Q&A with Texas musician Randy McAllister - roadhouse soul by one of America's true blues/roots originals

"In a perfect world, the quality of the music would come first and the packaging and hype would take a back seat."

Randy McAllister: Texas Roadhouse

He's been flying in the face of convention his whole career. No smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines. One of the most versatile bluesmen in Texas, Randy McAllister plays driving drums and world-class harmonica, writes incredible songs and sings like no one else. Raised in the small Texas town of Novice, McAllister is a 5th generation Texan, whose father was both a fireman and musician. His father was a drummer in a band called, "The Flames." At a very young age, Randy followed in his father's footsteps. He began to take up drumming, but the drums were just the beginning for Randy. McAllister found the harmonica in his early 20's while stationed in Massachusetts as a member of the U.S. Air Force. Taking cues from "Earring George" Mayweather, a Boston resident and harmonica master, McAllister moved back to Texas in 1992, a strong, skillful harp player who was establishing his vocal and songwriting skills.               Photo by Ragan Jenkins

In 1997 Randy signed with JSP Records. He released 3 highly acclaimed CD's with the label. Throughout the proceeding years Randy has gone on to record with Severn Records and Reaction Records. To date he has 13 releases to his credit. Roustabout, maverick, spiritual, gritty, amazing, genius, wild, bad-ass, soulful... These are some of the words used to describe this Texas bonafide blue blood. A much revered, singer, songwriter, harmonica player and drummer. East Texas roadhouse soul by one of America's true blues/roots originals. Randy's versatility shines as he simultaneously sings, plays drums (barefoot), rubboard and harp, as he moves, shakes and slithers around the club playing percussion on anything he finds along the way. Randy is a rare talent and his styles reflect his diversity: a rootsy, mix of blues, Tex-Mex, gospel, honky tonk, Zydeco and rockabilly with intense, soulful vocals and lots of energy. His latest cd, "Gristle To Gold" (2015) with his band The Scrappiest Band in the Motherland, is smoking stuff for party people whose second home is the roadhouse.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Resilience and steadfastness. The honor of helping to fan the flames of a musical heritage created by all those that came before me.

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

Know the past, honor the past, work at your craft, respect your craft.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues/Rock and Soul researches and experiments?

I was first exposed to these genres of music at an early age by my father who was a drummer and singer. I felt a connection to this music and chose to follow it as a career. I was a shy kid and music was an avenue for me to express myself in a way that I was comfortable with.

"My favorite memories is a European tour I took with friends, Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones and Cookie McGee. It was my first time overseas and it was a kick for me to experience European and American musicians making music together." (Photo: Randy & Andrew 'Jr Boy' Jones)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice has given you?

The times I have spent with the guys down in the trenches of the music business. All the incredible players that are virtually unknown to the general public.

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

My favorite memories is a European tour I took with friends, Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones and Cookie McGee. It was my first time overseas and it was a kick for me to experience European and American musicians making music together.

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

I miss the creative energy of the past. The risk-taking. I would like to see more emphasis around the essence of a song, instead of a song being a vehicle to solo around. I would hope that going into the future, the past continues to be kept in sight.

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

In a perfect world, the quality of the music would come first and the packaging and hype would take a back seat.

"I miss the creative energy of the past. The risk-taking. I would like to see more emphasis around the essence of a song, instead of a song being a vehicle to solo around. I would hope that going into the future, the past continues to be kept in sight."

What is the impact of Blues and American Roots music and culture to the racial and socio-cultural implications?

It breaks down barriers, creates a common ground and creates a relatable way to communicate. It brings people together in a most basic way.

Why did you think that the Texas Blues scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

So much diversity, so many stylistic variations for people to choose from. There’s a whole lot of musical ground covered from one end of Texas to the other.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I would go back to the mid 50’s. It was such a unique time period for music. I love the genuineness, the innovation and the newness of things during that time.

Randy McAllister - Home

 

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