Q&A with blues guitar master Bernard Allison, celebrates the music of his father Luther Allison, true legend of the blues

"My sound is based on the traditional blues, gospel, funk, rock. I think all my recordings have bits and pieces, of all those genres. Which I grew up with in my household, continue to rely on them still today."

Bernard Allison: Legendary Blues Bloodline

Arriving as Ruf Records marks its 30th anniversary and more than three decades since blues guitar master Bernard Allison debuted on record, Luther's Blues celebrates the music of Bernard's father Luther Allison, a true legend of the Chicago blues and a central figure in the label's history. The two-disc set features 20 stellar tracks from Bernard Allison, each one a Luther Allison composition previously released on one of Bernard's many albums. Allison himself hand-picked the songs for the collection, which have been lovingly remastered by Pauler Acoustics, a renowned address in the audiophile scene. Anyone who's ever attended a Bernard Allison concert or listened to his recordings knows how much it means to him to keep his father's musical legacy alive. Bernard has delivered on that promise throughout his career, performing Luther's songs both at concerts and on record, while forging a funky and more rock-oriented style that differs from the traditional blues he grew up around.               (Photo: Bernard Allison)

Thus, on Luther's Blues, you'll hear 20 Luther Allison songs reinvented for the 21st century by a member of the blues generation that followed him. The 20-song Luther's Blues is not the first album to pay tribute to the late, great Luther Allison. It's not the first album to bear that simple two-word title. What makes this collection different is that it comes from Luther's own progeny – Bernard Allison, a lifelong musician who soaked up blues traditions during his youth in Chicago, later followed his dad to Europe, became the leader of the Luther Allison Band and eventually made his own way, creating exciting new sounds for a new generation. All along, he has never once lost sight of where he came from.

Interview by Michael Limnios            Special Thanks: Doug Deutsch & Ruf Records

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

It just shows you that blues music is international. Being a musician that’s travelled the world, sharing my version of the blues. Seeing all nationalities and ages, all come together, enjoying the genre of blues music.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

My sound is based on the traditional blues, gospel, funk, rock. I think all my recordings have bits and pieces, of all those genres. Which I grew up with in my household, continue to rely on them still today.

What moment changed your music life the most? What’s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

I’d have to say once I graduated from high school. Then receiving the call from the Queen of the blues Mrs. Koko Taylor. To be offered a position in her blues machine.

There’s been lots of highlights in my path. Still today I have to say hands down. Becoming the band leader for my dad’s band in 1989.A dream come true that was my number one goal. To be able to be on stage side by side with my dad. Sharing the music across the world the Allison Way.

"It just shows you that blues music is international. Being a musician that’s travelled the world, sharing my version of the blues. Seeing all nationalities and ages, all come together, enjoying the genre of blues music." (BERNARD ALLISON / PHOTO BY LAURA CARBONE)

Why do you think that Luther Alison’s Blues/music continues to generate such a devoted following?

There’s a lot of history there once you dig into it. You can hear the music mature as well as my dad in every recording...The passion and dedication as well as the energy level just sucks you in. Always making the listener feel like they’re a major part of the music being presented.

Are there any specific memories -on the road or in studio- with Luther Allison that you would like to tell us about?!

Most memorable is when he first realized I was playing guitar (1979) After hiding it for a few years learning on my own. He comes home only to discover, that I learned how to play some of his early recordings. So, he invited me to come that night to play on his live recording. ”Gonna be a live one in here tonight” recording in our home town, Peoria Illinois at the time. Where I played three tracks from the two nights recorded live shows.

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

“Leave you who play the music love the people”

pretty much sums it up!!

Do you think there is an audience for blues music in its current state? or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

Yes, the genre is in very good hands at the moment. I’m very happy to see all the black young men & woman coming up today.

Keeping the blues alive!!

Bernard Allison - Home

(BERNARD ALLISON / PHOTO BY LAURA CARBONE)

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