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Discussion with Rick Saunders

Publié le 25 janvier 2012 par Nikkos
Discussion with Rick Saunders Rick Saunders is Mister Deep Blues. His blog is the best source for every Blues lovers. We spoke a few months ago about Deep Blues, Al-Country and Roots Music Revolution. Thanks Rick !

- Could you tell me, which artists are for you the leaders of this style?

I’ll keep my answers limited to what I call the deep blues sound because while I dig alt-country or punk-influenced country, I don’t pay as close attention to it. That said there are certainly some terrific cases of cross-over and blurred-lines.
As far as leaders go…there are several that come to mind. The first that comes to mind is Scott H. Biram.
Biram is a good example of that blurred line between blues/punk/country/metal. Raised on equal parts punk, metal and bluegrass, Scott is well-versed in serious blues, from field-hollers to songsters and everything between and he melds these forms to punk and metal to form his own distinct style. Others such as Left Lane Cruiser and Hillstomp combine north Mississippi hill country grooves with old-school punk rock power. Boston’s Ten Foot Pole Cats are an amazing band that combines Boston blues with Chicago’s  Chess Records sound, Texas blues, and, again, the amazing north Mississippi hill country grooves of guys like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. There’s many more I could mention, the bands playing this years Deep Blues Festival for example, that are keeping the blues form alive by pushing it forward and refusing to allow it to become staid and precious.  A handful of record labels should be included here as well. In spite of the near death of the music industry there are still a couple labels doing good things. Alive Natural Sound, a branch of the seminal garage label Bomp! is promoting some terrific artists like James Leg, T-Model Ford and GravelRoad, Left Lane Cruiser and of course the early Black Keys stuff. Broke and Hungry Records is still scouring Mississippi for vital serious blues artists, and Hillgrass Bluebilly Records is working with some exciting new bands like Possessed By Paul James and Ten Foot Polecats.

- It’s still underground in the USA, or some bands are becoming mainstream ?

I would say that, for the most part it is still pretty much underground….or about as underground as anything can be anymore. But that’s changing. It’s the usual curse that a prophet is not welcome in his own home, perhaps. But it’s definitely growing. I’ve been doing my Deep Blues site for about 9 years now and finally in the last 3-4 years, spurred in part I believe by Chris Johnson’s Deep Blues Festival, I’m starting to see Deep Blues, Punk blues, Alt-Blues as genre tags which to me is exciting and gratifying. I think that, as it’s always been, the American bands do exceptionally well in Europe and until a few years ago artists would tell me that they rarely sell out a show. That’s not so much the case now. I don’t think that any of the bands are in any real danger of becoming mainstream. Though the Black Keys (and the late White Stripes, too), could be considered at least in their infancy, a part of this scene, they’ve always eschewed the blues moniker. Rightly or wrongly, that’s not for me to decide. Dan Auerbach certainly has some very deep blues roots. They might be considered, by some, to have reached a level of mainstream relevancy but they’ve been at it as long as as i’ve been doing my site and have reached their level by hard work and not changing their style based on the flavour of the month.

- Which group, musician, do you consider as a reference for this style ?

The early years of Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records, first and foremost, has played a tremendously important role in presenting the blues as valid, current music rather than something precious that scholars and blues society’s speak about in hushed tones, or as head-nodding Oprah music for the ladies and  new Harley motorcycle mid-life crisis party music for men. R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, White Stripes, Paul Wine Jones, Jesse Mae Hemphill, Black Keys, Black Flag, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Motorhead, Lonnie Pitchford, Hasil Adkins, any body who appeared in the Robert Mugge documentary Deep Blues and the writer Robert Palmer who wrote the essential blues book that the documentary takes it’s name from, Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, ….I could go on for days.

What’s the public for this kind of raw music ? ( In the USA )
Anybody who digs real, raw, unprocessed music, or roots music should dig this stuff. For the most part it’s sexy, and it’s powerful. You can’t help but be moved by it!

- Which artists where the firsts to play this music ( mix of punk energy, deep blues and savage country ) Who before Hasil Adkins ?

Most of the artists I mentioned under references would be a good example.

- Why are you so specialist in this style of Roots music ?

Good question. I’m a music fiend. If it’s music I want to hear it. I don’t care if it’s Top 40 pop music, Gypsy ballads, hard bop jazz, hiphop-influenced wedding music from Khazakstan, whatever.  But the blues always escaped me. I’d hear a few things over the years that I dug, John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, but nothing that really clicked with me. Then I heard Junior Kimbrough’s album Sad Days, Lonely Nights I was knocked out. So as I do with music I dig I started researching and found the Deep Blues documentary and book, the Fat Possum Records catalog, and slowly but surely (thank gawd for the internet !) other bands that were digging the same sounds I was. Nobody else seemed to be collecting and documenting this stuff so about nine years ago I started a website which turned into a blog a few years ago. The deep blues sound is my punk rock. I loved the power and raw sound a lot of early punk rock back in the day but got tired of being yelled at. Punk rock is not very sexy. Now, give it blues groove and blues emotional content? Then you’ve got something! Plus there is something about this alt-blues -or whatever you wanna call it-scene that I don’t find elsewhere. That’s a commraderie and support amongst the artists. The artists are as big of fans of each other as the fans are of the artists. I don’t know if that’s because it’s such a niche-genre or what but I find that very appealing. It’s an exciting vibrant scene that is growing and expanding and i’m thrilled to play a small part in it.

Thanks !

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