Interview with New Yorker Jimmy Wolf, a musician who brings a new and exciting energy in blues & rock

"I think real blues is all over the place these days if people open their minds, look and listen."

Jimmy Wolf: The Shaman of Blues

Jimmy Wolf is a singer-songwriter-guitarist who brings a new and exciting energy to the world of blues and rock. He takes the Delta-Chicago blues, 50's rock and R&B then mixes it with chainsaw guitar and overdriven voice to create a soulful music experience. Jimmy toured with Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins, Bill Doggett, and Larry "Texas Flood" Davis.

He shared the stage with blues legends: Buddy Guy, Jr. Wells, Albert King, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Millie Jackson and Little Johnny Taylor. Living in Memphis for five years; Jimmy was a regular on Beale St. playing the clubs and Handy park with bands consisting of Big-T, Jimmy Ellis, Fred Saunders, Jerome Miller, Ringo Jukes, Harry Bridgewater, Big Jerry and Levi Williams. Jimmy is a Turtle Clan Mohawk from upstate New York. He was awarded "First Nations Composer & American Composers Forum Grant" for outstanding performance and lasting contribution July 1st, 2008. Awarded "Best Blues Release" at the 10th annual Native American Music Awards Oct. 4th 2008. Jimmy wanted to pay a tribute to friend and mentor: the legendary Little Johnny Taylor on his "A Tribute to Little Johnny Taylor" (2012) with a funky tight band, soulful singing and stunning.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues & what does Blues offered?

The Blues was always in me. The blues gave me a chance to express myself through music, and an opportunity to make a living playing music.

How do you describe Jimmy Wolf sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

The sound can be intense or soft. I want my music to be healing. My music philosophy is play what you feel.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? What experiences make you a good Bluesman and songwriter?

That would be five years living in Memphis, TN. Just living life and being true to yourself.

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

I learned the most when I played with Larry Davis. The best advice is to listen and take your time.

"I want my music to be healing. My music philosophy is play what you feel."

Which memory from Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins makes you smile?

Touring with Jimmy in the winter in the cold van. Jimmy said " It's a good day to get some hot tea and get between some warm legs".

What's been their experience from “studies” with Bill Doggett, and Larry "Texas Flood" Davis?

Being professional. I found my strength and weakness, and I worked harder to become a better person and muscian.

Are there any memories from Buddy Guy, Jr. Wells, and Albert Collins which you’d like to share with us?

First time I saw Buddy Guy in Rochester, NY in 1984, he handed me his guitar while he walked through the audience. I played and got an awesome response. Jr. Wells came off the stage and shook my hand and said " You did a great job". Hanging out with Albert Collins on his bus, he confided with me about quitting the road and how he missed his wife, and I told him he's one of the reasons I play guitar. It was almost like hearing a side of reality of a musicians life that I didn't understand at the time, but now I do.

What are some of the most memorable tales with Johnny Copeland, Albert King, and Little Johnny Taylor?

Just partying backstage with Johnny Copleland talking about Johnny Ace and Little Willie John. I saw Albert King sitting in with a jazz band at the Coach And Four Hotel in Memphis, TN. He didn't play guitar, he sang " The very thought of you".

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

The best jam with be with Jeff Healey at his club in Toronto. Most memorable gig would be the Hollywood Blues festival. I was playing with Larry Davis. Albert Collins and Koko Taylor were on the bill.

(Photo: Soko Richardson, Jimmy Wolf, Albert Collins, JJ Jackson and band. Syracuse, N.Y)

What are the differences and similarities between the Native American & Blues culture?

Some of the drum beats and rhythms are the same. They both express life and freedom of spirit.

When was your first desire to become involved in Native American culture and how has changed your life?

I was always involved. As far as the Native American music scene, I got involved by submitting my music to the Native American Music Awards.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES

Because Blues was the starting point and expressed life simply. It's easy to feel and understand. I wish more people knew about all the other great Blues Artists that are not on major labels or have fame.

What are you miss most nowadays from ‘60s and ‘70s and Memphis Rhythm & Blues era of Little Johnny Taylor?

I miss the soul in music, and the good singers and songs.

How was your experience in Beale street do you remember something funny from this period?

It was an awesome experience playing with great musicians, and sometimes magic happens. The people on the street made it interesting and funny.

"I miss the soul in music, and the good singers and songs." Photo: Little Johnny Taylor and Jimmy Wolf at the BK lounge, Syracuse, N.Y

When we talk about blues, we usually refer to memories and moments of the past. Apart from the old cats of blues, do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

I think real blues is all over the place these days if people open their minds, look and listen.

Do you believe that there is “misuse”, that there is a trend to misappropriate the name of blues?

When some Rock artists or bands call their music blues.

Which things do you prefer to do in your free time? What is your “secret” DREAM? Happiness is……

Spending time with family and friends, eating good food and drinking wine. Moving to a beautiful place over seas.

Which incident of your life you‘d like to be captured and illustrated in a painting?

Fishing with my Father.

Jimmy Wolf - Official website

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