FRIDAY 21:55 – 22:05
Me, My Guitar and the Blues
|Kirk Fletcher||Gui., voc.|
|Walter Trout||Gui., voc.|
Kirk Fletcher has been in Switzerland some years now and Walter Trout has a long relationship with Denmark and been here most of the summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So it was obvious to ask both Californian guitar players (and dear friends) to do a jam at Blues Heaven!
The idea is that Walter will do a ten minutes part of the Kirk Fletcher show…
For Walter Trout, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. Across his five-decade career, the great US bluesman’s music has always been a lifeline and call to arms, reminding listeners they are not alone. Now, as the world seeks solace from a tragedy that has touched us all, he comes armed with a boundary exploring new studio album and eleven searingly honest songs that bring his fans even closer. “There’s a lot of extraordinary madness going on right now,” considers Trout, of the COVID 19 crisis. “This album started because I was dealing with the flaws and weakness inside me. But it ended up being about everyone.”
Art has a unique power to unite and though Ordinary Madness was completed mere days before the US shutdown, its cathartic songcraft and themes of shared troubles couldn’t chime better with a period in which our souls and spirits are under fire from tumultuous global events. The album’s loose concept was born, Trout reflects, as he scanned his social media feeds and noted his fans’ effusive messages. “They tell me I’m their inspiration,” he says, “and that me and my wife Marie have the perfect relationship.”
Trout was touched but he knew they were wrong. Admirably open about his troubled youth, and his own ongoing struggles with mental health, the bluesman had spent recent tours soothing himself by scribbling down his thoughts and feelings. It was only later he realised he’d just written the most honest lyric sheet of his career and felt he had an opportunity to let fans share and identify with him. “Everybody is dealing with something,” he says. “And I’m no different from anybody else.
Ordinary Madness doesn’t mean you’re gonna end up in a mental institution. It’s just being human. It’s common humanity.”
A lesser artist might have been content to surf the wave of adulation for last year’s Survivor Blues: an album that dove deep into Trout’s scholarly appreciation of the genre, twisting cult songs into new shapes, debuting at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, and heaping yet more acclaim onto an artist who regularly triumphs at global events from the British Blues Awards to the Blues Music Awards. “He’s not just surviving, he’s flourishing,” wrote Classic Rock of that latest release, crowning it Blues Album of 2019.
But that was only phase one of Trout’s masterplan. “I wanted to make Survivor Blues,” he explains, “to show my blues pedigree and my history of playing this music. But that’s not all I am. I’m also a songwriter. Of course, everything I do is based in the blues, and I’ll never turn my back on it.
Ordinary Madness is a blues rock album, but it’s also an evolution of my songwriting. The artists I respect most are the ones who seem to be fearless and push the envelope.” Trout’s formative blues influences are well documented, spanning from Paul Butterfield’s 1965 self titled debut alongside Mike Bloomfield to John Mayall’s seminal 1966 ‘Beano’ LP with Eric Clapton. But as he cut his teeth in New Jersey, the young guitarist was also drawn to the maverick songwriters, taking in The Beatles, Dylan and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. At every step of his career moving to California in ’74 to back up giants like John Lee Hooker, joining Canned Heat and Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in the ’80s, then flying solo in 1989.