4 Concerts, 4 Cities and An Exclusive Interview with John Lee Hooker Jr.

We’ve had three shows in one day, but four? Don’t recall. A fantastic range of shows, starting in beautiful Milan, Italy from the fabulous Blue Note.
Joyceyuille_bluenoteGospel, jazz, soul and blues — Joyce E. Yuille started her career as a runway model, and eventually found her current path as a singer. Born in New York, she now lives and performs in Milan. Check out her Route 66 video live from the Bar Wolf, Bologna club (love the NY Italian accent) and her rich bio– a mix of Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James and Phyllis Hyman.

Live from the Blue Note Milano at noon Pacific, Wednesday at showgo.tv/clubs/bluenotemilano.

John Lee Hooker Jr.Up next, John Lee Hooker Jr. I talked to John Lee this morning and disciplined myself not to ask questions about his father. When I was a teenager, me and Mark Laureano (RIP) used to listen to The Hook back in New York. Our favorite was the Canned Heat/ Hooker album. There is one part where someone from the band comments on how much great material John shared. To my ear John’s response was, “Ain’t nuthin’ but the best laid up for the garbage.”

It must be a heavy load carrying the family name– and just a bit of unbeatable lifelong publicity. John Lee Jr. has his own sound, though he has performed his share of Dad’s hits over the years. Here are highlights from our chat.

What does “the blues” mean to you, what’s your definition of the blues?
Sadness, stories of woe, stories of financial destruction, and then there’s joy, but mine is a blues of relaxation and complacency, to make people smile and make people happy.

Have you noticed in these economic times that people relate to the blues differently?
Exactly, that’s what I write about, I wrote a song called Hard Times, and everybody can relate to it, and a song of a gentleman who had to work till he died. So, you’re correct, everybody can relate to the blues.

Why have the blues been so popular in American culture? Why has it been such a powerful idiom in American music?
Because people can identify. There’s always going to be someone sad, homeless, in hard times, going through a divorce, an illness. And then there’s the joy aspect to it, people jumping up and down and clapping their hands. Might be sad when they leave their apartment or room but they come to jump and shout.

There is a stereotype that the blues are about heavy drinking, carousing in juke joints and yet there is a spiritual tone through your music. How do you bring together these two threads or traditions in your music, a blues about partying, drug addiction, womanizing, with a blues that has a spiritual theme to it?
It’s rightly so that there is a stereotype, that’s what it’s always been, it’s about whiskey, and saw my baby last night, we sure had a ball. You’re right, me, I’m the spiritual part of the blues, sing about God helped me up from where I was, strung out with drugs and alcohol. How do I mix it? I just do it.

John, does that cause you to be open or closed to singing certain kinds of songs, like “Whiskey and Wimmen”, because of your religious beliefs, or if it’s a good song, will you sing it anyway?
No, I won’t sing about liking whiskey or liking drugs. I’m not my past, I’m my present. It’s painful to be who I am today, to see people hit the floor, people offering you drugs, it’s sad. My next CD will be all gospel. What you hear from my music is, I’m breaking away. The first lyrics of my new song is, gotta stop that drinking and smoking, getting drunk every day, you don’t take heed to what I say, you’re gonna wind up in your grave. That seems odd to sing that in a bar, but I’m serious. I’m sending a message with my blues.

What do you think of this first ever livestream of one of your concerts?
That’s great that people will be able to see and hear what we are all about. See our conduct on stage, we don’t have a bottle of beer and cigarettes rolled up in our T-shirts (laughter), we’re dressed nice, that’s what we represent.

If you could only have five signature blues albums on a desert island, what would they be?
Johnny Guitar Watson.
John Lee Hooker. Serves Me Right To Suffer.
Mine, All Hooked Up.
Etta James.
Bessie Smith. She sung about her woes, good morning heartache. I for one know what she meant. I woke up in the morning. There was my addiction. I know. I been there.

John Lee Hooker Jr., Wednesday night from Jazz Alley Seattle, 7:30 p.m. at showgo.tv/clubs/jazzalley

We welcome Mycle Wastman back to ShowGo.tv. We streamed his show for Jazz Alley and he joined fellow “The Voice” singer Vicci Martinez for a few songs during her ShowGo stream, one of our most popular shows ever. 8:00 PM PT at showgo.tv/clubs/yoshissf.

At 9pm PT, we are pleased to welcome back the final edition of the Eric McFadden Residency at The Mint, performing this time with TEN, featuring Stephen Perkins and Norwood Fisher from Fishbone. A great performer with a wicked guitar style, check him out at showgo.tv/clubs/themintla

And whether or not you’re interested in whiskey n’ wimmen….

And, finally, one from Bessie.

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