So the one factor most prominent in my trip out west was that I could, and would, see Walter Trout at Biscuits & Blues. Their downstairs room is really a pretty intimate setting for music and anytime I can cop a squat in front of the stage is a no brainer for yours truly.
I had only a brief exposure to Mr. Trout at the 2011 Blues music Awards in Memphis. I had the good fortune to catch him in the elevator as we both did a Starbucks run, and thanked him for a furious fifteen minute set at the Awards the night before. Shortly thereafter we got together for a phone interview that was one of the most fun and insightful that I have ever had the pleasure to do. We seemed to connect on several levels and it is always good to hear artists confirm some of your own thoughts about music and related stuff. You can check it out here http://blues411.com/?p=2546 it is from October 2011, so it’s a wee bit old but still has the power of a punch when ya read it.
In a word – “WHOA” I had no idea or even a reason to think that Walter and band would be THAT good. Or that Mr. Trout would combine personality, charm, humor and scorching original guitar work the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a long time.
NOTICE POSTED: All y’all copping to the overused and diluted SRV licks and such should stop right now. The guitar has moved on from the eighties, and those licks. Trout is the cat you should be digging and listening to NOW. Sorry, I just heard a giant sucking sound from all the posers and dilettantes shutting down the page and going back to YouTube to worship at that tired alter. Cool, so now that we got us some room to breathe, let’s get to the skinny here. Sad to say SRV is dead and he and his music ain’t progressing anymore. While Mr. Trout IS very much alive and expanding the sonic and structural frontier of Blues/Rock guitar work.
He is more than just loud, or fast, and he doesn’t play too many shuffles, and a I-IV-V does not define the Blues genre. He creatively combines old and new in an ever changing and shape shifting attack on the senses and sensabilites of the Blues/Rock genre. All the while defying the jack booted corps of wannabe’s to step up and do something with those licks that haven’t been done before and make them their own.
At sixty-two years of age, Walter still possesses an active stage presence. He is having fun up there and in doing so allows us to enjoy it too. He entertains the audience with jokes, self-effacing humor all while he snarls and grunts like a teen aged shredder as he rips off licks and sings to bear his soul. He can get down but he can also get back up !
His songwriting is original, topical and a point blank assault on the mores of our society and those who live in it. One person called him the social conscience of the Electric Blues, well I can see why they said that, but I hate classifications or titles bestowed as such, but let it be known Mr. Trout leaves no stone un-turned in his songwriting and his voice needs to be heard by way more people.
Overall Mr. Trout’s approach to the Blues world is a holistic one. He works the range from slow burners, to visiting way back in the alley, throwing out some straight ahead rock and roll guitar slinging just to keep us honest then takes a left turn at Jupiter to bestow upon us some sonic adventures that remind me of the late, great Roy Buchanan and still alive and well, Robin Trower (and Hendrix) influences. His sensitivities lie somewhere in the blending of these folks with the deep rooted respect and appreciation of past Blues masters, quite unlike anything you have experienced before.
So peeps, seriously – if you want to see what a guitar can do in the hands of an artist check this cat out. More than the Blues, more than Rock and more than just the combination of the two, Mr. Trout is ever expanding the borders of the music and lights the way for the courageous to follow. No it won’t be easy for the shuffle poppers to digest what he is doing but if they cop to what he is putting down, it will be rewarding for them, us and the music we love. Check out his latest album “Blues For The Modern Daze” yeah that’s what it is titled, and I expect a Blues Music Award Nomination at the very least.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411
For more info on Walter Trout please visit his site (and go see him, for real y’all square business here):