"Everyone seems to connect to Blues folk and Roots so with this music we can share positive words that connect to all walks of life. Anger in music just creates more anger so people the powerful songs are the ones that say we are all the same."
Juzzie Smith: Down Under Shine
Australian Juzzie Smith is a pure musician with a great feel for the blues and nature. He started playing the harmonica at the age of thirteen, and by the age of 23 had won the coveted Golden Harmonica at the Tamworth Country Music Fest and the Byron Bay Blues Blowout. An incredibly talented One Man Band who plays music all over the world with a distinct feeling of freedom pulsing from within it. As you listen you feel the joy and playfulness loved by all ages and from all walks of life. With a combination of slide, cigar box and acoustic guitars, harmonica, voice and stompbox, this unique music is hard to place in just one category. It’s bluesy, folky, country music with a distinct passionate world flavour. He has refined his art to allow his body to become the conductor of his own orchestra playing up to five instruments at once.
This music is ‘play-full’, fun and infectious; it makes your feet start tapping, your hips start moving and leaves you feeling inspired! 2015 has seen Juzzie have songs in the Blues charts all over the world and with the launch of his 12 song album ‘Rise & Shine” saw him undertake his largest national and international tour in his musical history. Juzzies shows are always a performance not to be missed and always a festival favorite, so jump at your chance to be part of his musical passion and to witness first hand such a truely talented Australian musical journeyman. Juzzie is a walking, talking, singing example of how it pays to follow your heart. Not that money is the point here – far from it. The real point is that Juzzie is one of those truly creative souls who makes a living out of doing something he absolutely loves.
What do you learn about yourself from the blues music and culture? What does the blues mean to you?
For me blues is a feeling. When I was 13 I first heard blues. The sound really touched me in a way like I had heard it before and it bought me back. Maybe I was a blue man in a past life.
What were the reasons that you started the One Man Band researches? What characterize your sound/songbook?
The one man band came from teaching music from the age of 16. I use to play guitar and teach harmonica in a neck holder and tap my foot to give my students rhythm to play with. Then when I became a father at 26yrs I decided to go out busking at local markets. I enjoyed listening to blues music with a dance beat with simple repetitions then I would experiment with this sound and style live. The sound has grown over the years by playing lots and loving to try new things.
How has the Blues and Folk Roots music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Blues and folk music have taken me all around the world. I've noticed this music is a language that brings all walks of different lives together. Meeting people is what I love and by connecting with music I have learnt we are one big family on this world.
"Slide guitar is like your voice, Cigar box guitar is just really play-full, stompbox is the heartbeat of the music and the harmonica is all your feelings just flowing from your lips. Harmonica secret is to just relax and breath the rhythms." (Photo: Aussie One-Man Band, Juzzie Smith on stage)
Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I met a man who told me that music is energy and how you feel is what you share. To look after yourself is also looking after all who listen. Great advice as I love people and want to let people know life is a gift.
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, busking, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
There are so many great moments like when children just start dancing with joy and everyone lights up and smiles. There is one great memory when I was playing a show and all the lights went out. Everyone in the audience who had a lighter or pocket torch came up to the stage and lit it up. Such a beautiful moment.
What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
For me the real blues is over as the ones that struggled and made the sounds that became blues are mostly dead. New blues players are rich and mostly replicating what has already been done. I do enjoy how blues is mixed with bigger beats and grooves and interesting sounds to re-invent a new sound. There are a few DJs doing this which keeps the blues alive for the young to hear and feel just like what happened to me.
My only fear is that kids don't get taught music in a loving and playful way and therefore just play to get famous and get exceptance by their parents and peers.
Make an account of the case of the blues in Australia. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?
"Blues and folk music have taken me all around the world. I've noticed this music is a language that brings all walks of different lives together."
If you could change one thing in the local blues scene and it would become a reality, what would that be?
Maybe teaching kids about feeling music and making songs that are simple but feel great. Blues is quite often mixed with drinking and being a non drinker I would love more venues that are family friendly.
What touched (emotionally) you from the Slide, Cigar Box and Stompbox? What are the secrets of Harmonica?
Slide guitar is like your voice, Cigar box guitar is just really play-full, stompbox is the heartbeat of the music and the harmonica is all your feelings just flowing from your lips. Harmonica secret is to just relax and breath the rhythms. Hum a melody and then work it out. Make it so the harmonica is just like your voice but can do so much more. I created a teaching cd if anyone out there would like some tips and fun lessons. It's called Press Play and Blow Away
What is the impact of Blues, Folk and Roots music to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?
Everyone seems to connect to Blues folk and Roots so with this music we can share positive words that connect to all walks of life. Anger in music just creates more anger so people the powerful songs are the ones that say we are all the same.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day..?
I would love to hang out with Elvis in the juke joints and go home to jam as two young passionate music loving teenagers.
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