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08 Jan

Phil Gates Interview

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Phil Gates style is reminiscent of early Buddy Guy mixed with a special blend of flavors from Jazz, Fusion, and the Chicago, Delta, and Mississippi Blues styles. He gave a short interview to Jazzonline before his performance at Half Note on January 19, 2018.

1- The blues weren't invented in Chicago, but they were certainly shaped here: urbanized, electrified, and set to a danceable beat. Suppose I want to hear the real stuff, some authentic Chicago blues, and I go to a local blues club. What will I find there?
You will find exactly that. Electrified Blues with a danceable beat. The Chicago Blues has a specific sound, often amplified, and a cool transition from Delta and Mississippi Blues to a sound ranging from a Muddy Waters sound, to uptempo things like Little Walter, Buddy Guy, etc. Traditional Blues as it were.

2 - When the band plays "Sweet Home Chicago," you can't get much more authentic than that, right?
No you can’t really get more authentic than that! Also songs like “My Babe”(Little Walter) “Slippin out Slippin in” or “Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues" (Buddy Guy), “I Just Want To Make Love to You" (Willie Dixon), etc

3 - In Chicago, the blues audience is mostly a white audience. Why do you think there is not  more blacks in the audience?
Well there’s an interesting question. I think it would depend on where you go. That question of which ethnicity is supporting the Blues the most has been an interesting dynamic not only in Chicago, but across the Blues community worldwide. That is a multi-faceted conversation which could span years getting to the answer. To start, I would entertain the idea of asking the white and black members of the audience why they would attend a Blues event. I would not attempt to speak on behalf of an ethnic group, or suggest that I know their reasons for attending Blues shows. I go to Blues events because I like the Blues as a musical form.

4 - The Chicago Blues Festival is now in its twentieth year. Does Chicago use its blues legacy to promotre itself ?
I would think that Chicago uses it’s Blues legacy the same way that any city, state or country does that wants to attract visitors. If you have something great about your city, stay or country, use it to invite others to experience it. Whether it’s music, food,  landscape, culture, technology, or religion. Chicago has a great Blues legacy. If Chicago wants to share that with visitors so that they can see, hear, and experience authentic Blues, then that’s a good thing.

5 - You are the founder of the Los Angeles Blues Society. Could you tell us a few words about it ?
Sure. I founded the Los Angeles Blues Society because I believed that there was a need for the many different types of Blues Artists and fans to get together. They could experience a wide array of Blues. From Traditional Blues, to Contemporary Blues to Blues/Rock, etc. So the membership is extremely diverse both in music and fans, yet united under the umbrella of the Blues. It doesn’t delineate between the types of Blues as one being more authentic, or better than another type. All types of Blues are welcome and appreciated.

6 - Which  musicians had or have a great influence on you, and why ?
I have had so many different musicians influence me for different reasons. Muddy Waters for his purity of the Blues.  Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt and Rory Gallagher for their slide guitar and finger work. Buddy Guy for his fearless challenge to the standard of accepted Blues at the time, and changing it.  Moving  the Blues forward.  His energy,  performance  and amazing playing. I liked Roy Buchanan for his approach to the Blues and for his manipulation of the guitar for effects. Robben  Ford for combining Jazz and traditional Blues in his improvisation. Jimi Hendrix  for his command of the guitar and effects. Ray Charles  for his use of call and response, and back up vocals. Jazz artists, such as Stanley Turrentine, Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis, Kirk Whalum. Mike Stern, and John Scofield for melody and structure.

7 - What's the most memorable concert you've done?
I have lots of great memories of  concerts small and large. The largest concert I’ve performed was in the halftime of the American football Super Bowl halftime show. 110 million people worldwide. That was fun.

8 - What one song would work as the soundtrack to your life?
Oddly enough, a new song by John Mayer titled “Changing"

9 - Could you tell us about your performance in Athens?
I am really excited about the performances in Athens. The Half Note is a great venue to perform at. I’ve been to Athens a few times, and am looking forward to meeting a lot of the people while I am there, and talking with them. And seeing the  beautiful city again, of course.

10 -What are your plans for the next months?
My plan for the next  months are to focus on the shows for 2018, and also to complete a new record. There are some producers and musicians that will be involved that should make it a great record.

INTERVIEW FOR JAZZONLINE.GR  - Patricia Graire - January 2018


Last modified on Monday, 08 January 2018 15:15

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