"What I love about this music is sincerity, austerity... Rhythm and vibrations goes directly to the heart, to the body and to the soul."
Erick Diard: Le Mousquetaire du Blues
Erick Diard is the publisher of a European blues magazine "Blues & Co". He was born on April 24th, 1952 in Thouars in Deux Sèvres, a small town in France. His childhood was normal in a wealthy family with access to all kinds of crops, including music. He discovered the blues, to 12 years, through the album "Around & Around" by Rolling Stones, after this he bought regular albums (33 rpm) British Blues (Cream, Eric Clapton, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, etc ) before discovering the black bluesmen, first were be Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, and after John Lee Hooker, BB King, etc. then changed for the Southern Rock (Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc) and returned again to the blues and Americana music (Wiyos, Rum Drum Ramblers, etc.)
He practiced the accordion for almost 10 years before to stop definitively at his wedding in 1973. His student life “is not the brightest, I went to school for a long time for nothing” says with humour... “I had a very fun time, but I was kicked out of five schools. I must say that I was a carefree, inclined to have fun and not work”. Normal immediately after 1968, he was what was called at the time a Baba Cool. Marriage in 1973 with Anita, still his wife now and first steps into the world of work as a mason in the family company, then a salesman in a large area before becoming a worker in packaging factory then and manager in the quality and hygienic. Now he is a happy retired. From 18 to 39 years old he practices intensive active sports: Greco-Roman wrestling, tennis, rugby, enduro motorcycle and kayak before, in 1990, a serious accident which immobilizes him a year and a half, knee crushed. This is because, or rather because of this that he plunged back into the music and the blues in this case, after 3 years of animation with a radio show called "Woodstock Generation", the birth of magazine “Blues & Co” is coming and the beginning of the current adventure.
When your first desire to become involved in music was & what does the music mean to you?
I've always loved music as far as I can remember and I started to build a collection of the British Blues Boom albums in my teens with the desire to share my findings with my friends.
I am really involved in the 90s, when after a serious accident, I realized that I could not do sports (I practiced a lot and hard ...) so, when a friend asked me to participate in a program of radio about the blues and to create a magazine on the same topic, I said yes.
When music is done well, takes me and tickles my feelings, it's hard to explain..... Music penetrates me, makes me vibrate, exacerbates my feelings, I think this is it.....
From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues music?
This will be pretentious, but I think I discovered rock and blues by listening alone to begin with, the English Chicken Shack, Clapton, Mayall, Kinks, Free, Groundhogs or the Fleetwood Mac Peter Green.... When I say alone, this is wrong, I did this with my brother, then, I discovered American blues.....
The big turning point came after my accident (my right leg was crushed) and with the arrival of the internet.... Now I continue to discover new blues stories, new albums and new music every day.
There is still a friend who influenced me a lot. I met him in 2000; this is Paul Linden (you can find his name on the first albums of Sean Costello) who is a real scholar and this, in a multitude of areas.
How did the idea of the magazine Blues & Co. come about?
Blues & Co was born after a radio show, the host name was Arol who talked about his desire to create fanzine dealing about the blues and we said OK.... It was during the summer of 1997, the first No. was released in September 97 with John Lee Hooker cover, 17 pages made to the photocopier.....
Five founders Blues & Co, we are more than two now, we now have 17 editors and the magazine is 70 pages.
Why are Europeans so enamored with the blues?
I do not know how to tell you with certainty.... And then, you're sure that the European people like the blues, I rather think they listen it, for the majority of them, without knowing that it is blues..... This, particularly in France.... It is true that there is a minority who truly loves the blues and often there are those sensitive to emotions and vibrations it gives..... The blues is not just music it is also a philosophy, a way of being.... It is difficult to answer your question..... I don’t know..... Sorry.
Are there any memories of all these GREAT MUSICIANS which you’d like to share with us?
It would take too long to tell, I have memories with each of them..... Hattiesburg with Paul Linden, one of the great moments happened at her wedding where the music was assured by Sean Costello Band....
Then Ron Hacker was the first to be welcomed home.
I'll try to be brief: in 2002 I sent a review I had made about his album "Back Door Man" and immediately, he got in touch with me first by e-mail until the day he phoned me and told me: "Hi, I'm Ron Hacker, if I come in France with my guitar, do you accept me in your home? "I hesitated and then with the agreement of my wife, I said OK..... Now, every year we get musicians at home, musicians who become friends and which we'll see in the US.....
Of all the people you’ve meeting with, who do you admire the most?
Not easy to sort..... We'll start with Paul Linden who played with Sean Costello, a type of the intelligence above the average for all he touches, music, literature, history, etc.... but with the unusual modesty. A true friend of mine, who now lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and teaches at the University of Hattiesburg in Mississippi. Ron Hacker is also a good friend coupled with a genuine bluesman, rough on the outside but soft on the inside, as modest as talented. Felix Reyes, a Texan who lives in Chicago, a leader in the world of blues, which has made no album but wrote beautiful blues for a gaggle of musicians. Big Mama Montse, do you know her, I think, a wonderful woman. But I could tell you about Billy Flynn, Dave Herrero, Jimmy Adler, Racky Thomas, the Breeze Kings, Bill Sheffield, Tom Holland, Victor Puertas, Little "G" Weevil, Mikey Jr. and Abdell B-Bop Bouyousfi a bass player extraordinary..... Hard to choose but one thing characterizes every these musicians, that’s humility that has no equal that their talent.
In this long list, I can't forget Sean Costello.....
What are some of the most memorable interviews you've had?
The first was in Antwerp where I met, through a friend, Tee, a talented musician but completely unpredictable.... My friend told me, "You'll see, if he likes you, he will stay, otherwise he will leave without talk"..... I think really he likes me, because we spent the whole night drinking together...
Another with James Harman, who refused to answer our questions and who disappeared nearly three hours in his room before coming back and chat with us for the rest of the evening before the concert and asked us to stay with him after the concert.
What is the strangest desire that someone have requested to give you the interview?
I have no memories of strange requirements that are always well spent, simplicity and relaxation. Maybe the desire to Tonky De La Pena to answer me in French, a language he mastered but with an accent terrible, so that when I want to transcript it, I did not understand.
Which of the artists were the most difficult and which was the most gifted front of the journalistic recorder?
Steve Freund, who refuses to answer questions without explanation....., the most talkative and the funniest, was James Harman....The hardest was Paul Size, which responded only a few words to questions.
Why did you think that the blues in France, continued to generate such a devoted following?
The French people love music and have long been rocked by the traditional varieties, so when the English bands of the 60/70 have landed with their music, inspired by the blues, it has changed a lot of things and attitudes. You know, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks and the Rolling Stones made only the first parts for the stars of French varieties.... So I think the current generation, having been lulled by the British Blues, blues or rock Rocking, have integrated it in their brains, so they like listen these rhythms without really knowing that come from the blues.
Make an account of the case from the local blues scene & what characterizes the sound of French blues?
The French scene is very rich and varied and many groups are really excellent, all styles of blues are played, the roots, the blues electrical, modern, etc....with a strong tendency towards for the Chicago blues. This wealth does not permit to define a particular sound, such as in England, where the British Blues Rock remains dominant..... Some French bluesmen sing the blues in French, but it remains marginal besides a real lack of public interest for it. The scene is rich in blues musicians, but poor regarding opportunities for these musicians play and major festivals are put a more commercial music in their programming and the blues becomes marginal.....
When it all began for the blues in France? Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene and why?
Blues arrived in France in the late 60s, at the end of the first British Blues Boom. These are, as usual, the English who introduced the blues in France. The best time is in those years, that is to say between 1970 and 1980 ..... The years of discovery, and later with festivals like Cognac or Cahors, we proposed high quality of Blues year after year, until recent years when it sank to the variety. Blues, now in France, became marginal or nonexistent in mainstream media, only some weirdoes like us to Blues & Co (we are not the only thankfully) doing resistance.
What advice would you give to aspiring music journalist & producer, thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?
I am a volunteer and I do it with passion, so I have no authority to give a piece of advice. Maybe, to do that with passion and love, stay humble and remember to have a deep respect for those artists who are trying to live with this music.... Only with passion, humility and respect and that it will be easy.
How do you see the future of local blues scene?
The blues is currently experiencing a strong marginalization enough, but it's happened before and it will survive .... Like I said earlier, the blues is not treated equally with other art forms and remains marginal in the national media (TV, radio), the clubs where the blues is played, abandon one after the other, and major festivals broadcast more the commercial music that a bleus now ..... The crisis is no stranger to this phenomenon, but I think you're better than me to talk about it. Fortunately there are crazies like you and us to ensure and maintain the flame and to discover the wonder around us.
What excites you about the blues music today? What are you miss most nowadays from the blues of past?
What I love about this music is sincerity, austerity..... Rhythm and vibrations goes directly to the heart, to the body and to the soul. I listen to a lot of one-man band as CW Ayon (from New Mexico) or Reverend KM Williams (from Texas), I love this style of blues devoid of artifice, pure and sincere, but I also listen to the blues in all its forms and I love when it is true.
Currently I see a drift of modern blues, which to became commercial sells and loses the purity, sincerity of which I spoke.... This is exactly.
What mistakes of local music business would you want to correct?
Nothing… is too late……. They corrupt all that they touch!
Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?
I don’t know exactly….. Maybe Albert Collins or Lightnin’ Hopkins, but it’s too late.
I'm not nostalgic and it exist a lot of new musicians interesting, like Vincent Hayes, David Herrero, Mississippi Gabe Carter or San Pedro Slim, etc..... Maybe Floyd Lee (from New York) after to have watch the film "Full moon Lightnin"
How has the music business changed over the years since you first started in music?
I discovered the Blues on the vinyls with the wonderful covers, the really great sound and at this time, on the 70s, you could found a lot of artists in the shops.... The musicians could try experiences and played their music like they wanted.....
Now, the shops are closed and it rests the supermarkets where you find, everywhere, only the same artist, fashionable.... If you want discovered some new artists, you are obliged doing use internet and if you are lucky you can found the rare pearl...... But only after spend hours and hours to searches. The big change was the medium (vinyl to cd and now numeric) and the sterilized of the quality.... I think, that I'm nostalgic despite all !!!!
Give one wish for the blues?
What I wish for the Blues? To staying itself and not trying to seduce for losing his soul.
Did you help many artist in the meantime did you found any gratitude from them?
Never! But I don't make that I make for the gratitude...... It's my passion and I think that I make those things for me too, maybe I'm egoistic....
What you should keep or forget of your career?
Nothing, I think that my life is superb, I'm very lucky and all experiences I lived and I live are fantastic..... I went through some difficult times, like my accident, but in each time, I met some very nice persons, I discovered other worlds, and I made another things, I found another passions.... I'm a crazy optimistic....
Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?
The best time in my life is now, I'm retired, in good health with a fantastic family and lot of friends everywhere.... And, very important, I can made that I want....
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