April 20, 2024

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Interview with Eric Allen։ The spirit and meaning of life – that’s pretty deep

Interview with vocalist Eric Allen. An interview by email in writing.

Dear readers, get to know more about our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festivals and the activities of our US/EU Jazz – Blues Association in the capitals of Europe, we will soon publish program for 2024, enjoy in the July – August – Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, new addreses this year, also in Amsterdam, Budapest and Liverpool.

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?

Eric Allen։ – I grew up in a smaller town in the midwest – Muncie, Indiana. I began playing harmonica in my father’s country and western band when I was four years old. My route into music has been anything but traditional.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I didn’t begin to seriously perform or write songs until my 40’s. Before then, I earned a law degree and worked in the legal publishing and teaching fields  in several locations, including over a decade in New York City. I always played guitar and sang, and always knew the music was there for me, but it was very limited until 2016.

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

EA: – The most significant change in my sound has been a shift to an acoustic, fingerpicking style, which I use most often now.

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

EA: – I don’t really have any.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any changes or overall evolution? If so, why?

EA: – My musical influences have changed and evolved through the years. I started in the classic country genre at an early age, but changed to classic rock in my teens to 30’s I would say. Over the past couple of decades, my influences have been drawn much more from folk and blues. However, I have kept all these influences throughout and think they all remain active in my songwriting and composition.

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

EA: – Soul is king, but the more you can understand, empathize with, and identify with the everyday lives of a group of people (what I’m calling intellect), the more soul will come through in your music.

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

EA: – Of course – If I’m not okay with delivering emotion, then I shouldn’t be on the stage.

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

EA: – Many in the younger generation didn’t like that, didn’t know what to make of that, but their corporate-driven ignorance doesn’t mean someone isn’t deserving of an award. More broadly, I think if some of the younger generation’s music icons were supportive of blues, for example if they recorded a classic blues cover or collaborated with blues artists, that would help people understand that blues is something you can rock to and feel any emotions to. That might generate more interest. We do a pretty rockin’ take on my blues tunes, as well as classic covers like Muddy Waters, in the Woodshed band. The crowds are relatively young and definitely dancing.

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

EA: – The spirit and meaning of life – that’s pretty deep. I have no real profound thoughts on the spirit and meaning of life. Even if I did, just one person’s opinion. I try to really observe what is going on around me and listen, pay attention, be mentally present. I think most people don’t do that. Try to be empathetic to the human condition – that’s very important and this world needs more and more of it. And don’t never ever trust “The Man” cause he’ll get ya. Oh he’ll get ya now now.

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

EA: – Get the decisionmaking out of the hands of the business administration graduates. Let the people who know the product best drive the industry. Give talent and soul a fair chance against corporate dollars, glitz, and overproduction.

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

EA: – Storytellers mainly, as usual. I like dark stories of the underdogs, the beaten down, the overlooked, the forgotten of society. Alot of folk. Been listening to Fairport Convention lately, Matty Groves and such.

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

EA: – Send me to Greenwich Village in the 1960s. That was a great time for free expression and comradery. Lets play some songs and drink heavily with the Mayor of McDougall Street!

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

EA: – I do like your questions. They seem well thought out and not so cookie-cutter as I’m used to. Bravo! Has Jazz Blues News done, or do you have any plans to do, some interviews, articles, etc., about the blues revival in the US back around the 1960s? Popular British bands helped that along when they came to the States. Your question about how to get young people interested in blues and jazz reminded me of this.

JBN: – Of course, there are many such interviews on the website, if you are interested in names, then write your favorite name in the search field. Imagine, there is no shortage of idiots on our website, as many as you want, bums, talentless…nothings, bad musicians, what are you like ․․․

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

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