Q&A with Mexican director of Cultura Blues, Jose Luis Garcia Fernandez: a passionate about the Blues culture

"It’s very important to preserve the blues, due to its historical role that it plays as a generator of many of the current rhythms and subgenres that have been derived from it, in popular music. It’s much more than just a musical genre and has become a culture throughout the world."

Jose Luis Garcia Fernandez:

Blues a la Carta & The Culture of Blues

Jose Luis Garcia Fernandez born in Mexico City. He was ‘Palabra de Blues’ editorial director’s, compiler and author of the book: ‘Palabra de Blues: Antología I (2010)’. He's 'Cultura Blues' electronic magazine managing director and editor's (2011 - to date). Book’s author: "Blues a la Carta" (2024)Musician (keyboards and guitar) who has been part of the rock and blues bands: Super Lazy Blues Band, Los Buitres, La Rambla, Solaris Blue, La Gran Banda de Blues, Los Cerdos Lúdicos, Rhino Bluesband, Cultura Blues Project, and currently Blues Demons. He has participated in the album recording’s: Eres tú solo blues -La Rambla- (2009); Semilla de Blues -Solaris Blue- (2010); El Vuelo del Rinoceronte – Rhino Bluesband (2015); Rhino Bluesband Live (2016).

(Photo: José Luis García Fernández, Chicago Illinois 2023)

Executive producer of the series of compiled albums: ‘Nacidos Bajo un Buen Signo’ (six editions to date). Producer of the radio program on line: Cultura Blues Radio, which is broadcast through ‘Foro Intercultural Imagina’. He has held photography exhibitions about Chicago Blues Festival, among many other Blues promotion activities in Mexico.        Archive: Interview 2014, José Luis García Fernández

Interview by Michael Limnios (Spanish Edition, 2024 Interview)

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

Probably, the most personally important moment that changed my life was the death of my mother when I was six years old. I have always thought, who would I be as a person if my mother had been in my life more? But that doesn't mean I make less of my lovely family with whom I grew up and acquired all the basic knowledge and principles that made me the person I am. 

In the musical field, without a doubt, it was when I saw for the first time the Beatles film’s 'Let It Be', in the early 70s. That impact was what gave me the impulse to dedicate my life to musical aspects and to look for the root of all that music that finally led me to the blues.

I can divide the highlights of my life into two parts, the personal aspect and the aspect that has to do with the musical part. On the personal side, the highlight is having grown up in a loving family, having had the opportunity to study a professional career, having selected a good job in an Institution, which, until many years after my retirement, has given me the enough to live well. Having found a wonderful woman with whom I formed a family with three children who until today make up a stable and happy family. Now, I have the fortune to be a proud grandfather of an adorable little girl.

In the recent musical aspect, the highlight is having met with the right people who have resulted in an 18-year career with many satisfactions, as a musician in 7 blues bands, with dozens of performances in blues venues and festivals on several states, throughout my beloved Mexico. I have participated in the recording of 4 albums. As a music producer I have compiled 6 albums with national and international bands and artists. As an editor of digital magazines I have been in charge of 'Palabra de Blues' and 'Cultura Blues. La Revista Electrónica'.

Currently, the ‘Cultura Blues’ project has published 154 monthly editions, that is, there have been almost 15 years of uninterrupted publications. I have published two books: 'Palabra de Blues. Antología 1 (2010)' as author and compiler and the most recent: 'Blues a la Carta (2024)' as author. I have been in charge of two radio programs: 'Palabra de Blues al Aire' and currently with 'Cultura Blues Radio' which has broadcast 70 weekly programs to date. I have carried out alternative activities to this musical vocation such as supporting and carrying out musical events, photographic exhibitions, conferences, conversations and film clubs.

"Undoubtedly, I believe that there is an audience for the blues. It has always existed and I’m completely sure that in the future there will be many more crazy people like you and me, who will continue to promote this beautiful primal genre." (Photos: José Luis García Fernández with Billy Boy Arnold, Bob Stronger, Nathan East, John Primer, Eric Gales & Billy Branch)

Currently you’ve published the book “Blues A La Carta”. When and how did the idea come about?

In 2009, as part of the ‘Asociación Mexicana de Blues', I proposed the digital magazine 'Palabra de Blues', a year later, I made a compilation of articles from the first 12 or 13 issues and published the book: 'Palabra de Blues' . Antología 1', I thought that these could be a series, but due to certain differences with the people of the ‘Asociación’, the project ended and I founded 'Cultura Blues'.

Throughout the years of ‘Cultura Blues’, it was always on my mind to publish a compiled book similar to that first one. During the pandemic, I dedicated myself to selecting the articles, I finished a draft, but it was saved since at the end of that chaotic period the financial resources were not adequate.

At the end of last year, I returned to the project, updated it and decided that it wouldn’t be a compilation by several authors, but rather a project with my own material. This is how ‘Blues a la Carta’ was finally born, whose synopsis is the following:

Blues is, without a doubt, much more than just a musical style. Blues is a culture that has become the main influence of other important genres known in the development of popular music in the Western world. A passionate about this culture, José Luis García Fernández (director of the digital magazine Cultura Blues), has adopted it as his way of life, and in this book Blues a la Carta, he transmits to us his experience in this regard. He tells us about what the blues has permeated in the country of his residence: Mexico (history, recordings, festivals, radio programs, and publications).

He describes and documents with original photographs his experiences at the most recent editions of the Chicago Blues Festival and at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festivals. He introduces us to the artists and their works recognized by the Blues Foundation, the most important blues association in the world; listing those who have been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and those who have won the Blues Music Awards. It shows us a significant number of titles from the most recent published recordings of blues and related genres, and also from the catalogs of the two most important record companies of this original genre in Chicago: Delmark Records and Alligator Records.

It encourages us to listen to music related to the chapters of this work. In general, he shares with us a blues banquet that he has put on the table to taste with singular love and passion, be sure to accept the invitation... bon appetit!”.

"The key to a good life I believe is finding a balance between inner peace and outer peace. Knowing how to make good decisions and enjoying them. Knowing that if those decisions have failed they will have negative consequences and the important thing is to know how to overcome them." (Photos: Jose Luis Garcia Fernandez and his new book "Blues a la Carta")

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? Are there any specific memories that you would like to tell us about?!

My 18 years of experience in blues music had a pre-history. The meeting with Octavio Espinosa in those 70s was the beginning of everything. With him I started playing and started my first band: Super Lazy. Many years later in 2005, he was the one who introduced me to the blues people in Mexico, with whom I began my recent career.

All my bandmates have been important, but I could highlight Gilberto Casillas in La Rambla, Mario Martínez in Solaris Blue, Raúl de la Rosa (my teacher) for having proposed to form La Gran Banda de Blues, Charlie Rosete in Los Cerdos Lúdicos, Phil Daniels in Rhino Bluesband, Karla Porragas and Eduardo Peña in Cultura Blues Project and now in Blues Demons.

For the editorial part, all the collaborators have also been important. But it was significant to have been part of the founding of the ‘Asociación Mexicana de Blues, that was where I began the work of ‘Palabra de Blues’, the precursor magazine of ‘Cultura Blues’. The meeting with Michael Limnios through electronic media gave the Cultura Blues project an international image.

Specific memories of important experiences in my life and on my paths in the blues are in my book ‘Blues a la Carta’, which I have recently published, I invite you to read it.

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?

Undoubtedly, I believe that there is an audience for the blues. It has always existed and I’m completely sure that in the future there will be many more crazy people like you and me, who will continue to promote this beautiful primal genre.

Currently, it is undergoing an understandable and imminent evolution that in some cases leads to interesting fusions. I believe that many young and new musicians and fans of the genre have sympathized with this contemporary blues. And of course, artists and followers of traditional blues fortunately remain in good numbers. The sum of these two are what make up the current scene of the genre.

Why is it important to we preserve and spread the blues? What is the role of Blues Culture / Music in today’s society?                            (Photo: José Luis García Fernández)

It’s very important to preserve the blues, due to its historical role that it plays as a generator of many of the current rhythms and subgenres that have been derived from it, in popular music. It’s much more than just a musical genre and has become a culture throughout the world.

Perhaps its current state is not what it once was, given that the music industry has turned towards other frontiers, more towards financial issues than musical quality. I hope that very soon, in the future, the blues will have that strength again and rebuild something that seems lost to globalization and triviality. Hence, the dissemination of the genre that many of us do from our trenches and creating alliances to do so is of vital importance.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths as magazine editor and musician?

Definitely, I’ve learned that dreams become reality, but that you must have perseverance, discipline and self-confidence to achieve them. That achieving goals is an important part of life, but the process to achieve them is also important.

That obstacles are part of the processes, that we have to learn from mistakes and setbacks and know how to enjoy the successes and triumphs to move forward. That the results are not immediate, that you’ve to sow good seeds to obtain a good harvest. That you always have to be patient.

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music? What do you think is key to a life well lived?

I inherited my love for soccer from my father. Since I was little he took me to the stadium to see his favorite team, Atlante, and from there another of the passions of my life was born, other than music. Currently, every time this team, Atlante, plays in the stadium, I’m there enjoying their triumphs and suffering their defeats. But not only that, I also follow it on television or radio when there is no visual transmission. Atlante is the priority, but I also like to watch all the local and international soccer. It's an important influence on my life, not so much on my music.

The key to a good life I believe is finding a balance between inner peace and outer peace. Knowing how to make good decisions and enjoying them. Knowing that if those decisions have failed they will have negative consequences and the important thing is to know how to overcome them.

I could say that I have had good luck in having a life well lived, but I think that is why I have mentioned from the beginning of this interview, I have made mostly right decisions that have contributed to getting me to where I am, living with a beautiful complete family, doing what I like, of course being persevering, disciplined and in a certain way patient. I’m so happy with what I have and what I do, what more could you ask for.

Cultura Blues - La Revista Electronica / Home

(Photo: José Luis García Fernández)

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