Some people live to make money and some people make money to live. Some people are music lovers, some people are amateur musicians, and then again some people live and breathe music. They are the "real deal", so to speak.
Richard Ray Farrell is one of them. He has not only mastered the art of singing and playing the blues - he has literally "lived" the blues for years and years.
Born in Niagara Falls, New York in 1956, Richard Ray left his hometown only two weeks after graduating from high school and backpacked his way through Europe, not knowing at the time that music would be his destiny.
This introduction fronts the website of Richard Ray Farrell. His full biography reads like a deep blues history book. It's a blues historian or revivalists' fascination and education. Here is the direct link - http://www.richardrayfarrell.com/index.php/biography
After you read it, you will see why I was very excited to connect and interview this showman, artist and performer who keeps home in Malaga and likes to Keep it Real by Living the Real Deal...
RRF - I came to Spain with a couple of friends from high school. We left for Europe only 2 weeks after graduating and backpacked our way through Europe.
My friends left at the end of summer and I stayed on.
My return ticket was good for a year. I started playing on the street.
CBBlues - And you have never had a problem with performing in Spain?
RRF - No. I never had a problem until a couple of months ago. I played in Spain for the first time in 1975 !!!!
CBBlues - So you are a natural born performer who had an interest in the Blues?
RRF - My sister had a Jug Band when I was a kid. My oldest brother played guitar and banjo.
My sister's boyfriend was into blues, folk, jazz. When I heard him play some bottleneck on an old Martin, I was blown away.
Then, I heard Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters on Fathers and Sons. Butterfield became my hero and Muddy was my favorite singer.
I started playing harmonica, then guitar. The first song I sang in public was "Stop Breakin' Down" by Robert Johnson, this is back in the mid-seventies.
CBBlues - What was your music scene like where you were growing up?
RRF - When I grew up everyone was into rock, Pink Floyd, etc...
I got into Hendrix when I was twelve. I bought my 1st LP, Hendrix Smash Hits and my best friend bought Axis Bold As Love. We wore those CD's out.
I saw Led Zeppelin and all the famous bands live but a friend of my sister's brought over some James Brown, Otis Redding , BB King and it was a revelation.
All the black kids I grew up with were into Motown, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, etc... After this, I sold almost all my rock records and bought blues and soul and jazz - Miles Davis, Albert King, etc...
There were a lot of great musicians from my home town of Niagara Falls, NY and nearby Buffalo like Dyke and the Blazers, Lonnie Smith, James Peterson (Lucky's father), Tommy Tedesco (the most recorded guitarist in history and Wreaking Crew member), Richard Kermode (Santana, Janis Joplin), Ronald Laster (James Brown's guitarist) and many more.
CBBlues - After high school did you seek any more formal education?
RRF - Nada de nada!
I learned from watching other musicians, playing with others and listening to LP's.
I learned a lot from RL Burnside, Big Jack Johnson and Louisiana Red. These three guys taught me a lot about performing and a lot about the guitar. Not just playing but how to get the sound I was searching for from the instrument.
|Anson Funderburg left - Richard right|
CBBlues - Have you ever had another career?
RRF - Never had a different career.
I painted a few houses and had a few odd jobs but it has always been mainly music. I have given a few lessons but for the most part I have always gigged or played on the street.
CBBlues - So what are your instruments?
RRF - I own a lot of guitars.
I have a few Gibson acoustics. My most expensive Gibson acoustic is from the early 40's, an LG-2. I have a nice Martin and two National Steel guitars; one of them is a 1938 Duolian model. I have a Gibson es-335 custom shop from 1990, a 1958 Gibson model L-48, three Strats and a Silvertone.
My favorite amps are Fender blackface DeLuxe Reverbs and Super Reverbs. I also like old Fender Bassman amps.
|Richard with Canadian blues master - Donny Walsh from DownChild|
CBBlues - How do you feel about the growing roots, revival blues scene emerging in Spain?
RRF - The scene in Spain is cool.
There are a lot of bands and bars to play in Madrid. There are blues societies popping up all over the place and some great festivals. I guess things just arrived here a little late.
CBBlues - What do I like the most about Spanish culture ?
RRF - That's a tough question. I love the lifestyle, especially in the south. The food, the folklore, the art, Flamenco, the countryside, the different cultures within the "Spanish" culture, Galicia, Asturias, Basque Country.
Spain has always been my favorite country and I have done some travelling. I love Europe but Spain has always been number one for me, even though things have changed a lot and the country is going through some very tough times at the moment.
CBBlues - Super. Thanks. There are some great photos on Facebook and your website...
RRF - Take any photos you like!