West coast guitarist Scott Abeyta, the owner of Rip Cat Records talks about Long Beach scene & his blues cats

"I love the raw emotion that the blues invoke.  It gives me chicken skin....LOL."

Scott Abeyta: High energy excitement

Rip Cat Records is the brainchild of Scott Abeyta, guitarist for Whiteboy James and the Blues Express. The label was founded in 2010, at a pivotal moment in time when the crucial need for an entry-level blues record company became clear.  Rip Cat Records is a catalyst for motivating artists to work together toward a common goal by sharing knowledge, resources and experience in the music industry.

Scott’s passion for blues was born on the late 80s/early 90s blues scene in Southern California, namely Long Beach.  At that time you could go out any night of the week and see blues greats like William Clark, James Harman, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Luke and The Locomotives, The Pontiax, Coco Montoya, Debbie Davis and the Paladins — to name just a few. On the weekends one could consistently find a blues legend touring through SoCal. The music and fans boasted an energy that is still widely reminisced about today.

It is Rip Cat Records aspiration to create recordings imbued with the passionate, rich soul that defines the tapestry of the blues recordings that will generate the same rush of adrenaline and euphoria you felt the day you put the needle down on Extra Napkins and heard Its Alright Now for the first time.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Scott, when was your first desire to become involved in the music & who were your first idols?

My Father was a record executive, so I have been around the music business since childhood.  I have always felt this is the right place for me.  Like John Lee Hooker said «it’s in him and it gotta come out».  When I was about 13 I started getting into Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.  After a while I realized my favorite songs were the bluesy ones.  Then a friend of my parents heard me listening to that stuff and turned me on to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and BB King.

What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?

The first concert I ever went to was when I was very young.  I went to see Johnny Mathis, my father was working with him and we were backstage.  The first songs I learned to play on guitar were all Led Zeppelin songs.  As soon as I could play guitar a little I bought a music book called «Led Zeppelin Complete» and I learned everything in that book.  «I Can’t Quit you» was my favorite, which is a Otis Rush song by Willie Dixon.  In 1989 or 90 I got to spend a day with Otis Rush, he taught me a lot about playing blues that day.

What made you fall in love with the blues music?

I love the raw emotion that the blues invoke.  It gives me chicken skin....LOL.  You probably have another way to describe that in Greece.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

There are a lot of great moments, but the most recent one would be when I signed the Blasters to Rip Cat Records.  The worst would be a gig that we didn’t get paid for after playing, there has only been 1 or 2 of those.  Musicians get pretty nasty when we don’t get paid …

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?

To me the blues is the most raw, down to earth form of musical expression, and it offers me the platform for expressing that.  One thing I like about the blues is that it has such a structured format, I mean honestly the chord changes are pretty much all the same, and that you have to find very creative ways to make each song have its own voice and personality.

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams (and productions) you've had?

I like playing for a lot of people, to me that is the most fun.  I think some people get nervous with a big crowd, to me it feels right.  I also like playing with other musicians that I idolize.  I’ve been lucky enough to play with William Clarke, James Harman, Rod Piazza, Phil Alvin, Jr. Watson, Alex Shultz, Kid Ramos and Robert Lucas as well as others.

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?

T-Bone Walker, and Hollywood Fats, both of which Phil Alvin has played with, so I have only one degree of separations.

Are there any memories from WHITEBOY JAMES & BLUES EXPRESS, which you’d like to share with us?

Too many to mention, I’ve been playing in this band since 1989!  I’ve forgot more than I remember.  Sometimes people will come up and say «I saw you at such and such place and I have no recollection»  I use to drink...LOL

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about blues music?

Otis Rush and Jr. Watson.

Are there any memories from the late 80s blues scene in Long Beach, CA which you’d like to share with us?

The blues scene in Long Beach at that time was great; you could go out any night of the week and see great bands.  Touring bands!  I was going to college at Cal State Long Beach and living in the dorms.  We would go to the Golden Sails Hotel and Bogart’s Night Club almost every night.  It was only a mile a way from where I lived.  I was able to everybody there!  Also, back then since a lot of people would go out and see music, you could make some money as a band, not like now.  People don’t go out as much anymore.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is?

I think blues is the root of most American music, especially rock and roll so it is now part of our DNA.  It is deep inside us and will never go away.  It might take other forms and variation, but the basic primal root will always be there.

How do you see the future of blues music? Give one wish for the BLUES

I wish, and think that we are about ready for another up cycle.  If you look at the history of blues, there have been up and down cycles.  The last up cycle was driven by Stevie Ray Vaughn, back in the early 90’s.  Even Robert Cray was getting some mainstream attention (very deserved, Strong Persuader is still one of my favorite CDs every)

Tell me about the Rip Cat Records. How and where did it start?

In late 2009 I recorded a new CD with Whiteboy James (Last Time Was The Last Time) and it was really fun.  I thought it would be fun to do more of that.  After thinking about how to get into it I came up with the idea to start a record company.


What characterize the sound of Rip Cat?

I try to make sure Rip Cat has its own sound.  I’m going for a fresh take on the blues.  I’m trying to capture the high energy excitement we had back in the late 80’s early 90’s.  If you listen to my bands they are not doing the exact same old thing, they take a hard hitting swing at it.  I also really like mixing in a bit for Rockabilly and Punk into the blues.  If you listen to a Whiteboy James CD you definatley here some punk rock attitude.  The 44’s really skirt the edge of Rockabilly, and Johnny Mastro and the Mama’s boys have a really cool Sabbath Blues sound (I really love that!).

Who is a quick review of Rip Cat Records & how do you want to be remembered?

I would like Rip Cat to be thought of as the new breed of record labels that figured out how the survive in the new environment of the music industry.  Every thing is changing now so record companies have to change.  I’ve made some big changes to the way I do things and I hope that I’ve figured out the new way of doing things.

What characterize your philosophy about the music business?

I think that record companies have been ripping off artist for too long.  Without the artist the record companies are nothing, this is why some record companies push artist with no talent.  Someone with no talent is dependant on the record company and that is they way they like it.

I think the record company and the artist should be partners in bringing great music to the fans.  My artist and I look at the records as partnerships and we both share in the money, I don’t just take it all like other record companies.

What advice would you give to aspiring label owner thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

I am an aspiring label owner!  I’ve only had Rip Cat for less those 2 years.

Do you have any amusing tales to tell from your experience with Rip Cat‘s artists?

Yes, there are a bunch of great stories about the 44’s, but those stories should only be told late at night in a bar after a few drinks.

What are the secrets to a good label owner? What is the word "seal" of your work?

I think a record label owner needs to be Benevolent.  That is my word «Benevolent»

How do you choose Rip Cat’s productions and artists?

The artist on Rip Cat have to be doing something new, it cannot be the same old thing.  Another big thing is that I have to trust the artist.  We don’t really sign contracts, its all based on handshakes and mutual trust.  I don’t want the Rip Cat artist to feel stuck in a contract, if I’m not doing the best for them and they could do better with someone else then they should go.  That forces Rip Cat to work hard for the artist and make them happy.

Rip Cat Records - Official website




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