An Interview with Texan Aaron Burton: The musical heritage of Texas through the prism of the folk blues

"Life - I believe everyone has experiences that could be put to music."

Aaron Burton: Old recipe of blues

Aaron Burton is a young Texan guitarist, mandolinist, and vocalist who plays country traditional blues with a distinctly Texan spin having the talent. Aaron channels the rich and diverse musical heritage of Texas music through the prism of the country blues. Like many of the great country blues men and women before him, Aaron is completely self taught on his instruments which leads to a unique and interesting approach.

His fifty plus original compositions are drawn from various life experiences and are delivered with warm, soulful, and unforced vocals. His travels have taken him from Memphis to Maine but he has truly honed his skills playing for his daily bread in the clubs, bars, restaurants, house parties and streets of his native DFW, Texas.

Debut album was "aka Peetie Whitestraw" (2005), low-fi classic blues from Texas. All original Texas country blues and roots music “How Can I Be Blue?” (2008) album featuring Christian Dozzler on piano, harp, accordion and organ. In 2010 "Recession Blues" with original country blues gems featuring Christian Dozzler, Hash Brown, Stompin' Bill Johnston, Kevin Shermerhorn and Drew Alain. "Rising Sun" (2011) combines Aaron's authentic country blues/roots style with producer Pat Boyack's well established blues rock/soul sensibilities.

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

 

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

That I'm stubborn and independent and will keep doing what I'm doing regardless. For me, the blues is therapy and expression.

 

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD BLUESMAN and SONGWRITER?

Life - I believe everyone has experiences that could be put to music. To me, the iconic bluesman embodies the American ideal of rugged individualism.

 

How do you describe Aaron’s sound and lyrics and what characterize your music philosophy? 

It's like cooking; you take the recipes that have been handed to you mix 'em up, add your own touch, and create something new.

 

What's been their experience from “studies” on the road with the blues?

My studies have been living life and emulating musicians that I admire. 

 

 

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

Mostly from various artists through their recordings. Alan Lomax's The Land Where the Blue Began is probably the best book I've read about blues.

 

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

It's all been pretty positive.  I mean any day I get paid to play music is a good day.

 

What is the “feeling” you miss most nowadays from the “OLD DAYS OF BLUES”?

What's cool about the pre-war guys is that they were largely self-taught and so their guitar approaches are highly original.

 

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

Every period of my life has been interesting…at least to me.

 

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

Haha - yeah…he tried to take a girlfriend of mine (Blue Lisa of KNON) back to his hotel room - at 90 something years old! That gives me hope for the future.

 

 

I saw a photo with Robert Lockwood Jr. tell me a few things about your meet with him?

I was busking at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena Ark.  Jeff Dyson, who had hired me to open for Honeyboy, brought Lockwood by to hear me, knowing I covered a few of his songs. I played five or six of Lockwood's songs for him and he seemed pleased. He had some kind words for me and even put a tip in my case - a very nice man.  Lockwood is one of my all-time favorites.

 

What is the best advice a bluesman ever gave you?

Sam Myers used to call showoff types "glory seekers".  I understood that to mean that in seeking to gain fame and respect they weren't being real…and usually playing way to many notes.

 

What the difference and similarity between the ACOUSTIC and ELECTRIC BLUES feeling? 

What I like about country blues is that you don't have to conform to and rely on a band.

 

Why did you think that Country Folk Blues continues to generate such a devoted following?

It's good stuff! I think a lot of folks like that it utilizes the full range of the guitar. Also, in an age of big, loud bands, various sound technologies, and over-production, it's nice to see a person engage the listeners directly, without fluff.

 

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

I've had some really cool jams at my Tuesday night Delta Blues Jam at The Goat in East Dallas. I have a different guest weekly and there are plenty of great players to choose from in the D.F.W. area;  Ray Reed, Hash Brown, Texas Slim, Pat Boyack, Cheryl Arena, "Stompin'" Bill Johnston, Joel Foy, Holland K. Smith, K.M. Williams, James Hinkle, Andrea Dawson, Christian Dozzler and many others have been guests…and you never know who will drop in.

 

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES

It's simplicity has allowed it to be a foundation or part of other styles. I hope it can provide as much comfort for others as it has for me.

 

How do you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

Depends on the crowd; if it's a listening/watching crowd I might close my eyes and get lost in the music, if it's a dancing/drinking crowd we interact more, and if it's neither I approach at it as a rehearsal.

 

Make an account for current realities of the case of the blues in Texas. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

It's hard to make a living playing blues around here. I here from the older guys that it used to be better.

 

Do you know why the sound of slide guitar is connected to the blues and what is the secret for a good fingerpickin and slide player?

As I understand it, early blues players picked it up from recordings of Hawaiian music, and often used knives and other improvised slides.

Secret ... just practice.

Is it easier to write and play the blues as you get older? 

Writing has never been that difficult for me partly because I don't take it too seriously. What I mean is, I don't set out to write something profound. I just want to continue to build on the success I've had and make a good living.

 

Aaron Burton - Home

 

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