Q&A with Blues Hall of Famer musician Jeff Pitchell, an acclaimed artist of Americana, Blues, Funk, R&B/Soul, Rock

"I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned it’s to not take yourself too seriously it seems Music is the healer for the giver and the receiver, so I have to take care of myself so that I’m able to deliver a consistent performance to help people and help myself."

Jeff Pitchell: Music is the Healer

Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jeff Pitchell, achieved national recognition when his album, Heavy Hitter (2002), reached #7 on the Billboard charts, outselling Delbert McClinton, Robert Cray, Etta James, Johnny Lee Hooker & Muddy Waters. Jeff has recorded with such greats as J. Geils, Rick Derringer, Dave Mason, James Cotton, and Clarence Clemons. He received international recognition when he toured Europe, playing with the Commitments as a special guest. He won the “Best Guitarist” in the State of Connecticut at age 15. He has won numerous awards since, including two songwriting awards from the Great American Songwriting Contest. The International Songwriting Contest judge and renowned blues legend John Mayall subsequently recorded Pitchell’s song “An Eye For An Eye” on one of his albums. Pitchell and his band, Texas Flood, won the BEST BLUES ACT in New England in a six-state vote. In 2023, Pitchell released Playin’ With My Friends.                                (Jeff Pitchell / Photo by Mike Marques)

Guitarist singer songwriter Jeff Pitchell has found a way to encompass the wide swath of these styles on his latest album, Brown Eyed Blues (2024). He is delivering an ambitious sixteen track collection of over a dozen original songs, remixes, and a bonus live take. Pitchell enlisted a cadre of talented friends to help with this endeavor including Tom Hambridge (co-composer, co-producer, drums), Reese Wynans, Duane Betts, Rick Derringer, and the late great Charles Neville.

Interview by Michael Limnios          Special Thanks: Betsie Brown (Blind Raccoon)

How has the Blues and Rock music influenced your views of the world? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

I feel grateful and fortunate to play the music. I love and respect. Like most musicians I seem to be hypersensitive. The hardships of the world are real and are more accessible to us through today’s technology. They impact us all deeply. I am lucky to express that through my music. The blues music takes technique to execute and to convey emotion and soul. I hope I possess these characteristics.

Currently you’ve one release with many guests. Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album Brown Eyed Blues?

The most compelling story besides working with the notable friends who also happen to be famous on this album was the story behind the song Brown eyed blues. A dear friend of mine, called me heartbroken over a girl who had just broken up with him. After months of a blissful love affair, she told him she rushed into it, and that it all happened too fast. I felt really bad for him because he’s a great person and a very sincere fellow who did not deserve to be treated this way. Then I asked him what color eyes does she have. I was kind of joking but then the song wrote itself from there. “she’s a snake with lipstick” I wrote “a witch with no broom” I wrote it for him, and he really liked it.  Another song on the album I composed is called When We Kiss.  I wrote it after playing with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead in California when touring with J Geils.  That experience inspired me to write a song in a tribute to the Grateful Dead. Duane Betts and I came up with a guitar harmony in this song to purposely mesh The Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead sounds together.                                       (Photo: Jeff Pitchell)

The result is going over phenomenally live, and people really love to dance to it. The song was produced by Tom Hambridge, a multi-Grammy musician, producer in Nashville, who also plays drums on the track. The song “Brown Eyed Blues was produced by Bruce Feiner who has worked with Lucky Peterson and many other prestigious blues artists. Rick Derringer, a friend produced, sand and played guitar on Got To Keep My Head Up which is about our son Christian, who passed away. This album has many emotional roller coasters on it. Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers sings lead on Meet Me With Your Black Drawers on and it’s just an uplifting shuffle. The most uplifting experience was the song welcome to the beat, which I wrote about a utopia of music, dancing, and laughter in a backdrop of world harmony. It has a Santanaesque feeling, and my parents sing in Greek on the choruses about love. This is a multicultural song that my parents really brought to life along with Bill Holoman who played trumpet, sax, Keys and backing vocals. I think this is one of the most uplifting, strongest songs on the album.

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

I really miss buying albums and connecting with artists on many levels. I miss seeing those acts live for reasonable money and with no technical assistance I fear playing instruments and singing will be a thing of the past. Let’s hope not.

What has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome as a person and as artist and has this helped you become a better blues musician?

The most difficult obstacles for me have been loss. I have lost 11 keyboard players over the years to drugs and alcohol. I have lost 20 close friends to the same culprit. My next album will be about helping people with drugs and alcohol, veterans and the mentally ill. I already have nine songs written where the themes and messages are woven deep in between the lines. I’m a better musician today because I don’t take life for granted after the COVID-19 shut down and the losing of so many colleagues and close friends due to alcohol and drugs.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned it’s to not take yourself too seriously it seems Music is the healer for the giver and the receiver, so I have to take care of myself so that I’m able to deliver a consistent performance to help people and help myself.

"I really miss buying albums and connecting with artists on many levels. I miss seeing those acts live for reasonable money and with no technical assistance I fear playing instruments and singing will be a thing of the past. Let’s hope not."

(Jeff Pitchell / Photo by Mike Marques)

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications?  How do you want the music to affect people?

This album (Brown Eyed Blues, 2024) is very positive and uplifting the song “Every Day “seems to be my two daughters, favorite song... The song is about getting up every day and doing what you have to do it states you have to forget the past and is very uplifting. I believe my daughters think all the songs are good, but there are many inspiring and uplifting messages in this collection that I’m proud of.

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?

Music has taken over my life I didn’t choose it. It chose me and I’m grateful. However, my Dad always urged me to get a college degree to have something to fall back on. I earned my degree from Central Connecticut State University with a Bachelor in Education and a minor in psychology. I still teach today and find it more gratifying than I ever had before. Thanks for this opportunity!!

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