Q&A with Blue Largo (Eric Lieberman & Alicia Aragon) - traditional 40’s-50’s era blues, jazz and swing band

"I believe that good music is always an expression of the times, and that it is a great catalyst to help bring the world together."

Blue Largo: Let The Good Times Roll

Blue Largo was formed by guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon in 1999. Eric recruited his old music partner, saxophonist Jonny Viau from as far back as 1982, when they were both sidemen in the King Biscuit Blues Band, and together with pianist Sue Palmer, drummer Phil Rowley, bassist Roger Daschle and baritone sax man Troy Jennings, the band released its debut album, “What A Day!” produced by Rick Holmstrom in the year 2000. The band went through a few personnel changes, and with piano virtuoso, Carl Sonny Leyland and bassist Chris Crepps on board, released its second record “Still In Love With You” in 2002. While maintaining its home base in San Diego, California during the past fifteen years, Blue Largo has traveled up and down the California coast, playing such well known venues as Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, The Derby in Los Angeles and the legendary Blue Café in Long Beach.

In November 2006, Eric developed a rare neurological condition called focal dystonia, which affected the coordination in his right hand, thus putting an end to any further recording plans until May 2015. With great dedication and hard work, Eric has  overcome his focal dystonia to the point where he felt he would be able to record again, and the result is the band’s third album, entitled “Sing Your Own Song” released September 2015. Blue Largo has always been a traditional 1940’s / ‘50’s era blues band, specializing in covers by such artists as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Julia Lee. Eric never considered himself a songwriter, but has rather always focused on paying tribute to the great artists whom he loves so much. However, he jotted down a few ideas over the years, which he and Alicia revisited when they decided to record their current album, and lo and behold, “Sing Your Own Song” contains seven original songs, which the band is most proud of and excited about! BLUE LARGO's fourth album BEFORE THE DEVIL STEALS YOUR SOUL, will be released, on OCTOBER 19, 2018. Co-produced by Eric Lieberman and Nathan James, "BEFORE THE DEVIL STEALS YOUR SOUL’S 14 tracks (plus a bonus track), include ten original songs, as well as soul and R&B covers of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good", Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted", Nat Adderley's "Work Song", and a mambo guitar instrumental that pays tribute to the great Cuban guitarist, Manuel Galban.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and soul music and culture? What does the blues mean to you?

Eric: Well, I really don’t know what I’ve learned about myself from blues and soul music, and its culture. I know that I have identified with it since I was first seriously introduced to blues, around 1980, when I was 24 years old, and it is the first music that really inspired me to dedicate myself to being the best guitar player I could be. I grew up listening to and playing 1970’s rock music, and it was always more about being in a band just to meet chicks and be popular because I was so bad at sports. I always loved music but I was too social when I was younger to sit in my room and practice my guitar four or five hours a day. So while I listened to all these Hendrix, Clapton, Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin records growing up, I never really studied and learned those guitar solos. That started for me when I was 24 and I heard T Bone Walker for the first time. To be precise, it was his guitar solo on Street Walkin’ Woman from the Complete Imperial Recordings double LP, and I haven’t stopped to this day! I think something that I learned about myself from blues, soul and its culture is that I really appreciate the style that musicians like T Bone, B.B. King, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, Muddy Waters and all those artists brought to the music…the way they dressed and the way they carried themselves in public. Before I discovered blues, I was somewhat of a hippie… long hair, ripped jeans and all that. Observing the blues musicians whom I grew to love and revere taught me how to dress with style!

The blues is just a type of music like any other type of music, although it is either consciously or subconsciously the basis of pretty much every other type of American music, whether it be jazz, soul, rock or hip hop. What it means to me personally, beyond the fact that I love listening to it and playing it, is that it gave me a sense of identity, respect and something I could be proud of, and that is huge!

Alicia: I grew up listening to mostly to Motown and always dreamt of being a back up singer.  But I was always shy and never sang in public until I started singing blues with Eric around fifteen years ago. So blues gave me the confidence to get out there in front of an audience and bear my soul through my singing.

How do you describe Blue Largo sound and songbook? What characterize band’s philosophy and what is the story behind band’s name BLUE LARGO?

Eric: I would describe our sound over the band’s first fifteen years as traditional 1940’s/’50’s urban blues, in the vain of Dinah Washington, Julia Lee, T-Bone Walker, Louis Jordan, The King Cole Trio, etc. Some people might describe us as jazz or swing, but back in that era the lines between blues, jazz and swing were much more blurred than they seem to be today. That being said, with our latest record, Sing Your Own Song, we have seven originals, which I wanted to sound like we wrote them in 2015, and which were lyrically  informed by our own life experiences, not by those of someone who grew up in the African American music community of the 1940’s or ‘50’s. And the music on this record for most part sounds a little more contemporary, maybe more 1960’s rhythm and blues, soul and even gospel influenced. Unlike our first two records, on which I only played a Gibson Archtop guitar, I’m playing a Stratocaster on a lot of the new record, and Hammond organ is also prevalent on the new record for the first time in our musical journey.

As for the band’s “philosophy,” I believe it’s just playing what we love and staying true to ourselves both musically and personally. And I hope we continue to always grow, that we are a better band next year than we are this year.

Alicia: Our music is mostly blues, jazz and swing from the 1940’s and ‘50’s. And now with our latest record, Sing Your Own Song, we have our original songs, which probably sound a little more 1960’s era rhythm and blues inspired. Lyrically, the new original songs are more the stories of our lives today, as opposed to being in the vain of more traditional blues lyrics.

The band’s name Blue Largo comes from a rather obscure Bill Doggett song from the 1950’s King Records era. Eric is a big fan of Bill Doggett, and especially of his guitar players, Billy Butler and Bill Jennings. Eric and saxophonist Jonny Viau recorded Doggett’s big R & B hit Honky Tonk with the classic Billy Butler guitar solo on our What A Day cd. We have the original Blue Largo 45 framed and hanging on our wall, and recently someone even gave us a 78 of this recording!

How do you describe "Before The Devil Steals Your Soul" songbook and sound? Where does your creative drive come from?

Eric: I would describe “Before The Devil Steals Your Soul” as “original vintage rhythm and blues,” but there are still a few covers on there as well. I like to call our music “original vintage rhythm and blues”  because most of it is our own original material that addresses current issues, such as the political and social state of America in 2018, losing a loved one after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, the need to live our lives to the fullest, in truth and with integrity before it’s too late, and the power of music to heal, make us want to live up to our highest ideals, and break down barriers between people of different cultures and mindsets.  I could try to write in the voice of a 1950’s blues artist such as Louis Jordan or T Bone Walker, and I know there are a lot of our peers today who do that. But I feel it is less genuine because we did not grow up in that time and culture. So I really don’t try to write in any voice other than my own, which basically just comes down to whatever I’m thinking about and feeling passionate about at the time. Meanwhile, because I pretty much only listened to and played traditional blues for the past forty years, and grew up in the 1960’s listening to soul and Motown on the AM radio in my parent’s car, it seems that our sound is “vintage rhythm and blues” without even trying to make it that way. That’s just how we play!

As for where my “creative drive” comes from, that’s a difficult one to answer because it comes from an amalgam of so many things. I grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and I remember going to the boardwalk with my parents when I was maybe six or seven years old, and we’d walk past this bar called The Wonder Bar, that always had a live band playing. And even at that very young age, I was very drawn to that, without thinking about it or knowing why. We also used to vacation in Miami Beach in the early sixties, and they had these Caribbean bands that all just called themselves The Calypso Boys, who would go from hotel to hotel, playing poolside at each hotel for around thirty minutes, and I was also incredibly captivated by that. Now getting back to Asbury Park, but when I was a little older, fourteen years old in 1970, I saw Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt playing in a band called Steel Mill at a local college gym, and that inspired me to want to be a musician more than anything in my life. Even at that very early point in their career, their passion was unlike anything I’d witnessed before, although by that time I’d seen The Beach Boys, The Jefferson Airplane, The Who and The Doors. And after that, until this very day almost fifty years later, playing guitar is really all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life.

I came to blues rather late, when I was already twenty-five years old, in 1981. But that was such a great time for the resurgence of blues. I saw Junior Watson with The Mighty Flyers, Kid Ramos and Hollywood Fats with The James Harman Band, Jimmy Vaughan with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ronnie Earl with Roomful of Blues, and  Anson Funderburgh, all within about a six month period, and I cannot overstate how powerful and inspiring that was for me. I got deeply into Little Walter with Louis Myers and Robert Jr. Lockwood, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, BB, and most of all T Bone Walker. And for the first time in my life, I felt that I had truly found my musical path forward. So, in a nutshell, I guess it was all these other musicians that I’ve encountered throughout my life who gave me my “creative drive!”.

Alicia: I would say that “Before The Devil Steals Your Soul” is about living life to the fullest, the camaraderie of the musicians, and a great way to share the love and joy of what we do.  My creative drive comes from my parents, who were both singers (although not professionally), and also just from the sheer joy of singing. I have always been shy and therefore not too quick to jump up in front of a crowd, but Eric has always encouraged and inspired me. When I was younger I was really into the Motown girl groups, and it was always a dream of mine to be a back up singer like all those groups had, never the lead vocalist, front person. But it was Eric who encouraged me to become that front person, and I guess after twenty years I’m fairly comfortable with it, although I still think I’m shy and do still sometimes get stage fright.

What touched (emotionally) you from Manuel Galban's music and Tarantino or Morricone Spaghetti Western soundtracks?

Eric: I’m a big fan of Cuban guitar playing, which I first became aware of through The Buena Vista Social Club cd around 1999. However, I never even thought about playing anything like this myself. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy music without thinking about wanting to play it, which is also the case for me with Jamaican music. But last summer I had the Ry Cooder/ Manuel Galban cd “Mambo Sinuendo” in our cd changer for quite sometime, and for whatever reason, after hearing it for something like fifty times I thought about trying to figure out how to play “Bodas De Oro,” just for the hell of it. I was not thinking about bringing anything like this to our band, but one thing led to another, and next thing you know we were recording it for this new record. Because it’s not an easy song to begin with, and moreover because it’s so far out of our natural comfort zone, it was a great challenge for the band to do it justice, but I believe we ultimately got a very good version of it, that we’re very proud of. And I’d especially like to mention the great piano playing of Taryn Donath in helping to achieve that, as she is probably more of a disciple of Latin jazz than any of us, and I believe truly inhabits the spirit of the great Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez on this recording.

As for what touched me about using a Quentin Tarantino or Ennio Morricone type soundscape for the song “Monrovia,” that wasn’t too much of a conscious thought process. I’ve always loved those soundtracks, and am especially a big fan of Tarantino movies. With “Monrovia,” which is the first and only fictional song I’ve ever written, it just seemed that the chord changes, melody and story inspired that kind of musical ambience.

Alicia: Although Eric picked Manuel Galban’s “Bodas De Oro” for the record, I love it because I think it is very unique, and I also have an innate love and passion for Latin music because of my Mexican heritage. My mother always listened to great Mexican and Spanish music, and I still listen to all of those old records of hers to this day. I’m also especially proud of both Eric’s and our piano player Taryn Donath’s sweet playing on Bodas. It knocks me out!

How has the Rhythm & Blues and Jazz influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Eric: I’m not sure how rhythm and blues and jazz have influenced my views of the world. I do know that jazz is often described as the ultimate experience in democracy, because in order for it to work everyone needs to listen to everyone else, and work together to achieve a beneficial, pleasing result. And I do love democracy! I hate authoritarianism! But I’m not sure if my love for rhythm and blues and jazz leads me to think and feel this way, or of it’s my love for democracy that makes me love rhythm and blues and jazz so much. I guess it’s kind of a chicken and the egg situation, in terms of which comes first and which follows.

Alicia: I believe that good music is always an expression of the times, and that it is a great catalyst to help bring the world together.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Eric: Within six months of discovering blues, I saw Jimmie Vaughan with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ronnie Earl with Roomful of Blues, Junior Watson with Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Anson Funderburgh, and both Kid Ramos and Hollywood Fats with the James Harman Band. With the exception of Jimmie Vaughan , all of these guitar players befriended me over the years and all of them have been incredibly inspirational and encouraging to me. Meanwhile, I grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and it was Bruce Springsteen playing around the Jersey Shore as a local musician in the early 1970’s, who I believe instilled in me the unbridled passion I have for playing music to this day.

The best advice I ever got was from my parents, just growing up in their presence. They taught me how to love, how to be thoughtful, considerate, generous and respectful. They taught me to always try my hardest and do my best, but that there is no shame in coming up short so long as I did my best. They taught me optimism, and as the line in Sing Your Own Song goes, “In my darkest hour of despair, there’s a light just around the bend.”

Alicia: Well, I’d have to say that Eric has been my most important acquaintance because he’s the one who really encouraged me to get out there and start singing with him, and still gives me the confidence that I can do it! I also feel so honored and privileged to be playing with all of our musicians, who are some of the best blues players you’ll find anywhere today. While most of them have been playing professionally longer than me, they always treat me with love, respect and as an equal. Also, in the 1980’s / early ‘90’s, before I started singing professionally I worked as a waitress at a great jazz venue in La Jolla, California called Elarios. They had musicians such as Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Pappa John Creach, Eddie Harris, Johnny Otis, Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Barbara Morrison and Anita O’Day, who would play five night stints, often for several weeks in a row, so I really got to know many of them personally, and just being around musicians like this was such an inspiration.

The best advice anybody ever gave me was to always do my best and stay true to myself.

Are there any memories from the Southern California blues community in the 1980s, which you’d like to share with us?

Eric: There are so many great memories from the Southern California blues community in the 1980’s. For one thing, back then we could play twenty nights a month without even trying to get gigs. We were young, our audience was young and going out to see live music three, four or five nights a week, and the clubs were packed and making money by having blues bands. And when we weren’t playing ourselves, we could most likely find The Mighty Flyers, James Harman Band or The Paladins playing close by. We have a great music venue in Solana Beach called The Belly Up Tavern, where Roomful of Blues, Anson and the Rockets and The Fabulous Thunderbirds played several times throughout the year. I got to play there myself, opening up for Gatemouth Brown and Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, and we also had a regular Sunday evening gig there with our own band, The Juke Stompers. When The Paladins were home in San Diego, we did those Sundays with a band that Dave Gonzalez put together called The Joint Chiefs, that consisted of players from different bands. Dave often had Al Blake from the Hollywood Fats band fronting, and sometimes we had Al Duncan, who recorded with Little Walter and Buddy Guy, playing drums with us. When The James Harman Band played The Belly Up, Hollywood Fats would usually stay down in San Diego for a couple of days, and he’d give these guitar seminars that we all went to and learned so much from.

Alicia: For me, the 1980’s were the best time for live music, and for live blues and jazz in particular in Southern California. Before I started to sing professionally around 1999, I worked as a waitress and I would always intentionally seek employment at clubs that featured live blues or jazz. I worked at a club in San Diego, called The Mandolin Wind from 1982 until 1985, and that’s where I met Eric, when he was playing with the house band there, The King Biscuit Blues Band. King Biscuit played The Mandolin Wind every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, fifty weeks out of the year, and it was always packed with real blues fans. The club also had  Anson and the Rockets, Charlie Musslewhite with Hollywood Fats, Jimmy Rogers, Gatemouth Brown and Albert Collins for special event shows throughout the years, and that was about the smallest and most intimate venue you’d be lucky enough to see any of these great artists. After the Mandolin Wind I worked for fourteen years at a jazz club in La Jolla called Elario’s, where musicians like Eddie Cleanhead Vincent, Pappa John Creach, Eddie Harris, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Hank Crawford, Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell were regulars, playing five-night engagements, often for three weeks running, several times a year. Because of this I was fortunate enough to get to know these musicians pretty well, and one night we even had a barbeque with Eddie Harris and Tutti Heath, his drummer at the time.

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

Eric: With regard to the most important lesson I’ve learned from the music industry, I’d have to say that the only good reason to play is for the love of the music itself, and everything else is just icing on the cake. Of course we would like this record to be a commercial success, and we’d love to be able to play more festivals and other high profile gigs. But even that would only be meaningful as a path to giving us more opportunities to play, which is first, second and third! Without any doubt, the best feeling in my life is when the band is hitting that magic soul, and it doesn’t matter where we’re playing, how many people are there or how much we’re getting paid. I live for those moments!

Alicia: I’ve learned from the music industry to conquer my fears and to just go for it. I  know what a hard, frustrating industry this is, and that the best work is not always justly rewarded. So the best way for me to stay positive is not to put too much of an emphasis on that, and to just keep singing from the heart, for the pure love of the music itself.

Do you consider the Jazz and Blues, a specific music and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

Eric: I do consider jazz and blues to be specific forms of music in the technical sense, but at the same time I believe that they are vacuous without soul. And I believe that the soul required to make jazz or blues meaningful and worth listening to does come from the artist’s

state of mind.” This is deep music with so much history, and for me it’s pretty obvious when a jazz or blues artist either does or doesn’t have the deep love, respect, knowledge and innate feeling for the music. And if they don’t have those things, I’m probably not interested, no matter how good they may play from a technical standpoint.

Alicia: I would say that jazz and blues are specific art forms, but that they can definitely invoke a certain state of mind in the listener. As a performer, I think that a jazz or blues singer probably has somewhat of a different state of mind than a hard rock, hip hop or country singer. It’s largely the “attitude” that makes the music believable!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Eric: I’ve had some great opportunities and experiences throughout the years. I’ve played the Doheny Blues Festival in front of 5,000 people, the San Diego blues Festival in front of 2,000 people, and have opened up for artists such B.B. King, Gatemouth Brown and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. But some of the most meaningful and inspired experiences I’ve ever had have been in small clubs dwith maybe just ten or fifteen people in the audience, because the band was just so connected with each oth calleer, and those ten or fifteen people in the room were probably more genuinely connected to what we were doing than the thousands of people at a festival. Of course I have much more time under my belt playing clubs, and hopefully with the experience of playing more festivals we can achieve that same level of intensity and intimacy that we can get in a smaller venue. As for studio sessions, while recording can be so extremely rigorous and intense, two of the best and most meaningful musical experiences I’ve had were mixing our first record What A Day with Rick Holmstrom and mixing Sing Your Own Song with Nathan James. They are two of my favorite people and guitar players in the world, and I will forever cherish the hours spent mixing those records with both of them.

Alicia: Well, there are so many special moments, but one that comes to mind is the time we were playing at a San Diego club called Humphrey’s, and Chuck Mangione was playing the outdoor concert on their big stage. He came into our gig after his concert was over and he sat in with us for an entire set. He was playing killer blues and was so positive about what we were doing. He said playing with us reminded him of why he started playing in the first place!

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

Eric: I guess the thing I miss most is an audience that’ll come out to support live blues in the clubs four or five nights a week. Nowadays it seems that people will come out for special events, festivals, cd release parties and things like that, but it’s hard to get people out to the clubs just to listen to live music on any given night of the week. I chalk it up to age demographics. When I started playing blues in the clubs in and around San Diego in the early 1980’s, I was in my twenties, and our audience was in their twenties or thirties. Those people would come out to see us any night of the week, over and over again. It was a scene that fed upon itself and because of that we could play twenty nights a month without even really trying. Today, that same audience is in their fifties and sixties. They have responsible jobs, kids and grandkids, and I think they just don’t have the motivation to be going out to a bar or nightclub four or five nights a week like they did when they were younger. I believe the people who are in their twenties today are still going out to clubs on a regular and frequent basis, but they have their own music and their own scene, and it’s something other than what we’re doing.

My hopes for the future are to be able to continue playing and to hopefully be able to play a little more frequently, to keep writing and recording, and to continue to attract an audience that is passionate about what we do. My fears are that these things are not easy to accomplish in a more hospitable environment, and I fear that the environment for what we’re doing will become even less hospitable over the next decade. I sure hope I’m wrong though!

Alicia: The thing I miss most about the music of the past is that the audience for that type music is so small today. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, ‘70’s and 80’s, we never went anyplace if there wasn’t a live band playing. Today it seems that seeing a live band in a club is not that high on most people’s list of things to do for entertainment. Today there are too many other distractions with things like YouTube, Netflix and all that, so live music seems to take a back seat.

My hope for the future is that there is somehow a resurgence of interest for what we do. My fear is that this won’t happen.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Eric: I’d be famous!!! I’m semi joking, but I would like to be better known only so I’d have more opportunities to play, since there’s nothing else in the world I love doing as much as that.

Alicia: Vintage blues and Rhythm and Blues would be the most popular music of today!

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul, Swing and continue to R&B and Jazz music?

Eric: Well for one thing, they all arise out of the African American experience during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And as I said before, I think that up until maybe the 1960’s, the lines between all these forms of music were much less defined than they are today. For instance, look at artists like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Charlie Christian or Dinah Washington, just to name a few. They could just as easily be labeled blues or jazz artists. What about Ray Charles, who could be labeled jazz, blues, soul or R & B? Or Hank Ballard and  the Midnighters or Bill Doggett, who could be labeled either blues or R & B. In fact, most of my favorite guitar players, such as Charlie Christian, Tiny Grimes, Bill Jennings, Billy Butler, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel are all classified as “jazz” in  the mainstream, but to me they’re all “blues” players, and arguably the greatest blues players in the world. I would way rather hear Grant Green playing the blues than some guy with a Stratocaster, hat, scarf and snakeskin boots, claiming to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughan……with all due respect to Stevie himself. And I think a lot of this sentiment goes back to the African American experience and the era factors. For my tastes, too many so called blues musicians today are too influenced by rock, and I believe blues is an “attitude” every bit as much it’s notes and chords. If a guy is playing a T Bone Walker guitar solo note for note, but he plays with a Jimmy Page attitude and tone, it’s gonna sound like rock to me, not blues.

What does to be a female artist in a “Man’s World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Alicia: Well I don’t agree with the basic premise that it’s a “Man’s World.” There have been so many great women blues, jazz and soul vocalists throughout history, from Ma Rainy and Bessie Smith to Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, and Sharon Jones! Instead of “A Man’s World,” how about “Mamma’s Got A Brand New Bag!”

What is the impact of Blues & Soul music and culture to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

Eric: I don’t think that blues and soul music and culture have any significant racial, political or socio-cultural implications today. The unfortunate reality is that this music is music of another time, long in the past. I believe that the music of each generation is what is most relevant to what is happening culturally and politically at the time. So without knowing much about it, I’d venture to say that hip hop and rap probably speak most relevantly to the racial, political and socio-cultural issues of today. However, I do believe that blues, jazz and soul had great impact on these issues when they were the current music of their times. For instance, Benny Goodman arguably did as much to break down racial barriers in the music world when he hired Charlie Christian, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson to be in his band in the 1930’s, as the Brooklyn Dodgers did in the sports world when they drafted Jackie Robinson. And there is a plethora of blues songs from the 1930’s and ‘40’s that talk about the hardships and inequities of living in the Jim Crow south. We had Ray Charles and Quincy Jones refusing to play for segregated audiences in the south in the 1950’s, and of course the soul music of James Brown, The Staples Singers, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield made up the soundtrack of the civil rights movement in the ‘60’s. But I honestly can’t say that I see these forms of music having anything close to the same racial, political or socio-cultural impact today.

Alicia: I would agree with Eric that each generation has its own story to tell through music, regarding the political, racial and cultural issues of the day, and unfortunately blues and soul are not the preferred music of today’s generation.

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

Eric: Oh, I guess it would have to be Central Avenue in Los Angeles, somewhere between 1947-1955. I’d see T Bone Waker and his band at the club Alabam, and then I’d go next door to see Ray Charles. A little later I might go across the street to see Bill Doggett with Billy Butler on guitar, and then I’d cap off the night with Billie Holiday!

Alicia: I would go to 52nd Street in New York City in the late 1940’s or 1950’s….bright lights, big city!

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