Q&A with bluesman Freddie Dixon, son of Willie Dixon, co-founder of the legendary band, Sons of the Blues

"The impact of Blues on the socio-culture implications is expression. The Blues teaches society that it’s okay to hold nothing back. If you’re unhappy, sing. If you’re happy, sing. Let it out. I want Blues to affect people by making them curious. Where did it come from? Why?"

Freddie Dixon: My Business is Blues 

Freddie Dixon is the embodiment of the Blues. The second son of the world-famous Seventh Son Willie Dixon, Freddie has been surrounded by the Blues since the day he was born. His father is a Blues legend as a songwriter, producer, and musician, at the helm of Chess Records for many of the sides cut in the 1950's, 60s, and into the 70's. Freddie began his career learning his chops playing with many musicians in Chicago's numerous South-side Blues clubs. He was soon hired to play in his father's band, The Chicago Blues All-Stars, and traveled around the world spreading the Gospel of the Blues. He continues to perform as Freddie Dixon and the Chicago Blues All-Stars.

(Freddie Dixon / Photo by Peter Hurley)

The proverbial torch was handed to Freddie in the early 1990's when Willie Dixon passed away. Since then, Freddie has continued as a Blues Ambassador, playing in front of crowds from Europe to Australia, as well as locally in Chicago. In 2020, Freddie -- along with Chicago Blues legends John Watkins and Maurice John Vaughan -- produced a well-received two-disc CD called 3By3. Freddie Dixon is a proud member of the Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame. Chicago Blues great Freddie Dixon embarks on a tour of beautful Brazil, with six big upcoming shows: Nov. 11 (Fri)  MERCADO BLUES FEST@ITAJAI (SANTA CATARINA) 9 pm / Nov. 13 (Sun) PACIFICO BAR & LOUNGE@PENHA (SANTA CATARINA) 8 pm / Nov. 14 (Mon) CASA DO BOSQUE@PASSO FUNDO (RIO GRANDE DO SUL) 10 pm  / Nov. 16 (Wed) JOHNNY JACK BAR@PELOTAS (RIO GRANDE DO SUL) 10 pm  / Nov. 17 (Thur) MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES FEST@CAXIAS DO SUL (RIO GRANDE DO SUL) 11pm / Nov. 18 (Fri) WOX CLUB@POMERODE (SANTA CATARINA) 11 pm.

Interview by Michael Limnios     Special Thanks: Freddie Dixon & Doug W. Deutsch

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

The Blues and people of the Blues have influenced my views of the world and journeys by letting me know how small the world really is. By this I mean people have the same issues, dreams, ideas, and blues, no matter where they’re from.

What characterize Freddie Dixon's Blues and music philosophy? What does the blues mean to you?

What characterizes my music philosophy is its southern influence, and the fact that my father’s goal of keeping blues music alive has also has become mine.  As my father Willie Dixon said, “blues is the root, and everything is the fruit”.  What blues means to me is that it represents the past, culture and history.

Why was the Blues never a part of the pop/popular music? What's the balance in the Blues between technique and soul?

Blues was never a part of the popular music. A lot of people were ashamed of blues because it was born out of slavery and hard times. People don’t want to relate. The balance in blues between technique and soul, in my opinion, is 30/70.  Almost anyone could learn by technique, but authentic blues originate from the soul.

"Some of the most important lessons I have learned from my experience in the music path are, again, most people have the same things in common, the golden rule, “Do unto others . . .” can and should be applied to everyone, and that love is universal." (Photo: Freddie Dixon)

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 hardest obstacle for me to overcome as a person and artist, yet has helped me become a better blues musician is being Willie Dixon’s son. People expect more. On the other hand, it has opened doors.

What would you say characterizes South-side scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

What I would say characterizes the South Side Scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits is The Great Migration. Many blues greats came from “down south” to Chicago. They created a sound of their own.

Are there any memories from The Chicago Blues All-Stars gigs, and tours which you’d like to share with us?

One memory that comes to mind when I was traveling with The Chicago Blues All Stars is when I was on the road for the first time. I remember, with eyes wide opened, admiring the beautiful scenery.  “Wow”, I said, “look at all of this!” Clifton James, the drummer looked straight in my eye and said, “Shut the fuck up!”. They had seen it many times before. I was able to return the sentiment years later.

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

Some of the most important lessons I have learned from my experience in the music path are, again, most people have the same things in common, the golden rule, “Do unto others . . .” can and should be applied to everyone, and that love is universal.

Why do you think that Willie Dixon blues/music continues to generate such a devoted following?

I think that Willie Dixon blues/music continues to generate such a devoted following because his music is the true facts of life.

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

Every meeting was an important experience for me; but, the one that stands out the most is my meeting with Lafayette Leake. He gave me the best advice anyone ever gave me. It was that music is not everything. Lafayette spoke of values, honesty, and ethics.

"What I miss most nowadays from the Blues from the past I would have to reframe those questions to “who” I miss. The old Blues artists are who I miss from the past. My hopes and fears for the future of the blues are I hope it stays alive, and I fear it will not. I hope it could have a bigger platform on the radio etc." (Freddie Dixon / Photos by Peter Hurley)

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

The memories I’d like to share from gigs are the ones from the first time I played with my father on stage. To say I was a nervous wreck would be putting it mildly. Suffering through sweaty palms and a bone-dry throat, I was able to appreciate the fact, for the first time in my life, how big my father was. When he came out on stage, the crowd went wild. I had no idea how famous and popular he was. It completely blew my mind and knocked the nerves right out of me. It was amazing, something I will never forget.

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

What I miss most nowadays from the Blues from the past I would have to reframe those questions to “who” I miss. The old Blues artists are who I miss from the past. My hopes and fears for the future of the blues are I hope it stays alive, and I fear it will not. I hope it could have a bigger platform on the radio etc. These small stations that play the Blues for a couple of hours, and the ones that play one Blues song a certain time of the day need help. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for any Blues to be played anytime. I’m just saying it would be great to have more Blues played. Once people hear it, they mostly appreciate it.

John Coltrane said "My music is the spiritual expression of what I am...". How do you understand the spirit, music, and the meaning of life?

I understand the spirit, music, and the meaning of life as gifts from God.

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

The impact of Blues on the socio-culture implications is expression. The Blues teaches society that it’s okay to hold nothing back. If you’re unhappy, sing. If you’re happy, sing. Let it out. I want Blues to affect people by making them curious. Where did it come from? Why? 

"The Blues and people of the Blues have influenced my views of the world and journeys by letting me know how small the world really is. By this I mean people have the same issues, dreams, ideas, and blues, no matter where they’re from."

(Photo: Willie Dixon & His Chicago Blues All-Stars, 1981 / John Watkins, Freddie Dixon, Butch Dixon, Willie Dixon, Billy Branch, and Jimmy Tillman)

What has made you laugh and what were the most important things you learned from your late great Willie Dixon?

What made me laugh are the jokes my father used to tell on the road. Many people don’t realize how funny my father actually was. He was hilarious! One of the most important things I learned from my father is that Blue was the most important music in the world.

Freddie Dixon - Home

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