Interview with British photographer John Finlayson - convey the emotion of the performance and the performer

"It definitely has had an impact, Elvis was one of the first white artists to work with colored musicians and it enabled him to develop his style outside of the normal constraints of the time. I wish it had more impact now, as we seem to be heading in the wrong direction at the moment in terms of tolerance and understanding."

John Finlayson: Images with Emotion

British photographer and member of British Blues Hall of Fame, John Finlayson talks about the Blues, photo-art and UK scene.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

The Blues should give us hope and reassurance, hope that life can be good, and reassurance that we all experience some bad times.

What characterize your photo art philosophy? What are the lines that connect the music and photo-art?

I always try and convey the emotion of the performance and the performer, it is all about the emotion and expression really.

"The Blues should give us hope and reassurance, hope that life can be good, and reassurance that we all experience some bad times." (John Finlayson / Photo by Adam Kennedy)

How important was music in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?

Music and especially the blues has been an important part of my life since I was a teenager, good music can take you out of yourself and inspire you, or just help you to connect with other people.

How has the Blues and Rock culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

It helps to tear down stereotypes and borders, and to realize that we all have the same problems and desires.

Are there any memories from gig, jams, lives and festivals which you’d like to share with us?

I remember the first blues gig I went to as a teenager was John Mayall playing at Redcar Jazz Club, I was only about 15 and was mesmerized by the performance and the atmosphere, the other memorable gig from that era was seeing The Who perform, I was astounded at the quality of the sound the band produced, and the stage performance.

More recently there have been a lot of great performances at local Blues Clubs and venues and it would be unfair to single out individual acts.

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

Not much, there is still great music being made with plenty of variation and creativity, I hope that continues to be the case and that TV shows like X Factor etc. don't create unrealistic expectations and stifle real talent.

"It helps to tear down stereotypes and borders, and to realize that we all have the same problems and desires." (Gerry McAvoy & Marcel Scherpenzeel, Band of Friends / Photo by John Finlayson)

What were the reasons that made the UK in 60s to be the center of Rock/Blues researches and experiments?

I think it was a time in the UK when race and religion didn't matter as much as it did in the U.S. and we were able to listen without prejudice. It meant that no music was off limits.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture on the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

It definitely has had an impact, Elvis was one of the first white artists to work with colored musicians and it enabled him to develop his style outside of the normal constraints of the time. I wish it had more impact now, as we seem to be heading in the wrong direction at the moment in terms of tolerance and understanding.

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

Probably Woodstock, so much talent and creativity at one gig.

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

Records would include Taj Mahal, Cream, Rory Gallagher, and more recent ones from Trevor Sewell, Lavendor Rogue, and Half Deaf Clatch. I'll let someone else choose the photos.

Paul Lamb Blues Band / Photo by John Finlayson

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