Interviews

Permission To Live - An Interview With Walter Trout

waltertroutbyjaynetansey patron (Photo by Jayne Tansey-Patron)

Rewind the clock. It's June 15th and the Royal Albert Hall in London hosts a Tribute Evening to the late great Lead Belly. Among the many guest artists performing throughout the evening, Walter Trout's name is certainly among the most expected to be seen on stage, in this stunning English venue. I have been waiting to talk to Trout for a long time now and no better chance to interview him than tonight's special music event.

Trout is due to come on stage in about 30 minutes and Marie, Walter Trout's wife, kindly reaches me to tell me to do the interview right now. When I enter the Dressing Room, Trout looks visibly tense and almost absent, mind solely concentrated about what is gonna happen in few minutes on stage. When we start the interview, I sense Walter is not really with me and the American Guitarist realises that too, asking me kindly to postpone the interview because he couldn't focus at all on my questions. I struggle to recognise that very same artist I just saw half an hour later. When Marie Trout announces him on stage and after the crowd homages Trout with an almost 5 minutes Standing Ovation, the moment Walter plays the first note, it just feels like he has returned to live again. The 20 minutes set he offered that night had been the first time in 2 years that Trout had been playing on a stage, given his long running battle with liver disease that almost took his life away.

Back few weeks later and talking to Walter Trout is a completely different affair. The American Blues/Rock artist is in great shape and one can easily understand that the night in London had been an emotional roller coaster for him. "It's really good to be back. I never thought I would have been able to and I am overjoyed to be able to be here and talking to you right now. That night in London, was for me a huge milestone of my life. It was one of those moments I shall always remember as one of the biggest emotional experiences of my entire life. And the moment I vividly remember of that night, was, standing in the wings with my guitar on, looking out at that beautiful, incredible venue , hearing my wife introducing me. Hearing her beautiful voice and then walking on stage, having people stand up and just direct all that love at me, Man, that was really intense. I embraced my wife and we both started crying, literally weeping like babies. I remember that part of that night more than the playing part, strangely enough. I hadn't been on stage for almost two years and that moment, has been for me one of the most profound experiences I had ever".

The last album Trout managed to put together, before undergoing the liver transplant that saved his life was a very emotional one, called The Blues Came Calling. A record that sounded almost like a music testament, which must be carrying for Walter Trout certainly painful memories. "That album was very difficult for me. I was very sick when I made that album. I was on a walker and every couple of weeks, I would swell up with liquid in my abdomen. Then I would have gone in and they would put a drain into my abdomen and they would drain out something like twelve litres of liquid out of me. So here I was, being incredibly sick and I would drive to Los Angeles (I live south of L.A.), to the studio, very ill and I would be able, maybe, to play and sing for about an hour and a half and then I would have to tell Eric (Corne), my producer, "Sorry Man, I can't do anymore, I don't have the strength". My hand was cramping too, due to my liver disease and as a result, some days I couldn't play at all. When I felt a tight more stronger, I would have gone in, play a solo guitar part or two but it was, overall, extremely difficult. I was, though, very determined to finish that record because I thought it was going to be my last record ever. You can tell the frame of mind I was by listening in the Blues Came Calling, when I sang "You'll never be the man you used to be". I figured, my life as I know it, it's over and even if I survive, I would be an invalid and won't be able to perform, play or being a good father ever again. I shall be just a vegetable. With that dark frame of mind and being so ill, there were even moments in which I couldn't even sing two lines in a row. I had the strength just to sing one, then stop, get my breath back and then do the next one. And when you have to record each and every song like that, with that pace, because I had no choice, trust me, it was incredibly time consuming. Right now, the Blues Came Calling album is for me a very difficult album to listen to, because just brings back to me the darkness of that time I was living."

That difficult moment of Trout's life and career seems now long gone and Trout has now started touring again in America, although on a slow pace. Among the many messages that Bluebird Reviews received about the return on stage of this fabulous artist, many came from Italy, which unfortunately has not been included on Trout's forthcoming tranche of the European Tour. "I would love to get back to Italy. I love playing there, people are always so gracious with us and so kind and they are a great audience. It just hasn't worked out this year. There are a lot of places I would love to get back to but we are going a little bit slow here. At the moment, given what I have been through I don't feel, at least for a little while, to be able to go at the same pace that I used to. But Italy will be on my tour map, if all plan out well, maybe next year."

Walter Trout is clearly on full steam, remarkably, especially considering what he has been through in the last 24 months. His writing mojo certainly seems to benefit by this new found energy from the American artist and sounds like an album is now ready to be released. "That's a good question and I have a great answer for that. I went through a creative Renaissance and you, being Italian, you know damn well what I am talking about (smiles). When I started writing again, I found out I had so much I wanted to say that the songs just kept pouring out of me at a rate I have never known before. I could just grab my acoustic guitar, sit down and just, boom!, I could write a song in about 5 minutes. One day, I managed to write six songs and I had so much material that we had a hard time figuring out what songs to put on the new album. The album is done now and Eric Corne, my producer, has just finished to mix it. To me, it's a sort of Musical about my life in the past two years and what I have been through. It's a concept album about what happen to me every step of the way and it is called Battle Scars. It starts off with a song called I Am Almost Gone and it's about me, looking into my wife's eyes, with her, trying to be strong and positive but deep inside, we both know underneath that I may probably gonna die. There are also songs, in the album, about me being in the hospital and feeling, at night, that there were people surrounding me that were dying and I was able to hear the pain their families were going to with their departed beloved. Other songs in the album are about my inability to walk at the time and so on. In brief, a sort of journal of those painful days. The final song of the album is called I'm Going To Live Again and it is about me having a conversation with God, asking him about the reason why he decided to keep me here on earth and allowing me to survive. I keep saying to God that I don't deserve to survive because I feel I have been a bad person in my life. When I finally manage to find the reason about me, surviving to all this, I just keep saying to myself that I need to be a better man, now I have been given the chance to do that."

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I am wondering if Trout is going to play the songs from the forthcoming album on the current leg of the American Tour but it doesn't sound possible, according to Walter. "Well, we can't play them live right now because of something, which everyone knows about, that is called YouTube. The thing is, if I go out and play them now, by the time the new album comes out, via a vehicle like YouTube, for example,  everyone would have already heard the songs and very few would buy the record. The album comes out in October and I guess that, due to the fact I am touring Europe in November, you guys in Europe will be able to hear the new songs."

Trout has been and still is a true blues pioneer, as a solo artist or by being part of great music projects, one for all, the Bluesbreakers. Still, I wonder what really "Blues" means for Trout, should he be able to put into words. "Well, what a question! What it means to me is truth, it means a pure, simple, uncomplicated expression of human feeling. It means a beautiful community, because the blues community got behind me when I got sick and it is an extraordinary community, made of great fans and great musicians. It's that thing that, all my life, by the time I discovered it, as a young boy, gave me the opportunity to realise I had the ability to play the guitar and sing. Once I discovered that, I just realised that blues was all that I wanted to play, it gave me self-respect, it gave me purpose. I feel that, to play music from the depths of my heart and to play as honestly as I can, it's a noble endeavour for me. I feel it is my attempt, in a tiny small way, to make the world a little bit of a better place and do something that is honest and true and cut through all the bulls**t of this world.

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Going back to that magic night at the Royal Albert hall in June of this year, Bluebird Reviews had been asked to pass to Trout many messages from fans and fellow artists, welcoming him back on stage, which our website duly did. After so many years in the music business, it must be a fantastic feeling for Walter Trout to get still such amazing love and respect by music veterans or young fellow blues musicians. "It is simply amazing. I mean, like I said, one of the thing that kept me alive while I was sick, was my wife Marie reading me messages, both from artists and from fans. People saying that my music meant something to them, what I do meant something to them. They just don't consider it light-hearted pop fluff, that you hear on the radio but rather something that has got some sort of depth and meaning to it. To get those messages from people, especially when I came back and to hear them saying "Hey man, we are happy for you", it meant the world to me. And what I think as well is, in this modern age which is so full of bad news, I think in a certain way, my survival makes a good news story. After all, I was not suppose to survive, the doctors didn't think I was going to survive, realistically, nobody on the planet thought I was going to survive! But I made it through and that means that there is still hope out there, in the world. We can take bad, horrible situations and we can turn them around and make them into something good."

During the years, old and young generations of music lovers have had the chance to admire and love the many layers of Trout's immens talent as a musician. He infused his music, his songwriting, his guitar style with what life was throwing at him on each of Trout's records. One can just guess what version of the Chameleon Walter Trout we shall see on the next album. "If people is under the impression that I am coming back with low energy, in a very understated, mellow way, they are going to be greatly surprised, because this album is rocking all the way! And I mean, it is fu**ing rocking! I played the opening track for my son Michael and he said to me: "Man, all you need is Robert Plant and you are Led Zeppelin!". There are some little acoustic moments and ballads as well but it is, fundamentally, a high-energy fuelled rocking record through and through. I remember the time I was playing some of the songs at home and my kids were saying: "Jeez, who do you think you are, AC/DC?". It is important, for me, to feel the vibes coming from my family about the album. For instance, Marie, my wife, tells me that the new album reminds her of my early records back in the 90's, when I started, but with more power than back to that time."

To talk to Walter Trout is such a gift. To see him with such an amazing spirit and energy is one of life little great miracles. I wonder what life would have been, for Walter Trout, without music. "I don't know if you have read the book about my life, in particular about some of the things that happened to me back in the days, during my childhood. I really feel that the music saved me, rescued me, as the book title suggests. I think if I hadn't discovered music, there is a good chance I would have ended in a mental hospital or something of that ink. The music gave me an outlet, it's therapy for me. I always had a lot of inner demons in my life, that's why I went through all that drug addiction period. I tried to run away from pain and ghosts and I think that, without the music, I would have become a wreck of a human being."

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

Battle Scars will be released on October 25th by Mascot Label Group

 

 

 

 

 

The Blues Queen - An Audience With Joanne Shaw Taylor

                                                                                            By Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

jst (Photo courtesy by Adam Kennedy)

The minute she walks into the room, a big smile runs through her beautiful face. It is a fabulous time in the career of Joanne Shaw Taylor, following the huge success of her new album The Dirty Truth, recognised worldwide as one of the top blues/rock albums of the past year. Bluebird Review is truly honoured to spend few minutes in the company of this incredibly talented blues artist from the United Kingdom.

BBR - Joanne, welcome to Bluebird Reviews. Your last album to date, The Dirty Truth, has been one of the best of 2014. How long did it take to write and record this wonderful album?

JST - Thank you for your nice words. It was actually a fairly quick one to record. I recorded it in about two weeks, in Tennessee. I don't tent to write unless I need to, partly because I can work well under pressure and also, as you can understand, there is never time enough for me, given the fact I am constantly on tour. I remember I took about one week off and I wrote most of the album in about 5 days. I managed to finish as well the rest of the lyrics when we started recording as we were going. A fairly quick, smooth recording process for this album for sure.

BBR - The media have been defining this album as a return to your original sound, which incorporates elements of blues into your stratospheric rock riffs. Surprisingly, though the track Fool In Love is, for me, a classic example of how beautifully you can write a "pop-soul" kind of song. Was this the sound you were aiming for when you wrote this song?

JST - Yeah, definitely. I have such a wide range of influences and listen to so many types of music and I guess that such influences, at times, sneak here and there in my songwriting. I like also, both when I play live or record a new song in a studio, not to write the same tune with the same tempo over and over again, because it would be boring for myself personally and for the listeners. I try to be as diverse as possible within rock, blues and soul genres, genres I see and feel myself in as an artist. I like to think that this is one aspect that people truly appreciate about this record. One other aspect the fans might have liked is the fact that, rather than doing a back-to-the-roots kind of album, I feel I managed to find a good balance among all those genres, which soothes me perfectly, both as an artist and a songwriter.

BBR - You have in your voice that passion and power that resembles great vocalists such Janis Joplin, for example. How much has your powerful and intense voice impacted your journey through life, both as a musician and woman?

JST - I never actually intended to be the singer I am, although I wanted to be because, you know, becoming a blues guitarist, it's kind of traditional in the genre to have a solid, blues voice. It was important for me to learn singing properly but I have got to tell you, it has been a hard road to get to achieve it in the right way. It has been definitely a bit of challenge for me to reach that goal and I hope that I fulfilled that challenge well. From a songwriting point of view, learning to sing in that way has opened up for me new musical doors. I don't consider myself as somebody having a traditional blues voice, more a soul-ish one, I suppose. That aspect has allowed me to expand my songwriting range and write also some soul stuff, songs like Fool In Love, that you mentioned before or Tried, Tested And True. It is a good feeling to know that I have, thankfully, different music colors in the palette and I can adapt such colors to my voice.

BBR - You come from the Midlands, in England. Where is home now, given the fact you tend to travel a lot between Birmingham in the Uk and Detroit for working reasons?

JST - It's a kind of a mixed bag at the moment. It is more in-between Detroit and London, to be honest. So, if we are touring the States, for example, I use Detroit as my home base, while if we are touring the Uk, I have a place in London that I use regularly in the same way I do with Detroit. As you said, between all this travelling, sometimes I wonder why I bother having a place on my own and rather staying in hotels, because I'm hardly ever there. I feel like a pinball sometimes, bouncing wherever in the world my Manager tells me to go and play (chuckles).

BBR - You mentioned to the press that you are a big country music fan. Why have you not recorded a country song yet?

JST - To be honest, it was my original plan to start The Dirty Truth in that way, with a country song. Then I gave up, I didn't feel "country" enough, it must be the English in me! I just cannot sing it with my brummie accent. But yes, I am a huge country music fan, which living in Detroit might have brought in me, having that city a strong country scene. Or maybe the time I spent in Houston might have helped as well to build up my passion for that genre too. Maybe I'll let a bit of country guitar sound to sneak in in some of my songs in future but I don't think I shall ever be able to sing in a country way, I just don't have the accent. I am not sure I could get away with it (chuckles).

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BBR - You have been, earlier this year, on the Keep The Blues Alive Cruise with many fellow blues/rock artists. Which are your fondest memories about that experience?

JST - It was fantastic from beginning to end and what a way for me to celebrate my 30th birthday! I have been good friend with Joe (Bonamassa, the founder of Keep The Blues Alive) for several years now, so to hang around with him and get to see and meet all the artists on board of the cruise ship has been really special. It was the right chance to get to meet properly with other artists because when we are all on the road, we are so busy that just on special occasions like this or at festivals one has the opportunity to interact with one another a bit more. Been locked for 4 days on thew ship, gave me the opportunity to get to know really well some great fellow artists like Ryan McGarvey, Robert Randolph and many others. A great experience indeed and a good detox for me, given the fact that was also my birthday.

BBR - Joanne, you have crossed paths in your career, although in different circumstances with both Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox from Eurythmics. Have you ever listened  to any of their music, given the fact that you have been raised, musically speaking, with rock and blues?

JST - Yeah, I have. I have a very diverse taste in music and my ears are always very open and eager to listen to different music styles. I certainly have to thank my parents for that. When I initially met Dave, I didn't know a lot about Eurythmics because I was 16 at the time and I wasn't really around in that part of the Eighties. Since that time, I have researched his career quite a lot, right to the early stuff from the Eurythmics. I would love to try and cover some of the Eurythmics songs, one day. They have done so many great songs in their career. Both Dave and Annie are very talented songwriters and, on top of that, I am a big fan of Annie's solo career too. Diva is one of my favorite albums ever.

BBR - You are a very prolific songwriter. Considering how much you tour, throughout the year, where do you find the time to record new material?

JST - I find it always difficult on the road, for me, to write. Normally, I would write an album close to the recording period, as a rule. On The Dirty Truth album though, in early 2014, I decided, as an exception, to take three months off for personal reasons. I had lost my mum the previous year and I wanted to take some time off. My plan was, at the time, to use that time off to write and I didn't come up even with one song. Then, when it came recording time, I was three or four days away from going to the studio and recording and then the songs started pouring out. I think I definitely learned, from that experience, to never underestimate the power of panic! I guess that, when I feel I have a deadline, I focus much better on the task ahead and kind of forget about the world outside.

BBR - You will be doing few festival appearances in Europe and in the US this summer, then back again in September in your beloved United Kingdom. Can we expect any new tracks live or will the tour solidly concentrate on the material from The Dirty Truth?

JST - Yes, pretty much. I might put in the setlist a couple of new covers, actually. We are thinking of bringing to the show a stripped-down acoustic segment but we will be solely concentrate on The Dirty Truth and my past albums. Which is quite nice, you know, because having now four albums of original material, factoring that there are a lot of guitar solos, we don't actually play many songs during the shows. Having enough original music material, now, allows me to show to the fans the diversity of the genres I play on my records. I could potentially do four different sets of four different music styles, which is a real nice feeling for me and I guess for the fans as well.

BBR- Joanne, in your career so far, you have already achieved a lot, performed with the cream of the blues/rock worlwide and being universally acclaimed as one of the best blues/rock performers. Are there any hidden dreams that you have not yet fulfilled?

JST - I think there are still many things I could do better, in my life and career. I like to think that there are still so many songs unwritten, locked somewhere inside of me. More guitar solos,to learn to become even a better vocalist or even learn new guitar riffs. I believe it's important to keep thinking there are things to improve, in someone's life and career. I have not managed, with my music, to reach yet some countries in the world and I would love to do that too, in future. I have not even done yet any music collaboration, up to this point and that is something else I would like to look into too, you know. Working with some other artists and see if they can take me down to different music routes, maybe even country artists! How cool would that be, given what we discussed before?

 

 

 

 

The Dirty Truth can be purchased by following this link: Amazon

 

Joanne Shaw Taylor's Tour Dates Worldwide: JST's World Tour 2015

 

 

 

Doing Pretty Good - An Interview With Keb' Mo'

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It's a beautiful afternoon in England, when I meet Kevin Moore, aka Keb' Mo',  in that wonderful city that is London. Impeccably dressed as always, the American singer/songwriter has just landed in the English capital less than 24 hours ago, still he doesn't show any signs of tiredness or fatigue.

His latest album, Bluesamericana, not just marks twenty years of music business for this highly respected, three-times Grammy winner but also portraits an artist at the very peak of his artistic growth, both as a musician and as a songwriter. Before we start our interview, we amiably discuss about fashion and good food of Southern Europe and one gets the impression that Keb' Mo' is in a very happy place, right now, in his heart and soul.

 

BBR - Bluesamericana is a sort of landmark for you. Do you feel, sometimes, that this first 20 odd years of music have gone really fast? Is there any particular memories you would like to share with us about living and breathing music "On The Road"?

KM - You are right, they went really fast but I like to live for the moment. I have got some great memories of all these past years but I don't dwell on them, right now. As I was telling you, I rather prefer to sit and enjoy the moment and the life I am living right now and think about the future. And to know that, maybe, I am creating at this moment in time some new memories I can take with me from now to the next 20 years of my life.

BBR - The album, which is co-produced by you and your long-time friend and musician Casey Wasner, is a true testament of your ability, both as a composer and a musician. Is it true that the record was planned originally to be an acoustic, stripped-down kind of album? If so, how come you changed your mind about the kind of sound that ended up on Bluesamericana?

KM - I think what happened was that I started feeling the songs in a different way. What caused the change of tempo on the album is something that just happened naturally, without a specific reason. I just felt the songs in that way. It all came out in the way it came out. Sometimes, you can not really stop your immediate feelings or intuitions, you just need to let them flow. I started the album, as you said, just with guitar solo and my voice and I wanted initially to bring that kind of atmosphere in my concerts. Then I thought that those songs needed more layers, which make them last in people's mind a bit longer than a purely acoustic number. And in the end, I was very happy I followed my instinct about those added layers on the album.

BBR - The Old Me Better has got that New Orleans Street Parade type of sound. Where did you get the idea to add that particular sound on that track?

KM - Actually, my co-writer came up with the idea of the sound about The Old Me Better. I wrote down the lyrics in about 20 minutes because the subject really matters to me so it came out really quickly (the song is about married life in general). When something is really important to me, I make things move really fast and that includes writing songs too.

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BBR - 12 albums in and your music style still sounds so fresh and inspired. How much has, collaborating throughout all these years with many famous fellow artists, contributed to your artistic growth?

KM - D'you know, I don't think that is about the number of artists I have worked with that is the real secret. It is rather more about the blues artists that have deeply inspired me, people like Earth, Wind & Fire, Steely Dan, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, James Taylor.. All those people have really casted a big influence on me, rather than people I have been working with, I think. I would say that, all in all, despite the fact I listen to other artists playing their stuff, I try to do my own things, musically speaking, without referencing or being particularly inspired by anything or anyone. It is me being with me, wanted to say what I have got to say and sounding in the way I want to sound like. It's like seeing somebody with a fabulous pair of shoes and, rather than asking "Hey, you have got a great pair of shoes, can I borrow them?", I rather prefer making my own shoes in my own way.

BBR - The album is packed with references to love and commitments. Has the record been inspired, lyrically, by a particular stage of your life?

KM - Well, it is more my "actual" stage of life, truth to be told. It is all about actual stuff happening in my life. Being married is like a whole journey, which inevitably, brings up stuff. Like some of my other records, what I have written on Bluesamericana is about this moment of my life I am living, this journey I am into, that I just mentioned. Most importantly, the lyrics come from some place deep inside of me, as always happens with anything I write on my records. So, in answer to your question, Bluesamericana frames a stage of my life exactly as you might have noticed on my previous albums. There is no hiding anywhere or trying to tell anybody else's story. It is just Keb' Mo' talking about what happens in his life and what really matters to him.

BBR - In this record, who is the character that inspired the series of calamities and bad luck on The Worst Is Yet To Come song? Is that a fictional story or a real one?

KM - It is fictional and real at the same time. The reason why I wrote that song was because I wanted to transform a negative subject in a positive one. The whole song is about facing some real tough time but, in the end, one keep saying to himself: "Well, the sun keeps on shining, just like it should. When I take a look around me, yes, I'm doing pretty good". Those lyrics on that song, they sum up pretty much what I wanted to say on that track.

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BBR - Kevin, are you still doing some acting or is that something you tried, fulfilled, but you are not interested to explore any further?

KM - I think I have always liked to act but I must confess, I am a terrible actor! Acting is some serious stuff and I don't think I can push myself any more than what I have already done. I think I have done all right for the kind of acting I have been asked to do but it's not something I am particularly interested to pursue any further.

BBR - What Keb' Mo' would have been, without music?

KM - It would have just been music, no more no less. I cannot even start thinking what my life would have been without it. I am just a music type of guy and I guess I always will.

BBR - You have contributed massively and you still do, in the contamination and evolution of music in its entirety, in the past two decades. In the centuries to come, how would you love to be remembered by the future generations?

KM - I would say, I feel more like I have been combining and fusing different music genres, rather than contaminating one. I would love to be remembered, maybe, like a guy that was able to tell good stories, giving positive vibes through his music and make everyone feeling good about life in general.

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

Photos by Giovanni "Gio" Pilato.

Bluesamericana is out now and can be purchased via Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let The Music Play - An Interview To Thorbjorn Risager

                                                              By Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

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2014 has been one of those years that will remain forever in the minds and hearts of Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado. Universally acclaimed as one of the top album of 2014 by half of the media world, Too Many Roads is just one of those album that get inside your skin from the first listen for its beauty. The singer/songwriter Thorbjorn Risager, has kindly accepted to discuss with Bluebirdreviews what this album means for him personally and what the future has installed for them as a collective.

 

GGP - Too Many Roads is an album that has trajected the name of the band in the Olympus of the music scene worldwide. How much has it surprised you, or not maybe, the huge, positive outcome of the record from a selling prospect and from music magazines or music media in general around the globe?

TR - The truth is that we were very surprised on how well the album did, when it was released. We were very happy about the album but we never imagined that the album would attract the attention of so many people and media in general. The media must have done over a hundred of reviews of the album, since its release and interviews with us about the album, which was a very pleasant surprise for us. Our previous albums never received that much attention by fans and media in such scale, therefore this album is a giant leap for us.

GGP - Producing the album yourselves as a collective for the first time has been a brave move. How difficult has been for you and the band to run the project completely on your own?

TR - Actually, it turned out to be not that difficult at all. Once we finished the recording process, we were so happy about the outcome that we immediately had the feeling we had recorded something special, as it then turned to be. I like to think that such positive outcome is also due to the fact that on this album, we have decided to go solo, without a producer. We followed everything through, instead of leaving the responsibility to a producer to select and choose what then ends up on a record. As main men on the production side of this album, there was me and our bass player Soren and that was great fun. I was mainly focusing on musical arrangements while Soren concentrated more on the aspects of the sound. We had an excellent Team Work and by doing things on our own, we also saved a lot of money.

GGP - The recording process of each of your record must be surely intriguing. Beside you being the main songwriter, how much musical input each band member brings, in deciding the music direction on each individual track?

TR - That is a very interesting question. From a musical point of view, as I was saying before, our bass player Soren has always a lot of good ideas on each track we record. We all listen to his ideas and decide then which is the one that could be applied on each song. Sometimes, when I write a new tune, I record it and send it to each member of the band. The band would then play each their instruments, following their instinct and the way that particular song sounds to each of them. This would happen, normally, a couple of days before we enter the studio and rehearse the songs. Once we are all together in the studio, though, things may go through different musical tangents and we spend more hours rehearsing. This is a way of working we often apply before recording a new album but, as I said before, Soren is definitely the one that comes up with bags of ideas, even at the last minute. It is funny, sometimes, to think that the bass player in a band is always the one that has got thousand of ideas and our band makes no exception!

GGP - Scandinavia is a part of the world that has grown a lot in loving blues in the last 15-20 years. Does the love for this genre, in your opinion, come from values that blues carries with, which may reflect the core values of Scandinavian people too or is there any other reason behind this deep connection?

TR - Difficult to say if there is a real connection, in my opinion, as a Scandinavian person. The funny thing is that, very often, there is this saying that Scandinavian people are a bit depressed but I do not think, not even for a second, that this has got anything to do with the blues or whether there is a special bond between this part of the world and the genre. We are just what we are. I can just guess that many here might feel some sort of connection but it is something more individual, rather than a national thing. I really have not got an answer to that.

GGP - Thorbjorn, Too Many Roads is an album in which relationships between men and women seem to be the centrepiece of the whole project. How easy was to put yourself in the shoes of a woman's mind, when you wrote Red, Hot & Blue?

TR - Actually, I wrote that song from the prospective of my girlfriend. In that sense, it wasn't that difficult because I have known her for many years, now. Due to the special bond we have and always had, it wasn't really tricky for me to write that particular song.

GGP - The success of your band has taken you to many countries, I believe 17 or even more. When will the Southern Europe and the American audience have the opportunity of seeing you and the band performing in those countries?

TR - Hopefully very soon. We would absolutely love to go in countries such as Italy or Spain. But from a logistic point of view, it is not easy for us to plan gigs over there. We toured a lot in Germany for the last 3-4 years, where we have a very solid fan base and big audiences coming to our concerts. Given the short distance from Denmark, to have such great audiences in Germany is a great plus factor for us. It is very easy for us to go there and tour the whole country and schedule a proper tour. We really hope to tour Southern Europe soon. We are aware that there is a very good blues scene over there. If not this year, we would hope at least this might happen next year but we do want to go there and play, definitely. USA is one of those dreams we hope to achieve very soon too. That is the place where all our music heroes come from, therefore that would be a massive dream to fulfil for us, hopefully, one day.

GGP - W.C. Hardy, a famous blues composer and musician, once defined his music as the sound of a sinner on Revival Day. How does Thorbjorn Risager define HIS music instead?

TR - That is a difficult question. We tend to play quite a broad variety of genres, our music recipe gets its ingredients from different styles of music. To define our style is difficult, purely because it's all depending what type of song will come out the minute I sit down and start writing a new song. It may be a soul kind of song (Ray Charles is one of my all-time favourite artists), or a jazz, or a rock one, who knows. I think that, a lesson we learned through experience, as artists, is to follow our instinct about how a song should sound like, without any limit. In the past, our style was very much jazz orientated while now, I would call it more a blues/rock kind of style, with added elements from other music roots. And through the music style we play, we also like the fact, especially when we play live, to be able to create some positive vibes, a true bond between us, as a band, and the crowd. We want our fans to come back home thinking of our gigs as a moment of joy and we hope we are able to achieve most times.

GGP - Was there any particular reason behind the decision of changing the name of the band from Thorbjorn Risager Band to Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado?

TR - Myself and the band have been thinking so much, through the years, about trying to find an easy name for our fans to pronounce and I think we finally nailed it! (chuckles). For this last album we finally did so. We managed to find the right name and we are all happy about it. There is also another reason about trying to give the band a proper name. At the time we made Too Many Roads, I had planned to take quite some time off in Greenland with my family but the band wanted to keep touring, even in my absence. Given the fact they couldn't call themselves Thorbjorn Risager Band without me being around, at least by having their own identity, as a band, they could have had the chance of touring with somebody else, while I was away, or simply touring on their own, by calling themselves The Black Tornado. Due to the fact that my partner is a doctor and she loves to do some work in Greenland, it might be possible in future I may need to take chunks of time off music and be with her over there. At least, though, The Black Tornado can continue to play music on their own having their own identity, as a collective.

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GGP - 2015 marks 10 years since you released your first album. Is there any surprise installed for your fans to commemorate such an important event?

TR - Well, we are certainly celebrating this important event in our career in the best way possible, which is releasing a new live CD/DVD called Songs From The Road. The mixing sounds fabulous and we are very pleased on the outcome. Certainly, the live album will be unveiled in Copenhagen, where our roots are. The band has been actually existing for 12 years but, as you rightly said, our first record was released back in 2005. And that was the same time in which we met our manager as well, so, in some ways, it will be a double celebration!

GGP -  Thorbjorn, music changes the lives of millions of people every day. Your music must have changed the lives of many people around the world too. But how much has music changed you as a person?

TR - Music is my whole life. The blues music, in particular, it has been always part of my life and will always be. I make a living out of music by writing it, playing it, singing it.. I live and breath music every day and I guess that I wouldn't be able to describe my life without music being part of it. 

GGP - One part soul, one part blues, one part funk, one part rock. How should we name the music cocktail generated by Thornbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado?

TR - Well, to me, the core of our music remains the blues. I remember somebody from the Media World calling us Indie Blues, when Too Many Roads was released, although I don't subscribe entirely to that point of view. If I should, though, make up a cocktail name for our music, I think I would call it Danish Cosmopolitan. But fundamentally, let's just let the music doing the talk.

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

Too Many Roads is available on Amazon and the all the biggest retailers worldwide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life In The Fast Lane - An Interview With Ben Poole

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There is a big smile on Ben Poole's face; he has been just told by his Management he is going to play at one of the most important music festival worldwide, which is Glastonbury in United Kingdom. "That is fantastic news. The cherry on the cake after a very long year on the road". Ben Poole from the south of England has been universally recognised by artists like Jeff Beck, Matt Schofield and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, amongst other like someone that has got a very bright future ahead of him. His latest album, recorded live at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London, Uk by the BBC, is a fantastic example of his talent and ability in playing guitar and singing skills.

BBR - Ben, to be able to play at the Royal Albert Hall, it must have been a mesmerising experience for you. Which are the fondest memories you have about that special night?

BP - It was a real honour and privilege to be standing in that building and to have the opportunity to play guitar in there, where so many incredible fellow guitarists have been before me. I remember to have seen artists of the calibre of Chris Rea, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa in the past, wonderful times. To be honest with you, I didn't feel that much pressure whilst on stage, as I thought I was going to have. I guess the reason was that we never planned to release it as a live cd, that was never on the cards, at the time. That was something that came later on, when we realised that the BBC had recorded the entire show and it sounded as good as it does. If I was going to know that performance was going to be released as an album, surely I might have felt a lot more pressure. No doubts myself and the band might have been much more nervous about it. In the end, thinking back at that day, I felt quite chilled and I think that comes across in the way that the album sounds, a very relaxed performance.

BBR - Some of our readers might be aware about your music roots, others maybe not. When and where did you inherit your love for blues?

BP - I started playing guitar when I was about 9 years old. I started on acoustic guitar and I only got into blues when I was 12 or 13. That was the time when I started listening to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Healey and Gary Moore. These were the artists that inspired me the most, at that age. That was my first impact to the blues and when I started to get my head around the genre. Then, a couple of years later, Stevie Ray Vaughan made a significant mark in my understanding and appreciation of the blues. I guess those were the most meaningful moment for me about building my blues roots and where my real inspiration came from to be doing what I am doing, as a musician.

BBR - In the last 12 months, you have been touring together with big names of the blues-rock scenes, such as Matt Schofield and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, among others. Have they provided you with any valuable piece of advice, about being a Blues Man?

BP - Good question. I think, what I took from Kenny Wayne was just his enormous passion and drive by playing guitar. We have been chatting a lot about guitar gear almost every night on the tour and trust me, he would talk to anybody about gear! He is just one of those guys insanely passionate about his instrument. Another good thing I took away by touring with him, it was what he told me about the importance to constantly remember why we do what we do, as musicians. It is important to remember that we started playing music not really for the money but because we had and still have a real love for the instrument. I found so captivating and incredible that somebody like Kenny, despite the fact he has been making music for so many years despite his young age, still has got this burning fire inside of him. And a great musician to get to play guitar with too, while we were on Tour. Working with him and with Matt Schofield before him, have been remarkable experiences. We both like to make music and make some noise, Man!

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BBR - We know that you have been touring for quite a long time and we were wondering whether you had any chance to start working on your next album or not yet.

BP - I just have been on the phone with my Management before we started talking for this interview. I have been delighted to hear I shall play Glastonbury Festival in few days, which is an enormous buzz for me. We discussed also about my next album. The planning for the new record has been a bit tricky, given the fact I have been for so long on tour. I shall be working, in the driving seat as the producer, with Wayne Proctor, the drummer of the Scottish Blues band King King. The King King have been very busy themselves touring and promoting their new record. As a consequence, as you can imagine, it has been really difficult scheduling dates to start recording the new album. Hopefully we will start soon; I have been writing a lot of new material and we should be able to get together this summer, once my tour is over. And if all will plan out well, I should be able to release the new record either for the end of this year or beginning of 2016.

BBR - The blues that you beautifully play is a genre that has been around, as we both know, for almost a century. Do you ever get the feeling that United Kingdom might be start losing touch a little, with the blues?

BP - I don't think so. The blues is something that has clearly evolved in recent times and people's conception of what blues is, has certainly changed. The fact that this genre evolves in different shapes and forms every time, in my opinion, it helps to keep the genre alive and interesting. And as long as everyone remembers where it all really started, including the UK fans, I am convinced that the love and passion for blues will never burn out. The only way we are going to keep the blues music in the forefront of people's mind in this generation, is by bringing this modern age to it and add some rock or pop sensibility to the genre. The way people perceive blues nowadays is far from the 1920-1930 style that artists like Robert Johnson or Son House were carrying at that time. Without forgetting their lessons though, I would say that blues now is fundamentally a re-interpretation of what those artists taught to us back in the days. I am very positive that the best part of the world, UK included, are not going to lose any touch at all with the genre.

BBr - Recently we had the honour of talking to Beth Hart and she told us that one of her biggest fears is the songwriting block. What's the way you approach a new album? Do you tend to write the lyrics or the music first?

BP - I can completely understand where she comes from. I can tell you there are times in which I am able to write in waves, depending by the mood I am in. Some other times I get into a real roll and write really a lot and sometimes I cannot write at all for long periods, because I can't get inspired. My recording process, normally, happens by writing the music first because, first and foremost, I am a guitar player. Then the lyrics flow in, by starting building choruses, melodies etc. So, in answer to your original question, this is the way I approach a recording process of a new record normally and I totally agree about what Beth told you recently about that kind of block. Songwriting can be very challenging, at times.

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BBR - We know you have been touring for a long, long time several countries in the world. Is there any chance that our American readers at Bluebirdreviews will see you performing live in the States any time soon?

BP - I am pretty confident it won't happen this year, rather unfortunately. Hopefully I'll get back  over next year. I remember I was in Nebraska in 2013 touring and I had a fabulous time there. There will be some serious planning process to be done, in order to arrange a proper tour in the States. When you travel that far in the world, there are many aspects that need to be taken into consideration, from a planning point of view. But I am sure that the time will come soon for me to get back in the USA, I love that part of the world.

BBR - If you had a time travel machine, what would have been your ideal group of musicians, of past and present, you would have loved to jam with on a stage?

BP - Given the fact I have met Chris Layton whilst touring with KW Shepherd and being a massive Double Trouble fan, I would say that Chris and Tommy Shannon on drums and bass would have been the ideal rhytm session for me. Then Steve Marriott from Small faces on vocals.. Wow, how awesome would that be! Or perhaps, the whole of the Zeppelin, Free and Double Trouble altogether on the same stage... Tricky question, Gio!

BBR - Where, do you reckon, is Ben Poole now, musically speaking and where exactly Ben Poole wants to be in 20 years from now?

BP - I like to think that my style of playing blues is not exactly easy to define and categorize. I see my music influenced by many genres, some rock, soul, a bit of gospel, some funk.. In the next two decades, I would love to see myself as exploring even further not just the blues, but also other genres and to be able to diversify my style even further. I admire a lot the way that John Mayall has explored music so many times and in so many different ways throughout his career and through the many albums he has recorded. He would be probably telling you, if you were asking the same question to him, that he would love to be somewhere else, trying something new, musically speaking, in the next two decades. That is the kind of philosophy and attitude I embrace too. I just hope I shall be able to bring my fans with me as well in different musical territories  I would like to explore in the years to come in the same, phenomenal way that Mayall does. I would be a very happy man!

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

Photos courtesy by Ben Poole's website. Live At The Royal Albert Hall can be purchased via I-Tunes or Amazon

Hang On To Your Emotions - An Interview With Emiliana Torrini

by Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

14577 10152808350508446 2467348564042519792 nI have come across many talented artists in my time as a writer. The vast majority of them revealed themselves to be not just fabulous and talented artists but great human beings too.

Emiliana Torrini, though, goes a notch above any music personalities I have ever met. Her charisma, talent, sweetness and grace make the Italo-Icelandic singer/songwriter one of the most refreshing artists of the whole music scene, worldwide. After many years spent in the United Kingdom, Emiliana has decided to go back to her homeland in Iceland, in which she is not just fully immersed in her career in the music business but also as a full-time parent of a 5-year old child.

When we talk to Emiliana, she sounds as always very relaxed and outgoing. The singer/songwriter has just come back from a Tour date in Spain, which she confides as being a truly remarkable experience.

Emiliana released her latest work back in 2013, a very intense album called Tookah and she is  with us today to talk about this record and to offer to the readers of Bluebirdreviews a brief overview of her very successful career so far.

Tookah is a made-up word, created to describe what life and love are for Emiliana Torrini. But I wonder whether Tookah is more a state of mind in which all human beings are born or, maybe,  just a stage of our lives we all would like to reach. "For me personally, it is more about being born with this concept; it is what you really are deep inside. Initially, when we started working on this record, due to the fact that myself and the band were working for almost 24 hours a day, this word came up just as a joke to help us to chill out. That word, then, got stuck with me and kept me thinking of a wonderful series of images in my mind, to the point I got so enthusiastic about this word that I just wanted badly to sing it in one of my songs. Tookah, as a word, also helped me to connect even deeper my mind with that series of images I was telling you about and made me think about how connecting myself to that word made me feel, which was a wonderful feeling. I have been, at that time (the record was released in 2013), in a particularly vulnerable state of mind, where I had a new identity, the fact of coming back to Iceland and the big responsability of being a parent. I think that, becoming a mother, was so immense for me that I might have not realised what to do as a parent and how to behave, which was almost, at the same time, strangely beautiful for me. Sometimes though, things were a little tricky in this new part of my life and that was a little infuriating at time. Then, all of a sudden, you discover to have this immense love inside of you, by living this new stage of my life that my little body felt almost like exploding! Those series of images/visions that I mentioned before, helped me to find my inner self, perhaps a new and different myself, where nothing really matters anymore. All I thought life was gifting me with in all these years, made me move one step back and another one forward at the same time. A step towards that inner feeling, that "Tookah", where all reconnect together again and make sense. Sometimes, I guess, I may sound a little complicated when I try to express what that word means to me and I almost feel a little sense of guilt towards my fans, to have called the album like that. It may confuse people!".

Read more: Hang On To Your Emotions - An Interview With Emiliana Torrini

The Music Chef - An Interview With Dan Patlansky

dpArticle by Gio Pilato

(Photo courtesy of Stephen Fourie)

When some music genres are played with true passion, desire and drive, it doesn't matter when the music itself comes from. Blues is not a genre that gets associated to countries like South Africa, normally. Still, the country in question has been able to unleash to the world in the last few years, one of the finest blues guitarists and songwriter of this generation and his name is Dan Patlansky.

Read more: The Music Chef - An Interview With Dan Patlansky

System Of Survival - An Interview with Beth Hart

There will always be rock and roll stories into that formidable art, which is music. Some of those made-up, some other half true and half not, some other times there are stories  so true that leave indelible scars for life on the skin of the artists in question.

Beth Hart is, without any shadow of doubt, one of those artists that had to face many scars and still do, at times. The difference now is that she is not alone anymore in this fight against all her demons and has got a lot of love on her side. That love that Beth Hart has not been able very often to materialize into songs in her past records until recent times. Better Than Home, her brand new album, represent perhaps, despite the long recording process, the most intimate and positive album she has ever done.

Beth Hart has kindly accepted to see Bluebirdreviews to talk about her new album in this exclusive interview.

Read more: System Of Survival - An Interview with Beth Hart

The Bright Side Of The Music: An Interview With Robben Ford

The Bright Side Of The Music: An Interview with Robben Ford

by Giovanni "Gio" Pilato  

PRD74542 450Artists are often defined by the level of class and versatility they are able to put in their works through the years and the ability to diversify their style, by keeping it constantly fresh and modern. In essence, to be able to be one step beyond the ladder of music geniality to anybody else.

Robben Ford, without a shadow of doubt, belongs deservedly to the very top of such ladder and an album like Into The Sun is a clear mirror of his incredible talent. An album of many layers, elegant, surprising at times but always upbeat, in a way that just the American guitarist is able to create.

It's my second meeting with Robben and today, he looks very relaxed and excited, at the same time, to see how people will react to the release of his new album. He greets me in a very good Italian and my first question to him is, whether the album title is related to the contemporary sounds used on the album or there is a hidden meaning about calling the album Into The Sun. "I am sorry to disappoint you", says Robben, "but the title's idea came from the photoshoot. We did series of shots of me walking into the sun and that is where the idea came from. My initial thought was to call the album Flow but after watching the shots we did for the album cover, I thought that Into The Sun was a fit name for the album". 

Read more: The Bright Side Of The Music: An Interview With Robben Ford

The Tale Of Two Sandis: Interviews with Sandi Thom

by Gio Pilato

Rewind the film: I met Sandi Thom about three times between June and October 2013 and the impression I could perceive at the time was of a talented young woman with a fabulous album out (Flesh And Blood) but seemed troubled. Despite the kindness she always showed every time we met, there was something I could detect, something that was hidden, and she was just dealing with it personally, like any brave Scot would do.

Winter 2014 in South UK and the fabulous and talented young woman I met an year earlier, suddenly looks so different as we shake hands; despite all she had been through lately (her break-up with Blues Titan Joe Bonamassa had just recently been confirmed by Sandi herself via Social Network), she looks serene, relaxed and at the same time, very determined.

"I honestly don't mind talking about my recent break-up, but at the same time I do appreciate you are asking no questions about it".

Read more: The Tale Of Two Sandis: Interviews with Sandi Thom

Between True & Imaginary Friends - An Interview with Reeves Gabrels

Between True & Imaginary Friends - An interview with Reeves Gabrels

by Gio Pilato

Innovator, pioneer, alternative but fundamentally, one of the most talented guitarists and producers that the music business has ever had in the last four decades of music history. To define Reeves Gabrels is rather difficult, given the magnitude of his talent; therefore, no one better than The Man himself can tell us more about him and his incredible career in the music industry. Reeves has recently completed his new project, called Reeves Gabrels And His Imaginary Fr13nds, together with bass player Kevin Hornback and the drummer, Jeff Brown. Bluebirdreviews.com is delighted to have today Reeves talking about past, present and future and most importantly, about his new album.

Gio - Hi Reeves and many congratulations for your new project called Reeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Fr13nds. Despite the fact that you have been on the music scenes for many years, this is only your fifth album as a solo artist. For how long has this record been in your mind?

Reeves - We started this record about four years ago; then I joined The Cure in 2012 and I was about to release the record that summer but I got shelved because of many different things happening. I listened to it again and re-mixed a couple of songs, re-recorded few tracks,take some tracks off the album and recording few more pieces for it.. Actually it is (the record) something I have never had the luxury of doing having that much time available in between the whole process. Kevin Hornback, Jeff Brown (The Imaginary Fr13nds) and I have been playing together for almost seven years now and they have been part of this project for so long time that I really felt the need of calling the album Reeves Gabrels & The Imaginary Fr13nds as a tribute to their involvement. Originally I use The Imaginary Fr13nds nickname at the time I was doing some acoustic shows because people was asking who I was playing with and I said: "My Imaginary Fr13nds!". I brought some stuffed animals with me at that time at the shows and I thought, "It's as good as a name as any"; It was like the Buckaroo Banzai movie and I felt like the Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers (chuckles).

Gio - The album counts 5 covers among the overall 11 tracks, all beautifully executed with your unique style, full of virtuosity and versatility as always. How difficult has it been for you to choose the covers that ended up on the record?

Read more: Between True & Imaginary Friends - An Interview with Reeves Gabrels

Out On The Tiles

Boston Strong.

On April 15th, 2013, a beautiful sunny day finally broke the long winter of New England. The Boston Marathon was underway. With courage, persistence and lightning speed from all runners, fans and family watched in excitement along the crowded streets to cheer on inspired athletes from all over the world. Part of the event this year was dedicated to the children, teachers and staff, who perished in the Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT school shooting. Families from Connecticut traveled to Boston, to show their strength during grief, and honor their loved ones with every mile. Other runners were there for the challenge of a life long dream to complete this historic race, some of them making the trip of a lifetime. Community, support, family fun and inspiration, are forever ingrained in any marathon. People come together for a purpose. On April 15th, 2013, the people of Boston were strong for their marathon. And, in the blink of an eye, as the runners were completing the race, the sun did not fade, but bombs broke out near the finish line.

"They think they can keep us down? They can ... dream on..." Steven Tyler, Boston Strong.

Read more...

 

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Maine Music News

Dont let the name fool you! Maine Music News provides live concert reviews and photography for shows throughout all of New England. Our photographers cover shows in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and anywhere else we can! Our writers provide detailed album reviews and expertly written interviews as well. We may be called Maine Music News, but we dont let the Maine border stop us!