Danny Core Shouts About Broken Witt Rebels Music

Danny Core Shouts About Broken Witt Rebels MusicBD: I was delighted when I listened to Georgia Pine for the first time I was instantly excited by the music. The EP had an energy and freshness and makes me just want to get to hear the band live.

Before we talk about touring and the album Broken Witt Rebels is a new band for many so Bluesdoodles readers would be interested in getting to know you

BD: Let start with your first musical influences growing up in Birmingham?
DC:
We all listened to the music of the nineties, Brit Pop including Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene Danny Core Shouts About Broken Witt Rebels Musicwho were from Birmingham. There are so many bands from the Midlands that have influenced us and who we admire from Sabbath through to UB40 via Zeppelin and Duran Duran.  We have definitely been inspired by early Rolling Stones, The Doors, both variants of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green era and Stevie Nicks.

I began picking up the guitar and playing along to Oasis. I then started to play rhythm chords, etc. I am great at one of them you decide. No seriously, I am a chord monkey on the guitar I leave the rest to James. Having given him the foundation, I underpin him with some great chords.

BD: Genres have become fixed putting musicians into categories how do you define your music.

DC: http://www.brokenwittrebels.comBroken Witt Rebels are a mix of everything Rock with soul and blues. My vocals have a soulful tone we are a super-mix of greatness crossing genres, Whatever we play pop or rock or blues we will be the best.

BD: Well you certainly have musical drive a powerhouse Joe Cocker Midlands Rock!

DC: Like that.

BD: Tell us about the formation of the band and the roles you all play in developing the BWR sound especially your distinctive vocals which have a growl and also twists to empathise with the lyrics…

DC: We work together we all contribute equally. The start of a new track could be guitar lick from James or a crazy drum roll and we go with that. Luke may lay down a great bass line or I may mumble a phrase and we go with that. We build from each other as we jam out in the practice room. I have a good voice, we are all striving to reach the point where we are masters of our instruments. We are all good musicians, good friends all creating a high profile sound. It is the collective effort that creates the BWR sound. Our philosophy is whatever is for the greatest good of the band. We try to play for each other, building on strengths and so often we have realised less is often more. No-one is on a personal ego drive, we are all on the same wavelength.

We do not as a band try to be clever. BWR is not about haircuts, tossing hair around the stage or widdly show-off guitar. It is about the music that we want to connect with the audiences. Yes, I am the front man as the vocalist. The band will not let me become above the rest we are only interested in doing our music as a collective. It is about the four of us owning our music. I will never be the enforcer, head of the band we are together Broken Witt Rebels.

BD: Having reviewed the EP Georgia Pine, tell us about inspiration behind the name and selection of the five tracks

DC: The name of the EP comes from an old stoner reference ‘As high as Georgia Pine’. The starting point was a picture Luke took in Florida of Georgia Pine. James had a guitar lick and I said Sweet Georgia Pine and it worked. I explored the phrase and realised that it was what we wanted to do musically to be the highest trees on the circuit.

Choosing the five tracks was about creating a short-list from a number we had. With an EP you can continually develop and re-invent as you can hear when we play live and on the vinyl that is now available. The tracks worked well together and the two singles got airplay including Planet Rock.

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

DC: Lyrics happen, when I practice I mumble things, sing melody and lines from top of my head. When I replay something always stands out then using that to write about my life or something that is happening in the band or something I connect with. I do not sit down and write a song as you would a poem. It is quite fluid, happens from a phrase or word and grows from that point.

 BD: I am sure you have many plans for 2017 and beyond for Broken Witt Rebels following on from the excitement of 2016 festivals and recognition as Best Rock Act – 1st Unsigned Music Awards.

DC: We are starting the year off picking back up supporting King King and into the mix is opening for local blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor and then our headlining Roadstar tour with Bad Touch. Through March and April playing across England, with visits to Scotland and Wales. The combination of opening for bands and then a tour will reinforce and expand our fan base.

One thing for sure is we are hungry to play our music, get noticed. We want to be a success, to be remembered we are not looking for fifteen minutes of fame then fade away.

We want to be the best band in the world, recognised for our great music, fantastic shows slaying everyone down with our music. We want a career, to make ourselves and our families proud we are aiming for sold out world tours. Danny, misquoting (Bette Davies. “oh Jerry, don’t ask for the moon. We Have the stars” – Now Voyager) but very apt we are aiming for the moon because then we will fall in with the stars – suits this ambitious young band that are determined to be heard.

2017 we definitely need a new album, not to have one would be a massive missed opportunity. We have the material we are ready to go. BWR fans will definitely see us playing in as many towns as possible across UK as well as playing Europe and hopefully dipping our toes into USA.  Musn’t forget we are playing up a mountain in Wales at The Steelhouse Festival which will be fun. 

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
DC:  Well let me think? It would be ……..

Drums: James Dudley
Bass: Luke Davies
Guitar: James Tranter
Vocals: (laughing ) Me!!!
Yes, I could think of the legends but that what they are from the past we are the future.

When asked about what music he is currently listening to the response was Georgia Pine, Demo’s new Broken Witt Rebels music I do not have time for anything else. It is all about our music making it the best we are hungry for recognition through music that is great and to be instantly recognised as Broken Witt Rebels.

Danny Core Shouts About Broken Witt Rebels Music

Keep checking the website for tour dates. Broken Witt Rebels

 Watch this space Broken Witt Rebels will be playing music for you in a town near you very soon.

 

BD: What a fun interview these are four young men with the determination and drive to make it in the music industry as they say they are hungry not for fame they want to be recognised instantly be their brand of rocking blues filled with soul.

 Danny Core Shouts About Broken Witt Rebels Music

Big Boy Bloaters Journey to Luxury Hobo Blues


Big Boy Bloaters Journey to Luxury Hobo Blues

Big Boy Bloaters Journey to Luxury Hobo Blues

BD:  Thanks, Big Boy Bloater for taking the time to chat with Bluesdoodles today. I was amazed that nearly a year has gone by since I reviewed your excellent album Luxury Hobo. Before we talk about the tour let’s start with the album. Review can be found HERE

BD:  You have been quite open that the inspiration behind Luxury Hobo was your personal journey with depression

BBB: Think I had come through all the bad places and was in a good place when I was writing for the album, I had been down at the bottom but now in a good place looking back that is the inspiration for many of the lyrics and melody.

Sitting down, a good song may be grungy but not so grungy that it is hard to pick out the melody. It is the melody that attracts and makes people go back to a song and listen again.

BD: The title is intriguing title life of a Hobo is not normally associated with luxury!

BBB: It is a comment on the current way many of us live. Constantly on the move but wanting luxury. We definitely move around more from place to place; yes we travel but we want to surround ourselves with comfort, glitz and definitely luxury. Deep down we can’t have both.

BD: The video for It Came Out Of The Swamp was definitely attention grabbing how did you come up with the idea of using Lego building blocks?

BBB: Part of coming out of the Breakdown was stock animation as a hobby to keep my mind busy. I would grab a bag of Lego out of the loft and build, photograph and animate. Around this time Lego brought out the ‘swamp monster’ set so it was the perfect combination Lego and myself were in harmony and the video was born. Yes, it has had and continues to attract positive attention.

BD: Do you have a favourite/ special track on the album? And why?

Truly, I love all the tracks but it is the title track Luxury Hobo Blues that is most personal. It is semi-autobiographical I have traveled a lot with my music. It is about keep taking the tablets and moving on. Playing music has taken me all over the world it has been fantastic. The experiences have been good and bad. From travelling first class to being in the back of a transit.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up

Mostly from my Dad’s records of from the 1950’s/60’s lots of rock n’ roll started me down the road of exploring the blues. At the end of the 70’s/ beginning of the 80’s lot s of the old bluesmen were travelling around Slim Gaillard and others. I love the way that the blues does not have to be played perfectly, not in tune these are the bits that give the blues character and flavour. John Lee Hooker listen to him, they are great songs, analyse the music and they are not that good but the feel and emotion makes his blues special.

BD: 2017 starts with you touring including a festival. Do you enjoy playing your music live.

BBD: I love playing my music live, and tracks from Luxury Hobo work so well live. Looking forward to getting on stage meeting people early 2017 and the April HRH Blues Festival in Sheffield. Not played there since the first one in Wales so looking forward to it. I do have some new music as it has been an eventful year and may even sneak a couple in at the live shows. There is definitely lots of life left in the album and I am chomping at the bit to get out there and deliver the songs live on stage. I know that people love to see something a bit different when a tune is performed live. It is always a highlight for them if they notice the band are giving each other that look when the music has taken them to a different place and we have to pull something special out of the bag to get back on track. It is good that little bit of living and playing dangerously. I remember once at The 100 club, I broke a string, something that rarely happens to me. I had no spare guitar so had to replace the string on stage whilst continuing to sing.  That is live music as it happens you just have to be there to experience those moments.

 BD: What other plans do you have for 2017?

BBD: Following on from the early run of dates will be doing festivals through the summer and a more extensive autumn tour is being organised in the UK and Europe so keep checking out the website.  I am writing new music and hope to get back in the studio for the next Big Boy Bloater album.

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

Drums: Earl Palmer

Bass: Willie Dixon

Guitar: Myself (it will be such fun to play with these guys)

Keys: Ike Turner

Vocals: Howlin’ Wolf

This is a super group it will be so much fun to play with these guys. How long it will last before a fight not so sure. Be great music but probably a short-lived group!


Big Boy Bloater & The LiMiTs

Big Boy Bloaters Journey to Luxury Hobo BluesAnnounce UK Tour Dates

Tickets available: HERE 

28th January – The Anvil, Basingstoke: BBB’s Lonely Blues Show
23rd February – Fat Lil’s, Oxford
17th March – The Railway, Winchester w/ Jack J Hutchinson
18th March – The Freebird, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
19th March – THE 100 CLUB, LONDON w/Jack J Hutchinson & DJ Jim Jones
16th April – HRH Blues Fest, O2 Academy Sheffield
28th April – VHRA Vintage Nationals, Santa Pod Raceway, Northamptonshire

In Conversation with Walter Trout: Life Blues Stratocasters

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Photo credit Greg Watermann

In Conversation with Walter Trout: Life Blues Stratocasters

Bluesdoodles was delighted when Walter Trout agreed to talk to us. As most of you will be only too aware in 2013 Walter was diagnosed with life-threatening liver failure and hepatitis C, followed by months in hospital, resulting in a successful liver transplant in 2014. Now he is back playing, and the first studio album since his recovery was the critically acclaimed Battle Scars and recently released Alive in Amsterdam.  There was plenty to talk about.

 

BD: Good evening Walter thanks for taking the time out from your busy schedule to speak to Bluesdoodles this evening

WT: Delighted that Skype worked we can hear and see each other, even Othello joined in the fun with a wag of his tail and treats.

BD: Battle Scars an amazing album and unsurprisingly really emotionally charged, do you feel it as a concept album for the Blues?

I don’t know if it was the first concept album for the Blues but I think in some ways it was probably the first concept album for me. Go The Distance, when I did Go The Distance I had just turned 50 years old I wanted to do an album sort of what I felt on turning fifty. Which, now in hindsight seems to me I was a very young man at the time but I felt ancient you know.  I tried to sort of do it but didn’t really work out to be as much a concept album as I had hoped it would be. I think this one [Battle Scars] certainly was especially because I told this story before, but will tell you here. I wanted to do a new album after coming through hell. I really wanted to write about, and had this new view of life, and had these new understandings about things, new feeling for being alive a new perspective on things. Everything had changed in my mind I saw the world differently I wanted to write about that but everything was coming out clichéd like for example, everything was ‘I see the sunshine’, ‘don’t the flowers smell wonderful’ it has all been done right. I went to my wife and I said I am really frustrated I have all this music. But every time try to put words in there it just comes out as clichéd bullshit, it would have worked great for who I don’t know  err Olivia Newton John or something. She sat down and she said to me look here is what you have to do it might be painful for you sit down and put yourself back in that bed. I laid on my back for seven months that is a long-haul. She said put yourself back there think about it and when you get back how it felt, what you thought ,what you experienced write about that. Once she gave me that idea, she went out for the day and I wrote six songs I wrote more than half that record in on afternoon. By two days later I had it finished, it literally took me three days even two days so it was of course a concept album because I was really focusing on one thing. I would think about different aspects of it.  Each song would be about a different part of that experience. So yea, it definitely came out as a concept album it kinda blew my mind really when two days later I had all these songs I was like wow this is like (Walter chuckles) almost like sitting on a couch and talking to a shrink talking to a therapist. Instead I did it with music. I really had something to say on this sometimes doesn’t always happen that way it can take a week to write a song this one was different I knew what I wanted to say.

BD: I am sure everyone is fascinated that you had to re-learn the guitar. Do you feel your approach/style has changed?

WT: I think I am a better player now. Let me tell you a story you know Bob Harris, his book Whispering Years, he told me that I am best guitarist in the world.  I had lunch with him and he gave me the book back then, I said there are so many guys who can blaze, shred thank you for this. He said,  “Do you know why I wrote this about you?” I said “No.”  He said to me “it is how much you put into it” that was the quote. I think since I have come back from the brink and started out I can put even more into it. It means even more to me than it ever did. I think can put more feeling into every note. I can still play a lot of notes. Sometimes I can go way over the top and people say he is going over the top. But believe me I mean every single note. It was still in my head but I had no muscles. I had lost more than half of my body when I got sick I weighed 230lbs at the height of my illness I weighed little over 100 pounds so it was all my muscle had gone. When I first picked up the guitar I did not have the strength to push the string down to the fret I couldn’t do it. So I had to develop the muscle back, I also had to re-train my muscles to listen to what my brain, what signal my brain was sending.  I knew how to play the chords just not capable of doing it. I basically spent a year with weights working with weights with little weights to develop my fore-arms. Spent 4-5 hours per day acoustic guitar they are a little more difficult they require, a little more strength. I came home in September, first time tried to play guitar in public was New Year’s Eve. I played two songs with my sons, every New Year’s Eve we set up a band in my front yard and on the stroke of midnight we play to my neighbour’s. We have done this for 13 years, I played two songs with my boys “laughing” Born To Be Wild and Fortunate Son by Creedance.  After that I couldn’t play anymore, but I could actually play and it was joyous, then I did not really play a show in public until 15th June at Royal Albert Hall.
BD: So it was a long six-months between sitting on front step and getting up onto a stage.
WT: That was a lot of work still not up to  full speed on New Years Eve.
BD: Was it scary getting back on stage again?
WT: It was a little scary but it was also,  can’t say I was nervous I was apprehensive. I had come to terms with the thought of this maybe will go out there and have dizzy spell fall over. Maybe my hands will cramp up like they had been doing. Maybe I will open my mouth and nothing will come out. If that happens, it happens all I can do is go out there and give it my best attempt I have to say there was an incredible band of English musicians backing me up they were all just awesome. When I counted to four the band came in I thought to myself I’m home I’ve done this 10,000 times, this feels really good. Just a wonderful, wonderful time playing that show. BD: And you are back entertaining us once again WT: Yea yes we are.

 

BD:  Which we see in your latest album Alive in Amsterdam your current album. It is full of emotion and the joy and power of being back on stage. Do you feel re-charged and motivated after the liver transplant?

WT: Being able to do that, it was taken from me all that time I laid in that bed sometimes late at night I would go on my cell-phone and watch a video of myself and I would go who is that guy? I couldn’t do that now if I tried. I can’t relate to that person. Then after I got it back, it means more than it ever did it is joyous to do that. Playing guitar and listening to what is coming out and I’m saying goddam this is fun.  Like when I was fifteen I would play guitar with my friends it was not about going to be a star or getting record deal just playing in garage just experiencing the most joy in your life that you can experience being able to make sound most beautiful thing now to get up there.   I don’t take one of those million notes I play for granted.

BD: Tell us about your guitars, and have you a favoured one?

WT: I am really Fender Strat guy. The first really good guitar that I owned, I had a bunch of kinda like cheap electric guitars when a teenager. I literally quit school and got a job so that I could go and buy a Les Paul.  I started with a Les Paul and then from that I went to Gibson 335 because I dropped the Les Paul the neck broke in half it was horrible, I was 17, that happened to me and I was destroyed. Then I got a 335 I really loved Gibsons. Then one day I was at a party, which was a jam session with a bunch of musicians in Philadelphia a guy said try my Stratocaster he handed me a Stratocaster and I  felt like I had  found my  lifelong partner.  Ever since then it has been a Stratocaster and you know have that old one that has is on the cover of all my records the one that when  I bought was white now turned yellow and not much finish left on it I toured with that thing for 34 years. That guitar is an entity and has my spirit in it. I have retired it from road for two reasons. One, I was too worried about it getting stolen or something happening to it. Number two, it is very, very heavy some years ago I had problems with my shoulders and lost use of left arm and had to go and get all this physical therapy. I couldn’t play and had to start all over again back then also. Literally had to start all over again twice. It is just too heavy for me, I can play when in the studio when sitting down it is a Stock Strat. Now the guitar I am using on this record and tour with and unlike certain young guitar players well known guitar players who part of their hype use fifteen guitars on one song. I am one guitar one woman man here. I have this guitar that, back when shoulder went out a guitar builder out in California, Scott Lentz he built me an incredibly light Stratocaster, that weights almost nothing, he said this will save your shoulder. I didn’t really care for the neck so went to one of my other Strats that I have, I have a bunch of them, I only use one but I have other ones just to have them around. Took neck of one of those and put on the body he built for me. Then, Seymour Duncan, world’s foremost maker of guitar pick-ups. Seymour is a friend of mine we both come up playing in club circuit in New Jersey and Philadelphia he did the same thing, we’re the same age we came up through the years in the same place.  He said to me, “I hear you’re retiring your old guitar”. I said yea, I can’t use it anymore, it killed my shoulder and also if someone stole it I’d have to like jump of a bridge or something” Seymour said, I’ll build you pick-ups and will sound just like it. He built me a couple of sets of pick-ups that is what is in there. If I set up my stage rig in the garage and if I go from the old to the new guitar it is very hard to tell the difference, he did an incredible job. That is my road guitar no, it is really a mutt! A dog of five different species.  Neck off and old one, a body build for me and Seymour’s made the pickups. It definitely plays wonderfully and sounds great It’s become my main road guitar. That is the one on the live album.

 

BD: Going to take you back now, what were your musical influences growing up in New Jersey

WT: My parents were music aficionados was great to have, they didn’t play they just loved music. For instance my Dad was into Jazz and big bands. There used be a radio show in Ocean City, New Jersey where I  grew up that played Big Band music and every week they would have a contest of trivia about big band musicians. He won it so many times that they disqualified him from calling in.  He knew everything and all he did was listen to Duke Ellington, Ben Goodman, Glenn Miller he just loved it. He was also very open to all music. I remember him telling me to check out this guy from Ashbury Park, Bruce Springsteen and I said I knew him from when he was in competing club bands.  Well he just made a record and it’s really good. My Mum was an incredible aficionado of music my big memories of her was in the other room I heard one of Ray Charles old blues albums before he had hits when he was doing R n’B on Atlantic. He was playing some Slow Blues song and my Mom was crying to the song. When they realized I really dug music they started taking me out my Dad would take me to black jazz cubs. They took me to see Ella Fitzgerald, Mum took me to see James Brown, Righteous Brothers, Lou Rawls Dad took me to see Clive McPhatter, Chuck Berry it was just really awesome

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

WT: I would have the Guys I play with right now in m y band that’s the best band I’ve ever had. Part of having a band is the chemistry between the players the communication between the players as evidenced by The Beatles for me the greatest band of all time. If you take them separately they are what they are. Put those four together it’s an unbelievable divine intervention type of thing it’s about the chemistry. Right now I think I have the best blues rock band in the universe as evidenced by the new live album.

 

Alive In Amsterdam – Mascot Record Group

Guitar & Vocals – Walter Trout
Keys – Sammy Avila
Bass – Johnny Griparic
Drums – Michael Leasure

Walter Trout is touring throughout 2016 including Europe & U.K. check out dates andvenues HERE

Bluesdoodles reviews

Scan0006

Battle Scars – Here

 

 

Walter Trout Alive In Amsterdam playing Hot Blues

Alive In Amsterdam – Here

Conversation with Joe Louis Walker Everybody Wants a Piece

Everybody Wants a Piece Interview Joe Louis Walker

Everybody Wants a Piece Interview Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker Adding Blues to UK SummerBD: Big thank you for taking time out of your busy UK tour to chat with Bluesdoodles. It was a real privilege when Mascot gave Bluesdoodles the opportunity to review Everybody Wants A Piece album

JLW: Happy to chat we are at the lovely venue The Convent. Had a good English breakfast and yesterday we had a day off and got to see Stonehenge. So things always work out when plans change.

 

BD: Lets start at the beginning. What were your musical influences growing up on the West Coast, in San Franciso?
JLW: There has been quite a few, music is a constant influence. My first though is definitely my Father. He was from the South and grew up in the area where lots of the old blues guys came from, ploughing in the fields with Howlin’ Wolf. From a very young age the music was just there. It was a Mum and Dad thing, they listened to music on the record player and I was the kid that gravitated to music. It was definitely Mother and Father influences that set me on the trajectory as I was attuned to the music it was a form of happiness and comfort as a kid. I wondered how music came out of the record player, how you made music. Other friends played football, I wanted a guitar to figure out how they did it and made that sound. At school we had the opportunity to borrow instruments. The guitar was always in high demand and checked-out of the loan system like the favourite book in a library! My parents couldn’t afford to buy me one, so I tried out other instruments the violin, then the accordion and the Harp. I was okay on the violin I still have one at home but the guitar captured my imagination. By the age of fourteen I was playing the guitar.

BD: Blues runs deep and you have collaborated with a diverse group of first-class artists including Buddy Guy, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Everyone likes to read about a good or bad experience of collaboration what are your recollections?
JLW: Wow collaboration. I have been fortunate and have collaborated with so many of the greats. The list is huge including John Lee Hooker and Herbie Hancock. I am really a student of music for my whole life learning, absorbing from the likes of Ike Turner. I was affected by BB King & Willie Dixon they shared so much learning about music and so much more. How to travel, manage pay roll taxes and conduct yourself on stage and above all simple tips like tucking shirt into underpants so it doesn’t ride up over your trousers on stage. Simple stuff but invaluable. Collaboration is the exchange of ideas and style developing your music and working together. Collaboration gives you a road map – follow the right road, not the wrong road as gospel music says.

The adversity that the old guys went through was incomprehensible but it made the blues. My Dad laughed when I was 13/14 years old at guys coming over and playing the blues and younger guys like Bo Diddley. He said about Yardbirds why white guys want to play the blues. We are trying to get away to make money it was frowned upon as this poor people music. Real Blues guys at the time were not popular. Those who really appreciated them were young English white guys they digged the blues, wanted to know the blues. For the guys who wrote the music, it wasn’t commercial. The likes of Chuck Berry would find out that his songs were number 1 all over the world, but not by you! Accepting someone else enjoying more success with your material than you, that you invented it hurts right. It is the dichotomy of the blues. Some were accepting the likes of Muddy and BB. Being bitter just eats you up inside. Better to celebrate the music that was “inclusive” speaking to the whole world. Not pure, but mixed-up, re-packaged, redone.
Music is and always will be art that speaks to the soul. Ground breakers including, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davies all spoke the language we wanted to hear. Music connects us brings us all together. Reacts to politics, relationships, life all put into music.

If you put into a room every type of musician – classical, rap, hip hop, jazz and are asked to play one song I can guarantee (laughing) yes guarantee it will be the Blues. Why? It is the Common denominator the root of modern music.

BD: Tell our readers about the inspiration of the album Everybody Wants A Piece and does the title reflect how you feel?
JWL: The title is not about me but the Hi-tech world we live in. It is the observation that in the age of the internet we look at so much and feel we should have so much, should be better. Everybody wants a bit of fame, happiness riches. Everybody Wants A Piece is a trajectory of how to get to this by trying this and that to achieve success. Being successful is a huge driver, to have mega riches, mega this and mega that through mega promotions. I know people who are fabulously famous but trapped in a gilded cage. Everybody Wants A Piece of that fame. You can also superimpose the title onto lots of things it is generic making it for a songwriter a cool thing.

On the album, the band and myself played and sung everything, no out of town backing singers or extra musicians. We played in the studio and it was recorded this was the way I grew up making records. There has been recording studio battles regarding separation with the guitarist in one booth and each person separated. I was recording twenty years ago when Scotty Moore, the recording engineer who also backed Elvis Presley in the early days; I went to look where to stand behind a screen and he said “No. Stand in the middle.” I asked what about the bleeding of guitar on drums, Scotty said the bleeds we love it. Elvis, Fats Domino all did it this way with often just one microphone in the middle of the room. Mistakes, as Miles Davis said there are no mistakes. It is just jazz if there is a mistake it makes music real. If it (recorded music) is too perfect it is not human just technical. They used a pitch blender to get a single note in a sequence perfect by isolating it if too flat or sharp. Auto-tuning takes the meaning out of singing. I like my music real and that is what we achieved in the mix of styles of Everybody Wants A Piece.

BD: Tell us a bit about the band
JWL:
Played together over the years. Lenny Bradford on Bass has been with me for 7-8 years. Played with Bo Diddly, Moody Blues and many more, so brings deep bass grooves. Completing the rhythm section is drummer Byron Cage who is like a son. Then on keys on the album I had a choice of two, Phillip Young and Jimmy Smith. The band is like a rotating family we have covered a lot of space over the years. The musicians reflect the lot of variety there is in roots music. Not pure blues from the likes of Chicago /Mississippi but blues that is of my generations. Younger people growing up with wider influences rock, pop and FM radio, festivals such as Monterey when I was growing up in San Francisco. We were always discovering things. Grateful Dead lived up the road, Sly Stone. Then there were the blues guys coming out and gigs where it was a mix of styles like Jefferson Aeroplane, or James Cotton a Jazz quartet. I have been fortunate to have experienced a full dose of everything musical. All shape who I am today. I have never been a blues player, I have listened and played jazz, rock-blues. Perfect education as I listened to all styles, keep your ears, heart and mind open is how you learn. I like Peter Green as much as I like Sun Seals or George Jones almost as much as Howlin [Wolf]; John Lee Hooker as much as BB [King] and Bob Marley as much as Gil Scott-Heron and so on. I enjoy all music whether heard in Synagogue, Nashville, Mississippi it makes no difference music connects. Musicians love to meet up and discuss music across the genres.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting? Is it always personal?
JWL:
The guitar captured my imagination. Not everyone gets the intricacy of a musician playing. Whereas the spoken word is the first to grab your attention so lyrics are vital. The first rhythm that people hear is the drums. The chords shape the mood Majors are uplifting Minors associated with not being so happy. Chuck Berry’s Back In USA and Sweet Sixteen are in Major chords and push the blues. A sad lyric will always have a minor chord. Lyrics and the voice is how we communicate the feeling, via the message of the lyrics. Vocals communicate when softly sung or really hard you don’t learn when to use which approach overnight it is by trial and error and lots of practice. You can draw the crowds in with both harsh and soft when you get it right.
Lyrics get inspiration everywhere from sayings. In the past when in England band travelled in the van, I took the train. The Rhythm of the train, click of the wheels and conversations heard were all inspiring. Some are topical, others autobiographical. Sayings for me are interesting the little things people say like ‘Lie’. Lie your pants on fire, Inspiration can be found when you pick up the paper. So much to do and say it is about keeping your eyes, ears and mind open and let the inspiration flow in. The world is rich with so much, full of communicating. If you sing about being happy or life’s tribulations 9 out of 10 people listening will have been through it too. Anyone can then relate to the lyrics you are communicating. Two trains are running, but one ain’t going in my direction. So do what you want to do take your own road.

BD: Tell Bluesdoodles readers about Blues For Peace the grass root movement you are involved with?
JWL:
Started when my friend Michael Packer. Michael is the same generation lived through the 1960’s we had to march and demonstrate for women’s rights, interracial relationships, anti-Vietnam protests. Right now especially in the last ten years, there has been incredible divisions in society, they are harmful. Beheadings on the internet, blowing up buildings, music venues such as Bataclan in Paris, we have politicians who are incredibly narcissistic talking about dropping a nuclear bomb on Europe. It is so negative. So how can we counteract and not be negative? We can Do Blues for Peace. Then partnered by UNHCR by Unesco and UN with 200 countries linked playing Blues for Peace from Israel to China to Lebanon. The loudest voice the craziest acts get noticed with 24-hour news the biggest gets the most attention. Blues for Peace is part of a conversation to negate this every little bit helps. The majority of people in every country, from every religion, wants to live life peacefully get along with it. They do not go to bed worrying about gays marrying or refugees getting into their homes it is just certain segments of politicians and sections of religion. Blues for Peace is carrying on the message of John Lennon, Give Peace a Chance, Bob Dylan Blowing in The Wind, Jimi Hendrix Peace Sign etc.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing?
JWL
: Now that is a good question and a trick question what is a perfect band? It has been done putting together a bunch of stars and they suck as a band. A band is a group of musicians and personalities that work together. Now Muddy Waters first band that was something everybody playing its part. Put together greatest Rock n Roll band they would have to want to play collectively. In reality, they would argue about what the band should play, who takes the lead and the interpretation of the song. Yes for me it was Muddy Water’s first band that really shone.

JoeLouisWalker_01_byMarilynStringerThank you so much, Joe Louis, for taking the time for such and in-depth conversation about music, the world, peace and so much more.

Last night of the tour 13th June The Convent catch it live in Stroud or via Netgig wherever you are

Bluesdoodles review of Everybody Wants A Piece – HERE

Coleen Rennison Giving Voice To No Sinner

Coleen Rennison Giving Voice To No Sinner

Coleen Rennison Giving Voice To

No Sinner

 

 

BD: Big thank you for taking time out of your busy life to chat with Bluesdoodles. 
CR: Thank you for taking an interest it will be fun talking about music and stuff.
BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Vancouver?
CR: Laughing, My Girl, from The Temptations, it was how the song is sung at the end had a big effect on me as did all the Motown sound. I was obsessed so was in a 1960’s cover girl group. Other major influences were the songs of Grease and American Graffetti. Then there was the early rock n roll which I have always loved like Chuck Berry.

BD: Tell us a little bit about the band No Sinner and how you work with the other members and the making of Old Habits Die Hard which has a different sound from Boo Hoo Hoo.
CR: This album [Old Habits Die Hard] was written with the full band it was a band enterprise, very different from making Boo Hoo Hoo (Laughing). With Boo Hoo Hoo the material was basically written and fixed in place before the group had been created. So the exciting part of Old Habits Die Hard, is that it has an organic feel. It was created with lots of input from many rather than from my own personal life. The music came about in different ways, on our latest album sometimes evolving from a jam, sometimes the lyrics created the melody. Or we had a great melody and the lyrics came out of the tune.

The band is a new line-up the problems after Boo Hoo Hoo have faded and we are excited about the music we have produced together. This album connects with us all. Keys from Nathan Shubert add an extra dimension that wasn’t present on Boo Hoo Hoo. This album is more grown up and rounded.

BD: Old Habits Die Hard is a fantastic follow-up album to Boo Hoo Hoo Bluesdoodles loves it. Tell us about working with Executive Producer Ben Kaplan.
CR: Everyone says the second album is difficult. This is so different it is like starting over again. Boo Hoo Hoo all that material was there two years ago it was what we did. Ben Kaplan looked at the pile of stuff that had accumulated over the time we have been thinking about the album. Ben, then organized it and made sense out of the material. This gives that album shape and a finished album that has a purpose. All the rest of the process was the bands, it is in reality self-produced it is truly a band project. We engineered it and I did all the executive decision making. Ben Kaplan’s role was and outsider casting organizational ear over the project.

BD: AS a singer with a powerful voice how do you ensure that it is rested and stays in top form?
CR: Nothing special, older I get the harder to recover and easier to lose your voice, I do try to use warm up exercises, the real strain is smoking, and talking about the music afterwards with fans. I love that part but does put further strain on the vocal chords (laughing loudly)

BD: Do the tracks have personal meaning and have you a favourite Track?
CR: Hollow, or Let Slip they are both great songs. Love songs mean different things to different people and depending on their experiences they are relatable.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?
CR: Lyrics are the centre of songwriting for me. Life, the crazy nature. Experiences on the road. Things that happen, relationships and people. Lyrics form, it is always (laughing) a bit crazy.

BD: Tell us a bit about being a woman in the 21st century music scene, misogyny and the constant comparisons to women of the past including Etta James and Janis Joplin?
CR: Well, Janis people go to the most obvious there are not as many women in the pool to choose from as it is smaller. Feminism I see that as a sexist term, it is what is set in equal rights. It is all fucked up and not equal, I am anti separate catergories. The important factor is how men and women are treated and react to each other. As a woman you get privileges that men do not and other occasions it is vice-versa. I get treated as someone in the bands girlfriend and the reaction when they realise I am the leader of the band is priceless. (chuckling away at the memories).

BD I am sure you have many plans for 2016 and beyond for No Sinner – hope you are going to do a more extensive tour of UK.
CR: With a new album we are planning to get on the road and rev up the music live on stages across USA and of course Canada. We are planning Europe in the fall and planning some UK dates and hope to come out of London It is all so expensive touring with a band.

BD: When not playing your own music who do you listen to?
CR: I listen to lots of music, rock n’ roll, Led Zeppelin Van Morrison, The Who and Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone. I love discovering new music.

BD: How do you relax, do you have a particular hobby to take time out from music to rejuvenate your creativity
CR: The open road on my motorcycle. And Yoga. I have just come back from a road trip from Vancouver to LA and back, the only thing that didn’t go to plan was breaking down just outside Seattle. So had to leave the bike. In fact just got back from getting the bike back home. The Pan American Highway is awesome, fuels creativity gives me thinking time. Freedom to get outside of my head, when on stage or on my bike I have to be there in the moment in a meditative state.

Coleen Rennison Giving Voice To No Sinner
Will Ireland – No Sinner

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
CR: Mmmm… now that is interesting and difficult. Not a musical nerd, just listen and sing. I just know singers. Now Daniel Sveinson, our guitarist would give a good answer.

Thank you for your time, the laughs and insights.

 

No SinnerOld Habits Die Hard out on Mascot Record Label.

Ol’ Glory, Bands and Music JJ Grey in Conversation

 Ol’ Glory, Bands and Music JJ Grey in Conversation

BD: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me after the sound check, which did sound very good outside, and before tonight’s show at The Tunnels on a sunny Sunday in Bristol.
JJGrey: No problem, yes it is like a warm day where I live in Jacksonville

BD: Is this your first time in Bristol?
JJGrey: I have played here before. It should be my third but the second time I was due to play Bristol the whole plan was de-railed. I was on a train from Paddington to Templemeads, just above the Tunnels and the train broke down around Slough so never got to the gig on time. So glad to be back in Bristol the tour bus outside ensured and looking forward to the show tonight

BD: Over the years your band or Mofro has changed tell us about your current line-up
JJGrey: It is a mix of new and established. As usual Denis Marion Trumpet and Todd Smallie Bass,
Craig Barnette on Drums has re-joined played on my second album Lochloosa with Zach Gilbert guitarist and trumpeter Marcus Parsley. The band works around the sound we produces dirty and funky. Mofro changes, and I have played with many fine musicians. Including Greyhounds (Anthony Farrell & Andrew Trube) who have a recording contract and doing their own.

BD: Your lyrics are powerful, they unfurl with a story that has to be told. Where do you get your inspiration for you songwriting?
JJGrey: Songwriting, just comes, it just happens. I try not to get too involved with the lyrics. Not to over think them. Writing songs is like a conversation sometimes you struggle to find the perfect word but like talking it normally just flows. Lyrics are for the voice they are the support. The voice then mimics the emotion and tells the story.
I believe everyone can write a song. It is about finding lyrics that express an emotion. BD: Really! I am certain that I do not have the skill to write a song. Example of what I am saying, a friend of the Greyhounds was in a tumultuous relationship and she wrote about it, the result a great number with great lines she captured the moment.

BD: Do you have a track on the album that is personal to you?
JJGrey: I love them all. If I had to pick one it would be The Island. The song was written quickly it gives the song a freshness. I wrote the song in the studio and is about where I live, in Jacksonville Florida, near the Florida/Georgia line.

BD: Your Latest Album, Ol Glory,with its dozen new songs is out on CD and Vinyl a growing retro trend – is that important to you?
JJGrey: Starting off with vinyl I have always loved vinyl my last album Georgia Warhorse was also released on vinyl. I would have done all my albums on vinyl but back in the eighties it became so thin, and poor quality with thin grooves and the demand fell. Now people want to buy vinyl often in combination with download for the regular playing. Not to play like we did in the day take to parties, leave around and then put nickels and dimes on the arm to reduce the effect of scratches.

BD: You are back in the UK do you find audiences different here compared to US & Europe?
JJGrey: The reality is the UK is more like USA there are so many connections we have lots in common including for many relatives we understand each other. Our good comedy’s work in the UK and vice versa.
Across Europe audiences are different Germany for example, are very quiet and then enthusiastic when the show is over. Across the UK there are many different vibes all are good Allow you to be different in your performance, sometimes it is quieter and other times the audience want to party. I modify the set list to fit the mood how I deliver a song and for quieter audience’s ballads fit in perfectly. Everybody is part of the show, I do not see the stage as an imaginary wall where it is us (the Band) and audience. An example of this I saw Blind Boys of Alabama the audience was in-tune with the show and I was moved to tears. Couple week’s later different audience and the set not as good as the audience did not connect. BD: I saw them in Cardiff and they were amazing with the audience joining in and the atmosphere was intense, were as I have been to gigs where the audience just sit and listen more like a classical performance. JJ Grey: Yes, I must play in Wales, BD: That be good some great venues in Cardiff that would appreciate the JJ Grey sound. JJ Grey: A show is like a good conversation there is a flow between stage and the audience. An analogy of what I am trying to say would be – If two people have a conversation and one talks and the other says nothing. The person who hasn’t spoken says well that wasn’t a good conversation. Musicians are the same we need feedback from the audience something beyond the performance and the music then gets its own energy and the conversation between performer and audience flows.

BD: Last night a Chapel tonight in the Tunnels underneath Temple Meads, two very quirky venues.
JJGrey: Yes, they are very different to each other with their own challenges. The Chapel was beautiful and had strict Db limits. We are not a loud band but we had to turn down the volume. The sound was good there was a different tone and suited the venue. Tonight I am hoping Bristol is hot, loud and wants to party and you to take the lead in raising the noise, he says with a laugh.

BD: You voice is central to the sound, do you take special care of the eighth instrument in JJ Grey and Mofro?
JJGrey: To tell the truth I have been so guilty in the past I have been singing since I was 17 and for thirty years took no notice of my voice. Things have changed, in the last 3-4 years, I have taken more notice of my vocals and look after it. It is now I feel in better shape than ever I can singer lower and higher than when I was 18! Yes, when on tour I suffer from some wear and tear by the end but after a day or two, it recovers. When singing three straight weeks that is not surprising. When I was with Alligator Records I always had the attitude you can’t beat me they nearly did when I had nineteen shows in seventeen shows, plus radio shows when in town. I did say that enough is enough after that tour.

BD If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing?
JJGrey:
Bass: James Jamerson (he was bassist at Mowtown Records)
Drums: Roger Hawkins (Drummer at Muscle Shoals)
Guitars: Derek Trucks – Slide
Luther Dickinson
Trumpet:Clark Terry
Vocals: Donny Hathaway
Saxophone: Eddie Harris
Keys: Donny Hathaway

And I would fire myself, just have the joy of sitting back and listening every day.

Ol' Glory, Bands and Music JJ Grey in Conversation

 

Read about the Bristol gig HERE

 

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

BD: Big thank you for taking time out of your busy life to chat with Bluesdoodles. Thank you so much for letting Bluesdoodles have a copy of Feelin Good, your forthcoming album before its release. More of that later I am sure.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Belfast?
KH: From my Dad, the Eagles which is why I love to harmonize. I found Etta James and when aged about 12 I auditioned for Opportunity Knocks. The tapes are lost as the BBC had a big fire where they stored lots of videos including mine all were burnt so not able to get a copy. Granny tried getting me to listen to St Louis Blues 1st on cassette tape. Then Etta James and female torch singers. I like the passion in women singers and in some men, it is powerful women singers that make me feel empowered.

BD: Kaz you are a big character on stage and the sound is blues with soul gospel with a contemporary twist what influences from past and today go into creating the Kaz sound?
KH: It has taken years to nurture and develop my stage presence. If you don’t feel strong enough to be who you are, nothing would change. I would still be in a cover band, it was monotonous, I felt lost just singing rather than performing. Then in it changed in 2011. I had started to learn guitar in about 2008, I only had 3 or 4 chords. With note books full of words I had written over the years, I just had to put them into chords to make them into songs. On the plus side singing covers gave me the solid platform to jump off from. I had no idea it would take off with a Blues Band. I then had the amazing opportunity to support Van Morrison, so my presence just blew up in 2012. Took just over year to be known, because Belfast is so small you can quickly become famous or infamous.
BD: How jump out of Belfast?  KH: Well couple DJ’s including Kevin Beale, and Ed Mitchell Blues Magazine playing and promoting my style of blues kinda going on in background. We needed to get rid blues hat not just blues felt I was not going down the right route. So took the decision and packed in the blues band and went solo. I had my own vision of where I wanted to be with my music but it was so very hard and challenging to put my vision and belief to other people. During the making of my debut album Get Ready it was so difficult, I lost band members, there was no feeling of being cohesive as no-one could commit or they didn’t fit so people got sacked. It was all rather traumatic and demanding. I lost money huge amounts but I had a belief in the music I wanted to create. All off this in the mix that is Kaz Hawkins on stage.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting? Is it always personal influenced by your at times difficult life’s journey?
KH: The lyrics are mostly personal. I have always kept a notebook where I put down words thoughts as they occur. On Feelin Good the words are all so important to me. Soul Superstar is about me as a child never being able to sing for joy. I was virtually kidnapped by my Granny who took me to the Opportunity Knocks audition. I did sing in public from a very young age. Dad took me to bars when I was 7-8 to sing for money, he used to take the pound notes giving me a £1 to take home to my mother. It was not a happy experience. I want to feel comfortable, be happy with the artist I always wanted to be breath, taking a moment I always do when standing in the wings take deep breath still get nervy but I so need that adrenalin. I started from very humble beginnings. The song Because You Love Me is for my daughter whereas Don’t Run Away is an abstract reflection of domestic violence. The lyrics have changed, partly due to the funky rhythm and also Domestic Violence needs to be noticed and talked about but also need to respect the code of silence that survivors maintain. Some of the songs have been written for a while like Belfast Town a crazy mad song of my hometown. The personal gives you connection, understanding and passion for every piece when performed on stage or in the studio.

BD: Tell us a bit about being a woman in the 21st century music scene, misogyny and the motivation for the facebook group Blues Sisters UK?
KH: Needed to be done get all of us in one place I didn’t want a man leading the way. Yes we have brothers who support but women have been subjected to so much over the years there is lots of mistrust. We need to take women to a different level where they are confident in their abilities. The DJ’s play our music yet when you looked at the UK Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA) I could only count only 2-3 sisters. It cheered me up when Dave Raven recently posted on the Sisterhood group that the sisterhood is strong in the latest charts. It is sad in a way that we have to be notified that our presence is strong it should just be happening. We still have blinkers on do not look outside it really shouldn’t be a big issue of 50:50 especially for the next generation. They have to be inspired and most importantly see the life of women in the world of music. For years for me personally the music scene has been horrific and definitely not good to me. I would go to jams and people (men) would not play with me so I said F**ck it! Neanderthal behaviour so would get my own band and not go to blues jams and be the token female. I have been made so welcome on the mainland by a lot of males in the blues fraternity catching on to the fact that sisters have a lot to bring and should be appreciated. The UK Blues Sisterhood is a place for every sister to have a showcase. Everyone can see how exciting and eclectic UK Blues scene is. The whole range sisters have to offer is stunning.

BD: You have had a change in band members since your last album/tour what have the new members added to the mix? Also this time you are Kaz Hawkins Band is it more of a team enterprise?
KH: Working so hard since touring last year I knew the next album was going to be bigger and better it was so important to have the right rhythm section. I needed a big sound and a more feminine sound with the addition of the immensely talented Deanne Jones as a backing singer. With the re-brand as I was no longer comfortable being solo so here is the Kaz Hawkins Band. As a band we have a three year plan, we will be going for it hammer and tong, touring like crazy and releasing as much music as possible. I now have a much better band they are just so loyal and amazing. My guitarist Nick has been with me for four and half years. He has lost jobs because of putting commitment to my music first. He is so loyal and having been in car crashes, supporting me when I broke my shoulder and had to put up with people saying doesn’t have the caliber to be my guitarist. He may not have had the money to buy the best but loyalty to me is far more important that this macho guitar w****ing that goes on. Nick will shine brighter and be able to afford to buy the equipment he wants. Kaz Hawkins Band is strong and will be noticed through our music.

BD: Lots of positive vibes for your follow up album to Get Ready – this certainly got us ready for your explosive blues sound, How has the music focus changed for Feelin Good. Was the inspiration for the title a reflection of how you are feeling now?
KH: Yes! it was and to reflect the journey from debut to the follow-up album. I wasn’t 100% sure of the direction I was going in as a musician. The cost of making Get Ready was eye watering bankrupted me plus the emotional fallout as the band changed personnel as members left others were sacked, there was no cohesion no band loyalty. But I kept going remained strong thanks to so much support from fans and people who know me and now out the other end and my life is amazing. People have asked why use the title of a cover song, firstly our version is so off the wall and the title is a true reflection where we are as a band and my own life.

BD: The video and song you used to announce the album and to get pre-sales was This Is Me a powerful song and is this autobiographical or for women everywhere to be themselves?

KH: Wow glad you find the video powerful it was meant to be. Yes it is autobiographical. The words also relates to anybody who wants to be themselves. This is Me is a statement about accept me as I am, I may not conform but I will not be judged by my quirk approach or difference. This is Me – a simple but bold and empowering statement take me as you find me and please do not judge. ..

BD: You have recently announced that you’re a Honorary member of the recently formed UK Blues Federation tell me what you have as a vision for blues across the UK and how the federation is a piece of the jigsaw.
KH: Kaz, excitedly shared via video link that the button stating Honorary Member and UK Blues Federation logo is proudly displayed on the album. Blues in the UK need a vision. UK Blues needs to be seen as stretching out across the UK. Northern Ireland, doesn’t have blues clubs and expensive to tour Danny Bryant comes over and is always appreciated. UK Blues Federation should raise the profile of the blues and as an honorary member who sings the blues and from Northern Ireland should help get this area of UK noticed. Danny Bryant comes over, no blues clubs and low payers NI cheaper than mainland. It is important that UK Blues have somewhere to congregate in one place should be leading the way so that all clubs join and setting the example. Gives bands a place to compete and then represent UK in Europe and Memphis which is exciting. After entering and the stress it caused me I swore after the Mascot Label that I would not compete again. How things have changed I am so excited and proud to be one of the four bands in the 2016 UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2. Using opportunity for mini tour Basingstoke and Tenby Blues Festival already confirmed.

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

KH: Everyone from Free and Journey plus myself joining on vocals what a three way harmonizing Paul Rogers + Steve Perry & Kaz Hawkins….

 

 

Read all about the album HERE

 

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

 

 

Dan Reed Talks about Music Networks, Solo and Life

Dan Reed Talks about Music Networks, Solo and Life

Dan Reed Talks about Music Networks, Solo and Life

 

 

 

BD: Hi Dan hope you are well, thank you for taking the time to speak to me this evening
DR: Yes I’m well and  ready to talk about Network and the new album.

BD: Dan Reed Network back together once again people are still digging the band what is the magic formula?
DR:
First put the band together the network with musicians from different backgrounds and ethnicity. Our tastes in music is varied from Mozart to Miles Davies, Doobie Brothers to Led Zeppelin, Earth, Wind and Fire, Rush to Parliament; Rush to The Brothers Johnson.  Blake has left and Rob now playing keys keeps that tradition, he is also a consummate guitar fusion rock etc. Dan Reed Network is still a mutual respect society having a great time. People connect to this and perhaps as they said we were ahead of our time so the music old and new continues to speak to the next generation.

Glad to be back with the Network. I have been doing solo for the last seven years. Solo work is more internal, the band is different with high energy, like a work out at the gym. I like both worlds of music solo and the Network.

BD: What if any differences have you found with the scene in the 21st Century?
DR:  I did quit from the music scene from 1994 -2006; during that time I travelled went off to find myself in India and then Jerusalem where I had a recording Studio. During my twelve years of I did many things including club owner and theatre work, then in 2009 started playing again.

The biggest change is the internet. It has changed and shaped our accessibility. The only way previously  to reach out was record deal and fate was in the hands of A&R and believing in your music. The choice was survive locally or a deal and hope fame followed. Now with internet can be huge for example the success of Justin Bieber. This has grown to the tragic situation of the Kardashians famous no talent, famous for a sense of fashion perhaps, they are like many now famous for being famous. Reality TV feeds it this dream to be wealthy/ famous it is feeding into a shallow part of our Psyche.  Then there are all the mechanical stuff, auto tune etc.

We have an addiction to our devices, social media replaces the need for real human contact. This need to be with people is fulfilled, can find music to listen to so why go out and discover your own live music. I find it interesting that Steve Jobs didn’t let his children have i-phone/pads. On a positive note DRN is re-connecting with fans and young people finding our music when we played shows with only new music eighteen months ago and now we have the new album.

BD: Tell our readers about Dan Reed Network going back into the studio to record your 4th album after a gap of 25 years since The Heat?
DR:  Actually, it is our 5th we recorded our debut album Breathless before we had a record deal. It was similar to what we did in past when all lived in home city. Then we did 12-track, rehearsed and went into studio. Now we do all the pre-production via internet as with time we have moved, with myself in Prague other members in Portland, Los Angeles and Honduras. Then once happy with this meet up and go into the studio. This is a change as we are all older, have families and the commitments they bring.

Still Funk-rock with the Network, solo is different mix of singer/songwriting with lots Middle Eastern instruments incorporated. The Dan Reed Network has changed lyrics are stronger but still hear what made us distinct back in the day.

BD: Having Listen to Fight Another Day does the title reflect the feeling of the band and its comeback.?
DR: The album title has a double meaning for us. Yes the band back doing our music. Also the background of an American presidential candidate, who is popular through inciting fear. It is Trump I am referring to with his narrative of building wall between States and Mexico, not allowing Muslims etc, its is  an archaic politics. Do we give in to this fear of immigration? Why is it okay to bomb others but terrorism if they bomb us?  There is a different way that is growing momentum breathing hope into politics. Bernie Sanders has had more single donations than any candidate had raised the same money as Clinton without corporate deals. It is  exciting the youth as Bernie is using compassion instead of wealth even the current Pope admires. No a fan of Popes in general but he has morals and attributes that Jesus spoke about.  Fight Another Day we want to be on par with bands half our age.
BD:  So you see a change in the axis of society beliefs and motivations? DR: yes there is a turnaround not all about selling our egos and selfies. Our college students are getting active that has to be good.

 

BD: The track Reunite has a strong lyrical story with strong chorus and luscious chords is this a celebration of DNR getting it back together?
DR: Originally composed by three Swedish guys for Eurovision who asked me to sing it. It is a cover with DRN giving it more edge rather than pop song. Encapsulated what DRN are about in the day not 100% out of my head and thought of me be asked to sing it. In the past we did a couple of B-sides that was a co-written by artists outside DRN. Never has a co-write been on an album, this track felt right though I had to fight to get it on the track listing, it was thought as being too Disco!

BD:  Well I for one as a reviewer am glad it made the final cut as it is an excellent track and more Dance than Disco to my ears. DR: Well the drum has a disco beat, we will do video eventually for the track. BD: Looking forward to that.

BD: The music hooks back to the Funk-Rock sound of DRN of the 1980’s how has your music developed in the ensuing years? Not retro but with a foot in the past?
DR:  We have changed the guitar sound. It is not processed. Not run through pedals but plugged into fairly basic amps. The rhythm guitars have a little reverb no effect pedals. We have lost much of the synth sound. Recently saw AC/DC again last Summer, 60,000 people enjoying the rock with Angus and Brian. I thought this is as raw as it gets. AC/DC crank the amp up as high as we can without distortion and keeping up the sustain as long as possible. DRN continues with typical rock-synth bass like early albums. Drums didn’t use much effect all pretty dry. Rob Daiker keyboard and co-producer. He tracked and mixed the album, I co-produced his first album we have a long-standing working relationship.   Feels organic rather than processed giving the sound a modern edge.

BD: Back on tour in Europe with one UK date promoting the album
DR: June looking forward to being back on the road Pwllheli HRH festival last year, the feedback has been positive with the faithful and  gaining new momentum. Not playing new music when played at Download 18 months ago.  I was shocked at the response from young people asking why they hadn’t heard of the music where can they buy it. Most is no longer available and the music was written before they were born. Things change the rave scene carried over splitting distinct areas Electronica/groove and the grunge scene e.g Alice Without Chains with no electronic music on records. Bands like  U2 who tried go with flow are few and far between.

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

DR:

Drums: Bruce Carter  Played with North-West funk band Pleasure  and Cool’r always went to watch him play drums. Great grooves thick put down
Bass: Jaco Pastorious
Guitar Prince most underrated  guitar player
Keys: Jeff Lorberry – Jazz
Vocals: Freddie Mercury

BD: Thank you once again for your time.

 

DR: Been fun and the band will sound mighty cool.

Divide from the current Album Fight Another Day – read What Bluesdoodles said HERE

In Conversation with Guitarist JD Simo

 In Conversation with Guitarist JD Simo

In Conversation with Guitarist JD Simo

 

 

 

BD: I was delighted when Mascot Label asked us to review your latest album Let Love Show You The Way.  It is an album full of twists and turns and luscious tones. In other words enjoyed the album very much.

 

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Chicago?
JD Simo:
Early influence was Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Heard Elvis and fell in love with his music and the Family Tree of music leads up to him and then all the music after him. Went on exploring music after the initial influences.
American music Hillbilly Country and Country are a melding of working class black and white, a co-mingling of styles. Gospel and Rn’B are inter-related. Back in the 50’s lines between genres were blurred, listen to music including  Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Howlin’ Wolf listen and the similarities are working class primeval places.
BD: Genres have become fixed putting musicians into categories.

JD Simo: I understand the need in a commercial environment. There needs to be high levels of brand recognition so that the consumers know what they are letting themselves in for.  All of us in the band do not mind at all being associated with the blues. Blues is a big foundation of our music, but we don’t really play the blues live. Feel embarrassed in the respect of the art form as I feel we are not representative of blues and what is being said about us. We are a Rock, Rock n’Roll band to our core.

BD: In the preamble Joe Bonamassa has quoted you JD as one of the best around. Quite a recommendation how does that add to the pressure?

JD Simo: Not added pressure, just grateful that he has been so kind. Joe has been a good friend of mine for a while, love him as a friend. It goes deeper than just a friendship. Compliments are always good from others, in fact, make me feel bashful with all the kindness and grateful. The pressure, we put that on ourselves, pressure to do better tonight and the next night.

BD: Having reviewed the Album, can you tell us about recording in the Big House and the inspiration behind Let Love Show The Way

JD Simo: Incredible experience, it was all haphazard just happened. We went with intention of just doing a couple of bonus tracks that the label, mascot wanted. The rest of the album was already recorded. I have friends involved with Allman Brothers so seemed to be a good place to record Macon Georgia. As a session musician I’m not that keen on recording in a studio and like to record in different spaces, quirky places. We had two days set aside. I have found that essentially the recording process is either fast or slow and not many points in-between. So a truck load of equipment arrived from Nashville. All worked perfectly and after an hour we had the bonus tracks recorded and had the extra time to fill so just kept working and then eight, nine, ten tracks were cut and usable. We just repeated the whole process the next day and left feeling really good but reserving judgment until starting mixing after we finished a bunch of shows. So mixed 2/3 songs really happy with them so decided with the engineer to keep mixing result a better album than the one we already had! Now with new running order sent off to Mascot – they agreed.  Yes, we were inspired didn’t go with idea of making a record. Core was raw a jamming feel we are a bit of a schizophrenic group.  We mix tightly constructed songs around three minutes including Please and I Lied, these are concise songs. Others are vehicles for improvisation when playing live and recording, We enjoy doing both. The mix jam and structured songs bring a balance we love them both and gives records a balanced feel keep trying to achieve this on the next record as well.

BD: Everyone is always interested in guitars what are your preferred set-ups plus the obvious thrill it must have been playing Duane Allman’s 1957 Goldtop

JD Simo: Guitar set-up is minimal. I do not have a complicated rig – no pedals just plug straight into the amp. I have a great love of vintage equipment it is a passion and a hobby. Old Gibson electric is my main guitar and 1960’s Fender/Marshall amps. For me, this gives a clear sound not muddled in the way of playing. Leave it to the hands to decide what to do, treat it like a voice you sing straight into a microphone. It’s pure that is what I am trying to accomplish.

Playing Duane Allman’s Goldtop was a thrill all that history. I am friends with the gentleman who owns it and have used it multiple times, on display in the museum in Macon.  I was told I was welcome to use it what an honour, especially in that environment the Old House and old guitar. It is definitely one of those career moments you will always look back on and say Wow!

It is amazing that Duane is so well remembered not just in America but over here as well, the biggest pity is he never got to see the success. Allman’s were playing in front of fifty or so people in colleges and less in clubs often only around fifteen.  Filmore’s was the exception and being on big bills at a handful of festivals. He never experienced the full wack of all the hard work. Boy did the Allman’s work hard and then Duane was taken. When he passed in 1972 Allman’s then started to headline he missed the success by a matter of months a real shame.

Being a new group getting established equates  to the amount of hard work takes will play a lot and not sleep you have to be rigorous playing lots shows so climb to the point where people are aware of you. Nothing has really changed, it’s the same process. I am grateful people take time to listen, review, interview us and come to our shows it keeps the momentum building.

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

JD Simo: All very personal. I Lied is me talking about not feeling very comfortable admitting when something is wrong. Expressing something that troubles me can do it in a song. Pulled a couple passages from Allen Ginsberg around his love of Jack Kerouac – being a man who is frightened not clear but the spoken phrasing encapsulates the inner madness and not having the acumen to do it. Then I’ll Always be Around is not a romantic song, but about a very close friendship coming to an end. There are also ethereal songs I’d Rather Die In Vain internal struggle of not letting negative side of one’s thoughts. One thing to be positive but often easier to yield to the more negative side. Internal struggle not always been easy. Songs have to be real not a penchant with something made-up. Normally I have to express a reality. Easier through songs than the spoken word.

BD: Having talked about guitars and lyrics do you consider yourself as a guitarist first, vocalist second or they equally important

JD Simo:  Always be a guitarist. Older I get the vocals become more important. People including me respond to the singer more than another instrument. The voice conveys the emotion in every song, so I get to express myself. Analogy of a guitarist or any instruments use it as a shield to express, it is what you hide behind. When you sing you have nothing raw as ever but nothing to hide behind. Taken long time to feel confident. Gratifying as no purer way to express yourself. With an instrument all the notes are right where you left them. Whereas the human voice is not like that, it is more temperamental, every night it is different. Depending on what you have eaten, how much talking on a daily basis the voice changes, how you express yourself with the voice is most human.

BD I am sure you have many plans for 2016 and beyond for SIMO – hope you are going to do a more extensive tour of UK.

JD Simo: We are back in Europe in July and have lots of festivals including Ramblin’ Man and Cornbury in the UK. Then we are back in the fall for extended Planet Rock tour throughout the UK. BD: I hope that includes Wales.

JD Simo: Love to visit there too. Be amazing how recognition of band has grown from first London gig last year then the recent three gigs London. Sheffield and York. Taken aback by the audience it was wonderful lovely that an unknown band was sold out in London and Sheffield. Real thrill to see people queuing to get in. Always been influenced by UK RnB. Thanks to British groups playing the sound was re-energized as beginning to wain in America back in the 60’s. Getting to play in the UK has been very cool and becoming a fan of sausage and mash.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
JD Simo: This is fun….

Drums:  Elvin Jones – Jazz drummer Miles Davies, John Coltrane etc.

Bass: Carl Radle – Derek & the Dominoes, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton etc.
Guitars:  Daune Allman and of course JD Simo have to be able to play with him on my fantasy band.
Vocals: Steve Winwood – Traffic, Blind Faith etc..

Organ:  Billy Preston
Steve Winwood

Horn Section:
Tenor Sax: King Curtis
Trombone: Tom Malone
Trumpet: Wayne Jackson

Now should I have two drums moment consideration and it was yes so

Second Drums Al Jackson Jnr joins the band drummer at Stax and Booker T drummer.

SIMO – Members: J. D. Simo, (guitar & Vocals) Adam Abrashoff, (Bass), Elad Shapiro (drums).
Albums: Let Love Show The Way, Love, Vol. 1
Genres: Blues-rock, Psychedelic rock, Jazz fusion
Read more about SIMO HERE
Read Bluesdoodles review Let Love Show You The Way HERE

Rob Richings chatting with Bluesdoodles

Rob R

Big thank you to Rob Richings for chatting with Bluesdoodles

 

BD: We catch you on a break in your current touring
RR: Tom Baxter is great fun to open for and this is the second time so it must be working, just completed three dates in Scotland and have further dates through November with Tom and one opening once again with Fisherman Friends. Fisherman Friends from Port Issac is a very different style of music it is an unusual combination it seems to work the crowd gets my music and the auditorium is warmed up for the main act. Tom Baxter has fantastic guitar skills and his support has been fantastic.
BD See end of interview for dates and links to venues
BD: I see you close your touring at The Convent on the 21st what are your plans for the rest of 2015 and beyond?
RR: Busy time ahead day after the last show I am off to Sydney to record my album – (BD: wow why Sydney?) I met the producer in Paris of the band Passenger, well and so off to a studio in Australia. I went over in August and did the pre-production so will be spending a solid ten days concentrating on finishing the album. I have got to nail it whilst in Austrialia so giving it 100%.
BD: So will you be using session musicians?
RR: Yes, happy to use session musicians to shape the tones on the album. My shows are not about reproducing recorded material I prefer the stripped back form for my live act.

BD: We have talked about the excitement of the album, you currently have a EP Half Way Up.
RR: The EP is four tracks that all work well together and are a taster for the main event. The album will be all new material as we go forward I have plenty of material so no need to duplicate.
BD: So what inspires you as a song writer?
RR: I tend to use real life experiences, I was quite ill for a while with major surgery having survived and come out the other side I have lots of material. I also people watch, sit back and observe what is going on around me. I do not have Colitis any more after a series of serious operations and surviving the cancer caused by the Colitis. I spent a long time in hospital. I got over it and music helped my recovery, gained lots of inspiration and my song writing improved so there were some positives.
BD: How do you approach you writing is it lyrics then melody or the other way around?
RR: Happens both ways. Sometimes, it is a chord and the lyrics build around that. Or I find a line and build a song around the idea. I really think it is important to get the song across. I am never sure where the first line comes from. Yes there are formulas to shape a song but you need the inspiration when that hits the hard work begins as the song takes shape.
BD: What came first singing or the Guitar?
RR: Guitar is an important part but not the main it is underneath the songs that are the important part of my act. I am not a fancy guitar player but I am good at capturing the sound underneath the lyrics. I picked up the guitar around 12 or 13 and did covers of Nirvana and Brit Pop of the 90’s. I was self-taught and the covers developed my guitar skills.
BD: So who has influenced you?
RR: There have been lots of influences including Ron Sexsmith and Damon Albarn his music is immense across genres and has stood the test of time and of course Tom Baxter. I used to listen and watch Tom and always thought I would love to be asked to support him and it has happened.
BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing?
RR: It would be a trio of vocalists myself, Damon Albarn and Freddie Mercury – what a front man to have.

BD: Describe what an audience should expect from your singer/songwriter approach to music
RR: I am one man and a guitar with strong hooks into the lyrics that tell a tale. Simple guitar, strong words and I will often explain the song and background before singing to help connect with the audience.

Read what Bluesdoodles said about the excellent EP Half Way Up HERE and we are looking forward to the album out in 2016.

Sneak preview then catch him live before Rob Riching sis off to Australia

Tour Dates
13th – St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings (Fishermans Friends support)
19th – Phoenix, Exeter (Tom Baxter support)
20th – Railway (Attic), Winchester (Tom Baxter support)
21st – Convent Club, Stroud (Tom Baxter support)