An Interview with Los Angeles-based Blues Rock band of The Forty Fours: Tex Nakamura & Johnny Main

"Blues is a feeling  and it puts me in a excited state."

The 44's: Raw, Rough and Tough

The 44’s are a Los Angeles-based band who play blues-roots-rock music. They first made their mark on the Los Angeles blues scene in 07’ when they were tapped to compete and Finished 4th in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. The band members include harmonica player Tex Nakamura (Formerly of War), singer guitarist Johnny Main, upright bassist Mike Turturro (Formerly Lynwood Slim/Candye Kane), and drummer J.R. Lozano.

The 44’s, received the attention of Guitar Great/producer Kid Ramos (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Mannish Boys, Los Fabulocos) while playing their favorite haunt, the Doll Hut. With Producer Kid Ramos, they have released their first full-length album, Boogie Disease. The 44’s' energetic live performances has gained a local following, and they are a fixture on the Los Angeles blues scene. Their sound attracted the likes of Los Lobos who invited them on tour with Los Lobos in 08’. The 44’s have backed Blues luminaries Kid Ramos, Johnny Dyer, and Rod Piazza just to name a few.


Interview by Michael Limnios


When was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?

Johnny Main: I was about 11 and I played classical violin. My music teacher would get mad that I would play my violin like a guitar. I knew then I had the bug. Jimi Hendrix was my first inspiration, then I tracked down who had influenced him. Albert King, B.B. King and Albert Collins. That was my foundation.

"Tex" Nakamura: I was 20 yeas old, and  started listening to an American blues show on the Far East Network of the U. S. Armed Forces Radio in Japan. My first Influence was Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz of the J. Geils Band.


What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?

Johnny: My first gig was at my friends backyard party. We called it Barnfest. It was 5 bands that all played different styles. Of course I was the only blues player there. I was 15 yrs. old playin voodoo child and the whole crowd of teens were freakin out. They didn't know I even played the guitar. I was a closet player.

Tex: I Probably went to an acoustic guitar performance at my aunty's high school Talent show. I was only 5 or 6 years old. First time I learned "Whammer Jammer "


"The name came from me reading a vintage gun magazine sitting in the bathroom. They had a special issue on the colt 44. The same time I was reading it a Howling Wolf song came on bluesville sirius radio I have. I thought , The 44's.... and it stuck. The sound of the band is just raw, rough and tough."

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Johnny: The best is getting the opportunity to play with all of my idols. Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, Dave Hildago and Ceasar Rosas of Los Lobos, Johnny Dyer, Rick Holstrom, James Harman. One night I played with Slash at a bar in Hollywood. He wanted to play scuttle buttlin by S.R.V. and I was like sure. The worst was when my truck got stolen with my amp, mics and vintage gear was in there. A part of me died that day.

Tex: First time Performance at Doheny Blues Festival in Southern California with The 44's. I havn’t had one


Tell me about the beginning of the 44s. How did you choose the name? What characterizes the sound of the 44s?

Johnny: The name came from me reading a vintage gun magazine sitting in the bathroom. They had a special issue on the colt 44. The same time I was reading it a Howling Wolf song came on bluesville sirius radio I have. I thought , The 44's.... and it stuck. The sound of the band is just raw, rough and tough.


Any of blues standards have any real personal feelings for you & what are some of your favorite?

Tex: I'm a Muddy Waters Man !!

"I was 20 yeas old, and  started listening to an American blues show on the Far East Network of the U. S. Armed Forces Radio in Japan. My first Influence was Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz of the J. Geils Band."

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?

Tex: Blues is a feeling  and it puts me in a excited state.

What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

Tex: Played at House of Blues in Chicago with The 44's.

Where did you pick up your harp style? What characterizes the sound of Tex Nakamura?

Tex: I don't know. Just being in the music for a long time. Kind of hard for me to say, Please you Judge.

In which songs can someone hear the best of your harp work?

Tex: Album "Boogie Disease" by  The 44's

Why do you play GUITAR & what were your favorite guitars back then?

Johnny: I play because I feel I have this connection with the instrument. I can't explain it. There is just a feeling you get that you can't fake. It's the best day of your life and the worst at the same time. There is so much emotion that goes into it. My favorite guitars are and always will be Fender Stratocaster's.


What were your favorite guitars back then, where did you pick up your guitar style?

Johnny: A lot of my style is based around the Texas stang and L.A. greasy. I like to mix it up depending on who his sitting in with us that night.


Are there any memories from tour with Los Lobos, which you’d like to share with us?

Johnny: Those guys invented the word ,"cool". They are just so down to earth and have so much respect for everyone. I remember one night at the belly-up tavern in Solano beach, it was Dave Hildago, Ceasar Rosas, Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher and myself playing with Lobos at end of the night, and I'm lookin around on stage goin wow, I hope someone is taking pictures. The song we went into was a Lobos tune called, "mas i mas". I turned to kid and said, " what key are we in ? ". He looked at me and said I have know idea. I think it was E flat.

"The best is getting the opportunity to play with all of my idols. Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, Dave Hildago and Ceasar Rosas of Los Lobos, Johnny Dyer, Rick Holstrom, James Harman."

Do you remember anything funny or interesting from the recording time with Kid Ramos?

Johnny: Hahaha....yeah. I came into the studio that day with my boots, cuffed Levis and a western shirt and he called me the midnight cowboy. I thought I looked cool but I guess I didn't.

I wonder if you could tell me a few things about your experience in Rip Cat Records ?

Johnny: It is so cool to be part of a label that is more like a family than a label. Everyone on R.C. is just so Damm cool. I love all those guys . Thank you to Scott Abeyta for having faith in us.

Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?

Tex: Almost Everyone,  Rice Miller, Little Walter, and Especially Willie Dixon.

Are there any memories from the War, which you’d like to share with us?

Tex: No comment !!!

Which of the people you have worked with do you consider the best friend?

Tex: Yes, The Boys from The 44's!

Which artists have you worked with & which do you consider the best friend?

Johnny: I don't have just one best friend....I consider Mike, Jason and Tex my brothers. You have to be close because when we go on the road you have to watch your brothers back's. Kid and Scott would have made the list, but they both said I looked like the midnight cowboy !!!.....Hahaha. But in all seriousness they are all my brothers....Mike, J.R., Tex, Kid and Scott. We put our "time" in.

"Because its (Blues) real. No lip synchronized crap. No jumping around the stage with your pants down to your knees, showing off your underwear. You know if these kids knew what that really meant, I think they would pull up there pants quick.....In prison in the 50's and 60's men would do that to try and get a lover. True story."

Are there any memories from studio, which you’d like to share with us?

Tex: So many  good memories from studio work. If you hung out with me one day at Bar, I will tell you little by lil'.


From whom have you have learned the most secrets about blues music?

Johnny: Wow....that's a tough one. If there was a secret or secrets I wish someone would have told me years ago !!! Hahaha. I was never told secrets, just stories. I just try and treat other players and fans the way I would want to be treated. I did some roadie work for Paul Oscher in Canada. Now that was an experience. He has some of the best stories. One after a gig he and I shot pool for hours and shared stories. Imagine that, two different generations of the blues but the same Passion for it. He always had an answer for everything.

Tex: Rick Estrin's DVD called " Reveals Secrets Subtleties & Tricks of the Blues Harmonica"


If you go back to the past what things you would do better and what things you would a void to do again?

Tex: Nothing, Because I don't look back.  Try to Make things better then yesterday, I Believe It’s All good times coming my way.

"I see it (Blues) coming back, especially in these hard times. It's a piece of Americana that will last forever. My wish for the Blues is that everyone have more respect for it."

Who are your favorite blues artists, both old and new? What was the last record you bought?

Johnny: For Harmonica players its... James Harman, Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin, William Clarke And Lester Butler. Old Harp players are Sonny Boy, Junior Wells and Little Walter. And for Old guitar players it's.....T-Bone Walker, Lightnin Hopkins, All the Kings, Albert Collins, Luther Tucker, Hubert Sumlin and Otis Rush. And For The New School guitarist its.....Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Rick Holstrom, Hollywood Fats, the Vaughan brothers, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Johnny Moeller, Dave Gonzales (Paladins), Nick Curran and all my ripcat brothers.


Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is?

Johnny: Because its real. No lip synchronized crap. No jumping around the stage with your pants down to your knees, showing off your underwear. You know if these kids knew what that really meant, I think they would pull up there pants quick.....In prison in the 50's and 60's men would do that to try and get a lover. True story.


How do you see the future of blues music? Give one wish for the BLUES....

Johnny: I see it coming back, especially in these hard times. It's a piece of Americana that will last forever. My wish for the Blues is that everyone have more respect for it.


What are your plans for the future? Do you have a message for the Greek fans?

Tex: I'd like to meet some Greek fans in Greece this year at a 44’s show.


The 44's official website

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