Q&A with Israel-based premier guitarist Andy Watts, has performed and recorded with some of the best blues artists in the World

"Blues by tradition has been a way to unload your miseries, but it can be a Healer too. It’s an important musical genre for the people who can identify with it releasing all kind of feelings."

Andy Watts: SuperGroove Journey

Andy Watts premier guitarist has performed and recorded with some of the best blues artists in the world. Premier blues guitarist Andy Watts has earned a reputation as Israel's Ambassador of the Blues. Over the years he has brought some of the world's leading blues artists to Israel to prefer and record with his 9-piece rockin' blues ban, Andy Watts & Blues on Fire, knows as the biggest R&B show in Israel. Andy's recent guests have included Joe Louis Walker, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Johnny Winter, Rick Estrin, Bernard Alizon, Eliza Neals and others. Andy developed such great musical chemistry with Kenny Neal that Kenny wound up co-producing Andy's new album SUPERGROOVE (2020), for his label, Booga Music, in cooperation with the VizzTone label group.                                          (Andy Watts / Photo by Ilya Kutusov)

Andy's new solo album is receiving rave reviews from all around the World. It features Andy’s signature guitar work and His Great Band - Including Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophones and Occasional Guest Harmonica. For Vocalists, The Album Features Special Guests Joe Louis Walker And Eliza Neals, Plus Explosive Soul Singer Roy Young, Danny Shoshan And Gadi Altman. Half Of The Songs are Andy Watts originals, while the others dig into classics by Freddie King and longtime influence Peter Green, plus compositions by Joe Louis Walker, Coastin’ Hank, and others. SuperGroove is a highly charged album of ten electrifying blues tracks - dusted with a bit of rock, funk and R&B - featuring Andy’s sometimes gritty, sometimes slinky guitar and his soulful vocals along with his great band. On this album, the groove is king!

Interview by Michael Limnios                Andy Watts, 2013 Interview @ blues.gr

Special Thanks: Jon Lappen & Andy Watts

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

I got into the Blues quite Early as a 12-Year-Old Kid Listening to Blues Programs on the Radio. I was drawn to the Rhythm & Vibe and straight away could identify with the Artform and this Feeling has stayed with me ever since as Active Blues Guitarist and Recording Artist. I think as a Blues Artist or Blues-Rock Artist you are looking at the world from a diff Perspective no Borders No Limits, No Black and White You Identify and bound with your fellow humans & Musicians through the Music. The Music is the light that will shine on the Path you are choosing to Follow in Life.

Where does your lyrics and music creative drive come from? What is the hardest part to be a blues musician nowadays?

Most of the times I have melodies coming out of my Head and I find suitable Riffs to it and the Music side takes shape, I am always writing Lyrics and depending on the vibe and mood of the song I will choose particular Lyrics for each Song. I am writing Grey not white or Black meaning the Interpretation is left to the Listener. The hardest thing is always to sound the same as you sound as an Artist but still coming out with something new and Fresh.

What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs? How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started?

Good Vibes and that the songs make them feel good and for a Brief Moment enabling them to think about something else, Dream Away getting into the music and forgetting about reality for a while... Realizing that less is more and that you don’t need to Conquer the Audience, you pull them to you with a smokin musical show and that the order of the songs is very important to keep the flow on an Album or in a Live Show. Letting the other Musicians in the Band shine as well this way you are leaving your Audience hungry for more.

"To walk up on stage and believe and follow the inner peace of mind that will light up the Musical Path you will follow when you play Live. I don’t rehearse Licks or lines that I want to play before a Show, I never play the same Solo twice. I am sticking true to the song and few key lines that you need to play but the rest according to my mood and the energy of the Band." (Andy Watts / Photo by Ilya Kutusov)

How do you describe "Supergroove" sound and songbook? What touched (emotionally) you from album's sessions?

SuperGroove is a follow up Musically to my Previous Album "Blues On Fire", the musical direction being Big Sounding Using Full Horn Section B3 Hammond, basically the same set up that I am Using Live with my Blues On Fire Show   Biggest R&B Shows in Israel. Obvious connection being Joe Louis Walker singing Title track Blues on Fire on my previous album and continued on SuperGroove by: Laying Down the Vocals on Burning Deep. I am Very fortunate to have Joe Louis Walker, Eliza Neals, Rick Estrin Performing on this Album, along My Local Vocalists from Israel Roy Young, Danny Shoshan, Gadi Altman. The Album SuperGroove is A Musical Journey starting with The Instrumental SuperGroove basically the same you would start a Show and continuing in the direction of Blues Rock Psychedelic with songs falling in place & order as I felt it was Right. The Album is Co-Produced by the Great Blues Man, Kenny Neal. So, I had great Guidance on this one. Ending the Album with SuperNatural as a Tribute to the Great Peter Green RIP that recently passed away Was an Emotional highlight on this Album indeed.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? Are there any memories from gigs and jams which you’d like to share?

Hanging an Afternoon in 2013 with Johnny Winter (RIP) before our Show was an Experience. He blessed my Les Paul with Lifetime Mojo. I have had the Privilege to perform and record with some of the best Blues artists in the world over the years Lucky Peterson (RIP), Joe Louis Walker, Bernard Allison, Rick Estrin, Kenny Neal, among others. Had a great time with Kenny Neal and the timing was perfect, and that lead to him Co-Producing my Album Released on US Label Vizztone/Booga.

"The Blues is a thing you have inside you. You can’t really learn to play the Blues by copying others, you can listen to others and use them as inspiration of course but Blues you need first and foremost to feel and the try to play what you feel after some time it comes naturally and you can develop your own style and sound. I think it’s important to develop your own vibe and musical direction as a Blues Artist and that comes with the years of playing & performing." (Photo: Andy Watts & Lucky Peterson, Jerusalem Israel)

Are there any exclusively specific memorable moments with people that you’ve performed with either live or in the studio?

Releasing My Album Blues On Fire In Tel Aviv and having Joe Louis Walker over and performing it with him Live in Tel Aviv on Release Night was a great happening. Going Souvenir Hunting with Lucky Peterson in the Old City of Jerusalem instructing Lucky how to Bargain with the Vendors, but he already knew that very well from before so we ended up filling the whole car with stuff for his friends and family. Lucky missed his flight second time I brought him to Israel and Arrived luckily enough to the stage 5 minutes before the show was supposed to start  No soundcheck hitting the 1 straight away, he only requested putting the volume on the Fender Combo on 10 in advance... And performing with Bernard Alison on a mountain top in Northern Israel with views over the Syrian African rift Valley down to the Sea of Galilee.

What would you say characterizes Israel blues scene in comparison to European and US scenes and circuits?

Israel’s Blues Scene is lively but much smaller Blues-Rock is not mainstream in Israel. That’s why I have been busy for the past 10-12 Years bringing some of the best Blues Artists in the World to Israel to enlarge the Audience and make it Grow every year. Israel’s Blues Audience is choosy so must put up a good show, and keep a certain standard if you want to perform in the Best Clubs or Venues.

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

The Blues is a thing you have inside you. You can’t really learn to play the Blues by copying others, you can listen to others and use them as inspiration of course but Blues you need first and foremost to feel and the try to play what you feel after some time it comes naturally and you can develop your own style and sound. I think it’s important to develop your own vibe and musical direction as a Blues Artist and that comes with the years of playing & performing.

"Most of the times I have melodies coming out of my Head and I find suitable Riffs to it and the Music side takes shape, I am always writing Lyrics and depending on the vibe and mood of the song I will choose particular Lyrics for each Song. I am writing Grey not white or Black meaning the Interpretation is left to the Listener. The hardest thing is always to sound the same as you sound as an Artist but still coming out with something new and Fresh." (Andy Watts / Photo by Ilya Kutusov)

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

To attract younger Audience for the Blues Music we need to reinvent ourselves to continue being Relevant specially in these difficult times when many Venues will close.

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

To walk up on stage and believe and follow the inner peace of mind that will light up the Musical Path you will follow when you play Live. I don’t rehearse Licks or lines that I want to play before a Show, I never play the same Solo twice. I am sticking true to the song and few key lines that you need to play but the rest according to my mood and the energy of the Band.

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

Blues by tradition has been a way to unload your miseries but it can be a Healer too. It’s an important musical genre for the people who can identify with it releasing all kind of feelings. Kenny Neal told me he loves Don’t Take My Blues Away a song I wrote and its song#7 on SuperGroove Album, cause everybody is trying to get rid of the Blues, but you are saying Dont take it Away. So, you can take everything, but Don’t Take My Blues Away.

Andy Watts - Home

(Andy Watts / Photo by Ilya Kutusov)

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