French artist Marc Dejoux talks about the legacy of Blues in visual art, Muddy, Hot Tuna and local scene

"Real blues as and why it was created don’t exist now, it’s evident but the magic paradox is that Blues still exist live and grow today."

Marc Dejoux: Blues drawings from the real state of mind and soul 

Marc Dejoux is an amateur in art, was born in the little old town of Saint Flour, department of Cantal in the middle south France mounts. He stayed there and keep his youth memory all around as he was 16 where his parents moved in bigger town  Clermont-Ferrand.

There for different reasons he stopped school and finally spend a big year in 1970/71 with what we can call nothing to do. That suits his not so bad, as feeling interested by all the new culture and art movements of this time. As fundamentally autodidact he was into reading (from far libraries are not so far of him) oriental philosophy, politic, music, new ways of life, trying painting or playing guitar, concerts etc…

He would learn about art, his parents think other way, he fail the only way to come in art and became into building technique and drawings as his father and grandfather…

In 1973 Marc married the girl who still is his wife. From 75 to 85 he was into driving house building and slowly let down the guitar, pencils art dreams for material reality and necessities of the life of his family with two boys. From 87 with his wife, he own a kitchen shop in a time there is no computer to design the fitting projects, then he can say: “I draw again and like the creative part of the job…”

Around 03/05 as computers come in he’s less into work drawing but the internet drives him again into his old art passions. Marc start again his hobby guitar playing with new possibilities to learn the music he loves started some travel books drawing (love travelling and nature). The social network allows him to meet some wonderful artists in music and painting. Meet some of them given to Marc advice on his work to helping himself trust. Also, became friend with musicians Frank Fotusky and Bob McCarthy. Marc workings on a current cd cover for Frank Fotusky.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in visual art and especial with blues portraits?

From far youth with a 30 years off and 10 years slowly coming in again, but blues portraits come no longer for around 5 years. I have done some charcoal Blues Portraits before but feel some difficulty with the few usual press pictures of the artists.

I better like to be in most personal tracks if possible. By chance looking favorite’s bluesmen on YouTube I realize that stopping videos give me that original point of view. As I know to be better into drawing of bodies and portraits than landscapes, it kicks me into thinking that’s a good idea! I love the blues, blues is in the core of my deep feeling and bluesmen usually are strong faced expressive persons then, I play Blues with pen.

What do you learn about yourself from the art and the blues? What does “Art” and “Blues” offered you?

The most important thing I learned from trying my guitar or brush is “to authorize myself to do it” as I’m doubtful, in fact it’s the most difficult part. That almost done, things seem better and I feel easier with art work. Here I have to thank some good internet friends I trust in, to drive me into that way.

Blues is a basic very simple mean of large expression, 3 chords, 5 notes; it works too with one chord. The soul of the artist is the central point and fool play no longer work for blues audience. The lesson from olds blues artistes is that  they don’t matter about can’t read a book or music or  own the good guitar and work the good technique, just they invent their words, poetry, sound and personal techniques, they just do it!!!  I try to follow the same way, as possible with the drawing.

What characterize your work & progress, how do you describe your philosophy about the ART?

I love the high art level done with the smaller tools, that’s a thing blues tell loud! In any art I’m attentive for the very personal part of what is un inimitable expression. I try to be open mind and instinctive in my art work witch is not the easy part. I think important art function is to focus on part our emotions life we usually just can guess or not… a hole to look on a wider side.

What first attracted you to the Blues & how has the blues music and culture changed your life?

Late 60’s early 70’s in the great musical bubbling, feeling the new rock music as totally a new expression of our generation. I was eager to listen about rock and roll, hard rock, smoothing rock, folk rock, European folk, middle age music, Indians ragas or any melting. Then often earring talking of blues there and there I finish to buy the first real one. It was an EP 45 of John Lee Hooker and Memphis Minnie two songs for each. Wow I find the grail! All I was thinking as new basically was there in a strong hard concentrated way! I still keep in mind the John Lee song “When my Wife Quite Me” foggy dark slapping guitar and sinuous deep voice. Think so many guys of my generation could tell the similar story. I followed with an LP of Big Joe Williams discovering Muddy Water invent the Rolling Stones etc…That was a time my mother gave me money to buy shoes in town but cannot resist in the music shop and I come back with blues records!

"I love the high art level done with the smaller tools, that’s a thing blues tell loud! In any art I’m attentive for the very personal part of what is un inimitable expression."

What are some of the most memorable blues concerts you've have watched?

Not so many concerts in my area for years (Even better now).

Rory Gallagher, B.B. King, Hot tuna (twice), Mick Taylor, Eric Bibb, Mike Taylor, Etta James, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Johnson, Magic Slim for the most know.

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

That’s the very true! I loved many styles and artists and forget with passing time but never be out of Blues. The sign of an essential art discovering. The blues is not only a sound, style or type of music but a real state of mind and soul definitively available for all time!

How does the blues music come out of your art? What kind of music you hear when you are on progress?

When I’m drawing I can listening his music specially when starting but can follow with other style keeping me open minded.  That said when I feel really “connected” into the subject I can’t take time to search any music afraid to lose my inspiration. Not the main time but sure a sign of good work. Sometime, said only sometime, the draw seem to be like droved by another hand who know better than me what to do, that’s what I would be  always into.

Who from THE MUSICIANS you have painted, had the easiest pure original attributes on your canvas?

The great faces as Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Water, Sonny Boy Williamson, and other are easy to be identified but I like often better like working about less popular bluesmen.

"The blues is not only a sound, style or type of music but a real state of mind and soul definitively available for all time!"

Which of the musicians were the most “difficult” and which was the most “gifted” on canvas?

Any blind bluesmen are “difficult”. I feel Rev. Gary Davis as not so easy out of “photographic” drawing. Think dark glasses bring me blind drawer!   Most seriously eyes are important as home of the soul, even closed and inside looking.

Which memory during of your progress makes you smile?

When the work turn into big false before jumping in trash can, it’s time to try in creative freeway and can be surprising in good way…or not!  Remember doing a try about Big Joe Williams on an old ripped color try sheet I fast crease in the can to start the definitive drawing. As far it’s finish it jump the can too! Where is the first one… I find it, smooth out and think finally not too bad as expressing the madness part of Big Joe Turner!

What is it that gives you inspiration to drawing an artist?

Many things! I like his music, person, the face expression, feeling through him a story telling…

Make an account for current realities of the case of the Blues in France. What characterize the local scene?

I must admit not to follow closer that stuff but, it’s a living scène with more artists than years ago. We have so many festivals as the mains “Cahors Blues” and “Cognac Blues Passion” and so many others. Ours main Blues as: Cisco Herzhaft, Patrick Verbeke, Jean Jacques Milteau (harp), Benoit Blue Boy (harp), Paul Personne, Fred Chapelier, Nico Wayne Toussaint …  All styles exist from acoustic to electrics. Finally the less present is around my favorite styles as Piedmont and Ragtime Blues except Antoine Payen luthier and great ragtime guitarist into the Gary Davis and Blind Blake tracks.

What from your memorabilia and things (books, records etc.) would you put in a "time capsule"?

The most thick Blues cd compile I find, with Jorma Kaukonen” Quah”, Frank Fotusky “Teasin the Frets”, Bob McCarthy “Where I live”(Their common point could be a kind of spirituality driving through their playing).

My Guild GAD 30, my body weight in paper with pen an Atlas book to dream, and a red cat …

When we talk about blues, we usually refer to memories and moments of the past. Apart from the old cats of blues, do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

Real blues as and why it was created don’t exist now, it’s evident but the magic paradox is that Blues still exist live and grow today. No real great new blues songs are created now but the old numerous are so full of eternal human subjects. The whole songs look like a complete saga anyone can keep it for him and express his way changing notes and words. That’s the magic of Blues always the same but always different proving his own life given years ago exist by himself!

Do you believe that there is “misuse”, that there is a trend to misappropriate the name of blues?

Doesn’t no matter, in the beginning the word “Blues”exist as song definition before Blues music really exist then….

It an old recurrent question, but the Blues don’t care about it, cause he know where he is and where he is not! He is stronger than that.

How you would spend a day with Muddy Waters? 

A day with Muddy Water? I ‘ll try him to explain the way to do my “My Mojo Working” and at night watch him play while my foot hit the ground and an idiot smile stay on my face !

"The lesson from olds blues artistes is that  they don’t matter about can’t read a book or music or  own the good guitar and work the good technique, just they invent their words, poetry, sound and personal techniques, they just do it!!!"

What would you say to Hot Tuna?

To Hot Tuna: Thank you Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, to accompany me in the most part of my life, never been tired of you!

What would you like to ask Rev. Gary Davis?

To Rev. Garry Davis: Dear Reverent how do you do to conciliate being the true singing holy man you are and , the blind bluesman expert for smelling  beautiful girls around you, travelling whiskey bottle in pocket, gun in socks with your money in the guitar  hole?

I imagine he answer something like: I just do that all in the same time and that’s call the Ragtime Blues syncopation!

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