How influential has the blues been on your career?
The blues has been very influential to my career. As I am considered a blues musicians, and a lot of my idols are blues musicians.
What got you into the blues?
I sort of fell into it through living in Kansas City. I didn’t start out playing the blues, my parents listened to lots of Rock and Roll. I found the blues down at local venues in and around my hometown of Kansas City. I fell in love with the soul in blues music, and I found that it was the best way for me to express myself.
Which blues artists have influenced you most? And how?
Bonnie Raitt was huge for me. She was the first female singer/songwriter/guitarist that I was just amazed by. Of course guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan had a huge impact. As did some from the older generations, such as Freddie King, Charlie Patton, Skip James, RL Burnside, etc.
What equipment do you use and was your decision to use it influenced by another artist or what you heard on a record?
I love Fender Telecasters. That was sort of influenced by players like Mike Zito. I just really dug the tone and how versatile they could be. Right now I’ve got a Semi-Hollow Delaney Tele style guitar. The amplifiers I use are Category 5’s and I sort of discovered those guys through musical friends and mentors.
When you write songs is there a certain way you go about it or does it change?
It varies from song to song. Sometimes I’ll come up with the melody first. Sometimes I’ll have lyrics written out for forever and no song to go with it. Sometimes, it just happens all at once. I haven’t quite mastered the process.
Is there a blues player you haven’t played with that you’d really like to?
Loads. I love jamming and collaborating. I mentioned some influences above that would be amazing to jam with. I would also love to have the opportunity to play with Tom Petty and Tom Waits. Two huge idols for me.
Is there a song or album that has been influential in the way you write and play?
I can’t really narrow it down to one song or album. As a musician, you are always pulling inspiration and influence from those around you. So really, I’m taking in things all the time, and then I try to put my own spin on it.
How influential do you think the blues has been on modern popular music?
Its the building block for all modern music. I really think that it has influenced most everything in one way or another.
In your eyes, how influential do you think Robert Johnson has been on the blues?
I think he was incredibly influential as one of the founding fathers to the blues. But he wasn’t the first. He was taught by guys like Son House, Charlie Patton, Skip James. All of those guys, were the fore fathers of delta blues.
If you could name one blues player who has influenced both the blues and other genres the most, who would it be and why?
Its really to hard to narrow that down. Per generation there have been guys and girls who have changed the game. Either bringing the blues to the mainstream or crossing over. Back in the beginning, people will say Robert Johnson. Then when Chicago blues became huge, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were the inspiration to bands like the Rolling Stones. Jimmy Hendrix was heavily influenced by the blues. BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan made great waves and brought blues to the masses. Now bands like the Black Keys, Grace Potter, and Jack White are branching into Alternative genres, and they started out being very blues oriented. Its been like that through the history of modern American music.
What guitar techniques do you associate with the blues?
Lots! Slide guitar, for one, is generally associated with the blues. That has evolved over the generations to fit several genres of music too (IE pedal steel in country music).
Some people think the blues is basic and a lazy genre people just fall into when playing music. What do you say to that?
I’d say they aren’t really paying attention to the message then. Most of the people that fall into the genre of blues, do it because they love it. There is something alive and soulful about the blues. I didn’t fall in love with it right away, but there was a point in my life, where I connected with it, and I started to understand. Its proven the test of time. Its definitely not a lazy genre. If anything, if you aren’t feeling what you are performing, it absolutely doesn’t work. There is no ‘phoning in’ the blues.
Photo by Stellar Press.