Interview with Texas-based Chris Watson, powerful sound with MoTown vibes and old school Soul reminiscence

"The blues is the most expressive form of music that exists. It's very name is an emotion that everyone on the planet has felt at some point in their life."

Chris Watson: Black White Soul

The Chris Watson Band is a horns driven powerhouse Southern Soul group based out of Fort Worth, TX. With a tight and punchy horn section, and the funkiest rhythm section around, this band creates a powerful sound infused with MoTown vibes and old school Soul reminiscence. Having spent the last several years on the road, Watson "SilverFox" has had the pleasure of playing notable festivals and venues across the country, as well as sharing the stage with musical greats like BB King, Buddy Guy, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, Pat Benatar, Train, Collective Soul, Bob Schneider, Mingo Fishtrap, Johnny Winter and many others.

"I would love to go back to the days of Stax and MoTown recording and sit in on some of the most famous sessions of Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, etc."

Soon after their sophomore album release in May of 2012, the album, “Pleasure and Pain”, found its way in to the top 10 on the Texas Regional Radio Play Charts and stayed there for several weeks. “Pleasure and Pain” can be found on radio stations all over the world, online and reviewed in magazines. September 2013 saw the release of 2 singles "Last Train Home" and "Hooked On You" in anticipation of their 3rd studio album "BLACK WHITE and GRAY", which released in July of 2014.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

The blues is the most expressive form of music that exists. It's very name is an emotion that everyone on the planet has felt at some point in their life. To me, this means that despite your heritage, history, religion, etc, any person can stop and appreciate the emotion and feeling behind a blues song and perhaps feel united with something larger than themselves. This has taught me plenty about myself. I have spent a lot of time at jams and gatherings of blues musicians to watch and participate. I have seen people who don't know each other, and even people who don't even speak the same language play a few blues songs and hug each other at the end of it. They both clearly understood the other in that moment.

How do you describe Chris Watson sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

Very simply put, I write music that I feel like I would enjoy listening to. I am deeply rooted in blues, soul and jazz, and I appreciate the vast origins of both. I would never try to make an audience enjoy a song I didn't enjoy playing. This makes my music and our groove very organic.

"Fort Worth is one of the best music scenes I've ever seen. It is eclectic and nurturing to creative original music. I have never been more comfortable in a scene. It is a great place to be from when we are on the road, too!"

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

I think the most interesting point in my musical life was discovering that I didn't want to just play guitar in someone else's band anymore. I wanted to sing and be the front man. It was a decision I made and jumped into head first. I was a terrible singer with very little stage presence and charisma. I had to learn as quickly as I could how to entertain people with my actions just as much as the music.

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

I think any music with feeling and real genuine soul will transcend generations and always have a devoted following. If you can connect with someone on a higher level of emotion, you will have that person hooked for life. People need an escape from their lives. People need to know that they aren't the only ones going through whatever it is they are going through. If you can put someone at ease with your music because it is real and genuine, then you will always have a fan base.

What are some of the most memorable moments from gigs, studio and jams you've had?

I have been very fortunate to be able to share amazing moments with amazing musicians. Any time I get to go into the studio and create music is a memorable experience for me. I love recording and letting my mind race as fast as possible through ideas. Often songs I record evolve even through the recording process. There is no such thing as a bad idea in the studio.

"I write music that I feel like I would enjoy listening to. I am deeply rooted in blues, soul and jazz, and I appreciate the vast origins of both."

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

Having met some of my heroes from my musical upbringing, I can honestly say that there hasn't been one that was the most important. I am constantly humbled by the opportunities thrown my way and I cherish every memory I have been given. Some of the best advice ever given to me was from Tab Benoit, who I had the pleasure of meeting when I was just 19. His advice was simple: "Never stop. Don't turn down gigs. Play as much as possible and gather up as much experience as you can. One day you will turn around and it will have already happened." He probably doesn't remember that conversation, but it stuck with me for the last 9 years.

Are there any memories from BB King, Buddy Guy, and Johnny Winter which you’d like to share with us?

Meeting BB King and Buddy Guy was an amazing experience. They were both very kind and happy to see us younger folks carrying the torch. Playing shows with Johnny Winter was something I'll never forget. He was one of my father's favorites that I can remember listening to even before I started playing guitar. I was deeply saddened to learn of his recent passing. He will surely be missed.

From the musical point of view what are the differences between: Fort Worth, TX. and the other local scenes?

Fort Worth is one of the best music scenes I've ever seen. It is eclectic and nurturing to creative original music. I have never been more comfortable in a scene. It is a great place to be from when we are on the road, too! Everyone knows the Fort Worth music scene these days. Austin is a great scene as well, but there are just so many people doing the exact same thing as everyone else, it's really hard to get ahead.

"I think any music with feeling and real genuine soul will transcend generations and always have a devoted following. If you can connect with someone on a higher level of emotion, you will have that person hooked for life."

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

Since I exist within a soul genre, I miss hearing songs that make me have to sit down and reflect. Hearing Etta James sing At Last always makes me have to take a second to process whatever it makes me feel at that moment. I hardly have that with new music these days. I hope that in the future of music, we can tear down genre walls and just have good music be good music and harbor it that way.

Which memories from Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and .38 Special makes you smile?

Those are 3 bands I was really into when I was in high school and learning how to play the guitar. Hearing the iconic riffs that I used to try to learn always makes me really happy.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of MoTown and old school Soul with Blues and Southern Rock?

It's all about making somebody feel something. The music is just a means to an end to move somebody. Personally, I think those all are pretty much the same thing. People who get picky about "this isn't blues" or "this isn't southern rock" are doing more damage than good to the thing that they love so much.

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

I would love to go back to the days of Stax and MoTown recording and sit in on some of the most famous sessions of Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, etc. 

Chris Watson Band - Home

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