Q&A with Florida-based guitarist Ron Kraemer, blend classic swing with bluesy be-bop and touches of Latin Jazz

"Blues & Jazz are at the root of all popular music today. They are the foundations of American Music, and are a few of the threads that bind our country and generations of people together over time. I saw how music affected those who were locked down during the Pandemic of '20/'21. Folks danced, smiled, and sometimes had tears in their eyes at being able to enjoy something that they once took for granted."

Ron Kraemer: Let The Sarasota Swing Roll

The Ron Kraemer Trio was formed in 2019 and forged during the Pandemic of 2020-21. The crew is Ron Kraemer on guitar and vocals, with Gregg Germony on upright bass and Michael Finley on brushes. They were fortunate to be based in Sarasota, Florida, where a number of outdoor venues remained opened during Covid, but were looking for smaller groups. While many bands across the country (and world?) spent 2 years doing only online shows at best, the boys worked steadily and grinded out over 200 gigs. Reggie Murray from Nashville rounds out the lineup and makes the occasional visit to add the perfect complement of sax and B-3 organ.

(Photo: The Ron Kraemer Trio - Ron Kraemer, Gregg Germony & Michael Finley)

New Jersey guitarist Ron Kraemer decided to become a permanent snowbird and relocated to south Florida and formed a new trio, after leading The Hurricanes for many years in the garden state. The trio blend classic swing with bluesy be-bop and touches of Latin Jazz in an unplugged environment reminiscent of the 1950’s and early 60’s artists like Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, and Kenny Burrell. The Ron Kraemer Trio released an eleven original instrumental tracks album titled "Sarasota Swing" (2022).

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

I found and started following my musical muse of Blues as a junior in college in 1980. It opened me up to new music and musical traditions I was unfamiliar with, musicians and non-musicians who I might otherwise never had met, and a life path once unthinkable to a sports-centered teenager.

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

My trio is very old-school in our sound, philosophy and songbook! We'll play classics from the Blues & Jazz songbooks, but also do obscure tunes that folks might never hear elsewhere. My old upright bass pal from NJ, Wilbo Wright, put it best when we were asked why we don't do all original tunes... He said "these old standards we're doing are the foundations of the music we're playing, and we're now the Keepers of these Classics. If we don't perform them and do them justice, you'll lose the foundations of the music... and eventually the music itself." I could never improve on his take. 

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

I listen to tons of Jazz & Blues from the 50's and 60's. Many of the venues to catch the great Players from those days have closed up, and unfortunately many of those players have passed on too. l hope there will still be places in the future where people can hear great Blues and Jazz in a live format, and I fear for those denied that pleasure. 

"Be honest and straight-up with people you interact with. Follow your musical intuitions and instincts, and you'll learn to trust them. And do your best to surround yourself with good musicians who are also good people. It'll make your Journey an enjoyable one." (Photo: Ron Kraemer)

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

A moment in time was watching the world-famous bar band "The Nighthawks" while in college and thinking somehow... I could do that. And I've been trying ever since. Highlights would be periods of time when the band lineup was solid and set, the work was plentiful, and you could feel the band tighten up with every tune and every gig. It felt like being on a train that was gradually picking up speed.  What a blast!

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

Blues & Jazz are at the root of all popular music today. They are the foundations of American Music, and are a few of the threads that bind our country and generations of people together over time. I saw how music affected those who were locked down during the Pandemic of '20/'21. Folks danced, smiled, and sometimes had tears in their eyes at being able to enjoy something that they once took for granted. 

What's the balance in music between technique and soul? What do you think is key to a music life well lived?

I'm reminded of two stories... one of the young, recently graduated "schooled" musician who, when on his first gig, was told by the old veteran "Ok, kid... forget everything you learned and just play." The other was something Miles Davis said... "Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself."  

It's best when Technique and Soul work together to get your point across. I think a well lived music life is one that is both true to yourself and your inspiration.

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

Be honest and straight-up with people you interact with. Follow your musical intuitions and instincts, and you'll learn to trust them. And do your best to surround yourself with good musicians who are also good people. It'll make your Journey an enjoyable one. 

"I listen to tons of Jazz & Blues from the 50's and 60's. Many of the venues to catch the great Players from those days have closed up, and unfortunately many of those players have passed on too. l hope there will still be places in the future where people can hear great Blues and Jazz in a live format, and I fear for those denied that pleasure." 

(Photo: Ron Kraemer)

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?

There is a mystical way in which music can reach people... touch their emotions... bring them to tears of sadness or tears of joy. It's said music is the Universal Language. Some people are somehow more fluent in it, and can convey their feelings and emotions through that language better than the society at large. And those people are the ones fortunate enough to call themselves "musicians".

Ron Kraemer - Home

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