Interview with Kim Simmonds: Blues, for me anyway, is a bit like religion: Photos, Video

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Interview with legendary Blues-Rock guitarist Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown – their fortieth album titled “City Night” on Quarto Valley Records.

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues?

I was brought up by my brother on rock and roll music. I loved Elvis Presley and his mix of blues and rock and roll. When I was 13 I started listening specifically to Chicago blues and realized that was want I wanted to play.

Who were your first idols?

Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

What have been some of your musical influences?

The guitarist Billy Butler who played with The Bill Doggett Band in the 1950’s and the jazz guitarist Grant Green are two of my biggest influences.

What were the first songs you learned?

The first thing I learnt to play was the Bo Diddley beat.

From the musical point of view is there any difference between Europe and US?

There are more similarities than differences. And different countries in Europe have their own personalities and cultures of course. America is more of a freewheeling country that allows you to live more independently and that’s why I emigrated here years ago… and it helps being a blues musician when you live in the country from whence the music came.

What do you think were the reasons for the blues boom of the sixties?

People wanted more from music than the dance music from Motown records.

How was your relationship with the other British blues musicians from ‘60s?

Quite good although I am very shy and could not get past that when meeting other musicians. Because of my shyness, I would mask it and people thought I was something I wasn’t.

Why did you think that Savoy Brown music continued to generate such a devoted follower?

Not going for the money.

How has the Blues music and culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Honesty is what I found in blues music. No smoke and mirrors. That is what I also look for in people.

What does BLUES mean to you?

Blues is a music form that enables to express my feelings and express my deepest emotions.

How do you describe “City Night” songbook and sound? Where does your creative drive come from?

City Night has a minor key approach throughout that gives it a moody feel.

I was born with nervous energy and I put that to good use artistically.  Life (and music) is all about energy. I was also born with a strong work ethic. It’s in my upbringing and DNA.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My wife, Debbie, has been one of the most important persons in my life.

“If you play boogie woogie well, you’ll always make a living” Champion Jack Dupree said that to me when I was nineteen.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I still play the blues from the past and listen to it all the time…I miss the artfulness that was in the music back then. As long as new young musicians continue to play blues I am hopeful for the future of the music. My fears are that they will use it only as a stepping stone.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

Multi-racial blues bands in the 1960’s helped to break down color barriers. The music has brought joy and unity to people of various countries irrespective of their political or religious beliefs.

What were the reasons that the UK in the 1960s was the ‘Mecca’ of Blues Rock researches and experiments?

The down to earth and realness of the music appealed to young British people of the 1960s who were looking for something deeper and with more meaning than what the mainstream music business was often selling. Blues, like jazz, was also an improvised music and appealed to young musicians who wanted to break away from the fixed academic approach. And it was tougher sounding than jazz, which was also an appeal.

What do you miss most nowadays from the ‘60s?

Being surrounded by incredible talent.

Three words to describe Savoy Brown?

Blues Rock Band!!!

What does the Blues offer you?

I have been able to follow my heroes such as Buddy Guy from when I was 13 ‘til now. I’m 71. That’s 50 years of following an artist who has never let me down.

What do you learn about yourself from music?

That life is only as important as you make it. Guitar playing can be very shallow or very deep. It’s what you make it to be.

How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

I think they understand it is about the music I play and not about myself.

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?

Frank Sinatra.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

1969 was a highlight year playing at the Fillmore East. Worst part was when I was bankrupt in the 1980’s and had lost my feeling for the guitar.

Which of your work would you consider to be the best?

Street Corner Talking

What are some of your favorite blues standards?

“Stormy Monday Blues” by T-Bone Walker

“Red House” by Jimi Hendrix

“Smokestack Lightning” by Howling Wolf

Have you recorded your new CD using a more old-fashioned sound because you believe that there are no new paths of sound?

I use a guitar sound that I like. It’s more traditional because I’m that style of player.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

Don’t follow the carrot.

INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL LIMNIOS

PHOTOS BY JIM SUMMARIA

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