Q & A with veteran musician Jim Pugh - a varied career that includes Grammy and platinum albums

"I tend to think the world is becoming a better place. Whatever I miss from the old days is far over shadowed by the progress that’s being made now."

Jim Pugh: Never Give Up The Analog Sound

Keyboard player Jim Pugh was born in Amsterdam, N.Y. and was raised near Chicago. He was a member of the Robert Cray Band since 1989 until 2013. In a varied career that includes performing on Grammy winning, platinum and gold CDs, Jim has recorded with numerous artists including Etta James, Long John Hunter, Fillmore Slim, Mark Hummel, Pee Wee Ellis, Curtis Salgado, Frankie Lee, Guitar Shorty, Tracy Nelson, Tommy Castro, Eric Burdon, Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker and BB King.

"As a kid hearing blues in Chicago I felt that it was a relic. It’s time had come and gone. Instruments and amplification are completely different now. Not sure I ever remember hearing a loud bass drum or a loud bass guitar. Now it seems to be all you hear." 

Jim shared the stage with Johnny Taylor, Little Milton, Eric Clapton and Otis Rush. He has also performed widely on national TV and produced over a dozen CDs for Robert Cray, Eric Bibb, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, John Campbell, James Armstrong, Johnny Reno, Nappy Brown, Charlie Musselwhite, Rusty Zinn, Tower of Power and The Gospel Hummingbirds.

In addition to having several movie and TV soundtrack credits to his name, Jim's songs have been performed by various artists including Robert Cray and Tower of Power. Living Blues Magazine voted "The One in the Middle" Song of the Year.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Playing music for a living is a privilege and can be a lot of fun. It involves a lot of practice and travel. There are times when it feels like a job. 

How do you describe Jim Pugh sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

Whatever the setting I try to listen and play along in a musical fashion. This is not always easy.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

I’ve been very lucky. I have neither experienced real lows or highs professionally. There have been times when I could have played the music better and other times when it was just right.

"Playing music for a living is a privilege and can be a lot of fun."

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

Jammed once in Chicago with 25 guitarists. All at the same time! Absurd!

Are there any memories from John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Little Milton, and the other great musicians which you’d like to share with us?

Hard to say. They all can really sing and play and they're good guys too.

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

I tend to think the world is becoming a better place. Whatever I miss from the old days is far over shadowed by the progress that’s being made now.

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

No digital music or digital recording. All analog.

How has the music changed over the years? Do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

Define real blues. As a kid hearing blues in Chicago I felt that it was a relic. It’s time had come and gone. Instruments and amplification are completely different now. Not sure I ever remember hearing a loud bass drum or a loud bass guitar. Now it seems to be all you hear. 

What is the best advice ever given you and what advice would you give to new generation?

Don’t ever give up.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the music circuits?

A cowboy singing western songs on a ranch. A church goer singing a gospel song in a store front church. Simple real music. We all are surrounded by music like this. You just have to know where to look.

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

Although I was born in the 1950’s I was too young to remember it. I grew up to enjoy the period on many different levels. To be in Chicago, New York or even Paris would really be something. I’d like that.

  

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