In Conversation with Living Legend Wilko Johnson

In Conversation with Living Legend Wilko Johnson

 

In Conversation with Living Legend Wilko Johnson

 

Having the opportunity to interview Wilko Johnson a genuine music icon and living legend was a little daunting and so exciting. Liz at Bluesdoodles, a fan of Dr Feelgood since her younger days. Ponder what he younger self would think about her chance to speak with Wilko. As Liz dialed the number she will openly admit how nervous she felt. Was this justified? No It was Not! Wilko answered the phone I took a deep breath and introduced myself with warmth in his voice and a feeling that he had all the time in the world to chat, whilst knowing there had been people before and a long list over the rest of the day. The often laughing Wilko shared his thoughts, experiences of being Alive and surviving cancer and much more. As he approaches seventy the blues flame still burns bright and true.  With twenty minutes and the clock ticking down the first question was asked:-

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Canvey Island?
WJ:
It was the beginning of the swinging sixties of course. It was the electric guitar, I had seen one at school; liked the look of them. I was fascinated by the springs, knobs and I fancied myself playing one. Yea I wanted one, so the next Christmas I suppose I had a cheap electric guitar and started to play. I did not know much music at the time.  It was time of The Beatles and Rolling Stones through them got interested in American Rn’B that was influencing them. Johnny Kidd & The Pirates I thought the guitar sounded interesting, I want to play like Mick Green, play the blues. I was also listening to Chess Records, the likes of Chuck Berry Bo Diddley Muddy Waters hearing the blues opened a new world for me while still trying to copy Johnny Kidd. I couldn’t do it but ended up developing my style as I continued with the twanging through my teenage years.

Then university and I forgot all about the guitar. Four years went by.  and I bumped into Lee Brilleaux he said he was forming a band so Dr Feelgood was formed with me trying to play like Mick Green, playing the blues. Playing in London in the early seventies we were creating bit of a scene we had no multiple keyboards or light shows, we didn’t wear cloaks or dresses we just played good basic music. Lots of people were watching and a year later punk emerged. Dr Feelgood was influential in creating the sound that became Punk. I stumbled into music really.

BD: That leads neatly on to – The sound you make from your Fender is distinctive and instantly recognisable as Wilko. How do you achieve this on your signature Telecaster?

WJ: Yes, I do now have a signature telecaster. I am a great believer in standard and straightforward approach. There a great players who use pedals. Sometimes though, great things can interrupt the sound and you have to operate them with that tip-toe action on the pedal board. Just not for me and you have to stay on one spot too long! The signature guitar is based on the bog stand Fender Telecaster as my first guitar. Everything I do is straight forward, not technical it is skiffling. It [guitar sound] does what it does. From an early age I learnt from Chuck Berry not just about playing the guitar but as important to move about putting some action into it. The silly walk is part of the music rather than a technical 12 bar solo.

 BD: Turning 70, celebrating life and a gig at The Royal Albert Hall. Did you think you would be performing In Conversation with Living Legend Wilko Johnsonthere when playing at venues such as The Nag’s Head in High Wycombe? Which sadly like so many venues of our youth are closed now

WJ: I never did think about playing large venues. Times change, venues close have to accept it. Playing The Royal Albert Hall the last three to four years have been so crazy. Nothing surprises me anymore. I was given ten months to live that led to a fantastic year. Mad things happen in the year you are dying. Roger Daltrey, says let’s make an album. I thought I will never see the release of this album. But the last thing that I have done is an album with Roger Daltrey has to be a good result that was consoling It was very successful, bestselling I have ever had. It was made in eight days and best of all I saw it released.

Doctors in Cambridge, said they could operate, and they did more than a year after I was certain I was going to die. The tumour was the size of a melon weighing over 3 kilos, they opened me up lifted it out of me. Few days after the operation the surgeon Mr Huguet came with the results from the Lab along with the tumour, half my stomach, gut and pancreas every trace of cancer had gone. They had cured me. It was a strange old moment. Mr Huguet is a hero, super human to me, he is such a nice guy we are on first name terms but he will always be Mr Huguet to me.

 BD: How has the experience of living through the diagnosis, farewell tour and then operation and back in the world of the living effected your approach to music, performances and life in general?

WJ: During my farewell tour the year I was dying the audience all knew what was going on and there was a real closeness with the audience. I knew that I couldn’t change anything that had happened in the past and there was no future so there was only the moment. I could play my music in the moment not worried about what people thought it was such a strong feeling and I lived to tell the tale.

I hope that I can take this into the future. You have lots of profound insights when facing death I think I learnt some wisdom’s and hopefully retained them. I will not be such a prat as I used to be. I know how to play relaxed doing it in the now. Not thinking about it. In The Dr Feelgood days, we were so considered about we got to get it right, worrying what will the papers say. Now just play Rock n’ Roll all that matters is the moment.

BD: What are your plans once celebrating 70 fades away? New Record?

Yes lots of plans, in fact been in the studio this week, looking at what we have got. New album after our summer gigs. I would like to get going straight away. I love playing again have so many ideas. After the operation it took a while to get playing again up to scratch. I had not touched a guitar for a year, few more gigs to do, Royal Albert Hall, tour of Japan it is wonderful just being able to stand up and be capable of playing the guitar again.

BD: How does it feel to have been described as the best thing to have come out of Essex since the Peasants revolt??

WJ: Wat Tyler has definitely left a footprint on history more clearly than me. When Dr Feelgood started to be got known we made a lot of being Essex boys out of Canvey Island.  Canvey Island not been that famous since the Great Floods of 1953. There is no argument that Canvey Island have lots of reasons to be proud of us. They should definitely name a road after Lee Brilleaux – Lee Brilleaux Boulevard has a nice ring to it.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
WJ: So many favourite guitarists and their playing would definitely show me up! I have to say without sounding this is a rubbish answer it has to be my guys who I am playing with at the moment. They are the business Dylan Howe on drums and Norman Watt-Roy on Bass.

BD: The time flew by, it was a fun twenty minutes of my life.

Let the music do the talking:
Wilko Johnson en el Teatro Apolo de Barcelona – “The More I Give”

In Conversation with Living Legend Wilko Johnson

Aaron Keylock New Single and On Tour

Aaron Keylock New Single and On Tour

Teenage guitar sensation Aaron Keylock will release his highly anticipated debut single Against The Grain on 6th October.

Aaron Keylock New Single and On TourWhile listening to Against The Grain check out Aaron’s tour dates below he is visiting a town near you with Wilco Johnson, Joanne Shaw Taylor and the Planet Rock Roadstars throughout October, November and December.

Before releasing an official single he has already been highly touted as one of the UKs hottest acts to watch out for; Kerrang! declared him the “New Solo Superstar” in the 2015 Fresh Blood List (Alongside PVRIS, Slaves, SHVPES, Qween Kwong & Knucklepuck); at Bloodstock 2014 Metal Hammer wrote “It’s ludicrous that someone as talented as Aaron Keylock is a mere 16 years old but if anyone can shred like Gary Moore, this young buck can.” Total Guitar called him one of 2016s ‘Ones to Watch’ after seeing him at Dot to Dot saying “TG caught his set and we walked away with our brain thoroughly melted” and Classic Rock included him in the Sounds of and Class of 2015 and have called him “blistering” and a “precocious talent”.

Already a road warrior, he has been gigging heavily since the age of 11, playing over 200 shows including the Jazz Café, Alexandra Palace, Shepherds Bush Empire. He has supported Blackberry Smoke, The Answer, The Graveltones, The Cadillac Three and he has played over 50 Harley Davidson Rallies – motorbikes would fill the room with smoke as they drove around him on the stage. Other memorable shows include; aged 14 being bundled out of a Camden venue as the London riots raged up and down the street, heavy metallers head-banging to Against The Grain at Bloodstock in 2014, playing to a full tent at Download in 2015, he blew the stage away at Dot to Dot Festival the same year and following a show in Manchester with Blackberry Smoke, he bedded down in a workshop surrounded by motorbikes, snakes, rifles and a python.

Aaron Keylock – Cut Against The Grain  – Mascot Label Group

Release Date:  20th January 2016

 

aaron-keylock-albumTrack List: 

All The Right Moves
Down
Medicine Man
Falling Again
Just One Question
Against The Grain
That’s Not Me
Try
Spin The Bottle
Sun’s Gonna Shine
No Matter What The Cost

 

You will be able to pick up the limited 7” vinyl single when Aaron Keylock is on tour from October to December with Wilko Johnson, Joanne Shaw Taylor and for the Planet Rock Roadstars tour with SIMO and Federal Charm.

AARON KEYLOCK UK TOUR DATES

On Tour With Wilko Johnson

Thu 6th Oct Warrington, Parr Hall
Fri 7th Oct Sheffield, City Hall
Sat 8th Oct Edinburgh, The Queens Hall
Thu 13th Oct Salisbury, City Hall
Fri 14th Oct Cambridge, Corn Exchange
Sat 15th Oct Birmingham, Town Hall

On Tour With Joanne Shaw Taylor

Sun 16th Oct Bristol, The Fleece
Mon 17th Oct Worcester, Huntingdon Hall
Thu 20th Oct Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Fri 21st Oct Chester, Live Rooms
Sat 22nd Oct Southport, The Atkinson
Sun 23rd Oct Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn
Wed 26th Oct Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
Thu 27th Oct Stockton-On-Tees, ARC
Fri 28th Oct Dunfermline, Carnegie Hall
Sat 29th Oct Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
Mon 31st Oct Bury, The Met
Wed 2nd Nov Southampton, The Brook
Thu 3rd Nov Brighton, Komedia
Fri 4th Nov Harpenden, Public Halls
Sat 5th Nov Bury St Edmunds, The Apex

On Tour With (Planet Rock Roadstars Tour with SIMO & Federal Charm)

Wed 16th Nov Southampton, Talking Heads
Thu 17th Nov Brighton, The Haunt
Fri 18th Nov Cardiff, The Globe
Sat 19th Nov Leek, Foxlowe Arts Centre
Mon 21st Nov Nottingham, The Bodega Social Club
Tue 22nd Nov Wolverhampton, The Robin 2
Wed 23rd Nov Bristol, The Tunnels
Fri 25th Nov York, Fibbers
Sat 26 Nov Crewe, The Box
Sun 27th Nov Norwich, Waterfront
Mon 28th Nov Sheffield, The Greystones
Wed 30th Nov Newcastle, The Cluny
Thu 1st Dec Glasgow, O2 ABC
Fri 2nd Dec Edinburgh, The Mash House
Sat 3rd Dec Manchester, The Deaf Institute
Wed 7th Dec London, O2 Academy Islington

Norman Watt-Roy & Friends @ The Flowerpot, Derby

Norman Watt-Roy and Friends -Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0083l

Sell-out gig with nervous anticipation around The Flowerpot started the evening off with a buzz even before the doors to the stage area were opened. Opening for a gig when there is so much excitement is always difficult and ‘Mojosa‘ entertained us royally. This duo of Pauls delivered an acoustic set of classic blues numbers with the duo using their resonators to full effect and the competing slides worked with the two sounds meshing together to create a pleasing sound. A warm-up act that entertained with a set of great blues rocks classics including ‘Brownsville Blues‘.

Norman Watt-Roy and Friends -Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0084l Now for the main event Norman Watt-Roy the incredibly talented and imaginative bass player who has been the preferred session player for many including providing the original bass line for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s hit single, ‘Relax‘, and who played with Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The atmosphere was electric as the first note was struck by Norman and the band began to play ‘ Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, the crowd was won over by this tribute to the great wordsmith Ian Dury. Norman was joined tonight by keys, saxophone/accordion and drums meaning this was a trio without a lead guitarist! But the sound produced was complete as the best bass player of the era fronted the band and filled in the gaps. The beat was kept up tempo with ‘Billericay Dickie‘; then the tempo genre style changed with some jazz-funky grooves as the set became definitely more jazz than blues or rock and this definitely made an appreciative audience sit up and listen. This was a perfect venue to showcase tracks from his new album Faith & Grace on Cadiz Label with an attentive audience that listened and absorbed this new Norman Watt-Roy style. The jazz influenced lead breaks made sure that every track was clearly stamped with the Norman watt-Roy signature of full bodied bass playing demonstrated throughout but stood out on ‘You are what You Are’ and ‘Me My Bass & I‘. Then the moment everyone had been waiting for – the entrance of Norman Watt-Roy and Friends -Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0136lWilko Johnson onto the stage, the cheers were resounding and immediately the tempo and temperature was raised; and the crowds moved forwards trying to catch a shot and glimpse of the machine-gun guitar slinger. He played three numbers straight off, it had been worth the wait, a barnstorming performance from a legend of the pub rock scene, with his style of guitar playing instantly recognisable. There was no need for Wilko to say a word his trademark black telecaster with red scratch-plate said everything that needed to be said. Then he left the sage and the band followed the roar was enough to take the roof off The Flowerpot; and then in a instant he was back at the mike for the encore he chose ‘Roxette’. This is the Wilko version similar but never the same as when Dr Feelgood played it as Lee Brilleaux’s moody, darkly sexy approach is missing; but who cares tonight was Wilko’s as the crowd couldn’t get enough of of Wilko! Every chord struck without a plectrum as he has played for the last forty years, every note he sung and every move he made. The show ended back at the beginning with Norman Watt-Roy and Friends returning to ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick‘. The crowd was still buzzing long after the band had left the stage. Rawpromo had put on a a very special evening that was thoroughly appreciated by everyone, and no doubt there were a few disappointed people who couldn’t get a ticket. This is a popular promoter and venue so the moral is – get your ticket early…

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