Interview with bluesman Dexter Allen - one of the best 21st century blues performers from Mississippi

"Gospel and Blues will forever generate a core based following because of what they mean emotionally from a race of people."

Dexter Allen: The Blues Stronghold 

Mixture of Blues, Soul, R&B and Funk with blues being the stronghold. Dexter Allen born in Crystal Springs Mississippi, Dexter Allen was raised on a farm and grew up understanding that life can still be wholesome with only the bare necessities. His father being a pastor and grandfather a head deacon, the church was no stranger. Dexter began playing guitar at the age of 10, being tutored by his Uncle Porter and intrigued by every sound of music around him. At the age of 12 he began playing bass guitar for his father's gospel group and traveled around the central Mississippi area for a number of years. Later Dexter began playing for other gospel groups in the area such as, The Dixon Singers and The Robinson Brothers just to name a few.

Dexter’s unique style landed him the 2008 Jackson Music Award for Male Vocalist of the year. Earlier in 2008 he decided it was time to take it to another level and become a recording artist, since he was no stranger to the studio or the stage.Talented in playing guitar, bass and keyboards, he began to write and record his own music and delivered the current album titled Bluezin My Way, a Bluezy, Soulful album, with stories of Love, Lust, Lies, and Allibies. This also landed the Jackson Music awards 2009 Entertainer of the Year Award. In Christmas of 2009 Dexter also released the cd/maxi, titled “ Hello Ms Santa Clause” which is predicted to be a holiday standard among DJ’s across the country. In 2011 Dexter released his current CD titled “Bluezin For Life” which takes you back to the roots with a host of originals and arrangements. Recent write ups in international and US mainstream blues magazines featuring Dexter are well deserved. Dexter Allen's music and entertaining stage performance is sure to leave you enlighted, delighted, and excited that you had the opportunity to see and hear one of the best 21st century blues performers from Mississippi.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

I've learned that the blues has given me a way to express myself and at the same time touch people through my expressions of singing, playing and entertaining. The blues means a lot to me because I understand the struggle of my ancestors that brought about the existence of the blues.

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

Being brought up in the church, singing and playing gospel is the root of my musical background. Gospel music and Blues music are twins. In gospel, you are looking for a deliverance and in the blues you're looking for a release. When I started playing the blues I realized that I was playing it all along, but just inside a different building. As a songwriter, I write songs that I feel the everyday man or woman can relate to.Many songs I write are not my personal experiences, but experiences that I see or maybe even close enough to it in order to relate to it and form it in a way that others can relate to it.

"The music of the past had more originality and almost everyone was an entertainer. Today's music is about more fashion, popularity, CD Sales, Facebook Likes and YouTube Hits!! Kind of like the churches!!"

How do you describe Dexter Allen sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

My sound is a representation of the music inside of me. It encompasses Blues, Gospel, Soul, Funk and Dexter Allen all rolled up in one. There's no particular format for what comes from within, either in the studio or on the stage. I feel that this makes good for each performance to be unique in its own way. Sometimes you hear 10 blues bands sing different songs but they all have the standard blues format. I have to feel the energy in the room, and if I don't feel it, I have to create it inside of me in order to jump start it within the audience.

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

The most interesting period in my life was crossing over to blues from the gospel. It was a learning and structuring period. The worst moment of my career was recording a CD and not really knowing what to do with it. I had this CD with my picture on it and didn't know how to promote it. I had spent a lot of years performing and didn't understand promoting.

Why did you think that the Gospel and Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Gospel and Blues will forever generate a core based following because of what they mean emotionally from a race of people. As stated earlier, the struggle that was the nucleolus for both will live on and be respected by other races all over the world. They signify a heritage that will never die. The ingredients for a good Gospel or Blues Song is: 1st Story, 2nd Emotions and 3th Delivery.

"I've learned that the blues has given me a way to express myself and at the same time touch people through my expressions of singing, playing and entertaining. The blues means a lot to me because I understand the struggle of my ancestors that brought about the existence of the blues." (Photo by Ray Vella 2012)

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

I don't feel there is a best jam because they are all so unique within themselves, I've played jams with many musicians in different venues and they all are different. I will say the better jams are when the more seasoned musicians are on stages that understand placement and respect. The most memorable gig would be Yulin, China with Bobby Rush.

Are there any memories from Bobby Rush which you’d like to share with us? What advice given you?

A lot of memories with Bobby Rush. He is the vehicle that launched me into the blues. He exposed me to what the blues really is and what it stands for and how to respect the struggle from whence it came. Also he taught me to lay my own road!! It's good to respect the past and honor it, but MY present will also be a past one day, and the more unique it is, the longer the legacy will last.

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

The music of the past had more originality and almost everyone was an entertainer. Today's music is about more fashion, popularity, CD Sales, Facebook Likes and YouTube Hits!! Kind of like the churches!! There are MEGA Churches today, because they've gone corporate. In the past, you went to SEE a SHOW!! Now most people go to just hear their favorite song or see what the person might do to be on the news. My hopes are that it becomes to be MORE about the Music and Artistry.

Make an account of the case of the blues in Crystal Springs Mississippi. What is the trade mark of local scene?

Wasn't a lot of blues going on in Crystal Springs when I was coming up, although I did attend grade school with a few of Robert Johnsons, great grandchildren. I didn't know this at the time!! Now there's a Robert Johnson Museum ect... but there are still no quote BLUES CLUBS in Crystal Springs. Just a typical small town and business is a usual. It’s definitely grown since my years there.

"I'm very humbled when exposed to other cultures, there is so much to learn and explore, and the history is so deep."

What are the lines that connect the Blues with Soul, Gospel and continue to Jazz and R&B, Hip Hop, Rap music?

There is a line that connects Blues with R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, Gospel ect.... But there also is a Disconnect!! Blues is the ROOT of all the other types of music in America, although it doesn't get the MAINSTREAM ATTENTION that it deserves. I feel that Blues Artist like myself must continue to reach out and collaborate with the mainstream artist to bring the blues into the mainstream light. Millions of people feel that blues sounds exactly the same as it did when Muddy Waters recorded Hoochie Coochie Man!! When I invite them to my show, they will say..."I didn't Know Blues Sounded Like This" "I LIKE IT"

Blues is a living Testimony of a struggle and era in time!! The TIME HAS CHANGED!! There are no African Americans picking cotton or living in slave houses or playing in one room shack jook joints anymore. We have to embrace the history and the Roots of the Blues, but allow it to appeal to the man, woman, boy or girl of today.

What's been your experience from Iraq, Kuwait, China and Japan? Which memory makes you smile?

All of them make me smile, because they were all different learning experiences. America has a very young Culture compared to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I'm very humbled when exposed to other cultures, there is so much to learn and explore, and the history is so deep.

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

Greece!! Yes really!! I've never been to Rome, Athens, ect... It has always appeared to be a mystical place, and deep in history, from religion, to just basic culture and customs. Many people go there for the experience and not for just a vacation.

Dexter Allen - official website

Views: 363

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2018   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service