Interview with bassist Tyson Bell Harrington - Carey Bell’ son keeps the blues legacy alive in Windy City

"I think we are all blues man, no matter what kind of music you play...the blues is nothing but life experience, that's just my philosophy..."

Tyson Bell Harrington: Windy City Blues 

Bassist Tyson Bell Harrington, a son of the late Chicago blues legend Carey Bell, keeps the legacy of Blues alive. Tyson has been part of the Chicago Blues scene for over 30 years now. He toured and recorded with Carey Bell, Louisiana Red, Lurrie Bell, her uncle Eddie "Chief" Clearwater, Jimmy Dawkins and many others from the who's who of Hall of Fame Blues Greats. He has amazing stories and insights about the Blues and is one of the true living masters of the Blues bass.

"I was a blues man by birth so there were no lines that connected me to Muddy and Wolf ... It was my pops Carey Bell that connected me and my brothers to the blues... Don't mistake me I have learned a lot for Muddy and Wolf..."                               Photo by Douglus Jenkins 2014

Tyson talks about the Chicago Blues scene, Louisiana Red, Billy Branch, Johhny B. Gayden, Shawn Holt, Carey Bell and his brothers.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

What I've learned about myself is that I am a very emotional person... I will have to say that what the Blues means to me is my life.....

How do you describe and what characterize Tyson Bell’s music philosophy and sound?

I don't write music, I do not arrange music, I just play music but my philosophy goes beyond your wildest dreams and my sound I think I have a great sound..... I listen to a lot of Johnny B (Gayden).... The bass player who used to play for Albert Collins..... There is no bass sound like Johnny B. Gayden. So, I blend in a little of his tone with my own and now you have the Tyson Bell sound.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

My best interest period is when I played for the family band. Which is the Bell family and right after that I had a ball playing with Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues.....the worst of my career is when my pops Carey Bell passed...

"The one thing that I would change if I could I would give the bass player more freedom to go outside the box..." (Photo: Tyson Bell Harrington on stage with Billy Branch and Carey Bell)

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

The best jam I have ever played was with my brothers Lurrie, Steve and James Bell.... My first tour to Europe is my best memorable gigs..... I was about 14 years old.

Which memory from the late Carey Bell makes you smile? What is the best advice ever given you?

Thinking back on when I first started learning how to play is my most memorable moment of my pops Carey bell because he used to get right in my face and say to me come on with it, you are my baby son... The best advice was that we are professional businessman therefore up whole being a businessman...

Are there any memories from Lefty Dizz, Jimmy Dawkins and Louisiana Red which you’d like to share with us?

My best memory of Lefty Dizz was how he would approach me on stage and tell me you just play a wrong note so tighten up..... I never like Jimmy Dawkins… but Louisiana Red… my best memories of Louisiana Red was when Red began to start crying on stage......

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the family band and my pops...my hopes is I become a part of Shawn Holt and the Teardrops.... As far as fear I have no fear....

"What I've learned about myself is that I am a very emotional person... I will have to say that what the Blues means to me is my life..."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from Muddy and Wolf to your and younger generation?

I was a blues man by birth so there were no lines that connected me to Muddy and Wolf ... It was my pops Carey Bell that connected me and my brothers to the blues.... Don't mistake me I have learned a lot for Muddy and Wolf....

If you could change one thing in the Blues world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

The one thing that I would change if I could I would give the bass player more freedom to go outside the box......

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from local blues circuits?

Every time, I hang around one of my fellow musicians it puts a smile on my face, but when I hear about one of my fellow musicians passing it brings about the deepest emotions....

Some music stars can be fads but the bluesmen are always with us. What means to be Bluesman?

I think we are all blues man, no matter what kind of music you play...the blues is nothing but life experience, that's just my philosophy...  

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Personally, I like to travel and if I have to get in a time machine to get to where I need to be well I'm down for it...

 

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