Interview with harmonicist Wingnut Adams, a bluesman who delivers the Blues and captures heart & soul

"All blues is real. Either Real good, or Real bad. You have to have lived it to feel it. And, if you do feel it, the people will accept it."

Wingnut Adams: Feel The Groove

Honored by The West Coast Blues Hall Of Fame as "Band Leader Of The Year" Wingnut pays homage to the roots of the Blues, while injecting his own life experiences into a funky musical stew that captures hearts and souls everywhere! Wingnut began his musical journey as a percussionist for well respected artists including Archie Lee Hooker and Ron Thompson. 

He went out on his own in 2002 to begin work on the first of five CD projects to date. From day one fans everywhere soon realized that Wingnut had a love for a strong danceable groove, as well as a desire to interact with the fans to a very high degree.

Wingnut's goals were straight forward #1- Keep it simple with a groove. #2- Take it to the people. #3- Give 'em everything you’ve got. Wingnut Adams has spent decades living the music that he performs nightly. The formula worked… averaging over 200 dates annually year after year, Wingnut Adams delivers great roots music to the people. From small smoky dives to large festivals this blues man delivers the goods.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the Blues music and culture? How has changed your life?
When I was 12 years of age my Mother married a black man.  From that time on I was exposed to the blues art form, and developed a love for the music.  I actually lived the blues on a daily basis.
Blues music has given me the ability to express my inner feelings.  When I perform I get to express myself to the audience, and to feel their energy also.  It is a blessing.

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the “Blues” mean to you?
By writing blues songs, and performing them…you express part of your life.  When you do that, you learn about yourself.  The Blues to me is a way of life.  I express my feelings, sharing with others.  When I need a friend, the blues is there for me!

How do you describe Wingnut Adams progress and what characterize your music philosophy?
I set out to write about my life.  That is what a person knows best.  My goals are to write, record, and perform my life through the blues.  My philosophy is simple…I search for the groove.  So that people can “feel” my music.

"I actually lived the blues on a daily basis. Blues music has given me the ability to express my inner feelings." (Wingnut at Hayaward-Russell City Blues Fest, 2012. Photo by CRW Photography)

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the Blues? What is the best advice ever given you?

First, I learn the most from the old black performers that were before us.  It is their music, and I only hope to make them proud.
I would say Archie Hooker taught me to be a gentleman.  Ron Thompson (John Lee Hooker’s long time guitarist) taught me to give 100 % every time you play.  Never cheat the audience by giving less than your best.
The best advice I ever got was not spoken to me, it was shown to me by Ron Thompson.  You play hard, and never, ever let up.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
The best was being named “Band Leader Of The Year” by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame.  There is not aworst day in the blues, as long as you are playing from your soul.

Are there any memories from Archie Lee Hooker and Ron Thompson which you’d like to share with us?
Archie was a well dressed, mild mannered man.  As I said before, Archie taught me to be a gentleman.  He had class.  Ron Thompson is by far the best guitarist I have ever seen.  I have seen him take a room full of listeners and just freeze them…and watch as they laugh, cry, and just lose themselves in Ron’s music.

Do you remember anything funny or interesting from recording time?
We are all business in the studio, as I like to get in and out when making albums.  That being said, once we get to the point that we are almost finished…we loosen up a bit and then everything becomes funny!

"The Blues to me is a way of life. I express my feelings, sharing with others. When I need a friend, the blues is there for me!"

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had? Which memory makes you smile?

Every time I think about the first time I played drums with Ron Thompson, I cry with joy.  All the memories make me smile!!!

From the musical point of view is there any difference between West Coast Blues with other local scenes?
I don’t believe in West or East, etc.  I believe in good music or bad music.  And if the musicians are playing with emotion.  The only thing that matters is to be true to your music.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is?  

The blues is the Truth.  You cannot excape the truth.

Do you know why the Harmonica is connected to Blues and what are the secrets of Blues harp?

I think that the harmonica has always been a very inexpensive instrument, and therefore easier to take up.  Actually, rhythm is everything with the harp.

What experiences in life make someone a good musician and songwriter? 

I think that you just have to be in touch with yourself.  Be true to that.  I write what I know, and I sing what I know.  Otherwise, you are faking it.  Be truthful.

"The best advice I ever got was not spoken to me, it was shown to me by Ron Thompson.  You play hard, and never, ever let up."

What's the legacy of Blues in world culture and civilization? Do you believe the Blues has seen justice todays?

I think that too many people try to play the blues that should not be.  I base that upon one simple thought.  If you cannot feel it, you should not be playing the blues.  The Blues will always be the truth…forever.  My opinion is that most of the injustice to the blues comes from folks playing it that should not be.

When we talk about blues, we usually refer moments of the past. Do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

All blues is real.  Either Real good, or Real bad.  You have to have lived it to feel it.  And, if you do feel it, the people will accept it.  I believe labeling blues does not make sense.  We should spend more time dancing.

What do you miss most nowadays from the old days of Blues?
In the old days, you had those with talent, and those with less talent.  The one thing that they had in common was they felt it.  Now everybody thinks that they can play this blues music because it is simple.  Not everybody should.  Also, in the old days you had to be good to get gigs.  It does not matter much anymore.  Crummy bands get gigs.

What is your music DREAM? What turns you on? Happiness is……
I am living my dream.  What turns me on is seeing myself and others getting lost in the music.  Happiness is a gig.

How you would spend a day with Little Walker and William Clark?
I would not say much, just ask them to jam.

Wingnut Adams - Official website

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