An Interview with Travis "Moonchild" Haddix: Have a Passion for What You Are Doing

"Playing and singing the blues turns me on plus making other people happy and keeping them that way for the duration of my show".

Travis "Moonchild" Haddix began playing the piano at the age of seven in his home town of Walnut, Mississippi, located thirty miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. The turning point in his musical learning experience came when he was eight, when the legendary B.B. King came to Memphis and began playing daily at the studios of WDIA. Travis was awed by King's guitar virtuosity and he hung around the radio station every day to learn all he could. Soon, Travis' piano playing fell by the wayside and was replaced by the guitar, which he plays on stage and in the studio.


Years later, the Haddix family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Travis, now a budding star, continued to refine his craft by singing and playing throughout the North. The original "Moonchild", he earned the nickname from his beaming presence on stage and his always broad smile and energetic, sexy performances, In 1959, Travis moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he joined the D.L. Rocco Band and achieved regional notoriety that led to a prominent spot with the Little Johnnie Taylor group. Travis also contributed material to five albums by Artie "Bluesboy" White. His material is also covered by Artie “blues boy” White, Dickie Williams, Jimmy Dawkins, Michael Burks, Charles Wilson, the late Son Seals, and Lee Shot Williams.

Haddix has received rave reviews in Living Blues, Blues Revue, Real Blues, Jefferson & Audience, and he has toured Europe since 1992. His style evokes the sounds of the great Stax-Volt days, when the likes of Sam & Dave ruled the urban blues roost. His fifth release on Ichiban Records is A Big Ole Goodun', featuring the Travis Haddix band. He proves, once again, that he is a fixture in the modern blues industry with songs like. "Make Me Say Please", "From Bad to Worse", and the made-for-jukebox single, "(She Called Me) Knucklehead".

 

He received 4 awards in 1999. Best Male Blues Artist, New Blues Artist, Blues Entertainer & Contemporary Blues Artist. In 1989 he founded Haddix publishing Company and Wann-Sonn Records, and recorded ten CDs under his own label. in 2007 travis won the Gay Rose Production Keeping the Blues Alive Award. In 2007, Travis' single, "Dick for Dinner" from "Mean Ole Yesterday" was nominated Best Blues Song by the Blues Critic Awards 2007 Readers Poll-Comtemporary Blues. Travis was in great company; the prize was awarded to Omar Kent Dykes & Jimmie Vaughan.

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

 

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues &who were your first idols?

I became involved with blues at age seven my Dad Chalmus “Rooster” Haddix was a Delta blues man along with BB King and they were my Idols.

 

Which artists have you worked with & which of the people you have worked with do you consider the best?

I have worked with many great artist and they were all great. The latest was Robert “Chick” Willis we recorded a CD together called (Let the blues speak for itself) it was just released on Oct. 18th some great tunes and I had a blast doing it with Chick..

 

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

My career has three parts ---Good—better and—best I hope that I never reach the worst part. I have been able to convert  the bad parts of my career into good parts from negative to positive.


 

Is there any similarity between the blues today and the blues of the sixties?

The blues never get too high or never get too low I try to add a little humor to my blues just to be different but today’s blues  is very similar to the sixties.

 

From the musical point of view is there any difference between the north and the south?

It is very little difference between the North and South from a musical point of view the difference is mainly how the listener feels about and views the music. 

 

What do you think were the reasons for the blues boom at the end of the sixties?

Blues music is very constant the late sixties was just a great time for that particular genre and I can only hope that it continues.

 

Did you help many artist in the meantime did you found any gratitude from them?

I have tried to help a goodly number of up and coming artist in fact I have two new artists on my Wann-Sonn record label now and they seem to be very grateful and I get great satisfaction from helping others in this industry.

 

How was your relationship with the other local blues bands and musicians?

I have a great repose and relationship with other local bands and musicians most of them enjoy working with me and they are sort of like a sponge they soak it all up.

 

Which musician have you ever wanted to be?

I have never wanted to be another musician. However, I have tried to make my guitar sound like BB King, Albert King, Little Milton T-bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and I sometimes still do.

 

Do you think the younger generations are interested in the blues?

I can see that there are a number of youngsters interested in the blues and I must say that I am very happy to see that.

 

Give one wish for the music

I wish that more young folks would gravitate toward the genre.

 

Which of your work would you consider to be the best?

I don’t mean to sound bias but all my works are great. (Winners never quit) an Ichiban recording is one of my favorite. I feel that I done a fantastic job with that particular album and it have been covered by several other Artists.

 

What is the think you miss most from the 60s

I miss all the clubs that we used to have in the 60’s we had lots of places to showcase our talent not so many today and that is very sad to me.

 

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

I hate to think what I would be or where I would be if I wasn’t a musician I really can’t imagine or I should say I don’t want to imagine.


Tell me a few things about your meet with Lil Johnny Taylor & how was your relationship with him? 

Little Johnny Taylor (Johnny Lamont Merrett) was a very good friend of mine we both loved music and entertaining people. However, we both shared in the love of fishing. John had a special place (Lake) in Conway Arkansas loaded with fish. Unfortunately, he passed away and we never got a chance to go fishing together. However, we did tour North East Ohio together and that was a blast for both of us.


What does Blues offered you & why do you play the blues?

The blues is a way of life for me and a big part of my life in general and that’s why I play the blues and that’s why I will continue to play the blue for the duration.

 

What do you learn about yourself from music?

I have learned a lot about myself and the one most important thing is that I love many different kinds of music such as blues, Country & Western, Jazz ETC… in fact Charlie Pride is one of my favorite country singers.

 

How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

I thank that every artist knows when he / she is connecting with the audience. I can tell right away and if I feel that I am not connecting then I change what I’m doing and do something different.

 

To which person do you want to send one from your songs?

I hope that people can listen to and enjoy my music all over the world and I will continue to send it to as many places as possible for as long as possible.

 

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

The most interesting period in my life was when my Children were born. It is very hard to explain but for me that was the ultimate high.

 

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?

Perseverance one must want it and have a passion for it and stay with it to become a good musician and I have able to do that.

 

What was the first gig you ever went to?

My Brother Alvie (AL) took me to see BB King at the WDIA radio station in Memphis Tennessee when I was about nine years old. Then he let me sit in with his band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Juneau street a short time later  I wasn’t paid anything but the experience was its own reward.

 

What turns you on?

Playing and singing the blues turns me on plus making other people happy and keeping them that way for the duration of my show.

 

How was your experience with your partners: "Bluesboy"White, Jimmy Dawkins, Lee Shot?

A number of Guys have covered my material such as Jimmy Dawkins, Dickey Williams, Lee Shot Williams, and The late Son Seals. I never met these Guys in person but I like what they done with the material. However, I did meet Charles Wilson, Michael Burks and I have been writing for Artie “Bluesboy’ White for over thirty years and these Guys do a fantastic job with my material we have lots of fun together and Artie and I toured the UK together a few years ago.


 

What gift would you give to BB King?

I would give BB anything that I own. However, I can’t think of anything that he doesn’t already have.

 

What do you think of Son Seals?

Son Seals covered one of my tunes and I really like what he was able to do with it he was a great talent and I had a ton of respect for him.

 

What mistake of blues business you want to correct?

I would like to put the blues on the front burner for a change that is, more radio stations playing the blues and I would like to see more young people involved in the blues music.

 

You have traveling all around the world. What are your conclusions?

I have received a number of awards and have been inducted into the Cleveland blues hall of fame. Therefore, I haven’t reached a conclusion yet because I am not through. In fact I will leave for tour in Europe again and I hope to continue to tour after that.

 

Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?

I have been fortunate enough to meet and perform with a lot of great artist such as Robert Lockwood JR. a very good friend that lived in the city Cleveland, Ohio also, Pinetop Perkins, Honey Boy Edwards, Little Milton, Albert King, Bobby Bland ETC…One Lady that I would really like to meet is Tina Turner (Anna Mae Bullock) I went to her house in Switzerland a few years ago but she was on tour at that particular TIME Tina and I have the same Birthday Nov. 26th. I really would like to meet and sit down and talk with her she is such a Gorgeous Lady.

 

Media or talent plays the most important role for a artist to get discovered?

You need to have some talent and a lot of luck but one must also have the media to let other people know about your talent to be discovered I feel that they are equally important..

 

What do you think is the main characteristic of your personality that made you a bluesman?

I was born in the State of Mississippi to Chalmus “Rooster” Haddix and Sylvia Keenon Haddix and along with Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, Little Milton, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and the great BB King the characteristic of our Personalities comes from that particular area where the blues was born.

 

Why did he think that Travis Haddix continued to generate such a devoted following?

Travis Haddix has a passion for what he does and most of his fans can see that.


When did you first realize you were a performer, that what you did onstage was affecting people?

I began to realize that people were affected by what I was doing on stage as a teen back in Walnut Miss. People paid attention to what I was doing both good and bad.

 

Describe the ideal rhythm section to you?

My band consists of a full complement of musicians and the rhythm section is Drums, Bass guitar, Organ and piano.

 

What characterized the sound of Ichiban Records

I may sound a little bias but Ichiban records had some great artist including Travis “Moonchild” Haddix and what I enjoyed most about that label was its stable of great musicians such as Steve McCray, Harry Case, Brian Cole, Lebron Scott and a horn section liken to the Memphis horns.  I was really happy to meet again and play with one of Ichiban’s musicians Rick Hinkle who now owns his studio in Atlanta, GA I recorded there earlier this year with Robert “Chick” Willis and we had a great time.

 

Who are some of your favorite blues musician of today & what was the last record you bought?

I have so many favorite blues men it is going to be very hard to single one out. However, BB King heads the list along with Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Chick Willis, Kenny Neal and the list goes on and on. The last record that I bought was a cover by The Harlem Ramblers of Zurich Switzerland called (Blues in the air)

 

How do you get inspiration for your songs & what musicians have influenced you most as a songwriter?

I played a concert with Kenny Neal a few years ago and at that time his Brothers were his band also. Kenny said to one of his Brothers as a joke (You can’t do wrong right) I went back to my hotel room and wrote the tune (Do wrong right) and it is on my CD (Milk and bread). Therefore, I get inspired lots of different ways by lots of different people.

 

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

The music business is sort of like the old cliché “the more thing change the more they stay the same “There has been some changes, I should say some tweaking here and there some good and some bad the business  will work great until some of us mess it up again.

 

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

Perseverance it is very important that you stay with it and have a passion for what you are doing.

 

What do you feel is the key to your success as a musician?

Perseverance I have been playing music for over fifty years and I plan to continue.

 

Three words to describe your sound & your progress

Good---Better---Best

 

How do you want to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered for my perseverance.

 

What are the common factors of exhaling and playing the guitar?

The common factors of exhaling and playing the guitar for me are that they are both absolutely necessary for survival in my case.

 

Happiness is……Playing and singing the blues to everyone willing to listen.

 

Travis "Moonchild" Haddix's website

 

 

 

Vaughan.

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