JP Soars is a young guitar slinger that can play anything, anywhere, at any time. To classify him as a blues guiotarist would not do him justice, he is a true young professional musician. After seeing him several times and being fascinated by his stage presence and demeanor – the last time as a special guest of Jimmy Thackery – I just had to talk to him and learn more.
Mr. Soars is here to stay folks, read his words and gain an appreciation for what he is doing and see him live to get the full experience at first oppotunity.
B411: We recently spoke to Jimmy Thackery about him having you join him on the October Bluescruise – he had nothing but good things to say about you. Just for the heck of it what are your recollections about that and how it all came together?
JP: I met Jimmy at a recording session in Ohio for the ‘Blues For The Cure’ with Sean Carney, that was the first time I got to meet him. Man I was nervous then. We then met again when we went up to Arkansas and Sally had us over for dinner, and Jimmy and I did the gig together. The more encounters I have had with him the more comfortable I got.
When he initially asked me to do the Bluescruise I was humbled and appreciative – he could have anyone he wants there with him and he asks me to do it. Its humbling and a little nerve racking, I am going to be up there with all these heavy weights so I better get myself together for this !
B411: That was so cool, you guys did a great job of it and the horns too very nice. To me it was also the tradition of passing on of the Blues that has gone on forever with this music. Older artists bringing the younger ones on stage to give them exposure and credibility.
JP: Exactly, Jimmy has been exceptionally great to me, I can’t say enough about it. To take time from the hectic pace to spend time with me it’s a blessing. It’s hard to make a living doing what we do. To get asked to do something like that was a privilege and honor.
B411: It’s got to help reinforce your opinion of what you are doing and be a very positive nudge, pat on the back kinda thing. He did ask you for a reason, he saw something.
JP: It’s a nod of approval, and as a musician that’s one of the greatest things – to feel acceptance from your peers and those that you admire as musicians is a great feeling one of the best you can get.
B411: Now you have been playing for a long time and done some interesting things.
JP: I have been playing thirty years, I’m forty three years old.
B411: You look good brother, I think it’s the blues it keeps ya young, the lifestyle can be hard but the music redeems you in the end. So I have heard that you have roots in Heavy Metal music, true?
JP: Yes I do, oh yeh, It was extreme metal. Not like Bon Jovi, Poison or Motely Crue it was more like Slayer and that kind of stuff, heavier more extreme side of it. I still like it – when I was young and I heard that music for the first time I had never heard anything like it before. There was nothing out there that sounded that way it was an evolution of the music. Cutting edge.
JP: I like the fact that it really pushed the envelope of the norm in music. I always look for that.
B411: So having lived and played in both of these musically diverse worlds, do you see similarities between he two?
JP: There’s a lot of similarities, for one the extreme metal we used to play was very much underground, it never got to be main stream. Much like the Blues, it’s kind of an underground cult following of people who are into it. Also both have been called the ‘Devil’s Music’ – there are more similarities, such as a lot of people don’t like it, the Blues are too sad, not complicated it’s only three chords and so on. It either moves you or it don’t.
B411: Well yeah, if you got a whole in yer soul you won’t like it. How did you ‘find’ the Blues, was it overnight or what?
JP: The first music I played was stuff my dad showed me. Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Hendrix and stuff like that. I had heard some rootsy kinds of stuff and learned to play some of it, I always liked the bluesy type of stuff. When I was sixteen years old I played a lot of ZZ Top the old stuff like the first album, they were my uncles’, I grew up listening to Ted Nugent and even the Beatles. A lot of this was taken from the Blues, so when I heard Muddy Waters I knew where they had gotten it from. I had read articles with Billy Gibbons and they would talk about Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and these cats that’s when I realized that these were the guys who made that sound first.
I saw B.B. King when I was eighteen years old, got to meet him – that was in 1988 and I did my last real metal gig in 2005 it was a tour of Europe. So it kind of answers the question of was it an overnight thing – absolutely not, I’ve been listening to the Blues and trying to learn it for as long as I have been playing. Only at a certain point did I say I would focus on it and devote myself to learn it properly.
B411: What made you decide to learn it, or to devote the time. You obviously were very good at Extreme Metal, why switch it up?
JP: I liked that extreme metal stuff, but when I went to a jam or a club where they were playing Blues I decided that I wanted to play that too. I want to be able to play with all these guys and in all these styles. I don’t consider myself a blues-man or a metal guy, I’m a musician. I think that for me, to be a successful musician I need to know different styles of music. I don’t want to be in a situation where I can’t hang, where I can go jam with these guys I want to be able to do that. Anything that moves me I dig, it can be country, blues, jazz, metal, salsa I love Django Rhinehart, all kinds of music.
B411: That’s a great attitude, and a very professional one. I think that sometimes we forget that you folks are artists.
JP: And as an artist the more colors you have to paint with the more pictures you can paint. The more tones and shades of things you can add to it makes it all better.
B411: Correct, good analogy. So let’s jump to the current time. You, Victor Wainwright and Damon Fowler will be appearing at the January Pre-Cruise party hosted by the South Florida Blues Society. Billed as the ‘Southern Hospitality’ tour/band. Any surprises on tap for all of the faithful?
JP: Man, I’m sure there will be some things coming out of our trick bag that will surprise our own selves. It’s a lot of fun, we always amaze me, there is always a possibility for some magic moments. Plus Ben Prestage, I love Ben Prestage.
B411: Great line up ! So y’all gonna sneak on the boat or what? I know some women who would gladly stash you in their bag to get you on!
JP: Hah, sure you do. But we are going to do a two week tour together as Southern Hospitality.
JP: Now for me, it certainly cannot be viewed as a ‘be all end all’ for a musical career, and winning it doesn’t mean you have made it. What it does do it was a door opener, before I won I was pretty much a Florida artist, after winning that you get put on a bunch of Blues festivals, like maybe twelve. But that is the opener, you get on these festivals and placed in front of people who normally wouldn’t see you. We got the chance to leave an impression on these peoples minds. Out of that you will meet people and get other things, people will book you for other festivals, it is a great networking tool.
You have to work it and utilize it for what it is. I can say it has definitely changed my life. It is what you do with it, that the key – it is a gateway to so many other things. Winning it is the root of so many things that I am doing now. That’s how I met Jimmy Thackery – thru Sean Carney, who won the year before me. I met the people from Piedmont Talent from the IBC’s, even not winning is a networking tool it puts you in touch with almost everyone in the business. It’s a great thing, a very nice feather in the hat.
B411: You’ve used it very well.
JP: I went three times before I won, the first time as a sideman playing guitar, so I got to experience it from that end of it. The next year we got even more feel for it, and learn how to do things. Wait first of all it’s a blast, there is so much energy, it’s fun. But besides from tat as a musician you never know who you are going to run into. There are artists that didn’t win and are doing very well and some who…
B411: I guess it depends on your individual desire and drive, and what it is you want from it. But it helps to hear from guys like you who have won it before and what your take on it is.
So you mentioned Piedmont Talent, you have signed on with them.
JP: Yes, we got picked up by Piedmont Talent, we now have a solid booking agency. A key part of the puzzle is to have a booking agent. We are pretty excited about it.
B411: Very good, that’s such a big part of it. I mean how much can you do on your own?
B411: So going back to the studio soon?
JP: Yes, gonna start working on a new CD soon, writing stuff now.
B411: Great, cause ‘More Bees With Honey’ was an outstanding release – it really was what I see in you and hear in your live shows.
JP: I appreciate it, thank you. The first was really based on me getting gigs and getting to the next level – I needed to get a CD out. There are some covers on there and I played it pretty safe on there too. I didn’t want to sound like some metal guy trying to play the blues. On the ‘More Bees…’ release I was able to stretch it out a bit more. Mix in some more ingredients. Just wait till the next one !
B411: Man, we all appreciate you artists wanting to bring your personal take and soul of your music to us. As an artist that seems to be what you want to do, make a mark with your own music and have it accepted for what it is.
JP: Exactly, if you feel it in your soul and it moves you, then chances are it will move somebody else. It has to transcend to some people in the audience.
B411: So true, sometimes it takes a few meetings, listens to, whatever – hell, I can listen to a CD and not dig it today but next week it kicks my ass and I love it.
JP: Yes, what we do might not reach everyone at the same time for some it might take a bit longer.
B411: JP thanks man, I really appreciate your time and thank you for the music. See you in Florida in a few.
Visit JP at his web site: http://www.jpsoars.com/
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: Leslie K.Joseph