"I believe in American, European and African history of the twentieth century, it has been greatly influenced by black music and movements against racism and in favor of human rights and has gone in parallel with the growth and transformation of the blues from its origins, from cotton fields to industrialization in large cities such as Chicago, New York, LA where it evolved to reach all corners of the world by way of Rock or Rock & Roll like Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, or the very Rolling Stones."
Johnny "Big Stone" & The Blues Workers: Let The Good Times Roll
Barcelona-based blues trio Johnny Big Stone & the Blues Workers is a trio of blues at its finest. Combining west coast, jump blues, and traditional blues, this band and its varied repertoire create an authentic blues experience. After their first album "Jumpin & Dodgin" an album with eleven songs of own composition recorded in 2013, they present "Move On" (2015) an album with thirteen tracks of which nine are self-composed and where they wanted to have the collaboration of Victor Doors piano, Dani Perez on sax and Sweet Marta background vocals. In this new work emulate the classic sound in the style of Johnny Guitar Watson, Guitar Slim, T-Bone Walker and Big Bill Broonzy. In 2016 they present their third album "Juke Joint Sessions Vol1.", A collection of old jewels of blues with touches of west coast jazz and swing in which unlike the two previous albums versioned great musicians like Ray Charles, Tiny Grimes, Howlin' Wolf, Bill Doggett and T-Bone Walker. This compilation with 9 songs recorded in June 2016 in the rehearsal room with just two mics and two tracks revox to emulate the sound of the 50 '. On this album they have had the collaboration of David Giorcelli (piano) and Victor Puertas (piano and Hammond B3).
Their influences are many including: Pee Wee Crayton, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Guitar Slim, Johnny Guitar Watson, Junior Watson, Little Charlie Baty, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin Hopkins, Jimmie Vaughan, Eddie Taylor, Luther Tuker, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Albert King, Freddie King, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Humbert Sumlin, Frankie Lee Sims, Jimmy Reed, Bill Doggett, Tiny Grimes, Joe Liggins.... During their journey, they have collaborated and shared the stage with Barrelhouse Chuck, Maceo Parker, Hook Herrera, Raimundo Amador and others. Recently, they have participated in Blue Balls Festival (Lucerne) Blues Des Deux Rivières, XV edición del Festival de Blues de Cazorla, Festival Santa Blues de Tenerife, Cruille de Cultures Mataro, Cicle Blues&Boogie de L'Hospitalet ... Johnny Big Stone & the Blues Workers are: Johnny "Big Stone" on guitar and vocals, Little Jordi on uprightbass and harmonica, and Reginald Vilardell on drums.
How has the Blues and Swing music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Johnny "Big Stone": Well, it has influenced me a lot since music itself especially the blues and their descendants is a universal language, you don't necessarily have to speak the language where you are, be it French, Italian or Russian, just by playing and singing the songs that we do, be they covers or own themes. There's a connection above all emotional that makes all those people that you have known through the blues really be like a family, doesn't matter from where they are if what unites us is the blues is like a great family.
Little Jordi: Well, I think that positively. It taught me to make an effort to get better everyday day and to be constant and specially that is more important your passion and illusion for what you do than money, I have learned it that over time...jeje. Is very hard make money with the blues.
How do you describe band's songbook and sound? What characterize the music philosophy of Big Stone & the Blues Workers? What is the story behind band's name?
Johnny: The songbook of the band is difficult to typecast it is clear that we play blues but we have many influences within the style although the most notable I think is the West Coast Blues style, although we have strokes of Jump Blues, Texas Blues or Chicago ... I think that what characterizes the philosophy of this band is the dynamics that exist when having Little Jordi as a bassist and harmonist since when he plays the harmonica there is no double bass in the band and that makes me have to work as a guitarist-bassist, apart that in the harmonica songs there are no guitar solos and it is as if I were playing another band, it is a totally different air that makes the public very attentive in our concerts when changing those atmospheres.
Little Jordi: I would describe our sound like compact, united. In a reference to style I think that we includes a diferents genres inside the Blues, like a classic blues or west coast or rock'n'roll. Well, the Johnny's surname is Pedraza and Big Stone is like a english traduction, like a Johnny's nickname and Blues Workers refers to our desire for study diferents genres inside the Blues.
"Well the hope is that many people get on this train, but it is clearly not a style of music for the mases, but nowadays there are people who did not know it and when they do they love it. The truth is that there are only two styles of music that is well done or that is badly made. If you do quality music, it is clear that there will always be someone to appreciate and follow it."
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Johnny: Of the concerts because as a pleasant memory when we shared the stage with Duke Robillard that the man was prepared to go on stage with his glass full of brandy telling us he was ready, yeah! And as anecdotes of recording of our third and fourth album since we recorded it in our rehearsal room with only two microphones and all at one having to make four and five shots of each subject, at the end of the recording we knew the songs. ..hehehehe
Little Jordi: I have a lot of good memories and not so good but I especially remember our last sessions recordings because It was recorded with a Revox that we buy and only two micros and we make it ourselves, recording sound, mixed sound, cover design and everything. That's Funny!
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
Johnny: Well the hope is that many people get on this train, but it is clearly not a style of music for the mases, but nowadays there are people who did not know it and when they do they love it. The truth is that there are only two styles of music that is well done or that is badly made. If you do quality music, it is clear that there will always be someone to appreciate and follow it. The fears are that the great public of the blues gets old in some countries and I don't know if there will be generational relief in that regard.
Little Jordi: Today the music that is made it seems a product. A long time ago you play an instrument and you called your friends that they play another instruments and we formed a band and we didn't play good but it was great and you said 'Ok, don't worry tomorrow more and better'. You know? Today it seems that if you don't go to a school you are not a musician. And go to school is great, of course, but no to lose the essential of the music that is share and have fun, not a competition.
"I would describe our sound like compact, united. In a reference to style I think that we includes a diferents genres inside the Blues, like a classic blues or west coast or rock'n'roll. Well, the Johnny's surname is Pedraza and Big Stone is like a english traduction, like a Johnny's nickname and Blues Workers refers to our desire for study diferents genres inside the Blues."
Make an account of the case of the blues in Barcelona. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?
Johnny: I think that in Barcelona the period that is being lived with music is quite good although at political level there are obstacles so that small rooms can make music and musicians have to be registered in social security to do their job, I believe only That all this is positive because it forces the state to recognize that part of music workers as any other type of work. Speaking of the health of the blues in Barcelona and its surroundings, I must also say that it is in very good health since there is a good quarry of musicians who play very good blues such as Chino Swingslide, Victor Puertas, Balta Bordoy, Sweet Marta, Big Mama Montse, Wax & Boogie, Tota Blues ...
Little Jordi: I think that in Barcelona there are very good blues musicians. I think the best period It was when it was founded the Blues Society of Barcelona in which there seemed to be a resurgence of this style in the city and haved a lot of places where you put play and much people that went to the shows. Anyway is very difficult and not only in BCN.
What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?
Johnny: I believe in American, European and African history of the twentieth century, it has been greatly influenced by black music and movements against racism and in favor of human rights and has gone in parallel with the growth and transformation of the blues from its origins, from cotton fields to industrialization in large cities such as Chicago, New York, LA where it evolved to reach all corners of the world by way of Rock or Rock & Roll like Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, or the very Rolling Stones.
Little Jordi: I don't consider that the blues musicians got involved much about that. I thing that the Jazz musicians was more active about that, they fought for their rights and for their black race a lot of much than blues musicians. For exemple Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Nina Simone and more... But is obvious that Blues music represents a very important impact for the north american culture. The slavery and the bad situation that black people lived and live today come to mind when people thing about the blues and I thing that is important.
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
Little Jordi: I wouldn't know to answer you. Perhaps I change one thing in the world before and in consequence perhaps no need to change the musical world.
(Photo: Johnny Big Stone & the Blues Workers - Johnny "Big Stone", Little Jordi, and Reginald Vilardell)
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
Johnny: Well, it is a trick question because it would be very difficult to choose especially because with whom I stay ?, with the 20 'and 30' years of Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Boy Fuller, or the same Robert Johnson, or 40', 50' Big Bill Broonzy, Pee Wee Crayton, Johnny Guitar Watson, T-Bone Walker, of course in the 60s' with Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmie Rogers, Albert King, it's to go crazy but of course I have to decide one day.... would be November 23, 26 or 27, 1936 at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, where the great Robert Johnson recorded 17 songs.
Little Jordi: One day only? Hard. Thinking about the blues and thinking about the consequences who had his recordings I choose one of the day that Robert Johnson recorded in 1936, I think in November. Surely It was amazing to see this man singing and playing in live.
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