May 19, 2024

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Interview with Steve Bailey: The act of playing blows away the bad side of life

Interview with Blues harmonica player Steve Bailey. 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?

Steve Bailey: – I was born in Seattle, Washington. I first got interested via the radio. Was playing northwest music but also New Orleans songs. I had no idea what it was, but I was crazy for the beats. When the English invasion hit I latched onto the blues … I soon was hunting down Muddy, Wolf, Elmore, etc.

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?

SB: – I play the same style as I started out with. It’s all blues oriented. My songwriting is more open to soul styles, but based on traditional blues.

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

SB: – I like to practice guitar and lap steel more than harp. I created a lot of harmonica scale exercises for my students, but I end up playing along with Little Walter, Sonny Boy for rehearsal.

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

SB: – The only changes have come from the scene changing. It’s hard to go from 6 nights a week to two, I have to travel away from Seattle to play regularly … it’s that way for everybody here.

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

SB: – Quite a question. I know some incredibly intelligent people who have no common sense, and very soulful musicians that don’t present themselves well playing live. Without soul you can’t play the blues. I recently tried to jam with a high level jazz musician who was overthinking everything. I’ve played with illiterate blues players who I idolize!

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

SB: – Well, with me “what you see is what you get”. If they don’t like it I can’t and won’t change.

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

SB: – The rhythms of the Delta will never die, you can hear some modern rock bands that are discovering this.

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

SB: – All I know is when I’m driving home from a gig I don’t have a care in the world. The act of playing blows away the bad side of life.

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

SB: – The musical world has been mostly taken over my corporate interests. Current pop music, hip hop, country to me is mostly junk, radio in the U.S. is almost all taken over by big business. Almost all roots music is harder and harder to find. I would love to see music in the schools again and turn young people on to quality music.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

SB: – Same old stuff. Right now I have Muddy and Little Walter “Louisiana Blues” on. Try it, relax, have a glass of wine, close your eyes and kick back. It puts me In another world.

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

SB: – How about Robert Johnson, Skip James, Son House in their prime. Little Walter live.

Interview by Simon Sarg

Note: https://jazzbluesnews.com/2023/03/19/useu-jazz-blues-association-festivals/ 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. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/useujba/

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