Q&A with Florida blues-rocker musician J.P. Soars, new album shines a light on his multi-dimensional musical talents

"I think it’s a fine balance; you can have all the skill, technique etc., but if it doesn’t have the feel, the soul, and the emotion, I don’t feel that it really says much or that it can touch somebody. For me, it has the have the feel, soul, and emotion. That being said, it’s good to have skill and technique in there as well. I think it’s important to know your instrument, to strive for perfection, and to continually try to get better. For me, the guitar and music is still a mystery. There’s so much that I don’t know."

J.P. Soars: Brick By Brick,...music by soul! 

Several years ago J.P. Soars became aware that he was building his audience one person at a time. He’d win a new fan, or several, every time he played and eventually he knew he could create a healthy career if he stuck with it. The new 11-tracks album by the Boca Raton, FL. musician is his first for Little Village (release date: June 30, 2024) and shines a light on the multi-dimensional musical talents of Soars. “It all seemed very natural,” says Soars, who titled his new album Brick By Brick as a testament to his approach. “The album is very reflective of how I have built my music career, one brick at a time.” In addition to his base of blues-rock, Soars displays his affection for the influences of gypsy jazz, country, Latin, rock and heavy metal. Standout tracks include “Things Ain’t Working Out,” a guitar-driven lament to a broken relationship while “Keep Good Company” features Soars on guitar and lyrics that reinforce the need to be watchful of your own conduct. Soars also does a masterful job on Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” a supercharged, hillbilly-country rave up. Soars plays banjo on the song, with strong interplay with the rollicking fiddle of Anne Harris, and backing vocals by Annika Chambers and Paul DesLauriers.

(JP Soars / Photo by Karyn Johnson Bradshaw)

Soars borrows from his gypsy jazz vocabulary on “Jezebel,” a sinewy beat that underscores the force attraction to an overpowering charm of a woman he can’t resist. To those who know Soars, his eclectic approach to music is no surprise. In fact, his ability to shift gears between musical styles has become a major thrust of his live shows. In 2009, Soars won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge, including the prestigious Albert King guitar award.

Interview by Michael Limnios                  Archive: JP Soars, 2022 Interview

Special Thanks: Kevin Johnson (Proud Papa Promotions & Publicity)

Why do you think that Florida’s Blues/Rock/R&B music scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

I think the age demographic here has something to do with it. A lot of older folks come down here to retire. Most of the folks that listen to this kinda music seem to be older.

How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

I try to eat healthy, I also try to exercise. I do a lot of swimming. I wake up every morning and pray. I am very thankful for the blessings I have. I also try to get plenty of rest. I usually take a good Power Nap before my gigs.

You’ve your debut release with Little Village. How did that relationship come about?

I was introduced to Jim Pugh and the Little Village record label through Mike Kappus whom I met in Memphis at the 2022 Blues Music Awards.

Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album “Brick By Brick”?

The title Brick by Brick was inspired by a saying that my drummer Chris Peet and I always say. Sometimes we’ll play a show where there’s a handful of people and we’ll gain two or three new fans. We always say we’re building our fan base “brick by brick”. It’s about perseverance and putting in the work. He and I have been playing together for almost 20 years now. 

The instrumental song “In the Moment” was actually recorded on an I phone. I was just messing around improvising and my girlfriend started recording it on her phone. She sent it to me months later and at first I didn’t even recognize that it was me playing. I decided to put it on the record. I gave the iPhone recording to my engineer and he added some reverb and a bit of EQ and that’s what you hear on the record. A lot of the material was written during the pandemic. I didn’t have any gigs for the first couple of months, so I’d go fishing on the weekends. That’s where the idea for “Down by the Water” came about.             (JP Soars & The Red Hot with Anne Harris / Photo by Laura Carbone)

"I’ve been making my living solely playing music now for over 29 years. Last August I had almost three weeks off in a row. I realized during that time that I really don’t have much of a life outside of music. Music is my life. But I do get influenced by situations, by the news, by observation of other folks' situations. I try to draw from various places, scenarios and situations."

What touched you from Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do”?

My younger brother sent me that song. He loved the lyrics and the bassline. He was going through some difficult times in his relationship, and I think those lyrics spoke to him as they did me.

What's the balance in music between technique (skills) and soul/emotions? Why is it important to we preserve and spread the blues?

I think it’s a fine balance; you can have all the skill, technique etc., but if it doesn’t have the feel, the soul, and the emotion, I don’t feel that it really says much or that it can touch somebody. For me, it has the have the feel, soul, and emotion. That being said, it’s good to have skill and technique in there as well. I think it’s important to know your instrument, to strive for perfection, and to continually try to get better. For me, the guitar and music is still a mystery. There’s so much that I don’t know.

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?

I didn’t start making a living with music until I was well into my 30’s. But I’ve been playing in bands and trying to do music since I was in high school. Always with the hope, dream and desire to do music full time. So, I really appreciate that I get to do this for a living. I’ve known since I was a kid that this is what I wanted to do. I worked many odd jobs before I was able to make music my full-time profession. I went to school and got a degree in electronics when I was around 23 years old, so I’d have something to fall back on in case the music didn’t work out. I got my degree and landed a job working for Motorola. I didn’t like working for the big corporation and being caught up in all that. I had taken out a student loan which I would up paying back later on via my music.

I’ve been making my living solely playing music now for over 29 years. Last August I had almost three weeks off in a row. I realized during that time that I really don’t have much of a life outside of music. Music is my life. But I do get influenced by situations, by the news, by observation of other folks' situations. I try to draw from various places, scenarios and situations.

JP Soars - Home

(JP Soars / Photo by Karyn Johnson Bradshaw)

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