July 13, 2024

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Interview with Jhett Black: The blues was really the only thing that didn’t get burned away in that period of time

Interview with Blues as if vocalist Jhett Black. 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.

JB: – 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?

Jhett Black: – I was raised working in kitchens of my families BBQ restaurant in southern New Mexico and came late into music. I always had a guitar and had taken a few lessons in my early years but it was more a byproduct of the area’s skateboard and snowboard culture.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

I became passionate about live music as I grew older until at 17, I bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii and a decent guitar. There I was introduced to slide guitar for the first time and the infusion of island music, folk, and blues lit a fire in my soul and a passion for playing. When I made it back home to the states I threw myself into songwriting after meeting Callie Sioux, who became my wife and songwriting partner.

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

JB: – I started, but during the pandemic I had to take a hard look at the reason I played music at all after our whole life came to a stop and all the gigs were canceled. The blues was really the only thing that didn’t get burned away in that period of time and while a worked a gardening job. In Nashville I began writing and digging into only what I was most passionate about musically which led me to the early roots inspirations of the genre. I wanted to keep that alive and also build on what I belive is a very important part of American history and culture.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

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

JB: – Routine, as a homeschooled kid, is not one of my strengths. Writing a little bit every day is very important though. I focus on songs more than musical proficiency to be honest. But my main practice priority is transposing all the songs I know in standard tunings to open tunings.

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

JB: – Oh yeah most definitely. I started as a folk singer because I think thats all I could really pull off musically. I’ve gone though alot of phases in influences and musical styles but the blues have always been a big part of my foundation.

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

JB: – The beauty of humanity is the unique balance between those two things, so I think they belong in balance with each other, but intelligence does not lead to better music on it’s own while soulful music can have a closer relationship with the truth. Simple or complicated, honesty is the most important thing to me.

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

JB: – Absolutely. If I believe I deserve applause, then I think the audience deserves EVERYTHING I can provide. I try to never leave stage thinking I could have given more away. You only reap what you sow.

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

JB: – People don’t know how to do the rock step anymore but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how or want to dance. I think conforming a little to what people may want to dance to could be a good direction for the genre.

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

JB: – In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. Music is a part of the language we have been given and it’s not to be taken lightly. I belive we were all created to create. Some people are gardeners, some designers, some farmers, some musicians. Those who have been entrusted with music and lyrics have responsibility to care for them just as people who have land and animals are required to care for them.

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

JB: – A pursuit for honesty over the dollar.

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

JB: – Bill Withers still gives me direction when I need it, but cats like Pokey LaFarge, Kelly Joe Phelps, Gregory Porter are big more modern influences…

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

JB: – Either a conversation over tea and pipe tobacco with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in a pub or perhaps I’d like to hear the sound and melody that was produced to bring down the walls of Jericho.

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

JB: – They are intense questions! We could have many beers and long conversations over each one but perhaps return to the same conclusions so I tried to keep it brief.

JB: – We would hardly have an opportunity for a long conversation, because you do not understand what you are doing and how, you are very lazy, unfortunately.

 

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Interview by  Elléa Beauchêne

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