Talking with guitarist/songwriter Tommy Talton, a gifted musician and authentic Southern creator

"Any musical genre that is based on spirit from the heart and soul will continue to move audiences and listeners."

Tommy Talton: Soulful Southern Rider 

Tommy Talton is one of the best songwriters and guitarists of our time. He is a founding member of Capricorn Records group Cowboy. While in Macon, GA through most of the 70s, Talton was a studio musician recording with artists such as Gregg Allman, The Allman Brothers Band, Bonnie Bramlett, Martin Mull, Corky Lang, Dickey Betts, Clarence Carter, country legend Kitty Wells, Alex and Livingston Taylor, Arthur Conley of Sweet Soul Music fame, and more.

He toured extensively throughout the U.S. with Cowboy and with the Gregg Allman tour, from Carnegie Hall (as special guests) to Fillmore West in San Francisco and most cities in between. Talton was also the guitarist on Gregg Allman's "Laid Back" album. Tommy lived and toured in Europe throughout the 90s and formed a group there, called The Rebelizers, with members of Albert Lee’s band, Hogan’s Heroes.

On Tommy Talton’s third release from Hittin’ the Note Records in October 2012, titled Let’s Get Outta Here, he has written the most compelling music of his career. Always known as a gifted wordsmith and creator of authentically timeless melodies, Tommy has reached deep within his creative well to create a classic Southern masterpiece. Very special guests joined Tommy on the new release, including Chuck Leavell, Paul Hornsby, Rick Hirsch, Scott Boyer, NC Thurman, Bill Stewart, Kelvin Holly, Brandon Peeples, David Keith and Tony Giordano.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What experiences in life make you a GOOD MUSICIAN and SONGWRITER and how do you get inspiration?

Inspiration comes from every moment if one is open to those moments. It is difficult to always be “on” but inspiration is always available. All you can do is open your senses to the world around you.

How do you describe Tommy Talton sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

I have found it hard to put a label on the music, mine or anyone’s. Leonard Bernstein once said “there are 2 kinds Of music, good and bad.” I agree…

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the music? What is the best advice ever gave you?

I have learned from many different source’s through the years, it is just as important to know when to be silent as to know when to make a sound.

"Any musical genre that is based on spirit from the heart and soul will continue to move audiences and listeners."

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Too many good moments to choose one, I am thankful for that. Ups and downs through the years, playing for an audience that has no feelings is the worst, anytime…

What is the “feeling” you miss most nowadays from Southern Rock era of Capricorn?

The brotherhood feeling seems to be lost now days…

Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory from Cowboy?

Standing on the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City was quite a fine feeling that not many musicians are fortunate to experience.

Why did you think that the Southern music continues to generate such a devoted following around the world?

Any musical genre that is based on spirit from the heart and soul will continue to move audiences and listeners.

What the difference and similarity between the BLUES, SOUL, and SOUTHERN ROCK feeling?

I don’t see any differences.

Which memory from Gregg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett, Dickey Betts, Clarence Carter, and Arthur Conley makes you smile?

Again, too many, the pain and laughter that one goes through while creating music in and out of the studio is deep and hard to find in any other experiences of life. Dedicating your life to the creation of music is both a blessing and a curse at once.

"The brotherhood feeling seems to be lost now days…"   Photo: Tommy Talton on stage with Cowboy and Gregg Allman at Athens, GA, Early 70s.

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had?

As I said earlier, Carnegie Hall and Fillmore East in NYC and Fillmore West in San Francisco….

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

You learn patience and humility that is the wonderful thing about music, it covers all human emotions.

Do you know why the slide guitar is connected to the Southern music? What are the secrets of slide?

Slide is connected to southern music mostly because of my old friend Duane Allman, that is for sure.

It is very close to the sound of a human voice and that makes it so moving.

When we talk about Southern music, we usually refer to memories and moments of the past. Apart from the old cats of blues, do you believe in the existence of real Southern Blues Rock nowadays?

Of course, I hope that the genre will continue. There are many young musicians who are inspired by the music of the past…that is how it continues, by people listening to what has been created by those who came before you.

"The 'business' of music has lost the soulfulness that once was the driving force behind a record company signing a new and creative artist."

Do you believe that there is “misuse”, that there is a trend to misappropriate the name of blues?

Any time a musical happening or political ideology is born it is headed down the path of being misused or twisted into the needs and desires of others who might not care about the truth.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

It is not all fun and games as many believe. If you are not serious about the craft it would be best to move on to something else. Be ready for a roller coaster ride of emotions, good and bad, just like the music.

How has the music business changed over the years since you first started in music?

I believe too much attention is placed on the visual aspect of musicians and entertaining, a certain truthfulness is lost when one concerns themselves with the outer, see-able aspects of the world. The “business” of music has lost the soulfulness that once was the driving force behind a record company signing a new and creative artist.

Which incident of your life you‘d like to be captured and illustrated in a painting?

My first meeting with guitar legend and fine human being Chet Atkins. He had a big cigar in his mouth and I had a youthful, proud smile on my face as we shook hands and talked of recording and playing music. I believe I was 16 years old.

Thank you for your questions, stay well and happy…

Tommy Talton - Official website

Tommy Talton’s third release from Hittin’ the Note Records in October 2012, titled Let’s Get Outta Here, he has written the most compelling music of his career. 

 

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