Interview with Evelyn Rubio: Crossing Blues & Soul Borders: Video, Photos

Interview with Mexican versatile saxophonist Evelyn Rubio: Crossing Blues & Soul Borders.

How has the Blues, Soul and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Well in my native Mexico, Blues and soul are really in our counterculture, Rock is a little more mainstream. But when I’ve performed around Mexico, the US. and Europe I’ve found that people are people and they just want to groove a little and go somewhere else emotionally and simple enjoy this art form.

How do you describe your songbook and sound? What touched (emotionally) you from the Saxophone?

I would describe my songbook as being on the brighter side of the blues. Sometimes I give the boys a break and then of course sometimes I gotta let them have it. I’ve been told my vocal color belongs with the ballads but I feel too much energy now, maybe later but on my new album I have a ” jazzy” song where my vocals follow the saxophone almost note for note and it covers a good part of my range. I’ve always been a singer and started to play guitar but my mentor and great friend Alfonso Miranda put a saxophone in my hand and I never put it down. It just felt natural, like an extension of my voice.

How has your Mexican heritage influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I travel with an open mind and everywhere I go I try not to compare just to appreciate the differences and of course enjoying every little sip of the experience.

What characterize your new album “Crossing Borders” music philosophy in comparison to other previous albums?

In “Crossing Borders,” I allowed myself to explore into other genres like country and jazz. This album has more personal thoughts about life like the song “I Don’t Understand.” We know the world is full of bad things, injustice, abuse, people and animal suffering, etc. but still it doesn’t mean that we have to accept it .

Are there any memories from “Crossing Borders” studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Beginning in Houston I went in the studio with all-star rock musicians, Al Staehely and Mark Andes from the super band SPIRIT and the wonderful Kenny Cordray – what a session! When we were recording “Border Town” the first two takes were ok but it wasn’t the sound that I wanted , something was missing so I mentioned to Kenny Cordray (lead guitar) that I wanted “mystery” and he got it, he changed the whole song with the sound of his guitar.

What touched (emotionally) you from “Besame Mucho”? What are the lines that connect: Afro-American and Latin music?

Most people of age can relate to a passionate kiss. “Besame Mucho que tengo miedo perderte despues;” which translate into English – “Kiss me a lot cause I’m afraid of losing you.” I have related to this myself, and that’s one of the reasons that it became a classical standard. A lot of the Caribbean music came from African influences and made their way into Latin America. “Besame Mucho” is a bolero song and bolero music was originated in Cuba.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Definitely my friend and music mentor Alfonso Miranda who was my saxophone teacher and he encouraged me to became a musician and songwriter. Once here in the USA Al Staehely (music attorney and member of the rock band Spirit) has been a very important part of my career. He gave me the opportunity to play with The Staehely Brothers Band and he introduced me to Calvin Owens (BB King’s band leader for 12 years, trumpet composer and producer) who signed me on his label for 5 years ,5 albums. I recorded the album “HOMBRES” in two versions one in English and one in Spanish and it topped the Billboard Charts at #1 Latin Pop album Album, #6 Blues Album and #3 Top Latin Album…

And believe it or not after Calvin Owens passed away I began playing with B.B. King’s last band leader Mr. James Boogaloo Bolden who was B.B.’s band leader for 30 years and I recorded an album with him “No News jus’ the Blues” and lately, I’ve finished an album that included most of the Phantom Blues Band members that I hope to release after the first of the year along with the video “Border Town”. I’m also putting a band together with my Producer Mr. Larry Fulcher who is also a (Grammy Award Winner with Taj Mahal) on bass, Grammy Award winner David de la Garza (La Mafia) on keys, two times Grammy Nominated guitarist Corey Stood and Al Jarreau’s guitar player for the last 10 years John Calderon. About the best advice I would say “Believe in Yourself” and “Enjoy the ride, even the bumps”.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Well there are too many but just to mention one, I would never forget when I got the chance to open for BB King and there was a big crowd backstage of friends and family and everybody wanted to spend some time with the King. Unexpectedly, I found myself sharing some experiences with B.B. about Calvin Owens, and he ended the conversation so graciously asking me for a kiss and of course I was so happy to give it to him. It was fun last year singing backgrounds for David Lee Roth, pure energy!

What moment changed your life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

Moving from Mexico City to Playa del Carmen and beginning as a full time blues vocalist/sax player and buying a little house; that was a very exciting moment for a young Evelyn. After 6 years with a hot blues rock band “Chivo Azul,” I was introduced to Al Staehely who set up an audition with Calvin Owens (a BB King Band leader) and was offered a 5 year 5 album record deal.

Do you consider the “Blues Rock” a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

It’s my opinion that great artists like John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughan and now among others Joe Bonamassa and Gary Clark Jr. are all Blues Rock performers. I attended a Bonamassa concert in Houston a couple of years ago and he did not play one single blues song. I don’t think anyone really wants to stay in one box. As a state of mind, did I mention Carlos Santana? I’m a lucky lady and I thank you for this opportunity to express myself.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

The originality and the lack of fear to try different things. I wish I could have that experience that people between 60-70 years old talk about, like they say when they listened for the first time to Jimmy Hendrix, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc… they were in awww what’s that?, never heard something like this before!! I miss the real live music in concerts, everything it’s about computer and I worry for the new generations that can grow up thinking this is the only way to go. My hope is to sell out major stadiums around the world and my fear is technology will continue to divide us rather than bring us together.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

First of all, don’t compare yourself with nobody else, everybody has their own voice. Be nice with everyone and respect your brother and sisters and that respect will come back to you. I come to appreciate the difficulty of the blues musicians and their legacy of slavery and discrimination and how they prevail in some of the most horrible circumstances.

What does to be a female artist in a “Man’s World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Some women can pack a stadium and debut at #1 just like a man can, but it’s a fact that not as many rises to that level. I’m going to do my best to add one more sister to the matrix and give it my everything. I have to be strong and remember those that came before me. You know that the Houston Rodeo Show featured 19 artist this last year, four of those were women so as you can see there is more work to be done.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Monika Watkins

Facebook Comments