Italian blues guitarist Luca Giordano talks about his experiences and collaborations in Chicago

"Blues Music speaks the can't’s something deep, something can catch the crowd easily with genuine emotions." 

Luca Giordano: New Blues Ceasar

Luca Giordano was born in Teramo, Italy, 1980, Luca Giordano started to play his guitar when he was 20 years old, improving year by year his style with a deep passion for the Blues. After a period in Italy playing with his first band "Jumpin Eye Blues Quintet", he moves to Chicago where he starts much collaboration with several blues artists. He plays with Les Getrex Band, guitar player for Fats Domino, with Sharon Lewis and her Texas Fire Band, JW Williams for more than one month as substitution for his regular exceptional guitar player Shun Kikuta, who was touring with Koko Taylor.

Photo by Cristina Arrigoni

In the same period he performs in many Italian festivals and clubs together with Sax Gordon, Nellie Tiger Travis, and with some of the best Italian musician. In 2008 he meets in Chicago, Eric “Guitar” Davis, and they start a very good collaboration and friendship. They play together with The Trouble Makers and also as sideman for Chicago Blues Legends like Bob Stroger, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Jimmy Burns and JW Williams.

He also pays tribute to old school Chicago Blues together with his friend Quique Gomez playing in Europe and United States. Both focused on their first love, the old school traditional blues, they recorded two cds, one in Italy and one in Chicago with special guests Billy Branch, Eddie C Campbell, Jimmy Burns, Bob Stroger and they also performed for Chicago Blues Fest After Party at Rosa's Lounge Club backed up by Harlan Terson and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He's also releasing his first solo album titled "My Kind Of Blues" featuring Chris Cain, Sax Gordon, Bob Stroger, Linda Valori and Pippo Guarnera. In Italy Luca Giordano regularly performs with his full band, and Deep Blues Trio when they like to get down with some jazzy blues.

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Well, the Blues taught me a lot of things … first of all I learnt how important is to be yourself and to trust yourself. Blues music comes from simple people, genuine people, comes from a culture way far from today idols like capitalism and straight business. Blues music brings you back to the real meaning of life, makes you discover what’s really important for you, and helps you to take out your emotions in the most authentic way. No Fiction.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD BLUESMAN?

You just said it! Experience. That's what helped me to be who I am now.

You can study books, read charts, listen music all day…Its all great and you need that too, but main thing is to experience the blues “on your skin”. I quit my daily job 9 years ago and I moved to Chicago for a couple of years: that's what changed my life and started my career.

How do you describe Luca Giordano sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

My Music Philosophy is based on “open mind”. I don’t like conflicts between traditional, purist blues, and modern or innovative forms of blues.

When you feel something genuine, comin from inside, you can be sure that's blues … even if it’s not on a 12 bars structure …

But when I first moved to Chicago I was looking for Real Old Style Blues, mostly Chicago Blues. I had the chance to meet and play with legends like Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Stroger, James Wheeler, and learn from them.

I was lookin for something impossible to find in Europe, or just very rare to find. Everybody in my area was playing rock-blues and beyond but very few people was deep down on the real root blues.

So I decided to go to Chicago and see what was still there remaining from the old days. And to answer to the next question, that has been the most interesting period in my life for sure … I just discovered a new world, a different point of view.

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

I will never forget Campli nel Blues 2005 in a small village close to my city in Italy. I had the chance to be on stage with Big Jack Johnson, Gary Primich, Junior Watson, Bob Stroger, Sax Gordon and Enrico Crivellaro. We were playing the Mel London Classic “Since I Met You Baby” and it was Big Jack birthday, and he was SMOKIN' I never heard nothing like that and he was standin right by me bendin those incredible notes. You will find a version of that song dedicated to Big Jack on my next coming out CD.

And I will never forget my gig at Virginia Beach Blues Festival 2011 with Willie Big Eyes Smith, Bob Stroger and Jimmy Mayes. We drove during the night for 14 hours and we got there just for soundcheck. I remember before to get on stage Willie came to me and said “Hey Luca, thank you for been here with me”. I was honoured to be there.

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

Fortunately I had many good moments on my career (and I hope to have more) but for sure I remember one of my first gig in Chicago with JW Williams; I was a substitution for Shun Kikuta, who was busy touring with Koko Taylor at that time. I’ll never forget that phone call from JW askin me to perform with him the same night at Kingston Mines. On the next stage was Billy Branch and Sons Of The Blues and next door at B.L.U.E.S. was Carlos Johnson Band.  I have to thank my friend Guy King (incredible guitar player) for givin JW my number that day.

Few days later I had one of my worst moments. I was at Blue Chicago havin a beer with my good friend Breezy and listenin to Patricia Scott with JW Williams on bass and Guy King on guitar. JW invited me on stage and he started “Love And Happiness” straight … I was not ready … I forgot all chords of the song and I only played the solo … After that now I know that song VERY good!                  (Luca and JW Williams, photo by Kristina Sabaliauskaite)

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

Because Blues Music speaks the truth … you can't lie... it’s something deep, something can catch the crowd easily with genuine emotions. And people need that, people need that moment of honest and spontaneous feeling, either good or bad. That's why you don’t see much Blues on Television, cause most of the time what you see on TV it’s just fake, it’s a product manufactured for business purposes, and you forget all about real emotions. Then you put some Otis Rush and here we go … back to the truth.

Do you remember anything funny from Les Getrex, Sharon Lewis, Billy Branch and Eddie C. Campbell?

How can I forget Blue Mondays at Artis's Lounge, down at the South Side Chicago 87th street where Billy Branch and his band use to perform? You go there and you meet Magic Slim drinkin a beer, Billy Boy Arnold talkin with some friends, me smokin a cigarette together with one of my idols Lurrie Bell. That was a lot of fun, every Monday, and was pretty unusual for a white young guy hangin around in that black neighborhood.

I had a lot of funny moments touring with Les Getrex in Italy and also with Sharon Lewis, but I will never forget my time in Chicago with Eddie C.

Eddie is one of the greatest persons I ever met in my life. I was lucky enough to be hangin around Chicago with him together with my friend and great harp player Quique Gomez. I remember when Eddie brought us to have a beer on the west-side in a small club, riding together with him in his old car, and he also showed us his bus parked somewhere in that crazy area. I love Eddie C. Campbell hope he will be back on the scene soon.

"My Music Philosophy is based on “open mind”. I don’t like conflicts between traditional, purist blues, and modern or innovative forms of blues." Photo: Luca with Quique Gomez and Bob Stroger

What is the best advice ever given you and what advice would you give to a new European blues musician?

The best advice was given me by Bob Stroger. He never told me nothing straight, but its just the way he is. He always says “Music is about having fun, if you're havin fun on stage people will feel that” He's a Zen Master, never stressed, always happy, no superstar, he likes to talk to the people. He's the one I learnt more from. Don’t rush, just be yourself and have fun!

Are there any memories from Jimmy Burns and JW William which you’d like to share with us?

I could stay here talkin hours about my adventures with Jimmy Burns in particular. But the best time I’ve had with him was in Spain, together again with my friend Quique Gomez. We were opening Elie PaperBoy, big star in Europe. And I remember we were in the dressing room having a couple of beers when somebody knocked at the door: it was PaperBoy. He wanted to talk to Jimmy cause he said he was one of his idols and he asked him to sing a song together. Jimmy had a ball that night: we just rocked the place (around 5000 people) and after us PaperBoy did grew and invited Jimmy on stage. They had so much fun toghether.

From the musical point of view what are the differences between: European and American Blues scene?

Well, in United States, kids they grow up listenin and playin music, good music, and real good music. They play it and listen to it every Sunday in the church, every night in Blues Clubs and also you can find many radio channels playin Blues.

They're like a big family. They help each other. In in Europe maybe it’s more difficult for local musician to get exposure.

"Blues music comes from simple people, genuine people, comes from a culture way far from today idols like capitalism and straight business. Blues music brings you back to the real meaning of life, makes you discover what’s really important for you, and helps you to take out your emotions in the most authentic way. No Fiction."                                       (Photo by Kristina Sabaliauskaite)

Make an account of the case of the blues in Italy. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene and why?

In Italy you have hundreds of summer Blues festivals around June/July/August, big crowd, big following and a lot of American Artists performing (unfortunately not many European Musicians). But when it comes to fall/winter season it’s a disaster. Very few clubs they like to spend and create a good Blues scene. They only wake up in the summertime.

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

I miss mostly the music. Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, Lightinin Hopkins etc. We still have B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and few other legends keeping the real blues alive. But there are also some other great artists I respect like Joe Louis Walker, Robert Cray. We need these people to keep on delivering good stuff … My biggest fear is that one day we will call Blues something very far from Blues cause like always the market will take over. It’s already happening today. We have many “Blues Festival” who don’t have on the bill no one real Blues Band, but mostly rock – pop famous band to get the people.

Which memory from James Wheeler and Eric Guitar Davis makes you smile?

When I first went to Chicago on 2005 I was playing with James Wheeler Band and hosting the Thursday Jam session at Rosa's Lounge. I learnt a lot from James Wheeler, licks, chords and I was so affascinated by his style. He was part of the Otis Rush Band, and Otis Rush is one of my major influences.

Many things make smile also about my collaboration with Eric Davis.

Eric is a great talent and a great person, and I remember so many funny moments together, especially touring United States with his band! One of the last funny things or Eric that I remember is when during a show in Trasimeno Blues Festival he jumped into the lake and kept on playing his wireless guitar.                                          (Photo: Luca and James Wheeler in Rosa's Lounge) 

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and World music?

According to me, Jazz and Blues can be so close each other but can also be so far…very far…especially regarding the different approach you have.

Improvisation is the key for both, but feeling and groove are more typical on Blues and Soul music!

Which incident of Blues history you‘d like to be captured and illustrated in a painting with you?

I would love to be in a painting with B.B. King playing one of his first shows in front of a white audience. That was history!

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

Ok perfect! Back to Chicago 1965. I would like to attend a Magic Sam show!!

If we can’t do that then Chicago 1976 I wanna go at the Wise Fools Pub cause Otis Rush is gonna record his future Delmark CD!!!

Luca Giordano - official website

Photo by Giovanni Paolo Perticone

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