How influential has the blues been on your career?
Very. I identify as a blues and soul artist.
What got you into the blues?
My Dad brought me up on blues music and so from a young age I was grounded in delta and Chicago blues.. artists like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. When I was 14 I went to Bishopstock blues festival in Exeter and saw for the first time young contemporary female blues artists… artists like Deborah Coleman, Sue Foley, Shemekia Copeland and Susan Tedeschi. I knew then that i would follow in their footsteps.
Which blues artists have influenced you most? And how?
As a guitarist I am influenced by finger style players like John Lee Hooker, Louisiana Red and Albert Collins. I love how Albert uses a capo and uses his thumb and forefinger… this is very similar a technique to how I play. Louisiana Red taught me some guitar when I was in my teens and that always stayed with me too. My favourite British blues artist is Peter Green… I love his phrasing, back in the Fleetwood Mac days his playing could just crucify you.. make you tingle till you cry. I also love Buddy Guy. He is just so full of character.. so exciting to listen too. As a vocalist I’m more inspired by soul artists and Motown.
What equipment do you use and was your decision to use it influenced by another artist or what you heard on a record?
I use a 1970’s Fender Super Reverb amplifier. I love my reverb.. thats the Albert Collins influence… bridge pick up, treble up, just like Albert. I use a Love Muffin pedal that Stuart Dixon (Eddie Floyd, Marcus Malone) introduced me to and my Fender Telecaster. I some times also play a 335 with hand wound pickups in.
When you write songs is there a certain way you go about it or does it change?
I tend to write chords and lyrics together. I cant seem to chose to write a song. More so I just feel sometimes I have something to say or an emotion to express and songwriting is my natural outlet.. it just happens.
Is there a blues player you haven’t played with that you’d really like to?
Buddy Guy…that would be a dream come true…or B.B. King.
Is there a song or album that has been influential in the way you write and play?
I could not list just one song or album… my style is inspired by a mix of blues and soul artists from Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin to Buddy Guy and Peter Green.
How influential do you think the blues has been on modern popular music?
Incredibly. That is where it all began. The Rolling Stones and Elvis were/are some if the most successful popular artists of all time and they were just young white guys taking the blues and making it into new and exciting pop hits.
In your eyes, how influential do you think Robert Johnson has been on the blues?
Well he was there at the beginning and his songs have been passed down through generations of blues artists ever since.
If you could name one blues player who has influenced both the blues and other genres the most, who would it be and why?
Willie Dixon… Just look at the list of songwriting credits he has to his name.. what a legacy. He was the blues.
What guitar techniques do you associate with the blues?
Well the obvious ones are slide guitar, pentatonic scales and the blues scale. Blue notes / seventh chords and for my that rugged fingerstyle that came out of the delta… playing with expression and feeling to make up for lack or technique/finding your own technique and your own style and form of expression.
Some people think the blues is basic and a lazy genre people just fall into when playing music. What do you say to that?
Well yes it is basic as in it can be just chords 1, 4 and 5 which makes it very accessible… but as with all genres there is a big difference between an average bedroom or pub player and musicians who have a great gift. Not many drummers can shuffle with great feel, not many blues bassists are bang in the pocket not over or under playing but just making the song full of feeling and groove and same goes for front men and women… the Bonnie Raitt’s and Susan Tedeschi’s of this world are phenomenal talents.. They have so much soul and feeling and their own unique sounds and approaches that set them apart.
Do you have a favourite blues period? If so, what?
Well the 50’s and 60’s were incredible. Leonard Chess made the scene back then. All the Chess artists were fantastic from Muddy to Little Walter to Etta James … so much talent… and the blues had just gone electric then… exciting times!
Albert King, Freddie King or B.B. King? And why?
Wow thats a tough choice. I chose B.B. King because I love his simple beautiful major pentatonic thing… so much feeling.. He can play just one note and you can hear it’s him. B.B. has an incredibly soulful voice too and is a great songwriter. He took lead from Motown and used strings to sweeten his sound helping him to become a huge cross over artist… He opened so many doors for all of us aspiring artists.
Modern music’s evolution from the blues isn’t that widely known, how important do you think it is that people become aware of it?
Its a shame. Most young people today don’t really know what blues is. I think its time the blues had a come back.. I guess Sea Sick Steve kind of did that.