May 23, 2024

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Interview with Little Bobby: We are all connected, even though the ways of the world try to separate us: Video, new CD cover

Interview with American bluesman, guitarist Little Bobby. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music.  How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Little Bobby։ – I was born on the Red Lake Indian reservation in northern Minnesota. I grew up in the small town of Thief River Falls Minnesota, all in the northern part of the state.  I’ve always been interested in music as long as I can remember, getting taken to gigs with my dad when I was five years old and loved playing the drums as a kid. I believe the adventure really took off in the early 2000s, just about 20 yrs ago when I started getting booked on gigs at blues festivals and I realized I could actually make money doing it. It’s still a struggle, I can’t say it’s been completely rainbows and that. It’s the passion for music that really keeps me going and just making music that people can relate to and help them through tough times.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound? What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

LB: – Just by getting older and realizing I’m not too old to learn new things and try new things and sounds. Another way my sound has evolved would be having the opportunity to play with some of the greats who have passed on and learning from them and just being around them there is dso much wisdom out there to be had by older musicians such as Pine Top Perkins, Eddie Shaw and a lot of those cats that have since passed on. I guess for me, I haven’t had a scheduled practice time. I pick my instrument up when I’m inspired to pick it up. and of course some of the ways i play is out of habit from doing it so many times. and one thing i’ve realized is that you can’t go wrong if you play from your heart and you can’t practice that. it’s not a rehearsal, it’s how i really feel when i play rhythms or with harmony and with repetitions on doing it so many times , you’re going to figure out what world and what doesn’t work. Mainly, I don’t rehearse– it’s all about feelings, emotion, passion and being honest on the inside and letting it resonate though your instrument.

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

LB: – I don’t really prepare for a recording. I’m lucky enough to have a studio where I live at and a lot of times the same things as the previous question, as I’ve gotten older I know that I don’t just sit down and say I’m gonna write a tune. I actually live the songs and when I’m feeling inspired, that’s when I sit down and hit record. Sometimes,when you’re in the studio it’s hard to maintain spiritual stamina . That’s why when I do sit down to record, I do it when I’m feeling inspired spiritually, emotionally and from the heart.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022 – 23: Little Bobby – God Made Me Blue, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

LB: – One of my favorite things about this record is not only did I get to bring one of my dear friends, Maury Finney into the recording studio at the age of 84, but I also got to bring another one of my friends  into the studio, Lydia Christiensen who is only 23 years old and never experienced recording studio, being on a record or being on the charts and that’s what I’m most thankful for. I really thank God for giving me that opportunity. It’s not all about what you got, it’s about what you do with it and trying to stay positive. I’m  using the fact that I’m getting this press to go to schools where I grew up and where I was born to educate these kids about the blues and this roots music and that you can do anything with your life it doesn’t matter where you come from. I am back in the studio working on more material and keep creating music whenever I feel inspired. 

Buy from here – New CD 2023

God Made Me Blue

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

LB: – I didn’t actually go out and select them from the get-go. For instance, one of the bands that play at my club had a pedal steel player track three on my new album, “Dream” was missing a sound–it just felt like it was missing something. This band was playing here and the pedal steel player was playing a certain song and I realized right then that I needed that sound in the song. That’s one of the reasons why that song works. Also, knowing that I have a saxophone player at my disposal helped. I had asked him to come and play and it just kind of happened. That’s why sometimes when I’m recording, I play a lot of my own instrumentation because sometimes it’s hard to explain to other people what sound I’m looking for.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

LB: – The balance between intellect and soul in music…that’s a hard question for me to answer. I don’t try to be philosophical when I’m writing music. I write based on total emotion or a life experience. I think if you get too intellectual in music, it’s takes away from the actual feeling. I think simpler is better. It’s like asking the question why does  John Lee Hooker have that sound when he is really not that intellectual, because it was all about a feeling. I would have to say,  if I had to pick between both of them, I’d have to pick soul and play something that is real and not intellectually contrived to be something else or something that’s fake.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

LB: – Every night is different performing for an audience to give them all of that emotion that they long for. I think when people see that you are passionate and giving it your all, it makes more of a connection with your audience. After all, we are all the same people on this planet and we all have the same type of emotions. That’s why every time I’m performing, I close my eyes so I can reach deep inside myself and give them that real feeling and that real emotion. It’s a great feeling to be able to give a performance that people can feel. Sometimes it doesn’t happen with every performance but I try with everything that’s in my being to give that emotion every single time.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

LB: – There are so many memories and experiences over the last couple decades, it’s really hard to choose certain ones because I’ve had great experiences at large concerts and festivals and just as much at small intimate settings. I remember the first time I was able to play at the Chicago Blues Festival. Being scared to death, being from some small town up north to being in the big city trying to play as best as you can when you’re alongside some of the greatest blues guys of all time, some that I felt intimidated by when I was younger. Now that I’ve gotten over that , I enjoy playing with elder statesmen of the music industry. It’s such a joy and some of the funnest jams that I’ve been to was when I lived in Clarksdale, MS. Holding down the jam at Ground Zero, Morgan Freeman’s club because you would never know who was going to walk in the door to that place. You’d have musicians from all over the world that you couldn’t even talk to because they didn’t speak very good English but they could still play the blues. I always thought that was really interesting. I remember backing up Eddie Kirkland who has since passed. I got a call saying Eric Gales wanted to join us on stage for the evening. Everyone in the world knows what a great guitar player Eric Gales is and i’ll tell you ‘ll never meet a humbler musician. Eddie at the age of 87, I don’t think he knew who Eric was. When it came time for a guitar solo he always looked over his shoulder at me. About halfway through the show,he looked at Eric to take one and Eric did his thing and I knew right then and there I did not want to play any more lead guitar the rest of the night. He sat and waited for his moment. Stuff like that really makes me smile. I’m nowhere in the same neighborhood as that guy and he was that humble that he would sit up on the stage with us, I thought that was really great. Another experience was with Guitar Shorty. We got to hang out and we played a few gigs down in MS and all through the midwest. What a humble human being he was. I really enjoyed those intimate moments with some of my heroes. There are so many stories to tell that we could literally write a book. I am really thankful for those opportunities.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

LB: – I really think the best way to get youth into music is to take the time and volunteer your services. Go and play for these kids. There’s nothing more rewarding than turning young folks on to something they’ve maybe never heard in their life. The commercial era that we live in doesn’t allow for people to go back and listen to some of this stuff. I know some folks under the age of 18 don’t even know of Miles Davis or Coltrane or any of that great music. I think it’s a real shame we can’t reach out to these young folks. Another possibility would be to get a newer artist to pay tribute and bring some of that stuff into the mainstream as far as maybe samples or however we can get it to them.  Musicians really need to get out to the middle schools and high schools so they can experience it right in front of them.  There’s nothing better than seeing jazz or blues in a live setting. It’s something you can’t get from listening to a record.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

LB: – If I could change one thing about the music world, it would be to take away all streaming music. I think a lot of the streaming music and things coming to people so fast, they don’t get a chance to absorb some of the music out there. Maybe it would get people to attend more live concerts and live settings if that was the only way they could take in music. I think that the technology part of the music industry, as far as recording, has made musicians more lazy. To that aspect, if they can just cut and paste a sound, they aren’t being real with it. I think the internet has a lot to do with that. But, I guess that’s the nature of the beast.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

LB: – I listen to a wide range of stuff. A lot of B.B.King, some Robert Randolph, I like Sly and the Family Stone. I also love Jimmy Rogers and a lot of the Chicago blues guys.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

LB: – Be kind and loving to everything around you because we are all connected. Even though the ways of the world try to separate us, black, white whatever color you are, whatever background you come from,  the one thing to remember is that music can bring us all together. It’s a very powerful tool and we need to all portray a positive message. We have to give these young folks coming up after us the knowledge and a good basis to follow.

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

LB: – Your questions were different than a lot of the other magazines, I actually had to think about them. Like I said, I believe that music is how we can all come together. How are we going to be able to do that?

JBN: – In the next few days, the days of the festivals will be decided with the EU, and letters will already be sent to those whose performances we plan to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals. will be sent to you as well, I hope we will meet. You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals in Europe and Boston, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/us-eu-jba/

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

LB: – I have done a lot of free stuff. Not so much for fame or glory but always for a good cause. Things that are going  to benefit the good of everything. Whether it be a cancer benefit or to raise money for something else that’s good and positive. I hope people get to know me a little bit more through this interview and hopefully I’ll be able to get some work in 2023 so me and my band can come out and perform for the masses and bring our positive message to the world.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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