"Music is a vibration that is felt and transmitted on different frequencies. No matter what the music is called by others, it will be recognized by those able to receive the vibrational waves from the medium."
Joe Charitos & Paul Miles: Cool Blues
French musician Joe Charitos and American born Paul Miles (of Swiss-based duo of Joe & Paul) released their new album "What's Cooler Than Love" (2023). Paul Miles is an award winning singer, songwriter, guitarist. His genre of music has been the Blues. He was born March 25, 1952 in Fostoria, Ohio, USA. Influenced vocally by his mother Vera Miles who sang gospel, it was at age of 8 he began to sing in the local Baptist Church choir. Later he was exposed to rock & roll, rhythm & blues, Motown, The Beatles, country & western and folk. Paul graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1974. He moved to Southern California from Memphis, Tennessee and studied commercial music at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. Here he began playing and singing the blues in clubs from Los Angeles to San Diego. In 1995, he came to play music for the first time in Switzerland. He met music promoters who offered him an opportunity to perform and promote the Lucerne Blues Session. This later became the Lucerne "Blue Balls Festival". He played there from 1996 to 2001. During 2000 festival is when he meets guitarist Joe Charitos. They became friends while playing together on stage at several jam sessions. Later Joe shared his original music and soon a plan to combine their talents was created. (Photo: Joe Charitos & Paul Miles)
Joe Charitos, guitarist, composer and producer born May 4, 1965 in Arles (France). With a guitarist father, it was at the age of 7 that Joe became interested in the instrument from afar. At 9 years old, something clicked when his father made him listen to the electric sound The Shadows. Later, he will be attracted by blues, rock, and a range of music will accompany him throughout his youth. At 14, during his school holidays, he did various odd jobs and bought his first electric guitar. Self-taught and influenced by rock & rhythm and blues, it was in college that he formed his first band. In 1983, he devoted himself to improvisation. It is with his cousin on bass and vocals that they will form the Rock Avignonnais group "Trésor Public", until 1986 they will scour clubs and festivals in the south of France. In 1989, a trip took him to Switzerland in Luzern, where he settled there permanently. Later he will meet pianist Michel Carras and Zach Prather, both members of Luther Allison's band at the time. In 2000 at the „Lucerne Blues Session“ festival (current Lucerne Blue Balls Festival) Joe made an appearance on stage (At the Lucerne Casino), he met Paul Miles and they became friends, they played together on stage during several jam sessions. An absolute complicity, for these two artists who combine their talents in a first album "What's Cooler Than Love" (2023) overflowing with freshness and energy to bluesy, rock, soul, funk, folk and Motown rhythms since we discover on 2 tracks the choristers "The Original Vandellas" of Motown.
How did the Blues influence your vision of the world and the trips you made?
Joe: Since my childhood, until today, I learned a lot of things with the blues, its history, its legends who played it with the guts, they influenced entire generations of musicians, I always listened carefully to what they said. The blues has always been a music that brings people together, in joy and suffering, a real message for all, it is played and sung like that, and it will remain so.
Paul: The blues have helped me to rediscover the connection of emotions that we have as a human race. Traveling in the USA and other places around the world, I have found this music genre has touched a lot of hearts and souls. It has brought a lot of people together spiritually.
How would you describe your sound and your songbook? What is the balance in music between technique and soul?
Joe: I've always been self-taught in my way of playing and also in composition, a rhythm in my head or a melody and my music takes shape, I don't get up in the morning telling myself that I'm going to write music, that's coming instantly or not. With Paul I let my instinct do its thing in my compositions, because I know he has enormous potential to lay down his voices and his melodies when my musical work is finished, when our fusion mixes, the magic does the rest.
Paul: This project Joe & Paul has a touch of pop, rock, rhythm & blues, its all original music. The song book has melodic melodies, each song tells a chapter of the story. Relating to the title of the album. Joe’s guitar and Paul’s voice are blending with excellent instrumentation. I let the music speak to me artistically not just listen but feel the music. (Joe & Paul / Photo by Strange Cave)
"I personally miss the musicians from the past. As time goes on more and more are passing away. I do have memories of seeing Muddy, Big Mama Thornton, B.B., John Lee Hooker play live. My hopes are to keep the flow of music vibrant and fresh. My fear like everyone else it to not have enough time to get all the notes, cassette tapes, demos to full production. I also hope the traditions of the blues stay alive."
What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?
Paul: Getting a standing ovation after being a solo opening act for the legendary Taj Mahal in California 1975 at the Golden Bear club in Huntington Beach. Filling in for Keb Mo-grammy winner for one night of a live stage play” lost highway”- the Hank Williams show. Again, another standing ovation as part of the entire cast. Other highlights include recording my first solo album in 1995, other highlights include moving to Detroit and starting from the bottom of music ladder to be accepted by the music community. Eventually winning 8 Detroit music awards including 2 for best blues albums. Being recognized by the Detroit blues society as the first best solo performer of the year. Being voted best blues singer by the Detroit black music awards.
Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Switzerland?
Joe: The Swiss are fond of music in general, they are enthusiastic about the idea of going to see concerts, if we talk about the blues, it has always had its place, not to mention that many festivals and clubs have emerged for three decades.
Currently you have another date with Paul J Miles. How did this relationship come about? Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album "What's Cooler Than Love"?
Joe: Paul and I met 23 years ago backstage at a festival in Switzerland at the Casino de Luzern, we exchanged numbers, Paul called me the next day for a coffee. The following years, an organizer of this same festival pushed us on stage to jam together, I keep a very good memory of it. During the second part of the recording of the album, one evening we walked together on the bridge of the city, while humming a song of Martha and the Vandellas, "Dancing in the Street". Paul told me that he had already met The Vandelas, I told him that it would be really nice if they would sing on two tracks of the album, he told me that as soon as he returned to the USA, he would contact the Vandellas, a few days later, he called me saying that they liked our music and that they agreed to sing on the album. For us it was of course an honor and a new adventure.
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Paul: I do have memories of meeting joe for the first time at the casino Lucern for after hours jam hours session. We got on stage and played together for the first time. I got his number and called him the next day. The rest is now history. We did a preview of a couple new songs for a show together in Lucern years later. Some artists on the album were there and played for the show. I was an opening act for Corey Harris at the hotel balance for a Lucern blues sesssion. We did a song together after his show which the audience really enjoyed. The studio sessions for the Joe & Paul album was challenging and fulfilling for us. We are proud to get the end result.
"The Swiss are fond of music in general, they are enthusiastic about the idea of going to see concerts, if we talk about the blues, it has always had its place, not to mention that many festivals and clubs have emerged for three decades." (Joe & Paul / Photo by Strange Cave)
What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
Joe: I miss the legends of the blues, artists like that will not come again. To support the new artists who carry this music on. - I hope that the digital platforms will become economically fair to the musicians.
Paul: I personally miss the musicians from the past. As time goes on more and more are passing away. I do have memories of seeing Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker play live. My hopes are to keep the flow of music vibrant and fresh. My fear like everyone else it to not have enough time to get all the notes, cassette tapes, demos to full production. I also hope the traditions of the blues stay alive.
What is the impact of the Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want music to affect people?
Joe: It is very important that this Culture continues to touch people and bring them together, especially in the period we have just gone through. Unfortunately, many organizers have thrown in the towel and lost hope, I understand them. I am happy to still see people and friends, often volunteers, who invest themselves with effort, to maintain clubs and festivals. Keep going to see live concerts.
Paul: For me the impact is keeping traditions alive. Its good to pass the devotions of the art forward to new generations. By keeping the roots alive you are helping to keep alive the heartbeat of the people. It is generous to share the music heritage with others. This will help raise positive life vibrations of people and bring humanity together.
What are the most important lessons you learned from your experience in musical paths?
Joe: Never despair, even if it's going badly sometimes, the music is there to keep you going. You have to make a lot of concessions to keep your freedom to continue to create.
Paul: Most important lessons for me. Find my own path of expression. Be strong and have conviction in what I do. Don’t be sidetracked with negativity. Know it’s a process and if you choose this profession be patient and have fun. Find your own voice.
Are there any particular memories or highlights of your career that you would like to tell us about?
Joe: It makes me very happy to have met and played with nice and talented musicians over the years. Too many stories, it is hard to pick one. I loved spending time on and off stage with musicians, I still enjoy doing it.
"The blues have helped me to rediscover the connection of emotions that we have as a human race. Traveling in the USA and other places around the world, I have found this music genre has touched a lot of hearts and souls. It has brought a lot of people together spiritually." (Joe & Paul / Photo by Strange Cave)
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?
Paul: For me the spirit is the spark of divinity that has started from conception and propels us into this dimension of time and space. Music is a vibration that is felt and transmitted on different frequencies. No matter what the music is called by others, it will be recognized by those able to receive the vibrational waves from the medium. It can be an instrument or a listening device example cd player. When you bring in the meaning of life then you now are touching on the freedom of choice. When we tap into the beauty of life. You are surrounded by music. Birds singing, animals have their own sounds, insects speak with their buzzing and humming, the roar of the wind, the heart beat of the mother carrying her child in pregnancy, the waves crashing on the rocks and shore line at night. The meaning of life tells me we are equal to it. We can create our life for what we want it to be. Being a creator of music the universal sky has no limit. I hope this helps you.
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