Sunday, October 20, 2013

MIKE CONN

Lead guitarist for the Working Party Blues Band

PROFILE
* Name: Mike Conn
* Living: Villalonga, near Gandia
* Roots: Bristol
* Married: yes
* Children: No
* How Long in Spain: Nearly twenty years

INTERVIEW


Q. When did you become interested in music?

A. I became interested in music when I was 11 with jazz clarinetists Acker Bilk and Monty Sunshine being the main sources of inspiration. I took clarinet lessons for two years, but then the British pop scene took over. 

I bought a fairly bad acoustic guitar in a junk-shop and dedicated myself to learning all the chords to all of the Beatles songs. I had plenty of encouragement from my parents (“What are you listening to that row for?”, “Can't you play something with a tune?”, etc.). 

I somehow ended up in a band with some boys from school and we organised quite a few gigs at church halls around the area. The main fare was music by the Kinks and the Animals. The Rocking Reptiles ended with O-levels.
           
Having almost no social skills, I found being able to play a guitar gave me an inroad into finding friends and kindred spirits, so I posted and answered adverts, hung around music venues and generally managed to get in some sort of band (at least twenty-five) for the next fifty years.

Q. Do you remember who inspired you to love the blues?

A. My first job, at sixteen, took me to Ipswich, where I became a regular member of the audience at the Civic Centre, which hosted an impressive array of touring bands. It was John Mayall's Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton that did the trick for me. I rapidly left the pop music behind and dived right into the blues.

This time I tried to learn all the licks from Clapton, Peter Green, Dave Clempson, Jimmy Page and a whole load of other guitarists on the blues scene. I decided that working in a power station didn't give me enough opportunity to hang around music festivals and play the guitar, so I joined a blues band - and another - and another. I was always finding bands of different styles at different times, but never that far away from the blues.

Q. What aspects of the blues do you really enjoy?

A. The blues allows you to feel just as miserable or as happy as you choose to be – there is no forced jollity (funtastic!) - just a song to echo your feelings or to feel for someone who has a life that sounds worse than your own. “I've let a lot slip through my fingers. Where'm I gonna turn...” (Mayall).

Robert Johnson has to be the Man, with JJ Cale up there somewhere. They influenced everything in their respective eras.

Q. How did you end up in Spain?

A. Coming to Spain was by chance, staying was by design. I absolutely love the people, the lifestyle and the relaxed way in which everything happens. In addition, Radio Tres is the best radio station in the known world. The presenters love music, not the sound of their own voices. A real treat.