May 23, 2024

Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Mick Kolassa: Rock is its own genre and should be confused with, or blended into, blues

Interview with Blues guitarist Mick Kolassa. An interview by email in writing. – 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?

Mick Kolassa: – I grew up in Sturgis Michigan, but have lived in several states and spent 4 years living in Germany. I grew up in a household where there was always music – although no musicians. Early in life I came to appreciate Beethoven and Benny Goodman, Louis Jordan and Dion and the Belmonts, so I was exposed to a lot o music.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

MK: – My sound(s) have grown and changed a lot over time. Because I love the blues in all of its forms and sub-genres I came to describe my stye as “Free Range Blues”, sometimes I do purely acoustic music, sometimes more classic electric blues and lately I’ve been doing more soul-blues and blues that is heavily influenced by jazz. I love it all!

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

MK: – I probably played an hour or two every day, and am never more than an arm length away from a guitar. Because my songwriting tends to happen randomly, when the inspiration strikes me, I often stop what I’m doing to work on a song. I try to learn at least one new song every day, so I am always exploring new sounds and ways to play.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

MK: – As I became more comfortable with my playing I also broadened my perspective to listen to more music, because of that my style, even my inspirations, constantly move. Digging deeper into aspects of music theory have really helped me to expand my sound and creat new music.

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

MK: – What a great question! For me the song must have some sort of soul. Because I’m a storyteller that soul underpins everything. But for the story to be understood the intellect becomes very important, to be sure the message comes through, I build my music around the lyrics and I like my message or story to be clear.

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

MK: – Honestly, If I can’t connect with the audience I fail. I NEED that two-way relationship, to keep the audience engaged, which often means you use the time between the songs to build that relationship. I perform to entertain the audi3ncee, not myself!

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

MK: – There is a surprisingly large number of young blues artists who are really doing some great work, and I’m blessed to have known many for a while: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, David Julia, Dylan Salter, Cole and Logan Layman, and so many more wonderfully talented young musicians who love the old blues and create new music!

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

MK: – I can’t disagree with Coltrane, music occupies most moments of my life, regardless of what else I am doing. I look for and find new songs in everything I do or see. I will often respond to a question by singing a line, I can’t help it, music is part of who I am.

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

MK: – Frankly, I would have more blues fans discover the music through Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf instead o Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brother, so they didn’t confuse blues with rock! Muddy never played a 48 bar solo and Wolf didn’t use a pedalboard. Rock is its own genre and should be confused with, or blended into, blues.

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

MK: – Wo, that answer could take days! I’m pretty eclectic in that regard, Rachel Price and Dianna Krall but also Lous Jordan and Louis Armstrong, Steve Tyrell and BB King. John Prine and Guy Clark show up on a lot of my playlists, but so do Dave Brubeck Nina Simone. Right now the top of my list if Oscar Brown Jr.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

MK: – That’s easy, early 1954 at Chess Records studio, sitting and witnessing Muddy Waters and his band recording Hoochie Coochie Man – just to watch that magic happen would be amazing.

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

MK: – They are great questions!

Interview by Simon Sarg

Note: You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals, 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.

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