Q&A with Brazilian musician Eric Assmar, one of the main names of blues and rock scene in Latin America

"The connections between music and culture and how it leads us to see how diverse people in the world can be. As a blues researcher, Ethnomusicology was great to make me see what my place as a Brazilian musician is that plays a musical style that was born in a different country, in a different century, in a very different society. It was important on helping me to see what the blues became in the world and how it arrives in Brazil and deals with the local musical expressions."

Eric Assmar: The Home of The Blues

Winner of the Caymmi Music Award as “Best Instrument Player” (2015), Brazilian guitarist, singer and composer Eric Assmar is one of the main names of the new generation of blues and rock artists in Brazil and released three solo albums: "Eric Assmar Trio" (2012), "Morning" (2016) and “Home” (2022). As a musician, he played alongside artists such as Álvaro Assmar, Marcelo Nova, Os Panteras, André Christovam, Flávio Guimarães, and performed a lot of shows at festivals in Brazil, Europe, Canada and USA. His work as an artist has been featured and broadcasted in TV special shows for TV Brasil and TVE Bahia, as well as mentioned and stressed in articles for magazines such as Guitar Player Brasil (2015), Guitar Load (2013) and also the Wall Street International (New York/2015).                          (Eric Assmar / Photo by Uanderson Brittes)

In addition to his work as an artist, Eric Assmar is also a researcher, a blues guitar teacher, a PhD in Music (PPGMUS/UFBA) with a research on methodological perspectives on the blues guitar teaching in Brazil (2019) and a Master in Ethnomusicology, in the same University program, leading a research about the blues scene in the city of Salvador (2014). The artist is graduated in Music at Universidade Federal da Bahia (2010). Son of bluesman Álvaro Assmar (blues pioneer in Bahia), with whom he worked for many years as a musician and co-producer, Eric Assmar also produces and presents the weekly radio show Educadora Blues, for Rádio Educadora FM, the main public radio station in the state of Bahia. The show was founded by his father, Álvaro Assmar, in april 2003. Álvaro sadly passed on december 2017, leaving a huge legacy as a blues artist in Brazil. Eric helds his musical legacy as an artist and as the producer of Educadora Blues, presenting new blues releases in Brazil and around the world.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Beats and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I grew up in Salvador, Brazil, as a son of a blues/rock and roll musician and record collector. Since my childhood years, artists like the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton (which inspired my first name), the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix became a big part of my musical universe. There's a local Brazilian rock tradition in my hometown, but it's still kinda like a counterculture nowadays, not a mainstream thing. I believe being a blues and rock n roller in Brazil taught me how to understand and respect the cultural diversity, in a place surrounded by multiple ways of human expression through music and arts.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I'm a blues/rocker. A middle class, Brazilian white male who found in rock n roll a way to express myself and, right after that, discovered the blues masters. The music I play involves a lot of improvisation, but is very connected with a songwriting approach. I do like to write about stories I live, my own thoughts about aspects of life, worries, concerns and let my music make a difference in someone's day. My creative drive comes from life, with its painful and joyful experiences.

What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

First, I would definitely say playing around many cities in Brazil with my father, Álvaro Assmar, one of the pioneers of the blues in Brazil, who passed away in 2017. I was very lucky to grew up in a family that gave me a lot of support on making my music and I'm very grateful for everything I lived beside my father. I also had the opportunity of meeting legendary Johnny Winter, when my father played opening acts during his brazilian tour, back in 2010. I had a lot of career highlights playing in big cities like New York, Toronto, London (UK) and playing in a lot of good festivals, such as SXSW (Austin/Texas, United States, 2009), XI Fenart (João Pessoa/Brazil, 2010), SESC 'N' Blues (Ribeirão Preto/Brazil, 2011), VI Festival de Blues de Londrina (Londrina/Brazil, 2016), Festival de Jazz do Capão (Chapada Diamantina/Brazil, 2018), Paulo Afonso Jazz Festival (Paulo Afonso/Brazil, 2018), Blues Jazz Serra Grande (Serra Grande/Brazil, 2019), Festival Jazz no Castelo (Praia do Forte/Brazil, 2022).

"In a world of a constant developing of technologies for recording, editing, processing, shrinking audio, I think I miss the spontaneity of a simple musical expression, with its own "imperfections". I hope the new ways of making and hearing music do not take away the "human side" of the whole thing. Music is still a human expression, and life is a non-linear journey.(Eric Assmar / Photo by Uanderson Brittes)

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

In addition to the ones, I wrote before, I'd like to add playing alongside big names in brazilian music, such as Marcelo Nova (from the band Camisa de Vênus, one of the main singers/songwriters in brazilian rock history), Os Panteras (brazilian rock legend Raul Seixas's first band), André Christovam (blues pioneer in Brazil), Flávio Guimarães (one of the main harmonica blues players in Latin America, from the band Blues Etílicos).

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

In a world of a constant developing of technologies for recording, editing, processing, shrinking audio, I think I miss the spontaneity of a simple musical expression, with its own "imperfections". I hope the new ways of making and hearing music do not take away the "human side" of the whole thing. Music is still a human expression, and life is a non-linear journey.

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

Music is very connected with the feeling of representation. The political views, gender, sexuality, the way of dressing, the communication and approach of an artist definitely will connect himself with a certain kind of audience, with people seeing themselves in that kind of behavior or attitude. Nowadays this aspect took a very important role in creating a musical audience, as I see. As an artist, I just wanna be sincere with the music I make, putting all my heart on my writing and playing. I think there's no other way to make music, and people feel connected to you when they feel that you're a real human being, staying true to the things you believe.

"I'm a blues/rocker. A middle class, Brazilian white male who found in rock n roll a way to express myself and, right after that, discovered the blues masters. The music I play involves a lot of improvisation, but is very connected with a songwriting approach. I do like to write about stories I live, my own thoughts about aspects of life, worries, concerns and let my music make a difference in someone's day. My creative drive comes from life, with its painful and joyful experiences.(Eric Assmar / Photo by Lorenight)

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

I learned a lot about staying true to the music inside my heart and not trying to embody some "bluesmanship" that belongs to a different reality than the one I live. I'm just a 33-year-old brazilian white male, I'm not an elder, I'm not a bluesman. I'm just a young blues lover, a rock lover, and the most honest thing I can do is to have respect for the past and tell my own stories, is walk in my own shoes, as I said in the song "It's Only My Blues".

What touched you from the ethnomusicology?

The connections between music and culture and how it leads us to see how diverse people in the world can be. As a blues researcher, Ethnomusicology was great to make me see what my place as a Brazilian musician is that plays a musical style that was born in a different country, in a different century, in a very different society. It was important on helping me to see what the blues became in the world and how it arrives in Brazil and deals with the local musical expressions.

Do you find any similarities between the blues and folk/trad music around the world?

Yes, there's a lot of them. Once the blues came from the oral tradition, from the African black diaspora, its roots are very connected with traditional music and there's a lot of musical elements that still alive in the blues we hear nowadays in the world.

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

I wanna meet my father again and jam with him all day long.

Eric Assmar - Home

(Eric Assmar / Photo by Uanderson Brittes)

Views: 102

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2022   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service