Q&A with North Carolina-based musician Chris Rodrigues, keeping alive the traditional songs of American heritage

"People have been getting the blues for years and will continue to get them. The blues of the past is the blues of the future."

Chris Rodriques:

Roots & Blooms of American Music

Chris Rodrigues plays the guitar, blows the harmonica, stomps on a suitcase with his right foot, taps on a license plate with his left foot and sings his takes on traditional songs as well as his own written material. He hopes to take traditional songs of American heritage and play them in his own new way in hopes of keeping alive these songs that have been played for years. Chris usually playing music with his best friend and buddy Abby the Spoon Lady.

Chris Rodrigues is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and busker from Asheville North Carolina. He has played across the country in several bands throughout his early teens until the age of 23, when he started busking. Chris is a traveling musician playing indoor venues, festivals, churches and busking in the street. He plays the resophonic guitar, blows the harmonica, stomps on a suitcase with his right foot, taps on a license plate with his left foot and sings his takes on traditional songs as well as his own written material which can be heard on several prime-time television shows. He hopes to take traditional songs of American heritage and play them in his own new way in hopes of keeping alive these songs that have been played for years.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Oh, I don't know... the world is a lot like high school. I feel very blessed and grateful to be at the right place at the right time where I can do what I want and people are digging it.

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

I would describe my sound as some kind of blues with bluegrass influenced guitar and folk mixed all over it. The songs I write from real life personal experiences. I'm always writing. I like to make my own arrangements of old traditional spiritual songs; I love gospel and music glorifying God.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, buskin' time, and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

The best time I ever had playing music was probably when I was busking 3-4 days a week with my mom. We used to clean houses together and couldn't make enough to get by so we went out to the street. She would make sandwiches and we stayed downtown all day waiting out spots and singing. We did that for several years.

"I would describe my sound as some kind of blues with bluegrass influenced guitar and folk mixed all over it. The songs I write I write from real life personal experiences. I'm always writing. I like to make my own arrangements of old traditional spiritual songs; I love gospel and music glorifying God." (Photo: Chris Rodrigues & Abby the Spoon Lady)

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

To me the blues are a sound that comes from a deep emotion that can't be expressed through just words, it's a feeling. There always have been and will always be a commercial side to any form of art or expression, and I believe there will always be people playing the blues who express their feelings and emotions that won't change for the money or fame or whatever. I'm not really into trying to sound like what's selling, that isn't the blues anyway. People have been getting the blues for years and will continue to get them. The blues of the past is the blues of the future.

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

I wish more people would realize there is a ton of great music out there other than the mainstream stuff. I think sometimes people think there isn't any music being made other than what is on the radio and that's aggravating. Some of the best and most real blues I have ever heard was in the street. The music world is constantly changing, if I changed something it would just get changed to something else.

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

I've learned that people act as competitive and silly as adults as they do in school. It seems like 9 out of 10 people are just pretending and claiming to be something they're not. I've learned to be yourself and enjoy life every day cause tomorrow might not come. I've learned to follow God and trust that his plans are better than mine.

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 go back and pick a little with my family. My great grandfather played jaw harp and his 12 brothers and sisters all played fiddles, banjos, guitars and things. Two of the sisters were twins who both played guitar left-handed.

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