Saturday, April 11, 2015

INTERVIEW - STEVE WEST WESTON – THE BEST OF THE BEST

By “Buddy Paul” Tidiman for CBBlues.com

I was thinking to myself, “Who is a great harp player, singer and genuine cool dude that I can interview for CBBlues.com?”

Then somewhere, way back in my box of Blues guys n gals archived in my brain, I thought, “Hey, these cats probably don't know Steve West Weston!”

I have personally been a fan of his for many years and love his style and harp sound. He is awesome and definitely rocks-the-house when he and the guys play.

So check this Kats and Kitties; You've heard the term Essex Boyz? Well that is me and there's more cool blues and music in Essex than I bet you knew about.

I was over the moon when Steve agreed to let me interview him.

In my interview with Steve, I learned two things, one of which was the fact that Steve grew up with a piano, like I did. The other interesting fact I discovered from Steve is that you get more real, full-of-soul blues from a blues harp than a chromatic.


INTERVIEW

photo by - Sven-Erik HagenSkedsmo Bluesklubb in Lillestrøm, Norway

CBBlues - What got you into the blues and also were there certain players that caused you run into a more 50s jump style of blues?

SWW - We had a piano in our house as probably most did in the 60s.  It was like one of my toys.  I would spend hours messing around, making up tunes on it. 
My elder Cousin was a great piano player. He showed my elder Brother how to play the left hand part of Ray' Charles's "What I Say". He in turn showed me. 

So over the years, from that first lesson, I taught myself to play a basic R&R / R&B style of piano. I was around 9 / 10 years old.
photo by Flo Cat
One day, coming home from school, I passed the "Commodore Cafe" on Canvey island. The juke box was playing, "I Hear You Knocking" by Dave Edmunds. Even at 11 years old it really moved me! I loved that sound so much.  
We didn't have a record player in our house until I was at least 12 or 13.  My Sister bought one, so my Dad went to Woolworths and bought a few LP's off the rack for us to play.   
Amongst them was a boogie-woogie piano one namely "Boogie-Woogie Explosions" by Precious Clarence Turner and a blues compilation, “This Is Blues”.  
From these two records I learned most of the piano I now play and heard the blues harmonica that I desperately wanted to learn.

My Dad bought me a Chromatic harmonica for a Christmas present and I spend a good few years trying to play like the Sonny Boy Williamson / Junior Wells tunes that were on that record.

It wasn't until I was 17 that I found a blues diatonic harmonica in our local music store.  I bought it and the music I wanted to play came so much quicker and easier with the right instrument.

CBBlues - You've been playing around the UK for many years. I can remember the London clubs and the old Walthamstow blues club. Ain't nothin’ but the blues in London as well as regular gigs in Essex. Since then you've been playing worldwide with many great musicians and just come back from Finland with a great Swedish blues band called Trickbag. How goes the blues scene in Finland Steve and is the crowd jumping?

SWW - Finland is a great country to play in fact, all of Scandinavia is. It has a long history of appreciation for "roots music". Many of the jazz and blues greats have toured there over the years. The standard of musicianship is extremely high too.

CBBlues - Apart from the touring, you've just released a great album with the one and only Roger Daltrey of the Who, and with Wilko Johnson who is another great Essex Boy called “Going Back Home”.

How did you get asked to play harp for the famous Mr Daltrey? A great guy in his own right and I think I would have been blown away!

Also can you share some of your experiences recording this album?
Wilko & Roger Daltry &  Steve "West" Weston
SWW - Wilko is a Canvey lad just like me.  We both live in the Leigh-On-Sea /Westcliff area now. 
When I play a local show, more often than not Wilko comes along to watch.  When he decided he wanted some harp on his recording he contacted me.   
As far as the session goes, I put my part on last. It was an overdub and all went very quickly. I haven't been asked to play any more shows with the band.

CBBlues - Being a harp man myself, I have to ask you this one… What are your favourite harps straight out the box, or custom harps for over blows etc… and equipment like favorite microphones/amps/effects if any. To get your own sound is always a lifelong journey to music stores trying different valves until you find what you really love.  So tell it like it is Steve… what rocks your boat?

SWW - I use Hohner Marineband harps that I customize myself.  Nothing fancy, just make them as airtight as possible and in tune. 
I can't do overblows. 
I have a Fender Bassman and a Deville [both 4x10]. 
I've never had the chance to try different valves. I did mess around with the pre amp ones for a while. I tried the lower gain ones that many players rave about. It wasn't for me.

I also had some mods done to my Bassman when I first had it. I had them all taken off and now my amps are just stock. 

I used crystal mics for over 25 years but they started to let me down and I no longer trust them.  I love the sound and tone of a good crystal but now my regular mics are the Shure CM / CR type.

I always use a delay pedal and sometimes an AFB+ by Kinder. The amp on the Wilko/ Daltrey session was a Quilter transistor amp.

CBBlues - You played Mijas festival for a few years now and I remember asking you a year or so ago if you could make a festival up here in Valencia area but it all got a bit difficult at our end to organise. But, now with Cbblues Webzine, the times are a changing so hopefully when you are next in Spain we can hook up and get something together. Our CBBlues Subscribers would love to hear you play. Any plans to visit Spain or Europe in the near future?

SWW - I played every year at the "Mijas International Blues Festival" since the very first one. It's still not confirmed if it will go ahead this year. Even if it does I will not be on it as I am playing in Norway that weekend.

All my European dates are with "Mud Morganfield" this year.
"My Great Friend Steve West Weston. One of the best of the Best. 
He's also a great Showman"  - Larry Mud Morganfield - photo by Ken Ansted 

CBBlues - Last one Steve..Who have you enjoyed playing with the most or who has blown you away? I know it's a hard one as you've played with so many but can you share some experiences with us?

Tommy Moberg of Trickbag & Steve West Weston
SWW - I enjoy every show I play.

Playing along side "Mud Morganfied" is fantastic! To be playing all those classic "Muddy" songs is a harp players dream not forgetting Mud's great original songs too! 
I've just played a "Blues Cruise" in Norway with "Steve Guyger" and "Mitch Kashmar" who are two great harp players / singers. That was a real honour!!

A large part of my work is with the Swedish band "Trickbag".  They are a fantastic band and every player is up there with the best.

Finland's "Tomi Leino" is truly gifted musician.  He plays guitar / harp / drums / piano / bass / sings. The man has so much talent.

The Wilko/ Daltery shows were a great experience. Playing at the Albert Hall is high on the list for all performers.

Paul Garner, who has been the guitarist in my own band "West Weston's Bluesonics" for over eight years now can only be described as a genius musician.  We never rehearse and I can throw a new song idea at him on stage and he will instantly pick up on it and play wonderfully.

CBBlues - Many thanks Steve West Weston for the interview – Sending big love from all at CBBlues.com
 - Paul (Buddy) Tidiman