Blues Site Interview – Portland 2004

Unfortunately…I DO NOT know who wrote this interview!
I am SO sorry…I was frantic trying to find ANY thing about Snakeboy on the web
right after he passed in 2008…and I copied this interview from some online source.
But, I neglected to do the ‘note-to-self’ as to WHO did the interview!
All I can offer is, it is a testament to my scrambled state of mind at the time.
If anyone knows the Author…please please let me know.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“This writer had the pleasure to meet and play with The Original Snakeboy soon after he arrived in Portland. Snakeboy is a colorful, entertaining, fun guy to be around. I thought I would share him with all of you!

First – the personality test:

Why Portland?
I love water, I learned to swim before I could write my name, ( wasn’t a real bright child ). Visiting Portland always made me feel right at home.

Coffee or beer? Yeah, I like ’em both…do you mean when I play?..neither, I drink herb tea.

Where were you 10 years ago? Austin Texas

Where will you be 10 years from now?
If I could tell the future, I’d have already picked winning lotto numbers !!

Favorite place to play in portland? I’m too new in town to say, …you know any place with killer BBQ, and a free massage after the show??

Favorite food? Home cookin’

Most memorable gig? A toss up between the last Antone’s Anniversary in Austin, and Taj Mahal last Spring in Germany.

Whats in your CD player RIGHT NOW?
Got a 5 disc changer; Catfish Keith, Bob Brozman Live, Red Devils Live, Blind Willie Johnson, Lloyd Jones.

Day gig or starve?
No thanks, I don’t like the sound of either one.

Email or phone?
Email for biz, phone for personal.

Breakfast before or after noon?
Thanks a lot, I’ll let you know when I wake up.

Gilligans Island: MaryAnn or Ginger?
Sure, you bet…can you really arrange that sort of thing??

A record that changed your musical life?
Allman Brothers, Live at The Fillmore East.

OK – from the looks of some of Snakeboys answers I knew this would be fun.
Hang on! here we go!

How did you get to Portland?
I left Texas cause the Austin scene had completely changed. I had a real good time living and playing there. A lot of good friends. The city just grew too big because of the electronics boom, 100s of thousands of people moved there and it lost its small town appeal.

So I decided to move out to North Carolina, it’s a place I used to visit a lot, if you’ve ever been to Texas in the summer you know why I liked to visit the mountains. Anyway, I decided to move out there for a while.

Western North Carolina is a very beautiful place in the country, I’m told there are more species of trees in North Carolina, than all of central Europe. They have nice people, a nice culture. I lived there for a while, and it was once again time for a change.

While beautiful, it was really bluegrass country. Its still alive and well and thriving. On every corner and in every club. Bluegrass is American roots music, its just not my favorite branch…

It got to me after a while that there was no strong blues scene, and what I really missed about Austin was the tremendous world class blues scene. If you play this kind of music it is nice to live in an environment where it is thriving and its fuel for inspiration to be immersed in that kind of a scene. So when it was time to make a change in where I live there were a couple of things I was looking for. One, a place that was not a central Texas in the summer!

Yeah, that heat is a killer in Texas!
I really enjoy the seasonal weather in North Carolina, so that was attractive to me, and finally I wanted to live somewhere there was a thriving local blues scene. It’s of course convenient to play in the town you live in, but mainly to be around other blues musicians.

Whats valuable about that?
There is only twelve notes like they say, we all use those same twelve notes. You and I will sit down and play a standard 12 bar shuffle and I’ll have my ideas and you will definitely have your own ideas. Like Walt Whitman said “there is no new discovery, just different ways of looking at the same thing” and that’s something I find where ever I play with other musicians is somebody is going to have an idea that you didn’t think of, and that’s going to be an inspiration.

So how did those things lead you Portland?
Portland came to mind, because of the mild weather, it’s a beautiful place in America as far as the mountains and its location from the coast. The desert, the coast, the trees. The lay of the land as they say. I had been through briefly Portland 20 years ago and I didn’t really get to know the city, but it left a good impression on me. Passing through several times, I always had a good feeling about the city.

So I thought I’d go out there and see what it feels like, and it was really just a chance thing. So I packed up and came out and to my pleasant surprise I found I still had some friends out here. Paul DeLay who I had meet way back when, Lloyd Jones and Curtis Salgado and these guys were still living and playing around here and I found the scene was way past thriving, it’s a world class scene. Some of the musicianship I’ve seen in Portland is some of the highest in America. And that always equates to some of the highest in the world.

I’ve only been here since last October and I’m still getting to know the people and city, almost every day I discover some new cool place. To me Portland has a European flavor than many other cities its size. That’s appealing to me. Every week I live here I enjoy it more.

Tell us some of the differences you’ve seen between the American and European blues scene.
Drinks coffee – “ah yes”
I left Texas and Guy Forsyth, and the The Asylum Street Spankers. I was going to try and do something solo. I took a couple of years sitting on a park bench working up tunes and arrangements that work for a solo show. When I finally got my stuff together, I was contacted by the folks at National Reso-Phonic Guitars asking if I had anything recorded as they were releasing a CD. Fortunately I was able to get into a studio and slam down 13 songs. It was a one take project. And sent the recording out to national, and it’s a real honor to me, they picked one of those songs to release on their CD last year.

So I’m sitting there with 13 songs done, and it wasn’t too bad considering it was all one take, so I sent out some inquires to American and European blues magazines so I ended up in about 6 international magazines with five star ratings on that simple little project. And that killer press opened some doors for me in Europe last year. I did 6 or 7 different countries. Got to do some stuff with Taj Mahal, was able to play in Antwerp, Belgium and went up to the Netherlands for a few shows in Amsterdam. They were all really wonderful shows and I was glad to be there doing them all. The highlight of doing the whole thing was playing the dobro fest in Slovakia, the largest resonator festival in the world. It was an honor for me to be invited to play that.

The National Reso-Phonic happens to be my favorite instrument and to be asked to play that festival was a tremendous honor for me. If you love these guitars like I do, its like dying and going to resonator heaven.

So the differences?
In Germany for instance, I’ve never played for a more attentive audience in my life. I was told if they didn’t make a lot of noise, not to think they didn’t like me. And that was the understatement of the year! In fact they sit in total silence while you are performing. If you are playing a venue where they serve beer, the won’t serve anything when you are playing. Everyone sits wide eyed and attentive when you are performing, and then go nuts when you are finished. It’s unnerving coming from America; where we of course have some great blues clubs and the audiences here. It’s just not our tradition to do that here. Even if they didn’t pay you, I’d play for the appreciation. Its an amazing experience to play for those people.

Tell us what make you tick as an artist
Besides coffee?? (both laugh)

Why do you do this?
For me there has always been music around. My dad played in the Grand Ole Opry and gave it up as he didn’t feel it a secure way to provide for the family, but there was always music around. But it didn’t strike me until later in life that this was who I was. This is what I wanted to do with my life. To me music in general is the most powerful communicator we have in the world. You could have a beautiful painting on the way, but its impact might not follow you into the next room. But music gets absorbed, and you can’t hide from it. You can really see the power it has when you play in different countries and cultures. It is the common denominator. When you play this magic, everyone in the room knows what you mean. Its beyond important, its urgent in this crazy world we live in today. One of the most powerful tools we have, in changing attitudes and understanding each other is the music.

You’re a songwriter, you play solo, with bands and do recording. What do you like the most?
I can’t choose, its like having a table with all your favorite foods on it, ya know. I love them all. The solo thing I’m still learning how to do it. It’s a different way to approach things. When you are the “fool on the stool” as they say, you need to approach things differently.

In a band there is an interaction with the other folks, you need to learn the art of listening to everyone else so you can contribute to the overall thing. That’s the thing is feeling what the tune needs.

Songwriting is a hard thing and there is a sense of wonder and accomplishment when I can come out with something that pleases me and you enjoy doing, I honestly can’t say which one of those things I like the most. I am really honored to play any part in this magic.

Tell me what’s going on in your career right now.
When I recorded my solos disc, playing with fire, I had the intention to add a mandolin and tuba on a few songs. But in Western North Carolina, I found a lot of mandolin players but no tuba players. I do like the solo thing where you can follow any inspiration anytime it hits, but I want to do some thing with other musicians. I am beating the bushes looking for the right people to put together maybe a trio.

I’m also talking to a few labels about doing my next project. I am also planning on going to Germany in the fall. In the meantime its been so long since I’ve been to the west coast, and there is so much happening here, I am just getting out and playing as much as I can here. I’m just trying to meet more folks and make more contacts and play my music in front of as many people as I can.

Anything you want to say to the blues audience in Portland?
From having to played all over the country and Europe, I would hope that people realize what a killer scene is going on here, 24/7. I guess living here you might get a little spoiled and not appreciate the quality and caliber of music that is available 7 nights a week here. If you leave this city and go to any other city in the country this cities size, you’d appreciate what’s going on here.

I’ve received a real warm welcome here in Portland from the clubs, the fans, the CBA. Its amazing to look at the CBA staffed with volunteers who do it for the love of the music, and they are the biggest blues society in the country. You know I ran across your site when I first came to town, and I thought what a cool thing.

I was talking to Mark Lemhouse a few weeks ago and hearing the Memphis blues society had five members.
I know, its crazy! I’ve got a friend from Chicago who tells me there is one blues station in that city. It’s nuts! It goes to show the quality of the scene here in Portland.

Well thanks Snakeboy,
Hope to talk again soon.”

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