Interview with German bluesman Gregor Hilden, one of the most beautifully sounding guitarists around

"The Blues is timeless music and you can combine blues with other elements and styles, you can vary the music and of course: it is such a “basic” music, everybody understands this language."

Gregor Hilden: Bluesnight Express

German guitarist and songwriter Gregor Hilden is one of those Bluesmen who — once you hear a single chord he plays — forever owns your sense of what’s good and your definition of what makes The Blues intrinsically real and beautifully human. One of the most beautifully sounding guitarists around, Hilden also has dynamite support from a high quality team of German and American musicians. Playing a superb guitar, jazzy-blues-funky!

He’s a great player with an awesome guitars collection. The trade magazine "Guitar and Bass" dedicated to him several features, pointed it to the influence of Peter Green and Larry Carlton back and finished his game with predicates such as "economical, flexible and elegant.  "This characterizes Hilden's music - a blend of blues, jazz and soul - as well as highly accurate.

Blues, Soul and groovy jazz are at the Münster program guitarist Gregor Hilden. With countless appearances and a total of 10 CDs and a live DVD under his own name, he has long been active in the scene and become internationally known. He toured the with his Bluesnight Band, featuring international guests like: Alvin Youngblood, Ron Williams, Red Halloway, Harriet Lewis, Tom Principato, Boo Boo Davis, RJ Mischo, Snowy White, Tyrie Glenn Jr., Big Jay McNeely, Wayne Bartlett, Deborah Woodson, Albie Donnelly, Angela Brown, Gene Connor, Ford Blues Band, Ron Williams and Others. He was guest at opening act for Joe Jackson, Rory Gallagher, Albert Collins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry.                        (Photo by Manfred Pollert)

Interview by Michael Limnios

How do you describe Gregor Hilden sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

I was always interested to play with some feeling. Not too many notes, not too fast – but the choice of the notes is much more important to me, Also the dynamics “how” to play these notes. I’m not trying to be the best SRV-Replica on earth, but I will try to find my own thing on the guitar...

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

It is the expression in the performance what is the most important thing in playing blues. Trying to create some special feelings and moods with the music you play is the challenge.

What experiences in life make a good bluesman and songwriter?

I don’t know what a “good bluesman” is… and I did not had special experiences to become a blues player, but I’ve found all these good music on LP Cassettes when I was young. I was fascinated to hear blues – and so I tried to play myself.

"I was too young to see Peter Green in his glory days in the late sixties – but I really would have been part of one of those legendary Fleetwood Mac concerts from these days…"

Which is the most interesting period in your life?

Every period of live has own character. I still love to play concerts with different Artists, And a very special period was the time from 1998 until 2008 when I organized the “Greg’s Bluesnight” along with my fellows from Osnabrück (Tommy Scheller, Olli G., Horst Bergmeyer, Frank Boestfleisch, Björn Puls). Every month we did a concert with an international guest star (for instance Tyrie Glenn Jr., Big Jay McNeely, Wayne Bartlett, Deborah Woodson, Albie Donnelly, Gene Connor, the  Ford Blues Band, Ron Williams, Red Holloway, Tom Principato, Frank Goldwasser, MZ. Dee) and  hundreds of other great musicians came to play with us. Everytime we’ve learned the songs from the program of our guest and found some opening instrumental tunes – so, that was fun to – and a good school…

Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

I can’t say what the best moment was – every single gig with a good atmosphere is a great moment. That means sometimes it is fantastic to do a little spontaneous Blues Session, and this can be better than doing a concert in front of 2000 people. But playing a big venue can be a thrill also…  

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

The Blues is timeless music and you can combine blues with other elements and styles, you can vary the music and of course: it is such a “basic” music, everybody understands this language.

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

I don’t know… the best gigs are the gigs which are coming up…

"I was always interested to play with some feeling. Not too many notes, not too fast – but the choice of the notes is much more important to me, Also the dynamics “how” to play these notes."

What's been your experience with Snowy White, Big Jay McNeely, Red Holloway and Ford Blues Band?

When I was a kid, I loved the lead guitar on Peter Green’s tune “Slabo Day”. This solo was played by Snowy White. And – years later - when Snowy came to my hometown Muenster to perform a concert with me and my band, that was a really special moment. We did a lot of classic Fleetwood Mac tunes together – and “Slabo Day” of course… he was really nice and has played some fantastic stuff this evening.

I have learned a lot when I was touring with Big Jay McNeely. He always told the musicians how to make things better, to keep a steady groove. He plays from the heart and with a lot (!) of energy – so every concert with Big Jay was kind of a lesson…

Red Holloway was such a gentle person, subtle playing, great arrangements and he was such a funny guy, it was a really please to perform with him, of course he is legendary musician

The Ford Blues band came three times to the “Greg’s Bluesnight” and we a really good time jamming together. Plus I did some more concerts with Volker Strifler years later; he is a fantastic guitar player and a nice guy!

Are there any memories from recording and show time which you’d like to share with us?

I did some concerts with Tom Principato when I was recording my “Blue In Red” CD – and Tom was kind enough to visit me in the studio during that time and we did a spontaneous tune together, that was funny… I mean, Tom has shared the stage and recorded with Danny Gatton – one of the most incredible guitar players of all the time…! And I also could learn a lot from Tom (as he did from Danny…)

"It is the expression in the performance what is the most important thing in playing blues. Trying to create some special feelings and moods with the music you play is the challenge." (Photo: Gregor and Tom Principato)

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past?

I don’t missing nothing – as long as the band is good…

What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I hope that the music will touches me... that’s important, and I’m sure that a lot music will come which will do.

Which memory from Rory Gallagher, Albert Collins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry makes you smile?

I’ve opened concerts for these legends with my band, but I did not have too many contacts backstage. Also, it is too long ago… I can remember just briefly.

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

I was too young to see Peter Green in his glory days in the late sixties – but I really would have been part of one of those legendary Fleetwood Mac concerts from these days…

Gregor Hilden - official website

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