Monday, June 2, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH DAVID WALTON * Davoid Walton Blues Trio * Murcia, Spain * June 2014 by Karla Darocas, editor / publisher

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In this interview, you will learn about Murcia-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and recording artist David Walton. He is an integrated Brit living and working in his adopted Spain. He is an artist who has done his research and dug deep into the core of blues history and society to find its words, its meaning, and its longevity.

David shares with us his inspirational musical heroes. He has chosen legendary myth makers musicians who resonate and jive with his own energy and ethos.  It is always fascinating to discover the roots to any artist and their creative reasoning. Yes, a selfish pursuit but I do it all in the name of research.

We also learn how the guitar tamed this rambling man, leading him for the land of rain and drizzle to the land of sun and sea. David has his reasons to be living, working and performing in Spain, manifesting his Spanish roots, growing his music.

Since 1990, as a professional journalist, I have interviewed the entertainers and showmen within the blues, jazz, pop and country genres who are considered the "hardest working" people in their trade. Because of this exploration, I have met and learned from the masters of music. I am not a musician but an "aficionada" or fan of both folk and popular music.

Over the past few months, I have discovered that Murcia-based bluesman David Walton is a smart and educated gentleman with a wise old soul.

He is also a gifted guitarist who can carry the spirit of life over his guitar strings. His songwriting pulls from the strong blues roots of pain and pleasure with lyrics that are true to the simplicity of storytelling filled with deep feelings and spirited adventures.

This is a great read folks.
I am sure that you too will be educated and enlightened!
Keep it Real,
Karla Darocas, editor / blues aficionada


CBBLUES: Who inspired you to play the blues?

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  • DAVID: Hmmm, that’s a difficult question to answer because the blues crept up on me.

    I started out playing guitar in the 1970s and the first guitarists who really stood out for me were players like Jimi Hendrix, who was already dead by the time I started playing.

    Other great blues players such as Paul Kossoff of Free, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and Robert Fripp – I could go on!

    A lot of those players could really play the blues and, as in jazz circles, if you couldn’t play a decent blues you were often felt to be wanting.

    However, my real interest in the blues came when I discovered guitarists like Johnny Winter, Duane Allman and Rory Gallagher. They helped to spark my blues imagination and to experiment with playing slide guitar. Once I got the blues bug I began to explore other guitarists who were more solidly in the blues tradition.

    At that time Muddy Waters and B.B. King were essential listening but I was knocked out when I heard Albert King’s sound and approach. From there I went back to listen to the greats like Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Booker T. Washington, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Son House, Charley Patton etc.

    I loved Elmore James’ slide technique and Blind Willie Johnson’s gruff vocal style and that of Howlin’ Woolf. I also liked the vocal and harp styles of Sonny Boy Williamson (one and two – I play a little blues harp).

    At the opposite end of the vocal spectrum I really liked the way Skip James used the higher range of his voice. I’ve listened to many more but that will give you an idea of how I came to the blues.

CBBLUES: Why did you choose to play guitar?

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  • DAVID: I actually started to play drums at school but that didn't last long because I got thrown out of the class for being too noisy!

    I listened to a lot of progressive music when I was in my teens and I used to make up little guitar riffs and solos in my head (rather like Joe in Zappa’s ‘Joe’s Garage’!) but I had no way of transmitting them.

    Then a friend of mine brought a guitar round my house one day and it was love at first strum! I soon got to know other musicians and got into a band and that was it.

CBBLUES: How did you end up in Spain?

  • DAVID: I was studying in Britain - doing some research – but decided that I wanted a change. I did a teacher training course, met a woman who was in love with all things Hispanic and came to Spain with her to think about my future. I never went back to Blighty.

CBBLUES: Do you sing in Spanish?

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  • DAVID: Not normally. Although I speak Spanish... I write my songs in English because I love playing with language and injecting my songs with humour. I feel more at home in English and I hear the blues in my mother tongue.

    However, there is one exception.
    In 2013 I performed at the Niñoblues Festival in Spain and wrote a song called ‘Heavy Load’ for dobro guitar, which deals with those known as the ‘deshaucios’ in Spanish (those who lost their homes because of the banking crisis).

    As the song dealt with the crisis and I was performing in Spain, I decided to write the first part in Spanish. When I performed the song it was midday and blisteringly hot and the organizers had put a parasol on the stage to protect the musicians from the direct sunlight.

    Just as I got to a part of the song, which lamented those who had no homes, the wind caught the parasol and blew it off stage leaving me, literally, without a roof over my head!

    Because I made the effort to write and sing something in Spanish the Spanish speakers in the audience perfectly understood the visual irony and a guy in the audience suggested that I sing more in Spanish. So, maybe I should be encouraged to sing more in Spanish.

CBBLUES: Has Flamenco influenced your sound?

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  • DAVID: I love Flamenco and have seen some of the greats including Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla, however, I wouldn’t say Flamenco has influenced my approach to the blues... although I did write a piece called ‘Psychedelic Flamenco’.

    However, I do see affinities between the two styles with their folk roots, improvisational styles and ability to articulate strong feelings. 

CBBLUES: David, you have a Rory Gallagher vibe about you... are you a fan of Rory Gallagher? If so - what tunes are your favourite?

  • DAVID: I love Rory Gallagher’s legacy.

    He was a marvelous improviser and I was lucky to have seen him perform on a few occasions.

    I love improvising myself and Gallagher was a real inspiration to me. I don’t play many covers but occasionally I do a little homage to him by playing some of my favourites like ‘Messin’ with the Kid’, ‘Bullfrog Blues’ and ‘I Could’ve Had Religion’ (I’ve re-written it and called it ‘I Couldn’t Have Had Religion’).

    I love his varied style from blues-rock songs like ‘Laundromat’ and ‘Crest of a Wave’ to his acoustic stuff like ‘Pistol Slapper Blues’ to his occasional use of the dobro guitar on songs like ‘Too Much Alcohol’ and the mandolin (like his rendition of ‘Going to my Hometown’).

    I don’t really copy him (or anyone) but try to capture something of the spirit of his music.

CBBLUES: What can you tell us about your new album?

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  • DAVID: At the moment we are playing songs off the album we recorded almost a year ago called ‘Davoid Walton Blues Trio: Unplugged – Unhinged’.

    The new album is being developed slowly and I haven’t chosen a name for it yet. A provisional title is ‘Pithecanthropus Pre-Pentium Man’, which is a song I wrote about a man who feels he’s getting left behind – not so much by new technologies but by time itself – life is passing him by.

    It’s typical of a certain kind of blues song, which looks at tragedy or pain but offsets it with humour, a trait that is fundamental to my writing.

CBBLUES: How did you hitch up with the Spanish musicians in your musical power trio?

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  • DAVID: The bass player, Pascual Pérez is a work colleague of mine. I approached him about setting up a blues trio a couple of years back.

    I knew he’d played in bands but wasn’t doing anything at that time and suggested we might jam on a few of my songs. As he liked the songs, and we gelled instantly, we set about finding a drummer.

    Our first drummer didn’t feel he was up to what we were asking him to do - so he gracefully slipped out. He wasn't used to playing original material. He introduced us to his brother-in-law, Jesús Luna, our current drummer.

    I was worried that he might not fit in but Pascual and I were delighted by what he added to the sound. Thus, the trio was born.

CBBLUES: Are they performing on your new CD?

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  • DAVID: Yes, we've worked on the songs together so it makes complete sense.

    I may do a couple of songs on my own with a Dobro or cigar box guitar but Pascual and Jesús will be an integral part of the overall sound.

    Are these guys your only band or do you “switch-it-up” with other players?

    Right now, I’m playing with Pascual and Jesús. If I have the chance I’ll jump up and jam with other musicians but right now I’m focusing my attention on the trio.

CBBLUES: Some of your lyrics are aimed at social justice for all? Why?

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  • DAVID: Well, only a percentage of my songs are about social justice.

    The songs I write echo the more traditional themes of the blues. They lament personal situations of love and loss, often with an ironic twist or, as I suggested earlier, a touch of humour. These songs very playful - in both their form and style.

    However, you are right, some of my songs reflect on social problems.

    I’ve always been attracted to the protest song whether it’s Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Country Joe McDonald or Rage Against the Machine.

    I feel that music is a great vehicle for articulating the problems associated with social unrest, repression or injustice.

    However, while I feel strongly about many social issues I don’t try to make songs into a political manifesto for any party - but use them to reflect difficult situations.

    I try not to be too literal: my ‘Save Us from the Neoliberal Blues’ uses images to convey something of what seems to be wrong with society today.

    There’s the image of a train that will decimate all in its wake. It’s driven by a heartless being whose brain has been replaced by stock prices. It’s a world where the station master is corrupt and where the working people have been fleeced. The only free ride anyone will get is when they send the paupers’ hearse.

    It’s just a series of images anyone can understand, which is influenced by the blues tradition – just a series of feelings to share among other songs, many of which celebrate life.

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