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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Bman's Exclusive Interview: Papa J

Bman: Thanks Papa J for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk with me for a few minutes. I had the chance to review your recent release "The Big Show" and I really liked it. How is it being received?

Papa J: It’s just getting started, but almost everyone that has had a chance to listen to it has had good things to say.

Bman: So in the past you were performing under the name of "Blues Gone South". Whats the distinction?

Papa J: The Blues Gone South thing started as a band , 10yrs or so ago with the same five guys but it fizzled out and I found I was using different players all the time, so I found that The Papa J & Friends worked well and really helped get me as a singer out front and promote myself a little more.

Bman: I like your selection of tunes on this new release.... older John Lee Hooker, Albert King, SB Williamson, Jr. Wells, Willie Dixon... blending very well with your own compositions. Who were your own musical influences as a kid?

Papa J: I grew up in South LA and was the only white boy on my block. So I listened to Aretha, Ray Charles, and Sam Cook, A lot of the real Old-School blues guys.

Bman: Yes. I can hear that in your playing. I see that you had Ginger Baker's son Kofi playing drums with you too. Now that's "Stud" stock. How did you guys get together?

Papa J: I meet Kofi through a friend of a friend. I think that he had only been in the United States a short time then. We still get together and play a little and I consider him a close friend. Although Kofi is great player he is not really a blues guy so to speak.

Bman: I can imagine with Ginger living all that time in Africa and really since Cream being more of a fusion or playing more jazz himself.
You formed the "Real Blues Festival of Orange County". How did that come about? I also saw that 25% of the proceeds of the bash goes to St. Josephs Hospital of Orange County Cancer Prevention and Treatment Center. That's really great!

Papa J: I looked at the lineup for the Doheny Blues Festival and I saw acts like Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Black Crowes etc. and I realized that this not a Blues Festival. It’s a music festival which is cool but not Blues. While we may not have huge names on the bill, we nonetheless keep it real Blues. From the turnout and the response people seem to connect with that.

Bman: Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. Been to a lot of "Blues" festivals which ended up being a lot more homogenized than I'd prefer. It's great that you could put it together. I've reviewed a number of artists that you have featured there (Oozie Blues Band, Alastair Greene, K.K. Martin, and Shari Puorto to name a few). Do you see a parallel of where experienced artists are going or is some of "Blues" music just becoming the repository for older genre rockers who's genre has died?

Papa J: Yes and Yes. I see a lot of artists getting back to the blues but I still don’t see a lot of new artist starting out with the Blues. I am trying in my own small way to get America back to the basics, where a little less is best.

Bman: I personally really like the basis of blues music and it's simplicity... not that I don't like the explosive guitar and harp solo's... if fact I love them. But it can really be done so well...just a man and his guitar...Son House sitting in a chair... getting his groove on!

Papa J: You are so right. I am working a few tunes that will be just piano and vocals and harp. Like sitting in my living room with a few friends. It brings it home to be so real.

Bman: I can imagine that putting on an event like "RBFOC" can be a real headache having to not only arrange for the acts and coordinate schedules but also arrange for the venue, food, drinks, vendors, cleanup...and the weather?

Papa J: Well it ain’t easy. But at the end of the day it’s all about the Blues.

Bman: Orange County seems a strange place for people to get back to their roots. Just outside of LA. Now I know that the Blues movement is everywhere. Do you find a new younger fan base adopting the blues in such a urban environment?

Papa J: That’s the hard part about doing what I am doing in Orange County. Until just recently there have been no Blues Clubs to spread the word in. I play a lot at the House of Blues in Anaheim/ Corp. work, and if you look at the schedule there may be one Blues act every six months. I do have a show on Febuary 23rd, at HOB in Anaheim in the Voodoo Lounge. Getting there.

Bman: Tell me a little about Ray Goren. Is he one of your finds? I really can't say that I've heard him step out. Is he a future Joe Bonamassa? I've been following a young man named Matthew Curry who I think has tremendous talent and opportunity.

Papa J: Being that he is only 12 I would not say he's my friend but a kid with a bright future.

It seems to me globally that a lot more young people are being influenced by blues music because of the musicality... that is as opposed to pop music which most of them are inundated with. Blues is filling the void where there is feel and opportunity to express themselves with an instrument.

Papa J: The blues leaves a lot of room for your soul to breathe. That’s why there are so many styles of blues.

Bman: I know what you're saying. Blues music to one person is totally different to someone else. That's what makes the world go round.
I appreciate your time. Is there anything else that you would like to share with your fans?

Papa J: Please look out for The Real Blues Festival of Orange County III. It will be in early August 2012. God Bless the Blues.
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