An Interview with the blues/rock guitarist from Southern California Alastair Greene: Blues will keep going, there is no doubt.

"Wanting to express and release whatever emotions I have in a safe and positive way."

Alastair Greene: I love playing pure and simple.

Guitarist, Singer, and Songwriter Alastair Greene has been a mainstay of the Southern California music scene for over 2 decades. Alastair was born April 18th, 1971 in Santa Barbara, CA. Alastair was inspired to pursue music as a career by his grandfather, the late Chico Alvarez, who played trumpet as a member of the Stan Kenton Band in the '40s and '50s. Growing up, Alastair took piano lessons and played the saxophone before discovering the guitar in High School. He received a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied for two years before returning to southern California to begin playing with Blues and Rock bands in the early ‘90s.

Alastair is best known for his blues-based, soulful, and melodic guitar playing (as well as one of a rare-breed to play slide guitar), Alastair can be heard on CDs by Alan Parsons (2006 Grammy Nominated ‘A Valid Path’); Aynsley Dunbar (2008 SPV Records release ‘Mutiny’); Blues singer, harmonica legend, and former member of WAR, Mitch Kashmar (2005 ‘Wake Up and Worry’ on Delta Groove Records), as well as French Blues Guitarist Franck Golwasser’s 2007 release ‘Bluju.’ Alastair has put out 5 of his own CDs and has also appeared on countless independent CD releases ranging from Blues to Southern Rock. Alastair's song 'The Long Way Home' appeared in a 2007 episode of the TNT hit TV series 'Saving Grace'.

Whether with his own band or as part of others, Alastair has opened shows for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robin Trower, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Lonnie Brooks, Chris Thomas King, Lucky Petersen, Jonny Lang, Billy Boy Arnold, Joe Bonamassa, Mike Campbell's Dirty Knobs, and many more. Alastair continues to perform an average of 100 live dates a year with his own band as well as with Mitch Kashmar, Franck Goldwasser, Shari Puorto and a host of other Southern California Bands. Alastair released the Blues CD ‘Walking In Circles’ in June 2009 and accepted an offer to be the full time guitarist in the Alan Parsons Live Project in January 2010. The Hard Rock CD 'Through The Rain' released in November 2011 following the release of the single 'By The Way' which features a guitar trade-off solo between Alastair and Ty Tabor from King's X.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Alastair, when was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?
Probably around 1988 or 1989. My first heroes were Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?
The first Blues artist I ever saw was probably Jeff Healey but I could be mistaken. My first guitar teacher had me learn part of Hideaway so that would have been my first Blues song.

Any of blues standards have any real personal feelings for you & what are some of your favorite?
Some of my favorites are Born Under a Bad Sign, You Don't Love Me, there are so many great standards I enjoy playing. The meaning of the songs change over the years.

Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?
Robert Johnson, Son House, Bukka White, T-Bone Walker, the list goes on and on!

Do you think that your music comes from the heart, the brain or the soul?
I think it comes from a combination of all 3.

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?
The Blues as a musical art form is an endlessly expressive medium for improvisation based players. It has a deep history and is continuing to evolve.

Three words to describe your sound & your progress
3 words to describe my sound and progress,....  Always a student.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?
Practice and never giving up.

How/where do you get inspiration for your songs & who were your mentors in songwriting?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, real life, movies, books, etc., My mentors are guys like Gregg Allman who take the blues and put a little twist to it.

What are your best songs, the songs you’d most like to be remembered for?
The Long Way Home, Take Me With You, Through The Rain, Walking In Circles.

What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had? When did you last laughing in gigs and why?
The Sonora Blues Festival in 2010 with my band was very memorable. Great gig. Mexico City with Alan Parsons in 2011 was amazing. I don't usually laugh at gigs unless someone in the audience does something funny.

Are there any memories from Aynsley Dunbar & Mitch Kashmar, which you’d like to share with us?
Playing with Aynsely was always a lot of fun and always pushed me to play my best in a harder rocking context. He was always really nice and very professional. I hope we get to play again sometime in the future. Playing with Mitch was equally as fun and I learned alot as well. We have done lots of gigs together, mostly acoustic gigs. He played my CD release party for Walking InCircles in 2009 which was a blast.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about blues music?
On guitar probably Franck Goldwasser. I've learned a lot from him and continue to do so.

Of all the people you’ve meeting with, who do you admire the most?
Well I got to meet Eric Clapton in 2010. He's been through alot and played with all the greats. He'd be at the top of my list.

Who are your favorite blues artists, both old and new? What was the last record you bought?
I love so many Blues artists it's hard to pick just a few. I love the acoustic Delta music, Chicago Blues, Blues Rock. It's endless! I just bought some CDs by the band FREE who I really enjoy.

What do you think is the main characteristic of you personality that made you a bluesman?
Wanting to express and release whatever emotions I have in a safe and positive way.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is?
It's deep history and the fact that is not and has never been a fad. It's real life.

How do you see the future of blues music? Give one wish for the BLUES
Blues will keep going, there is no doubt. My hope is that it continues to grow and more and more people get into it.

Where did you pick up your guitar style & in which songs can someone hear the best of your work?
My guitar style is always evolving. It's a culmination of all the music I love which is obviously a lot of Blues but also a lot of other styles. My best guitar playing would be on songs like Through The Rain, Get My Wings, 3 Bullets, By The Way

Why do you play GUITAR & what were your favorite guitars back then?
I love playing pure and simple. It's so much fun!

Tell me a few things about your meet & work with Billy Boy Arnold, what kind of a guy was Billy Boy?
I played with a band that opened for Billy Boy so I didn't get a chance to play with him or hang with him much but he was very nice and sounded amazing.

Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory of John Mayall?
We opened for him about 10 years ago. While we were playing he was standing on the side of the stage with his arms crossed and was listening to us. When we were done and walked off the stage he said, "Allright Alastair!" That was a good feeling.

Are there any memories from Lonnie Brooks which you’d like to share with us?
We opened for him about 10 years ago as well. I got to talk with him for awhile before the show. He was very nice. In fact I'd seen him play a few days before at the Long Beach Blues Festival, so it was cool to get to talk to him after that.

Which of the people you have worked with do you consider the best friend?
That's a touch one of the people we've talked about so far I've done the most gigs and hanging out with Mitch Kashmar.

How did you first meet Alan Parsons, three words to describe him?
I met Alan at a recording session for another artist. In 3 words Alan is calm, quick witted, and wise.

What are your plans for the future & do you have a message for the Greek fans?
I plan to keep writing, recording, and playing. I would love to visit Greece. I love Greek food, Greek history, and alot of the music I have heard. I am happy to know there are people there that like my music. Hopefully someday I can come and play my music for you guys.

What turns you on? Happiness is……
Happiness is being able to play a great gig with great players and the audience has a wonderful time. Then getting to go home to my wife and relax with our cats.

Describe the ideal rhythm section to you?
The guys I play most of my gigs with are all great players. If there was another rhythm section I could play with that is currently playing I would say Jimi Bott on drums with Willie Campbell on bass.

Do you remember anything funny or interesting from the recording time?
Recording with Robinson Eikenberry is always interesting and funny. We laugh constantly about all kinds of stuff.

What would you had given to “THREE Kings” & what would you ask Muddy Waters?
The Three Kings have my eternal gratitude and I've been able to tell BB King "Thank you" before. If I met Muddy I'd ask him if he could show me some slide guitar riffs.

What characterizes the sound of Southern California blues scene?
There are so many bands with different sounds it's hard to say there is a specific sound.

Alastaire Greene's website

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