was so much pressure with the release of our first album. Now I am doing it all over again definitely trying to relax more and enjoy the process of making my second album. I have a good label with Manhaton and a phenomenal band so I am determined to enjoy the ride. I do believe that everything has a time and place and part of your destiny to get involved with certain projects so grabbing the pleasure of every opportunity I say “get on board, see you wherever the train goes”  BD: Sounds like lyrics of a blues song. SS: Laughing, let’s get together and write a blues song you never know where it will go.

BD: Before we talk lyrics, songs and touring let’s turn to the important dogs in your life, how are they back in Brooklyn?

SS: I will tell them that Aunty Liz in Wales sends her love. BD: Othello wags his tail in delight, sending a doodle woof to your three girls. SS: They are great, not eaten any furniture for a few months. When I get the suitcase out, they think they are going as well to the dog park or store somewhere exciting, they cannot imagine I would go anywhere without them. When they see the suitcases they look sad, Sophie sat in the suitcase shivering it was horrible. I am always really homesick until I am at the airport them I am looking forward to the adventure about to unfold.

BD: What were the highlights last year on the road with the Engine Room singing your distinctive blues-rock sound.

SS: Highlights, for me it is just the feeling of being on the road with this band working hard. The band are always enthusiastic, positive and ready giving one-hundred percent. We all care about each other, we are like a string family. The highlight is sharing our music, it is brilliant to be part of making the music live it can be a challenge but I know they have got my back. When I need a boost they understand, when I am exhausted they build me up. Travelling all over the world singing along to our songs brings tremendous rewards.  Innes and I smile at each other as we see people singing along. It is so fantastic and humbling to see people embracing the album it is a sign that the music has touched them. There is a video of Trish singing in her car, Black Betty connected with this through the power of social media and felt so honoured.

BD: Having performed the songs from Force Of Nature live do you have a personal favourite and why?

SS: Favourite, I love singing every track on the set list, with the exception of Black Betty that still scares the life out of me. The look of the set list varies depending on my mood, kick up the tempo with Demolition Man or cooling down the pace with Ordinary Lives. It is the diversity of the tracks that makes them so much fun to play live, they never get boring for the band to play we love them every time. BD: Why does Black Betty Scare You? SS: To do it right there is a lot of emotion, have to sing by taking it on, it is a painful song. I feel that pain when I sing my version of Black Betty. You have to go deep, I feel exhausted by the end of the performance.  Innes has written a middle section, a magnificent piece of music makes me cry, for me it’s the highlight of the song. Some nights I feel that I have not got the strength to sing Black Betty, Innes says okay, then I know I can just to hear his guitar. The melody is bright, the words dark they don’t quite match that is what makes Leadbelly great. The music is accessible to people and then if they wish can delve deeper into the lyrical content. It does not require you to do that, but if you intellectually want to the lyrics take you on an emotional journey.

BD:  Back in The Studio with Mike Vernon producing the sequel what is exciting you about the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Force of Nature? What does Mike as your producer add to the sound and shape of the album?

SS:  This time we are in the UK recording at The Riverside studio, it is awesome, with lots of the vocals being recorded in the same booth as Robert Plant, inspirational. Logistically it was easier to bring Mike from Spain. Majority has been recorded. The sound is a continuation, development from Force of Nature. It has been awesome recording as a live album in the studio true Engine Room sound. I am off to Germany to write a couple of songs. We have no working title it is just The Album, we keep listening to the eight tracks already done and cannot decide which one it should be the title track! Every time we listen we say this one, no this one we will get there.  We wrote the majority of the songs together when we spent time together in Spain the sound is more representative of The Engine Room sound, showing what the band is capable off. Those boys are fierce.

BD: What does Mike bring, is he part of the band or more of an overseer knitting the sound together? SS: Both he can step back, and be an integral part of the band. When searching how to treat a certain section of a song, example the keyboard groove, Mike will conduct, singing the part shaping the groove as a member of the band. On other occasions he will give an overview. He is the kindest most patient man, he never gets rattled he gives us plenty of room always. Then when we are struggling he will throw in an idea, what if you approached it this way. Mike has no ego, which is amazing when you consider what he has done and who he has worked with over the decades. He could have a big ego, be really demanding but no he is the most giving, generous of producers creating an open creative environment everyone can relax in. I always feel I am in the best hands, allowing us to experiment, push the boundaries. Mike is quick to tell us when we go too far bringing us back and preventing us from doing anything too obvious.

BD: Will you be showcasing songs from the new album as part of the 2017 set list. Are they different from Force of Nature if so how?

SS: Sadly, not yet, may do one in the sound check of this tour. The problem is someone will record and put up on You Tube before the record comes out.

BD:   Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what Sari Schorr track would you liked covered and by whom?

SS: It has to be Robert Plant, which track after some consideration Ain’t Got No Money. I would so love to do a duet with him as well.  At the moment I am loving my label mates King King, the music is so uplifting, it inspires me and I adore Alan he is such a great talent.

BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to Bristol with the mighty Northsyde at The Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival.

 Sari Schorr is back in the UK 

Sari Schorr In Conversation about New Album

Sari Schorr In Conversation about New Album

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge,
Memphis and More

 

 

 

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: Hi Kaz, the last time we chatted it was after the release of your last album….So much has happened in the Kaz world since then. Festivals, airplay and winning the UKBlues challenge

The rise of Kaz Hawkins Band continues since the launch of Feelin’ Good, the title reflecting the atmosphere that you create whenever and wherever you stamp your boots. Let’s rewind to the night of UKBlues Challenge run by UKBlues Federation.  Describe what it was like to be announced the winner.

KAZ: We didn’t expect to win because as much as I am bluesy the songs aren’t 12 bar blues. We went in not realising what was wanted, that was the frightening part. Then there were all the judges some I knew others I didn’t and no one was giving anything away. It was pretty daunting, it was run strict and I didn’t dare put a foot out of place so that added to the tension because everyone knew their place and what to do. We done the performance, I kinda burnt myself out with nerves, I am not a good one for these kind of things so I came out fighting fire and pretty much exhausted myself by the third song. So when I did the ballad I had to pretty much kick myself up the arse and say get a grip you have two songs to go calm down if you want this you have got to fight for this.  We went into the ballad there was so many things happening, I remember afterwards Nick saying, not experienced anything like it his hands started to sweat up and couldn’t play the guitar, well he did obviously. I had never sweated as much. So when it was announced we had scattered out for a smoke, hanging round the merch table, the bathroom really pretty much decided we weren’t winning. When Ashwyn, called out Kaz Hawkins I physically punched Janny, on the back of his neck just a reaction of disbelief (Kaz laughing as she recollects the night). I honestly didn’t think we would get through. The competition was tough, I really thought Wille and The Bandits were going to win they had put up such an outstanding set. As were Rebecca and Lauren we were all so nervous. So when it was announced I really couldn’t think anything at all other than except I haven’t got my belt on and I was being called to the stage. I run up as you know I depend on looking my best off stage with my hourglass figure chuckling and there I was just after a smoke lippy hanging off me. Then next minute had to make my way to the stage it was a surreal moment. Then trying to get from the merch stall to the stage when my name was called out, people just launched on me, pulling me and it was just crazy. Then we got on stage and we had to do all the procedures, me and the boys kept looking at each other in disbelief.  Once I started singing it dawned on me what had just happened we opened up with Feelin’ Good that just set it off. I could let it rip, let go of all the tension and just perform. We had already got through, I can remember dropping down at one point I was still scabbed on one knee two months later because I had dropped that hard, I think it was just exhaustion.

Don’t forget we were mid-tour when the challenge this was happening, so we had been on the bus for week/two weeks before we were exhausted but match fit.

 

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: What were the challenges following the win, Crowdfunding and organising the band to play first in Memphis with all the added expectation of the first British Band to play at The Blues foundation International Blues Challenge (IBC) with all that expectation and the forthcoming European Blues Challenge (EBC)  in Horsen Denmark. Getting the band into competition rather than touring mode etc.

KAZ: Having already done the UK Blues challenge we were in that competition mindset. It was only then we realised that there would be different timings. We thought we would do in Memphis exactly the same as in Wolverhampton but found out the quarter finals were only Twenty-five minutes then if you got through the semi-finals were thirty minutes and if made it to finals it was a twenty-minute set. When we got home it was rehearsals and plan three different sets so that was the hard thing trying to give our best in that space of time. Thirty minutes is a great time it’s perfect don’t need anymore but any less and you have to start to sacrifice your great songs. The crowdfunding was running alongside the rehearsals and we were constantly thinking about it. We were in the zone for it. We were all raising money as well, begging the fans. The problem with the crowdfund was that it became, I felt I like I was begging I came up against a few rows on Facebook about bands should pay for themselves and do stuff like this. I don’t think people understood the gravity of what we were about to do, the pressure that was upon our shoulders. When you go somewhere like that, we had no idea what we were walking into in Memphis no one had been before.  What I did was contact a load of people that I already knew had performed. I went into obsessive research mode, which is what I do on any challenge.  So I chased up people who I had known over the years which came in handy, lots of contacts that I had, lots of blues sisters who had performed gave me great insights from Lucy Hammond to Hatz Ftiz & Cara Robinson and everybody who were giving me tidbits of information.  Then I went into radio mode and sourced out lots of radio shows that were promoting the IBC’s around the world. I ended up listening to Vinny on The Couch who runs his radio show from Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street. What was freaky, about three weeks before we were due to go he bought on about four/five of the IBC judges on this two hour show I am sat listening to it over and over again and I hooked up on Beale Street when this woman said Dave Raven said to get in touch with you, I am Suzanne Swanson. I just screamed in the middle of Beale Street and just said oh my God! You saved my life because you are the reason I could plan this trip. Everything she had said on the radio interview, because she has been a judge and has just got a blues award from the foundation for her photography.  I had no idea who she was, how well known she was how much she contributed to the Blues Foundation, in the end me and her became best friends during the IBC. When I told her how I had listened to the interview she started crying in the middle of the street. I can’t believe it, I am just so glad I put it out there and someone took heed. This was what it was constantly about, the after effect of all my research. For whoever wins next UKBlues challenge, the advice I would give them is hunt down anything and anybody who knows about the IBC. You can get it from the most unlikely places. Because when we landed there I realised that there were a lot of bands that didn’t have that information. We were streets ahead with knowledge, we hit the ground running. It was thanks to all that research I had done. BD: You will have to write a book Kaz: Ha Ha Jesus Christ Liz, A friend wants to do a documentary I say to her if you got a ten hour day.

 

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: Tell us about the Memphis experience and reaching the Semi-finals. Was the Blues different in Memphis and how many other Europeans were competing in the heart of the roots of Blues.

KAZ: I think we are full on ready, if anything it has prepared us definitely. I wasn’t really nervous, not even nervous  I was apprehensive about Memphis because everywhere we went we could hear twelve-bar blues and I was kinda worried Oh! I was kind of worried, my god we are not going to go down here you’re not Blues. But I had a good talk with David, he is my rock, for the first time felt a little bit inadequate, as we artists do, these are my songs and about to go into a competition. I never wrote these songs to compete with David said to me “Kaz you just have to keep the end in sight, and the end is exposure to further your career. If you don’t win it doesn’t matter”. We did go over there to fight for it, but we didn’t think we had a hope in hell of winning and to make it through to the semi’s was unreal. The talent was just off the scale but I think it prepared us, a lot of it was a shock of what happened. So we are definitely given us heads up for the European Blues Challenge.

 

BD: Is the Blues scene over there stronger and deeper than here, you were saying the people playing were stupendous

KAZ: We have it too but there on a much bigger stage it is much larger it is just so daunting over there with 288 acts from around the world. It is not just up and down England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. This is the Best of the Best of Blues around the world. What we did realise was so many societies say California had maybe twenty Blues Societies sending acts there were so many. In one of those interviews, I listened to one of the judges said some societies will send a band that is not of the calibre of touring bands. We knew going in there were different levels, the local band that jams for the sake of blues, then you have a proper gigging circuit bands, then you would have the professional bands who are touring like us. We were confident we knew our stuff. How it worked it was about the music, the blues not about talking. I heard a great quote “If you want to be a favourite on the next Justin Bieber jump into the audience with your guitar. If you want to impress the Judges stay on the stage”. So I stayed on Stage!

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: Kaz Hawkins and your Band did do Well taking UKBlues Federation Challenge winner to Memphis and leaving a semi-finalist

KAZ: The start was with two-hundred & eighty-eight bands at the beginning. With Forty-Four making it through to the Semi-finals. With twelve competing in the challenge final. So reaching the semi’s was massive I am so proud of us. People got what we were about. There were two quarter-finals, on the second night how many in for us. On the first night we were one of the bands from about one-hundred miles away filled the room with their fans they were loud and rooting for them So when we came on afterwards I was sort of oh hell and just did our stuff. On the second night, I didn’t even realise until I got off stage and went outside for a smoke apparently they had been queueing down the frigging street to get in. The doorman went to me didn’t you see the queue I said no I told you last night people would want to come back and see you so word had spread really really fast.  We were branded we had our coats on, we were giving out badges and business cards, CD’s to everybody we met. That is what each society was doing handing out freebies. People got to know and recognise us by what we were wearing.

BD: How Many European societies were over in Memphis, if you know?

 KAZ: Not sure I know there was bands from, France, Norway, Germany, Sweden Met bands from Switzerland and Germany who we will be up against at the European Blues Challenge so have an insight. We are now going to the Europeans as Semi-finalists having met the Challenge in Memphis

 

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: Memphis itself as an experience must have been amazing

KAZ: I cried Liz.  We went to Hard Rock Café, you know it takes a moment to get your bearings. We were heading down to Beale Street Hard Rock is first. I didn’t realise it was Beale Street that I was looking at. We went into the Café sat down it was empty except for another man and his wife who was in the Challenge. You must say challenge not competition I was corrected when I said Competition. I am going for a smoke, went out the other door, and there was a horse and carriage I looked to my left and saw Beale Street I was wow actually here. I ran back in and said come on guys we can’t just sit here, Beale Street is right there. They laughed and said we know Kaz. Why didn’t no one tell me, it was one of those stupid blonde moments. We then walked out crossed at the lights and hit Blueside Café first one on the left as you know I had written Hallelujah, Happy People about Memphis so for me to hit that street. I had been singing about happy people who sing the blues It was just surreal to actually to be there. We arrived there two days early and it was empty there really wasn’t many people no really anybody from the IBC. They had blocked the street off in preparation for the IBC. ‘Cos they open it in the week but close it at weekends, so it was all closed down street was empty you could walk down the middle of the road. It was surreal everywhere you looked it was merchandise and tourist stuff it was early afternoon and music was blasting out onto the street so you instantly knew you are in Blues Mecca.

BD: Denmark is round the corner the last of the three challenges that started back in Wolverhampton last November.

KAZ: We are ready, the fans have been so on board that pushes us forward. I am comfortable I sort of got the nod from Blues Foundation you did all right.  That gives you so much. Flights and hotel are all booked so organised for Denmark. Have a nice hotel directly facing the venue. The only thing in Memphis we were about twenty minutes outside so we had to hire a car etc. all eats into the cost. In fact takes us longer to get to Denmark we have an eighteen hour layover! All crazy but will be fine.  We have a great slot and feeling very positive playing on the Saturday line-up half way through the evening. We do feel that we are going over with a real chance to bring the trophy home for UKBlues Federation and blues fans across the UK & Northern Ireland.

Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Photo Credit Graham Whittington

BD: So once you have finished the trio of Challenges, what is planned for the rest of 2017 for Kaz Hawkins.

KAZ: New solo album away from the band. It is just because things have been so hectic I can get kinda manic with it all so taking time out for me and my music. I am doing couple of dates here in Northern Ireland in July, one massive one, a dream come true for me, singing in Belfast Cathedral. Release date for solo album is 22nd July.  Will be performing with Sam York and the band is off the road July.  We hit the road with a big European Festival still a secret and Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival which look so exciting the new look for the festival. Then UK and European tour with the band. I am off to Nashville next month to play the Bluebird Café then back for weekend touring in England then back and the next day off to Boston lecturing at Boston Uni, as I am still doing my own stuff.

 BD: So glad you had a good and successful time in Memphis and now off to Horsen, Denmark good luck and be wonderful if Kaz Hawkins can bring the trophy home.

Bluesdoodles, thanks, Graham Whittington of Lens Art Photography for sending a selection of the superb photo diary of Kaz and the band in Memphis.

Dan Reed Talking about Networks and Live Music

Dan Reed Talking about Networks and Live Music

Dan Reed Talking about Networks and Live Music

 

 

BD: Hi Dan hope you are well, thanks for taking time to speak to Bluesdoodles, we spoke last year on the release of Fight Another Day, now as you embark on a European tour we have a chance to revisit and explore the world of Dan Reed Network.

DR: Good thanks, we are in Norway and it is as cold as hell. That is a silly thing to say it is beautiful and snowy.

BD: How has your perspective changed since taking the time out travelling, studying and having a son?

DR: Biggest change was the birth of my son.  He is so very cute, often mistaken for a girl with his long hair, people often still don’t connect when I say his name is Joshua. Having a child is all encompassing. It is so hard to describe the feeling the first time you hold the baby. There is a deepening of awareness, deepening of compassion, a child engulfs you with emotions of love and responsibility. My first responsibility is to raise them safely and then as they grow imparting lessons of gratitude, how to lead a good life, planting the seeds of who the child will grow into. It has made me a better human being. This runs through my lyrics as they reflect the path that you have left behind is so much more defined.

BD: Back touring Europe and hitting the U.K. in March. Before we talk about the 2017 tour with Fight Another Day. What were the highlights last year back on the road with the Network,

DR: Festivals are always fun and at Sweden Rock Festival, we were the first act on the stage on the second or third day after lots of partying. In an arena that holds twenty-thousand there were 300 in the rain. As the first song started the rain stopped and by the end of the set there were over 8,000 watching and it was exciting, energetic from the rain and gloomy skies we had music it was the best show. The coolest was playing back in our home town of Portland seeing so many familiar faces, lots of folks who have seen us play from the beginning from the making of the video for Ritual. It felt so good being back. Yes our knees hurt a bit with a few more aches and pains now after a performance but this is part of the challenge of a live performance and is definitely an excellent workout both mentally & physically.  Funky rock is hard and needs the energy of the song; we achieved this at a live rehearsal at the Hard Rock Café rehearsing in front of an audience the energy of the audience feeds the performance you trade off the energy of each other it is a symbiotic relationship. It is hard being away from family and home when on the road the positive trade-off is you get rid of the tensions by playing the music, talking to the audience and the feeling that we are so lucky to be doing this.

BD: What’s your favourite track from your extensive back catalogue to perform live??

DR: Favourite track, the solo stuff I love playing it live acoustic can be harder with a need to put your energy into the meaning of the lyrics. From the album The Heat Salt of Joy and when the band sings A Capella Long Way To Go, it is magical honest lyrics, written with visions in the head. Writing lyrics need to go into a daydream and explore thoughts and emotions. Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul but wrote honest lyrics the most honest rock songs ever written.

BD: Now you are performing tracks from Fight Another Day live, how do you select tracks from the extensive back catalogue to meld the past with the now.

DR: It can be difficult singing the same songs over and over again. The key to not sounding mechanical, just going through the motions is twofold having a good time and play the music as if it is for the first time. Play your arses out never let it become a slog, enjoy the music build up the audience.

Mixing things up more and more. Including a Bruce Springstein style request. It is fun, surprising challenging the request could be for a ballad, like Stronger Than Steel in a part of a set we would never plan a ballad. We now have no set list we play the songs we want to play trying to vary the groove what feels best changing the tempo and topics covered from politics to sex!

The Set is like climbing a mountain range. With summits and valleys can build and build through the show with a high point in the set climaxing the show. Or can sing a mellow song reached the top now meditating and chilling.

BD:  Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what Dan Reed Network track would you liked covered and by whom?

DR: Music that listening to at the moment D-A-D Danish rock originally named Disneyland After Dark but had to be renamed after The Walt Company threatened a lawsuit.  D-A-D & DRN all the letters would just so love to open for them would be so inspirational. The poppy melodies and funky tone of   Foster The People love the music they do not use any sequences and the evergreen band for me is  Jamiroquai

BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to Cardiff at  The Globe on  5th March and hearing DNR live.

 Dan Reed Network is back in the UK with his tour Get Your Tickets HERE.

 

Dan Reed Talking about Networks and Live Music

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad Touch

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad Touch
Photo credit Rob Blackham

 

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad Touch

 

 

BD: I was delighted to have the opportunity to review your debut album Truth Be Told.

Before we talk about touring with the Planet Rock Roadstars and the album, Truth Be Told. For many Bluesdoodles readers, Bad Touch is a new band. They are interested what is happening behind the scenes of Bad Touch. Then dash to book tickets on the Roadstar Tour!

Before we start the talk the quintet of musicians are Bad Touch, Vocalist Stevie Westwood, who kindly took time out to chat with Liz from Bluesdoodles today. Harry Slater, Lead Guitar/Vocals, Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings, Guitar/Vocals, Michael Bailey, Bass and George Drewry, Drums/Vocals.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Norwich more mustard and cathedral than Rock music?
SW:
Well, lots more in Norwich than that we have strong music scene in pubs, clubs and venues. For myself, I grew up in a house full of music with Dad playing AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and lots of Disco including Kool and The Gang. I then developed my own tastes with rock bands such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Southern Rock, Su and much more.

I played the guitar and found the guys from Bad Touch through a band forming website. Went for an audition and came away the singer as they already had two guitarists. This was after they asked me if I could sing, and my reply was not really! Must have been okay because still here singing for Bad Touch.

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad TouchBD: How did you come up with the band name Bad Touch and the decision for the distinctive typeface.

SW: The band has always been called Bad Touch from the very beginning before I joined. For me, the name encapsulates the roots of the band with the power of Bad Company touched with all the influences of 70’s rock with the colouring of Southern Rock.
We want to add our Bad Touch to the music we love that mix of Blues, Southern Rock and classic rock we always describe ourselves as ‘Feelgood Rock’. It is not new we are deeply rooted in Rock with Blues. We want audiences to enjoy our music and feel good with Bad Touch.

We wanted a distinctive logo, there is no deep and meaningful back story. We needed a new logo, a friend was a graphic designer and did me a favour and the result is eye-catching.

BD: Tell us about the formation of the band while you were still at college and the roles you all play in developing the Bad Touch feel. Now with the new guitarist Harry Slater how has he fitted in and has it injected a new feel.

SW: The band formed when the guys were at college with Rob Glendinning our original guitarist who recently left the band. We all love the guy but he has chosen a different path and we wish him well. Now with Harry Slater, we will continue to ply the Bad Touch rock across the land. As with any change, it brings opportunities. Harry will inject a new feel of guitar power combined with his writing ability. At the moment he feels like he is stepping into Rob’s shoes, as learning songs already in the Bad Touch repertoire. With new songs, things will change and anything new is scary, with good performances under our belt the future of Bad Touch is looking exciting and bright. We have plans for a follow-up album to Truth Be Told, been a bit slow going with the switch over firstly, concentrating on getting the performance correct. We are going to nail the tour out on the road with Broken Witt Rebels then attention will turn to the next album.

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad TouchBD: Having reviewed Truth Be Told, what if any truth were you exploring across the dozen tracks?

SW: All of the band wrote the lyrics, the title, Truth Be Told, was an alliteration and sounded cool. The whole album has lots of feeling, a more mature sound than Halfway Home with a mix of anger and darker emotions plus some happy feelgood songs. For me, the album is an open book of truths and we want people who listen to take from the lyrics what they can.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

SW: We write together with royalties split equally. The writing process varies, can be from a riff that we play and then I add lyrics over the top and then turn into the words of the song. My preferred way is to write whole verse/chorus or even whole song. It is really satisfying five minds working together are better than one. We don’t always agree but that is all part of the fun of building our songs. We draw on life experiences, old sayings are often a starting point they stick in people’s minds when listening to Bad Touch music. It is important and really cool when people relate to the lyrics and music. The truth is we get inspiration from anything and a good example is Outlaw, from Truth Be Told, reflects that Seeks is really into cowboys. It is what we fancy at the time. You can over analyse the lyrics and then they can lose shape and feel so have to take the inspiration where it comes from however shallow that is.

BD: With you heading out on the road throughout March & April with Broken Witt Rebels. The Planetrock Roadstars are back for 2017. Two bands on the road that are causing a stir how will this tour build on the experience of opening for The Headhunters last year

Wow, this is so exciting we briefly caught up with BWR when they opened for Joanne Shaw Taylor at the Waterfront. It was really cool we also passed each other at the Stone Free Festival last year. We have got to raise our game, there is definitely going to be a gentlemanly rivalry between the bands, Bad Touch are out to get noticed, remembered we will be trying to blow BWR out of the water. We can’t wait to open in Leeds on the 16th March and bring the tour to a grand finale at The Borderline in London Saturday 8th April. We are looking forward to showcasing our brand of feelgood rock as we travel around the country, meeting fans and making lots of new friends of the band.

BD: What other plans and excitements have you and Bad Touch got in the 2017 pipeline?

SW: Lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline with lots of touring and new album taking shape. Keep in touch as soon as dates and festival slots are confirmed they will be shared through social media. We are on Facebook, Twitter and our dedicated web presence over at Bad Touch.co.uk.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have to play
SW: Thought I was coping well until this one so many to choose from ….

Let’s have a choir to start with!

Vocals: Chris Robinson, Paul Rogers, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Steve Marriot and guests
Drums: John Bonham
Bass: Michael Bailey
Guitar: Slash
Backing Vocals & Mime Artists: The rest of Bad touch with inflatable instruments enjoying the explosion of rock.

Stevie Westwood Giving The Lowdown on Bad Touch

Broken Machine Definitely NOT Ash Wilson in Conversation

Broken Machine Definitely NOT Ash Wilson in Conversation

 

Broken Machine Definitely NOT
Ash Wilson in Conversation

 

 

I was delighted when I was sent your debut album Broken Machine to review.  It is certainly an album full of blues strong guitar that makes compelling listening.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Lincolnshire?
AW:
I played the guitar, but didn’t like guitar music, early on it was acoustic chords but had no interest despite being exposed to guitar music by my parents. It wasn’t until I heard a Kenny Wayne Shepherd tune on the radio, that I thought ‘I really like the sound of that’. Then I discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan, through him Jimi Hendrix and through him Howlin’ Wolf and further back through this one bit of exposure.  I met a guy when I was at Music College who had a friend who was into blues music. Other than Eric Clapton, who everyone knows I didn’t know many exponents of Blues.  If you like Blues you need to meet Trev he was my education in the blues and electric guitar.

Then I had a band with him for a few years called The Melts. He played harmonica and sang while I played guitar. It was my blues pilgrimage early on that is what got me into the music as such was pretty much Trevor to be fair. The kind of music Mum & Dad listened to was more Progressive Rock the likes of Genesis and Pink Floyd.  So not much blues guitar, though Dave Gilmour is a massive hero of mine and is a super blues player, I didn’t identify him as a blues guitarist until much later on. I come from a musical household, where everyone is well into music but blues was something I brought in after meeting different people. Then Dad came out of his shell and that he really liked Rory Gallagher it was a strange development really after not having any blues in the house. Dad brought all this old blues to the table that I hadn’t heard before on records saying you should listen to this and listen to that. I can remember saying to my Dad why didn’t you play this stuff years ago. He said, didn’t think you would be interested and to be fair I wasn’t. I played piano when younger I didn’t really have great yearning to play that instrument again. Until my cousin came over with an old acoustic and showed me a few chords I thought really cool and liked it.  I didn’t know where to look other than the likes of Gilmour and when you first start to play you have no idea how to deconstruct what was going on as couldn’t play the guitar. I asked for guitar lessons for my fourteenth birthday and then met a guy who had a band and Dad’s old records got really interested in sixties blues boom in the UK and further back. As I have got older I have gone further back, I hate to admit didn’t get into Hendrix for ages didn’t like the sound of the recordings I was so used to produced music. I didn’t like the fizzy guitar sound of Hendrix I couldn’t get my head around it then I got it. As I started to hear the depth of vinyl and the monstrous fuzz tones that we all try to get. Started to go further back and appreciate Leadbelly and Robert Johnson then came back through Muddy Waters. It was a cock-eyed way of finding music I didn’t go back in chronological order I was bouncing all over the place.

BD: Broken Machine is your debut album how did you decide on using Superfly Studios, your brother to produce the album and then Hoax guitarist Jesse Davey to guest and master the album?

Broken Machine Definitely NOT Ash Wilson in ConversationAW: Superfly, well I have been friends with Wayne Proctor for coming up to fifteen years now and worked together on Indie projects I was involved in. So after my first blues band parted company, I put together a Blues trio together with my brother Phil and Laurence Jones’ current bassist Greg Smith and we went out did local shows. Wayne came to a show and said should come to the studio after hearing track Throwing Knives which wasn’t bluesy at all. It was then called Bluewater and Wayne had just started producing and did an EP with him where Wayne played drums and Steve Amadeo  (Ainsley Lister’s bassist – and playing with Ian Parker at the time).  Alt Rock band Djune with no guitar solos the music was all about the song. We played for couple of years opened for Ocean Colour Scene despite that we never really got past the first rung, that said we were a good live band. It was in a way a vanity project with my brother Phil, alt rock inspired by Feeder, Queens of the Stone Age, etc. Recorded an album at home on a limited budget but no deadlines spent a year and learnt a lot. Then the opportunity to join Sean Webster. Not performed on the stage for a long time and not played lead very much had been locked into rhythm guitar. Sean plays a lot on the continent especially Netherlands. Played with him for about a year then got itchy feet, yes lots of work but all very specific whereas I like to do different types. So setup side project the idea was to record in the style of Jimmy Vaughan, a traditional blues album. Three guys in a room, with the whole album sounding similar to Peace & Love I was paranoid that the album would never get done, the obvious choice was Roger so rang him and he said yes so the eighth wonder of the world was on board. Only booked the studio for a week to lay down album of straight blues. I had known Andy at Superfly so obvious choice for engineer the studio close to where I live, love the music they have produced. I believed that it would be a speedy process seven days last the music job a good ‘un.

Jesse got involved as I had sung on his solo album, Big Blues. He has not got the public image that he deserves, I am a big fan of Jon Amor who is a superb guitarist, singer and writer who hasn’t got the wide public image he deserves. Met him through Barry Middleton at The Running Horse, same time as I met Wayne. The Hoax was before my time missed them in their heyday.  Jesse’s guitar is powerful and exciting, on Big Blues, by the first solo I was enraptured by it when Phil played it to me what a concept a record for a film. A Soundtrack but no movie. Jesse’s own guitar pedals sound just incredible and I was interested in his gear and wanted to buy a pedal. Listened to Infamous Vampire that JD has mastered and he asked if I would like to sing on the record. It was an amazing experience as we started by co-writing over Skype in one night we had Revelator. The lyrics are quite misogynistic but fun to listen too. It reflects on the fifties and sixties winking of an eye and Revelator is a party rather than the book of revelations! A bonus that Jesse didn’t hate it.

So with Broken Machine thought be cool to get Jesse to play on The Hitcher idea for the music came out of a jam. Late night drive, reminded me of a past experience. I though get Jesse on this song with a high ghostly vocal circa Glenn Miller and I’ll sing falsetto, visualising she was driving with the ghost of me. Told everyone else and the second guitar adds extra to the existing to a hypnotic level no difficult chords the other person is the emotional crux as I sing I was the last to know.

With Phil on Drums and the experience of producing the Djune album in our bedroom Phil as the producer was a perfect fit. As the album developed it became less a Jimmy Vaughan inspired collection. The songs took shape and the variations in sound reflected the purpose and meanings of the lyrics. We worked together Roger had his input he was clear when a song didn’t work and sent me away to build on the lyrics. Broken Machine was shaped by my experience and the interaction of Phil and Roger.

BD: Does the Title of the album Broken Machine have any particular significance?

AW:  The song Broken Machine came first, not a deliberate album title. Broken Machine is about relationships that do not work. The whole album is my life up to getting married. It is Ash from 15-30 nothing in the album covers the now it is set in the past. That said the track seemed the perfect words of the album title as it reflected the past.

BD: The album is in your name with the musicians chosen featured. Will this be the band you use when you tour? I am assuming here that you are going to be touring the album so we can hear the music live.

AW: Tour Plans… well, we are supporting South African guitarist Dan Patlansky when he tours in May. Really excited to be on the same bill and getting my music known across the U.K. we have other festivals and dates in the pipeline, it is all happening fast and once confirmed, there are some exciting Autumn dates in the pipeline I will be the first to be shouting about them through social media.

The band will definitely be Roger on bass and we are looking for a permanent drummer watch the space for the announcement. With the increasing number of gigs it would be impossible for Phil to continue in drumming role due to his commitment with Laurence Jones.  So answer is yes, lots of opportunities to hear Ash Wilson play Broken Machine and more live.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. The lyrics are very strong including Domestic Violence on Words Of A Woman. Do the lyrics always come first or sometimes a guitar lick or riff inspire you?

AW: This was written after the birth of my first child I was feeling emotional and vulnerable. I overheard a conversation and put myself in a wife’s place when husband has an affair, the emotional abuse when it is found out. The song is emotionally charged as the poor women thinks today is going to be the same as any other day and in a couple hours later her entire world is turned upside down.  Exploring how, why the lyrics are emotional and found them difficult to sing live.

BD: Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

Broken Machine Definitely NOT Ash Wilson in ConversationAW: Normally my own experiences, the exception to date is Words Of A Woman. In fact, Roger loved that line hated the rest of the lyrics he felt were not so great, went away thought about it and remembered an event I had overheard a complete stranger. Talked to Roger as not sure about writing about someone else’s emotions, he said do it so wrote down a song that really works. Lots first on this album never written ballad before took a year to write. Could have gone to Sean but thought do it myself blaming my voice ability to level a room without doing anything but his voice. Played three years worked every time with Sean.

Moments that you had are gone we change, write and visually I try to make the words paint a picture then it is easy to write.  Often it is a phrase or even nonsense at the start and write over and around and the flow of the song builds. The story unfolds. Or it can start with a guitar solo and that inspires.

Emotional involvement is a must especially important for a ballad like Holding Hands

Next album more confidence singing about other people as well as myself. I am quite conscious of people watching anything that affects not sure about going political frustration what is on TV politic

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
AW:

Drums: Steve Gadd
Bass: Pino Palladino
Guitar: Jimmy Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II (could have 10!)
Rhythm Guitar: Keith Richards
Keys: Stevie Wonder
Vocals: Etta James/Muddy Waters

These playing on the same stage would be really hard but interesting music would happen that I am positive.

Check out Bluesdoodles Review of Broken Machine HERE

Check out Ash Wilson’s Website HERE

http://www.ashwilsonmusic.com/shows

Who Will I Turn To Now for a Conversation Has To Be Husky Tones

Who Will I turn To Now for a Conversation Has To Be Husky Tones

Who Will I Turn To Now for a Conversation Has To Be Husky Tones

 

 

BD: I was delighted you asked Bluesdoodles to review Husky Tones latest album Who Will I Turn To Now.  It is an album very different from the previous one size of band downsized and upsized the energy.  Victoria: Ha Ha, That is a pretty good summary!)

Before we talk about touring and the album Husky Tones will be a new band for many so Bluesdoodles readers be interested in getting to know you, Victoria Bourne & Chris Harper the Husky Tones.

 BD: What were your first musical influences?
VB: 
First albums people like John Lee Hooker – The Healer, Buddy Guy other influences were Blondie, Patti Smith huge huge influence who kick started my love of music as a teenager. ABBA when I was eleven laughing my little secret no more. I loved all the depressing albums about divorce that was quite fun laughing and Howard Jones was in there too, enormously into Prince I saw him as a teenager and a lot of rock bands through my brother including Metallica, Rainbow so huge variety and a lot of classic as a teenager was added into the mix. I was quite random what I listened to at University Pearl Jam and Madonna danced to her songs.

We didn’t have internet as teenagers who can listen to wide range of easily accessible music. Now teenagers, have YouTube, music is so accessible. We have got into and listening to a lot of Gun Club, PJ Harvey & Iggy Pop two current favourites from 2016 along with contemporary classical music people including Steve Reich among others listen to them a lot when studying music.  I did a Contemporary Classic degree in Music prior to that did a course in Musical Theatre at Trinity, London. I really thought musical theatre was what I wanted to do, but then thought I do not want to be in a show for six months, singing the same cheesy musical theatre songs. That was when I met Chris, I auditioned for his band and started our journey thirteen years ago at the time doing Indie Rock. As they say the rest is history!

The influences continued including Jeff Buckley, Radio Head as you talk you think of so many influences.  At the moment listening to Blues Rock, Bonneville’s from Northern Ireland and Guadalupe’s Plata Spanish Blues-rock then people like RL Burnside, Cedric Burnside, one of the best gigs I’ve been to like a juke joint in a tiny bar in Bath.  Local man Bob Log, Hill Country Blues has been a huge influence.  Everything and anything can be an influence even our cats name is Osvaldo named after contemporary classical musician Osvaldo Golijov, The cat got the name as this was who we were really into when we got him. Golijov, the musician not the cat! Wrote some amazing music around the Spanish poet Lorca’s work.

BD: How did the unusual combination of drums & vocals come about.
VB:
I like to be different! I learnt the piano from the age of four. I realised that I would not be able to combine piano and vocals to the standard I would want to play. I would always want to play the piano to a higher level not as a chord-led accompaniment. I started playing drums and loved them the power and energy.  Starting with my kit. I have an unusual blend of cymbals, people usually have one brand. But I got some Zildjian and Sabian mix of bright and dark. I chose my cymbals by closing my eyes so couldn’t see the brands using the sound they produced as the selection criteria.  In the crash ride, I have a Sabian which sounds like a massive gong it sounds awesome, it is huge which is brilliant especially for big events.  I have a little Zildjian splash which is a dark at twelve inches it is one of the bigger ones. I also have a Zildjian dark ride to get this really deep and dark sound really very different to the Sabian. Then on the other side, I have Zildjian Crash and Mastersound high hats quite common but the bright version. So I have a mix of bright and dark, cymbals are quite personal and this was the sound I wanted. The Sabian was great when recording with Stuart for the latest album as it had real power. I have them in strange positions compared to other people I have them quite low but that is because I am singer it is a visual thing as well on stage. Others gave combined vocals and drums; Cedric Burnside, other women who have combined the two, Karen Carpenter a phenomenal drummer, contemporary artist Cara Robinson and Donna Dahl based in Memphis.

It is a very strong thing to do at the same time,  drumming it is very physical, it is getting that fine balance between drumming and vocals especially now we are quite loud so that you can hear yourself live so as not to be shouting across the drums.  It is hard to do the two together but it is fun. When we were recording I had the luxury of doing them separately, which was beautiful. Now when playing live I pull my voice back, slightly sexy, gentler way of singing. It is harder as I get out of breath, I wouldn’t not to be on stage without an instrument. Now we are a duo we have been changing how we deliver the songs. For example, Island of Barb Wire I come from behind my drums and to the front of stage concentrating on my vocals. We are looking at having more opportunities to come to the front even if for part of a song. Part of the stagecraft, we enjoy jumping around front of the stage. Another example of variation throughout the live show is on One Good Reason, in the middle section I move away from being behind the drum kit, sing my vocals front of stage and then go back. Helps to keep the audience engaged with me as lead singer and become part of the Husky Tones stagecraft. Can be a bit of a nightmare at festivals where the drum kit is right at the back of the stage.  I do enjoy jumping up and down at front of the stage.

BD: Why did you choose Drums out of all the Instruments? What made Drums so Attractive?

VB: In fact it could have been keys, trained to play piano. Especially when teaching I play piano for my students. Piano would be too difficult to do both. It would take a huge amount of practice to be as good as I would want to be doing it in the blues. Thinking about chord structures and singing on top would just not work for me. Yes, playing three chords backing the vocals is fairly straightforward but not what I wanted to do. Guitar tried in the past, I hate how it hurts your hand. Thought about Bass but that was learning a whole new instrument. I started dabbling with percussion about 10 years ago when we had our own studio. I used to teach a blues singer who was also a drummer. I was also involved in the electronic music scene I used a basic drum kit doing weird electronic things, loops etc. started from that. When thinking about a band the drums are always nightmare so tempted to give it a go. Started 4-5 years ago with a small kit without a kick drum, really cheap so said I would give it a try and really liked it. So bought a cheap kit, had some drumming lessons, Ken Pustelnik, from the Groundhogs, who I knew from the music scene. He gave me some lessons, his way not the way a college would teach the drums. I learnt on the cheap drum set-up which I used until I was sure that I wanted to play drums. The reality was I loved it went crazy for it.  Practiced loads, went off and did gigs after year upgraded to a Yamaha. Year later upgraded to the kit I have now which was very expensive a Gretsch Renown Mahogany not made any more so very special, beautiful instrument. Gradually added cymbals sold those I didn’t like and ending up with the set I have now. Takes time to build up the kit I enjoy it. It is interesting that the piano is percussive as well so has strong connection, started learning piano when I was four. Lessons through rogue teacher like Ken meant that I didn’t follow traditional structures initially people questioned the way I played asking what I was doing. In fact on this album I don’t think I play a single shuffle. Each song has different pattern that is something I aim for, audiences get bored If they hear the same over and over again. I have also been studying punk drumming which is fun. Been long and continuous process. You have to be fit for three-hour gig and sing.  Drums has been the instrument I have most enjoyed playing.

 

BD: On the album you Husky Tones are a duo is that now the format you will be touring with? What are the advantages and will the three-piece be back?

Chris H: (joined in with his perspective) Now there are just the two of us it is easier to keep a handle on what we are doing. We are freer to jam our way into different corners of the music. Now the two of us can rehearse every day. One of the problems with the four-piece was difficult to all get-together. Plus now only one standing up front I have a different pressure. Enjoying being a duo we said let’s do this getting very quickly feeling good. It was scary at the beginning, you do not have the safety of numbers when part of a twelve piece. Chris as only one standing up has nowhere to hide. When the Crowd are on side at a good venue you will have a good time. We had to re-write older stuff for the two of us; whereas the new album was written for the duo Husky Tones. It is getting easier now bookings coming in now are for us as duo no one expects to see the band now. The promoters/venues have heard the new stuff and reacting positively some exciting gigs lined up for 2017.  VB: Plus all the re-writes are getting grungier

We only changed because Liam lives in Swansea and was not financially t working out for him plus clash of commitments with his other bands. Matt bassist got more successful than he thought it would be found this difficult. It had been suggested that we should be a duo and we are loving it.  The transition for the tour with two weeks rehearsal it was a great chance to jam together. Now we have more material written for the two of us, new album and it is only our availability to worry about.

Now we have Skegness to kick the year off the set will be a mixture of songs from album, older stuff rearranged and some acoustic numbers we have leant that we have to be ourselves trying to adapt and second guess what the audience is expecting doesn’t work. We know that Husky Tones is not going to please everyone. Our Blues will be too loud for some we are definitely not a traditional 12 bars. We know that we will only be pale imitations of what we are copying. Have to remember that many of bluesmen seen as traditional like for example Elmore James they were cutting edge. Need to think about what will reflect the times. No artist has ever stayed in one place.

BD: Tell us a bit about the making of Who Will I Turn To Now – and deciding on Stuart Dixon to produce the album and deciding the studio space

VB: We got on with Stuart really well. We didn’t know we would, having had really bad experiences making the first album. We had three or four pre-production meetings with him and though he is pretty cool. When it came to the sessions completely got what we were trying to do. He knew what microphones to use, the settings. He knew how to get the best out of us both.

We started off recording drums and guitar at the same time. These are all one takes so no chopping, he would make us play until the take was right. Two/three songs where we completely re-wrote the drum part we actually put in some real African drums into Jungle Blues. And then following re-writes had to learn them in half a day and record the tracks it was tough and challenging but was good improving the songs so much.  Chris as well did lots of Electric, acoustic and slide guitar. Then the vocals were recorded over a couple days loved recording them separately can concentrate and focus on the voice so songs sound so good.

Then added other bits like Wah wah on Jungle Blues and other added extras on top of the recordings.  We laughed a lot. The whole ten days. The view at Platform is a lake it is just stunning such a beautiful atmosphere to record in.  Stuart third wheel of the band for that week, he got involved, very intense and we were all on the same page. He would come up with ideas so everything was improved working for ten days on album was amazing very proud. Another benefit, as the two of us we could book in a solid period where as with the band he has to work around their diaries. We were there for the mixing and he then mastered it. He cared about it so got it right.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

VB: Always write together always have, lyrics and music.  We ask what shit experience can we use from your past can we use this time Victoria.  Who Will I Turn To Now, was a reflection of the less than positive experience of signing on after my masters. Let’s make that generic lots of people unfortunately, have experienced get door slammed in face by those who should be there to help. Relatives in the past luckily have to draw on.  My Gt. Gt. Gt. Uncle was interned inspired Island of Barb Wire.  Looking for interesting things in your family. Round the Wrekin I use the phrase a lot it is a Midlands colloquialism going long way round a gift for a song. Momentum, build up people getting together deeply political about protest and the right to protest. Then there are the cheeky ones like These Hips Were Made For You little personal love song.  Drawing on things that mean a lot to us have a meaning. Writing is a continuous process I have some ideas. Some take a long time. With lots of re-writes to get lyrics right some are from the newspaper articles of the time and how the interns were actually referred to. One of us will start and then we will tidy them up, we try to avoid clichéd, the obvious.   Bits of lyrics, riffs sometimes lie around and have left overs from the album.  We created too many songs probably have enough for another album, we wanted to make sure that the songs we chose will be the right mix.  Love jamming it comes as it does not have hard or fast rule sometimes it’s a riff, drums or a line. We are a bit obsessive and crazy we work at something every day.

BD: What plans do you have to get Who Will I Ask Now? Noticed?

VB: We do our own PR. For two reasons, we have no money to pay someone. But it is not the main reason we trust ourselves to approach and deal with people in an empathetic way. So far we are getting lots of notice, played on Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2, just before Christmas from an album we sent in September. Done lots of research on how to write to people who do blogs, contacting magazine editors etc. How to format things, what they like to be informed about and getting lots of interest from a wide range of people. You have to do a lot of work yourself to make it happen. This one is doing all right actually with the people we are contacting.

BD I am sure you have many plans for 2017 and beyond for Husky Tones

VB: Album Launch 25th Feb Crofters Bristol, Benjamin Bassford will be Pay What You Can reflecting the album’s songs highlighting that people can’t always afford to pay for a gig. We are going to pre-record some interviews co-op environment homeless group refuge and relating to songs and what can do to help.  Going to Isle of Man to perform Island of Barb Wire for my Uncle live acoustically and video it as part of the album launch. Last event in a fans house, many may be more acoustic, in London with more than one song.  Hopefully if it works to go out on Facebook as live performance then put up pre-recorded interviews. Later in 2017 tour and number of festivals including Field Good Bar a Women’s Music festival in Bath. Headlining on Saturday night others in the pipeline so keep checking our website.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
VB & CH:
Drums:  Cedric Burnside
Bass:  Tina Weymouth
Guitars:  Ry Cooder, Bob Log
Vocals:  Patti Smith
Backing Vox:  Jeff & Tim Buckley
Sax:  PJ Harvey

 

Bluesdoodles Review of  Who Will I turn To Now HERE

Tour Dates: HERE

Bluesdoodles In Conversation Across The Years

It is always fascinating, hence Bluesdoodles In Conversation Across The Years. Read about the thinking behind making albums, producing albums and who would be in their fantasy band.

Bluesdoodles Interviews – 2016

JD SIMO – SIMO
Eric Johnson
Fee Waybill – The Tubes
Paul Bowe – Federal Charm
Walter Trout
Debbie Bond
Sari Schorr
Coleen Rennison – No Sinner
Jared James Nichols
Joe Louis Walker
JJ Grey 
Wayne Proctor
Kaz Hawkins
Dan Patlansky 
Dan Reed 
JD Simo

Bluesdoodles Interviews – 2015

Laurence Jones – In Conversation February 2015
Dan Patlansky – In Conversation April 2015
Alan Nimmo – In Conversation May 2015
Julian Moores – In Conversation May 2015
Chantel McGregor – In Conversation October 2015
Erja Lyytinen – In Conversation October 2015
Rob Richings – In Conversation November 2015

Ronnie Baker Brooks Talking Why Times Have Changed

Ronnie Baker Brooks Talking Why Times Have ChangedRonnie Baker Brooks Talking Why
Times Have Changed

BD: I was delighted when Mascot Label sent me your latest album Times Have Changed to review. It is an album full of blues strong guitar that makes compelling listening.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Chicago?
RBB: It has to be my Dad Lonnie Brooks. He taught me how to teach myself. I grew up listening to music from Country to Gospel, Rock n’ Roll, R’n’B and of course the Blues. I started playing at six and the first time on stage with my Dad I was 9. At 19 I joined him on the road, I rubbed shoulders and played with and was given advice by some of the greatest. Albert Collins embraced my playing and I saw him as an Uncle. Whilst Ko Ko Taylor gave me a shout out I played with her on stage and she was my Blues Mom.
The list is huge from Albert King. BB King, Little Milton, Buddy Guy whose first wife was my Mom’s best friend, Otis Rush, Magic Slim and so many more. What an experience so special. BD: You have to write a book a lifetime of music experience drenched in the Blues. RBB: You are not the first to mention that perhaps I should!
To me it was natural they dropped by and played in my home friends with my Dad, we went to their homes, was taken to shows. At the time I didn’t realise that it was so different from normal.

The best tour of my life, was with BB King, Buddy Guy, Ko Ko Taylor, Junior Wells and Eric Johnson wow what a time. It was for me like going to school or college the experience was a unique situation in which to learn and study the blues.

BD: Times Have Changed is your first album for ten years. How did you decide on the mix of self-penned and covers?
RBB: Steve Jordan produced the album I trusted him. I always wanted to work with him as I loved the way he played. It was the first time I had included covers on an album, normally I wrote all of the tracks. Steve said the advantage of covers is people recognise the songs quicker hopefully they will engage quicker with the album and get into my own songs. Hopefully, we have chosen the right tracks we discussed what I would like to do Old Love was the first, it was Mum’s favourite song. That inspired me to play the number live always big fan of Eric Clapton and Robert Cray. I knew that if ever I was going to record a cover that would be the one. Curtis Mayfield’s Give Me Your Love always a beautiful song and was the first track recorded. The Second was the instrumental Twine Time.

BD: That leads nicely on to my next question, You included an instrumental that is more than about guitars. How did you select Twine Time featuring your father Lonnie?
RBB: Steve Jordan chose Twine Time and as I said it was the second track we recorded. It was a spontaneous thought we need an instrumental. First, we thought about a Freddie King thing or something I had written before. No, let’s do something different not necessarily something for guitar players but one with wider appeal. So Alvin Cash’s Twine Time became the instrumental. It set the album on fire. Once the track was recorded I thought I have to get my Dad on the track. Alvin Cash lived in Chicago and Dad was probably in the Studio when he recorded it. I was in Memphis at the Royal Studio and Dad was in Chicago. So he went round to a friend’s laid down the music and emailed it to me.

BD: Does the Title of the album Times Have Changed have a special meaning for your first album in ten years?
RBB: I wrote the tracks reflecting that I do feel that times have changed. At one time there would have been fifteen bands from Chicago on the road at any one time. We would run into each other at stops, now lots of the guys are no longer touring or not with us anymore. The reasons are varied, aged, economy, changes in technology times have changed and that seemed appropriate for now reflection that Times Have Changed for definite on so many levels. It is also about how special it was being on the road with BB, Junior Wells, Otis Rush some no longer with us but it was special. It is a celebration of that sound it comes from the heart and reaches the heart of the listener. There are elements from previous records with emphasis on that style a little bit more. Wherever I play it will be the Blues. But to get some attention you do have to do things differently, change keeps you going. Personally, I am very proud of what has been achieved on the album and I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as we have recording the album. For me, it is a platform to grow from you never stop learning as I was told by BB you never master the music, but you can master your approach to music.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?
RBB: Inspiration for my songs all my lyrics relate to true life situations. Can be something I have gone through if not something I can closely relate to. You have got to feel it if you can’t feel it the song will not work. Might be a great feeling or sad, you have to tell it to make people feel the essence of the song. For instance When I was We the last track of the album was a line from a conversation when I was talking to a friend in Florida. She had just broken up with her boyfriend hanging there and ended the sentence you know When I was We. Instantly I knew what she meant. I sat down and wrote the song immediately. I just had to write it. It was in the cut for Gold Digger CD my first , but never released it. Was right for this album. Willie Dixon taught me that to sing the Blues it comes from the heart to deliver the song and that is my philosophy.

Ronnie Baker Brooks premieres official lyric video for
‘Times Have Changed’ (feat. Al Kapone) 

BD I am sure you have many plans for 2017 and beyond for Ronnie Brooks Baker and his band
RBB: Well this album is definitely a platform to jump from and grow. I have plans to tour the world. BD: so you have plans to tour Europe? RBB: Yes, definitely but nothing concrete yet. The album hopefully will open doors and push be to be a better musician, songwriter and singer. Build a platform with Mascot and inspire future musicians.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
RBB:
Guys got on this record dream working at Royal Studios, Memphis with producer Steve Jordan It was a dream come true work a joy to work
Guitar: Steve Cropper,  Teenie Hodges, Lonnie Brooks, Eddie Willis, Lee Roy Parnell,
“Big Head” Todd Mohr
Rapper: Al Kapone
Keys: Archie Turner
Organ: Charles Hodges
Jazz Saxophonist: Lannie McMillan
Bass: Leroy Hodges
Vocals: Angie Stone,  Felix Cavaliere
Plus the delight of having Bobbie Blue Bland on the album a friend of Dad for many years to have his sound captured on the record was another dream come true.
I could have had Jim Hendrix love his playing Stevie Ray Vaughan who I did play with once, BB King etc. But I can’t complain about what I have got right here now. This is a band that works no one is intimidated by each other we love playing together as Times Have Changed shows.

I remember a huge jam back in 2012 Howlin For Hunert I was part of with a great cast. Including Keb Mo; Eric Clapton. Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks. Steve Jordan, Jimmie Vaughan, Lonnie Brooks, Kenny Wayne Sheppard and many more. Yes the sound was fantastic but everyone held back not wanting to upstage. We didn’t wat to push we had too much respect for each other. There was something lost by the respect. Learnt a lot from that jam, not all about the music, not your take but the collective feel of the band.

From the album Times Have Changed
Out on Provogue/Mascot Label Group on 20 January 2017.