Interview with harmonica player Hard Luck Hopson - The blues allows me to release the pain in my soul

"Blues is part of mankind’s everyday struggle, a part of life, like breathing."

Hard Luck Hopson: Breathin' Blues

Hard Luck Hopson was born May 25, 1960 in Reckless Disregard, Mississippi. He ran wild his entire childhood in the backwoods listening to nature and the animals. It was there he found his personal beat with the universe. At a young age the girls opened his eyes and showed him a few things and he has been chasing that Hollywood ending his entire life. Hard Luck (Robert Lechtanski) crossed paths and became close friends with Pine Top Perkins. Because of this friendship he has been blessed to play on many stages across America and Europe with the survivors of the Muddy Waters Band.     (Photo by Michelle Owen)

His harmonica influences include James Cotton who he also became great friends with through Pine Top. Hard Luck’s other influences include Junior Wells, William Clarke, Jason Ricci and Jerry McCain. Because of Hard Lucks blatant reckless disregard, the lord has burdened him to share his music and love throughout the world while desperately seeking self love. Hard Luck is available for tours, contact: Hardluckhopson@gmail.com or USA phone (574) 360-6722 Hard Luck talks about the blues, Mississippi saxophone, Indiana scene, Jimmy Rodgers, Pinetop Perkins ...and Beethoven.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

The blues allows me to release the pain in my soul. Blues came to me through a series of tragedies in my life, what better way to relieve it than wailin, moanin, groanin and screamin on my Mississippi saxophone.

How do you describe Hard Luck Hopson sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

My music comes to me faster than I can write it down, I have piles of notebooks, bar napkins, notebooks, scraps of paper and it never stops. 

My musical philosophy is play with everyone and anyone you can, never stop learning.

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

Blues is part of mankind’s everyday struggle, a part of life, like breathing.

"Beethoven, he was the first blues man!" (Photo by Michelle Owen)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

I had the blessing/good fortune to cross paths with Pine Top Perkins. He was put out to pasture by two evil managers fighting over the cut of the cut of the cut. After asking Pine Top for lessons a very close friendship ensued. I had a chance to travel/tour with him and the opportunity to film a documentary about Pine Top fell into my lap. I was schooled by the best. Best advice ever given to me was by Jimmy Rodgers (Muddy Waters guitar player) “If you can’t feel this music you will never play it.”  “And never have a woman in your band.”

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio which you’d like to share with us?

I was raised by a racist angry man who couldn’t understand why I would want to play this music. In the filming of the documentary “I am the Blues, Pine Top Perkins” My father surprisingly showed up, I put him backstage sat him down next to Pine Top went and played my set. When I came back these two old guys were talking fishin’ like buddies. It was easier for my father to hate all black people, but one on one in the end it was just two guys talkin. What a blessing.

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

Play the music, drop the ego…

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

I was very fortunate thru my Pine Top Perkins connection to meet and play with blues royalty, because they could genuinely see that I loved Pine Top, and felt this music. They embraced me into this community; I played stages that I should not have been allowed to sweep off. It was a blessing to have met them all and I miss them. There is so much more I need to learn from them.

"My music comes to me faster than I can write it down, I have piles of notebooks, bar napkins, notebooks, scraps of paper and it never stops." (Photo: Hard Luck & Pinetop Perkins)

Make an account of the case of Indiana scene. What are the lines that connect the Southern and Urban blues?

Blues exists in small pockets throughout Indiana, but with the proximity of Chicago in my back yard there is an open jam seven nights a week, sometimes three or four on the same night. I can play and play and play. Because people come from all over the states and the world to enjoy/play Chicago blues, it is all now melted, homogenized and blended on stage, each note more painfully sweet than the last.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the chitlin’ circuits?

You can always tell a harp player, but you can’t tell him much. 

Do you know why the harmonica is connected to the blues? What are the secrets of Mississippi sax?

Cheap, easy and portable, something you can keep in your pocket and make them dance, give them goose bumps and make them cry right there on the sidewalk. The secret of the Mississippi saxophone: practice or suck.

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

Beethoven, he was the first blues man!

Photo by Michelle Owen

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