Q&A with Virginia-based veteran musician Georgia Randall - remains true to her music roots of soul, blues, and rock

"I see music in general as a common denominator, the thread that ties us together, regardless of race, culture, politics, or socio-cultural status. Certainly, some genres of music are preferred by cultures because of their environment and heritage, but if you look out at the crowd at a rock or blues festival, you see young, old, white, black, Latin, etc."

Georgia Randall: Peace, Love & Blues

Growing up in Virginia, Georgia Randall started singing gospel in church at the age of five. While still a teenager in high school she began singing professionally with local bands. Her roots are in rock, blues, gospel, and soul. She has traveled all over the country fronting several bands. Now a singer/songwriter performing her own original music this powerhouse singer remains true to her music roots, mixing up her style to appeal to a wide audience. She performs solo and as a duo, trio, or full band. Georgia Randall currently has recorded and released two albums "Fly On" and "These Days" each a blend of blues, soul, and rock. with all tracks composed and arranged by Georgia.

At Indiecon 2019, Georgia Randall won two awards, best blues original song for "Fever" from her 1st album (Fly On), and best blues vocal for "You Lied to Me" from her 2nd album (These Days). A third album, " Help Wanted", released on January 2020. This album is her best yet and combines her roots of soul, blues, and rock. Georgia Randall has been compared to Melissa Etheridge, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt.. but make no mistake, her style is all her own.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Now that is a tough one. I would define counterculture (in general) as conflict with the values of the total society, opposition to “mainstream” culture, and rejection of older values. With that being said, I grew up in a rather strict Christian family. I began singing gospel in the church and was heavily influenced by the singing style of the black Baptist church which we passed on the way to our church. I could hear them singing and was very moved by the soulful sounds coming through those walls. So, I began to listen to Bessie Smith, Koko Taylor, Etta James, Big Mama Thornton and Billie Holiday. I also was listening to early roots music, blues, rockabilly and country. What struck me was the common thread of poverty and oppression rooted in these genres. Then I began to explore the folk counterculture which had very anti-establishment political lyrics (Dylan, Seeger, Guthrie, Van Ronk). Again, rooted in oppression. Then the hippie movement came along with the peace and love message but very much anti-establishment.  I saw that there was also a very dark side to this hippie counterculture evidenced in Charles Manson and the violence at Altamont and Ohio State versus the love and peace at Woodstock. It stands to remind us that although there is a wonderful and endless road of possibilities, there remains a sort of pathological side still very much present. All of this has influenced my life and music, the songs I write, and the way I interact with others. I choose to remain optimistic with a new generation (neo hippies) emerging. My view of the world is that there will always be division between cultures, socioeconomic, race, religion, etc, but music will remain the common thread that unites us.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My sound could be described as blues, soul, rock, gospel and country rolled up into a ball, because all these musical styles influenced me from the time I started singing. My music philosophy is simple. Experience it all…rock, soul, country, blues, gospel, bluegrass, world, jazz, classical, new age. There is something to be experienced in all music. My creative drive comes from my experiences, past and present. I have written songs about my life, my views on the world, my cat (Stray Cat Blues) my dog (Is it Today), an approaching hurricane (Anticipation Blues), and even the huge oak tree outside my bedroom window (Big Oak Tree). My songs are always heartfelt, not contrived for the sake of writing a song.

"I hope that the very reason some people go out less (technology again) will connect original artists to this audience in a way that gigging venue to venue never could. It is exciting to imagine the opportunities to connect to so many more people with this advancing technology." (Photo: Georgia Randall)

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

Well, my professional career in music began when I was just 15 years old, so I could write a book on that. I spent the first 10 years of my career on the road, traveling from gig to gig, hotel to hotel. Grueling schedule, but those were fun times as my band mates were like family. We were playing in upstate New York and discovered that Leon Russel was in the audience. It was a thrill to meet him. While in Beverly, Massachusetts, I met Buddy Guy and Junior Wells and got to jam out on a song with them before they went on stage. Now that was a thrill.

What were the reasons that made the 1960s to be the center of Psychedelic, Folk, Rock and Blues researches?

Well, that is simple because the 1960’s was the age of the counterculture. The Age of Aquarius so to speak.

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

Well, that depends on what you mean by the music of the past. I think the roots of music (blues, country, and folk) are still alive and influencing many modern artists. I find it inspiring to see younger artists coming up who are embracing roots music and I am happy to see that artists can be independent of major labels and still get their music heard through podcasts, YouTube, and independent/ public/ college radio stations. My fear is the advancement of technology to reproduce music. I already see more and more solo artists in my area using computer tracks to make themselves sound like a band and venues starting to prefer to hire them versus a band as it is much cheaper for the venue. My hope is that this trend will ultimately enhance versus replace musicians. In my area, there are far fewer music venues where people come just to hear live music. And fewer venues supporting original artists. I hope that the very reason some people go out less (technology again) will connect original artists to this audience in a way that gigging venue to venue never could. It is exciting to imagine the opportunities to connect to so many more people with this advancing technology.

"I would go back in time to August 15, 1969. Why? To attend Woodstock. That wonderous, magical, hippy festival. I have seen the documentary, loved all the music, and can only imagine how special it must have been to be there. For a future trip, I would love to be on the stage for a tour of festivals across the world." (Photo: Georgia Randall's early days with her first band, The Aliens, c.1960s)

What would you say characterizes Florida's blues scene in comparison to other US scenes and circuits?

That depends on where you are in Florida. In my area (Brevard County), most of the venues are combination restaurant/tiki bar venues that hire cover bands performing classic rock, southern rock, and reggae/island music. We sometimes joke about the Brevard County set list that you hear from venue to venue. Unfortunately, there really is not much of a blues scene or original music scene here. The west coast of Florida has a stronger blues scene. I am beginning to see more blues festivals, but again, that is mostly on Florida’s west coast, northern Florida, and south Florida. Memphis, Chicago, and Europe are probably the strongest blues circuits.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I see the music industry as still very much dominated by men. On the performing side, female artists are held to a different standard than male artists. Female artists often find themselves needing to provide sex appeal in their image/attire just to get out there and be heard. Not so with male artists.

What is the impact of Blues and Rock music and culture on the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

As I mentioned previously, I see music in general as a common denominator, the thread that ties us together, regardless of race, culture, politics, or socio-cultural status. Certainly, some genres of music are preferred by cultures because of their environment and heritage, but if you look out at the crowd at a rock or blues festival, you see young, old, white, black, Latin, etc. High profile artists can certainly have a political influence because of their ability to reach millions of fans. There is certainly a socio-economic divide when a ticket price becomes so expensive that only the affluent can afford to go to a concert.

"I see the music industry as still very much dominated by men. On the performing side, female artists are held to a different standard than male artists. Female artists often find themselves needing to provide sex appeal in their image/attire just to get out there and be heard. Not so with male artists."

(Photo: Georgia Randall)

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

Oh, that one is easy. I would go back in time to August 15, 1969. Why? To attend Woodstock. That wonderous, magical, hippy festival. I have seen the documentary, loved all the music, and can only imagine how special it must have been to be there. For a future trip, I would love to be on the stage for a tour of festivals across the world.

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