May 23, 2024

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Interview with Nick Evans Mowery: The words “Genius” and “Virtuoso” are unjustifiably thrown around, and it is a shame!

Interview with Blues singer and guitarist Nick Evans Mowery. 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. – 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?

Nick Evans Mowery: – I was born in Maryland, but moved around quite a bit. (Washington DC, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Boston, Columbus, Cincinnati). I graduated high school in Las Vegas, NV, attended The Berklee College of Music in Boston and The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

My elder relatives were very much into music. I was introduced to blues, country and bluegrass at a very young age. The first time I got “interested” in music was hearing my great uncle Edward Litteral play the banjo. I recall getting goosebumps at our family reunions in the 70’s. I also recall being amazed at Elvis’ version of “Hound Dog.” Something between the claps, the background vocals and his voice hit a nerve. Finally, in 1984, I remember sitting on the living room floor watching MTV. Martha Quinn introduced Van Halen’s new video for the song Panama. That was it! I could not take my eyes, ears or heart away from Edward Van Halen’s guitar. I received my first guitar that Christmas, and that’s when the love affair started.

After performing in different bands in the late 80’s and 90’s, I began to write my own material. This lead to an interest in recording which continues today.

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

NEM: – I would have to give credit to all of the artists I’ve studied. The list is way too long to mention. I am a firm believer in the idea that “we don’t know what we don’t know!” A family member and musician once told me to stick to one thing and do it well. This, in my opinion, is the worst advice to give a musician. Especially to a musician that is actually trying to develop their own sound. My musical influences vary in genre, which has enabled me to explore different art forms. I am proud to say that I have had music published in Rock, Pop, Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Americana, and Smooth Jazz.

The guitar is my main instrument and I never stop learning. Honestly, my “sound” is an amalgam of Van Halen, Eric Clapton, SRV, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Reed, John Scofield, Brain Setzer, Tommy Emmanuel etc etc etc etc.

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

NEM: – After 37+ years, I believe it goes in phases. I produce music for TV/Film on a regular basis. So I am always “practicing” the art of songwriting and working with numerous instruments. Other times, I will actively seek out challenging guitar work to study or practice. I most recently worked on Merle Travis and Tommy Emmanuel style picking. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

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

NEM: – Yes. I’ve learned that being versatile leads to other avenues. I’ve recently been working on film score and trailer music. I believe being versatile keeps the blood flowing.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

NEM: – Absolutely. Although, I think the “audience” receives the emotion differently than they used to. It seems more people would rather take a selfie in front of the stage rather than discover such a relationship. It sounds negative, but it’s the truth. This is why concerts have turned into acrobatic burlesque light shows with prerecorded music. Take all of the facade away and what do you have?

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

NEM: – It’s cyclical. True rhythm and blues always seems to come back around. Young folks are more visual today, and they also tend to gravitate toward trends. Unfortunately, the current trends aren’t the most musically challenging. Again, “You don’t know what you don’t know!”

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

NEM: – Music has been around for thousands of years. It’s a form of human expression. I’ll leave it at that.

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

NEM: – My favorite part of the Grammy’s used to be when they brought out the young prodigies to perform a jazz or classical piece. Not sure if they still do that as I haven’t watched in over a decade. There needs to be a clear distinction between entertainment and music … period! The words “Genius” and “Virtuoso” are unjustifiably thrown around, and it is a shame!

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

NEM: – In the mornings, I go for 5-10 mile runs and I listen to everything. (Tower of Power, Herbie Hancock Head Hunters, Randy Newman, Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Halen were on today’s setlist)

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

NEM: – I’d like to go back to 1981 and witness the making of Van Halen “Fair Warning” …or Bob Dylan “Blood on the Tracks”.


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Interview by Simon Sarg

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