Polish editor/promoter Andrzej Matysik talks about Your Blues (Twój Blues), the Blues, and the local scene

"There is no doubt blues as all music has profound importance and affects our socio-cultural conditions. But on a practical, everyday level I rarely take it into consideration. Don’t we listen to music first of all for pleasure?"

Andrzej Matysik: I Write The Blues For U 

Andrzej Matysik - Ślązak born in Chorzow, Poland; miner engineer, journalist. Since 2000, the editor-in-in-chief of the international quarterly " Your Blues " Quarterly, the longtime host of the copyright program "Blues" program on Radio Katowice; since 2002 the author of the broadcast "Blues written" on Radio EM. Together with his family, he runs a concert agency, which organized hundreds of musical events involving the fame of Polish and world blues. Delta Booking & Publishing is one of Poland's longest-operating promoters of American music, like Blues, Roots, and Americana. Delta is also the publisher of Twój Blues Quarterly ("Your Blues") - Poland's only magazine devoted entirely to the Blues, the 2011 recipient of the "Keeping the Blues Alive" Award in the Print Media category. Published quarterly, Twoj Blues is Poland's only publication devoted entirely to the blues. Led by editor-in-chief Andrzej Matysik, staff writers are made up of Poland's premier journalists. In addition, the magazine is culturally diverse-including leading American, Canadian, and European writers, photographers, and musicians. Since its inception in 2000, each issue strives for high quality feature articles presenting a wide survey of musicians and other points of interest within the blues genre.

From well-established names to emerging artists, a typical Twoj Blues issue contains around sixty CD, DVD and book reviews. Each issue also strives to inform its readers of concerts and festivals throughout Poland and surrounding countries. His new book "Andrzej Matysik: My Blues - Jacek Kurek talked" (2020) is the fruit of conversations about music, about home, family, the world - the local ones and the great ones (both - without borders), about meetings, friendships and dreams, and above all, their implementation in the rhythm of everyday life and celebration, over fertile years...is full of the most delicious anecdotes, history and memories. And the story that was created is also a fascinating part of the history of blues music (although not only) in Poland, so it will find a lot of important, unpublished information and episodes, which Andrzej is a real mine.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Blues and generally arts are a blessing because they widen peope’s horizons. Counterculture was also a great influence on how we live today in terms of sociology or politics although when it was happening, we in Poland, fenced from the free world by the Iron Curtain, didn’t experience it immediately.

How started the thought of "Andrzej Matysik: My Blues"? What was the hardest part  of writing this book?

The idea wasn’t mine. I am a wrey practical man which is in accordance with my education and profession (I am a retired mining engineer) and I never dreamt of such a moment that a book about me will be written. It was all started by Jacek Kurek, a university scholar digging into the history of our home town, Chorzów, who has already published a few books in the past. He is also a great fun of music in general and specificly blues and rock and, last but not least, a keen reader of Twoj Blues Quarterly. In the last few years I asked him to write some texts for the magazine and as we came to talk more, we realized  how much we have in common in terms of family background and things we are interest in. That’s when he came up with the idea of writing these conversations down.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?           (Photo: Andrzej Matysik and Twój Blues' KBA Award)

I am very fond of meeting people and talking to them. Such interactions are always a pleasure and very often they make you think deeper on certain subjects so that you can understand other than your own viewpoints. I cannot name a single example, but I have a feeling that I have learnt a lot from such encounters.

The same about advice. I like to listen to many opinions, but finally take my own decisions. There is an old family joke about me that if I took good advice from wise men, I would never start a blues magazine in Poland!

"Music was very often the reason I traveled to many places."

How started the thought and what characterize Delta Twój Blues/Delta Art’s mission and philosophy?

I used to write articles as a free lancer for years, but they were published in jazz magazines or general press because there was no blues magazine in our country. When there was an opportunity to start a magazine devoted entirely to the blues I gathered a group of friends who share my interests and with whom we work to the present day. Our mission is to inform our readers about the best blues events in Poland and abroad, to present texts on musicians – past and present, and reviews of CDs, DVDs, books and movies.

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

Honestly, I've never analyzed it. I just was after the music genre I liked better than any other.

Are there any memories from festivals, booking, interviews and meetings which you’d like to share with us?

Each festival is a gathering of people sharing the same interests, so I have a feeling of being among friends and that's the spirit that I enjoy almost as much as the music itself.

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

Every now and then, I love listening to the old masters and it is very often that I present their music in my radio program, but I can accept that everything keeps developing in time and that music must change too. This is why I am not particularly sorry that old music is slowly being replaced. It's no use to cling to the past, I am always eager to welcome the new ideas and styles. I have no worries about future, I simply look forward to what tomorrow brings. I strongly depend on my personal judgment – if the music moves me, it's worth listening to, if not I just turn to something else.

"The only thing I can think of is the sincerity of both blues and any kind of Polish folk music because they were created out of deeply felt urgency to express some feelings in a form of a song. Otherwise they are completely different." (Photo: Andrzej Matysik with Blues Caravan - Bernard Allison, Vanja Sky, Mike Zito)

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

The very idea of changing anything seems scary because I cannot help thinking of all fearful side effects that each lighthearted change could cause. I'm simply happy with what we have.

Do you consider the Blues a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think  it’s a state of mind?

Blues definitely is a specific genre. It’s enough to study the stories of the fathers of the music to see how it was born out of the hardships, but also joys of the slaves brought to the South of the US. Then it is equally fascinating to watch how it developed thanks to every single artist that contributed to it whatever his or her talent let them. And what if not their state of mind we perceive when we listen to the music?

What do you think the major changes will be in near or far future of the Blues world  and scenes?

That’s not an issue I am focused on. I take the music as it is and am always ready to devote my time to any music that convinces me, no matter if it’s traditional or introduces something new. As much as I adore some masters of the past, I am not afraid of changes because I’m aware that the world has to undergo them constantly. So long as I can choose depending on my own taste, I’m not going to complain.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experiences in the music?

Music is good when times are favorable, but also when they are rough. You can always find something worth listening to, either to experience fuller joy or to find comfort. Music was very often the reason I traveled to many places. I made friends with people I met on the way and I experienced a lot things that otherwise would never happened.

"Blues definitely is a specific genre. It’s enough to study the stories of the fathers of the music to see how it was born out of the hardships, but also joys of the slaves brought to the South of the US. Then it is equally fascinating to watch how it developed thanks to every single artist that contributed to it whatever his or her talent let them. And what if not their state of mind we perceive when we listen to the music?" (Photo: Andrzej Matysik with his family, he runs a concert agency, which organized hundreds of musical events involving the fame of Polish and world blues)

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

Blues is just a kind of music I like, so I do not look for any deeper meanings, I just like the sound.

Make an account of the case of the blues in Poland. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

Since the first trials in the 60's things have developed. Before the political transformation of our country in 1989 we could not enjoy freedom which influenced even our hobbies: we could not travel, so any contacts with other fans or exchanging ideas and opinions were difficult or impossible. Neither could we afford buying CDs or attend concerts. Fortunately now, both bluesmen and blues fans in Poland can listen to as much music as they want to, they can buy any CD they fancy at home or on the net and go to shows of their favorite musicians in Poland or elsewhere. All this strongly influenced the whole blues life. Many people play in different styles and lineups and they are getting better and better, there are crowds at the shows, there are plenty of blues and blues related festivals, so blues is thriving. I would say, now is the time!

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States and UK to Poland?

Like many other blues lovers of my generation and younger who were born in Europe I first heard the compositions of Chester Burnett and McKinley Morganfield played and sung by The Rolling Stones in the 60's. Only then did I look for information and slowly became aware who the two mysterious men were and what blues is about. It took time and trouble because research in pre-Internet times on such unpopular matters was quite a challenge, especially in Poland.

"Blues and generally arts are a blessing because they widen peope’s horizons. Counterculture was also a great influence on how we live today in terms of sociology or politics although when it was happening, we in Poland, fenced from the free world by the Iron Curtain, didn’t experience it immediately." (Photo: Andrzej Matysik & Boo Boo Davis, 2020)

Are there any similarities between blues form and lyrics with genres of Polish folk music?

The only thing I can think of is the sincerity of both blues and any kind of folk music because they were created out of deeply felt urgency to express some feelings in a form of a song. Otherwise they are completely different.

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

There is no doubt blues as all music has profound importance and affects our socio-cultural conditions. But on a practical, everyday level I rarely take it into consideration. Don’t we listen to music first of all for pleasure?

Where would you really wanna go via a time machine and what memorabilia (records, etc.) would you put in?

I consider myself lucky because there's no other place or time I would rather be in than here and now. If I were to be somewhere else I think my telephone and computer would solve all my problems (provided I can always charge my batteries, and find myself within a Wi-Fi spot).

What would you say to Charles Bukowski? What would you like to ask Leonard and Phil Chess?

I have nothing particular to tell him, likewise I have no questions for the Chess brothers, although I very highly appreciate what they contributed to the music I love.

Twoj Blues - Home          Delta - Official website

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