Connie Lush played
Linton Music Festival in June 2009 and
I caught up with her after the set.
are your first musical memories growing up in Liverpool?
mother was in a Record Club and she used to get the Top 10 every week.
Sheíd send me to the shop and I would get the current charts every
Saturday, bring it home and weíd play them all the time. Her favourite
was Lonnie Donegan so I knew quite a lot of his stuff, as well as Brenda
Lee and Ray Charles. She loved ballads and skiffle and I used to think
that was Liverpool.
you always want to become a singer?
not really. I always wanted to become an artist of some sort, working
with designs, colours, fabrics. I used to design a lot of hats for
Olive Oil! I was always singing, but it never entered my head that itíd
be a career.
did you start in music?
husband Terry, our bass player, was already in the band . Everybody was
waiting for me to make the decision to become a singer, it wasn't a
surprise to anyone other than me.
what kind of material were you singing in the early days?
Connie: It was
very much Little Feet, Bonnie Raitt, stuff like that, anything with a
funky edge to it. Then we went into pop a bit more. Along the way I got
more and more interested in blues but that didnít happen until quite
then what first attracted you to the blues?
been meeting all these people at gigs and theyíd kept telling me about
the blues scene, saying that I had the voice and should get on there as
a British girl Scouser. I went and auditioned at Colne and stood in the
queue with John Lewis on guitar for Perry Fosterís famous acoustic
sessions. It was a good gig really and it all started from there.
Perry! Great man!
still see Perry to this day and we are good friends.
are your favourite blues artists?
Lee Hooker is a huge personal pull for me. People wouldnít think it but
I get a lot of personal feeling from him because I love his music.
He's simple and he's the guy. Then when I look for more of a voice, Iíd
probably go to Etta James but there are so many. When people ask me I
always say John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin
but there are so many that have influenced me.
you adore jazz Ė who is your favourite jazz artist?
Connie: I love
Ella; I just adore her. Peggy Lee too. Also Stacy Kent who is on this
weekend but Iím not going to get back in time to see her. I love jazz
but I do like all the old stars best.
influenced you the most in your singing and songwriting?
very difficult, but possibly Bonnie Raitt because of the guitar. She
doesnít write as such but she can convey a song brilliantly. She can
take any old bit of tat and convey it into a dream song. As for song
writing, I just listen to everybody and rip off where I can!! Ha!! Ha!!
there any particular songs which have special meaning for you?
Yes, 'Dog', which I wrote. It has so many feelings for me. I
mention in it about men but really itís a double-edged sword about my
Dad Ė I love him and I hate him. But you wouldnít know that from the
lyrics but itís very special to me. I love 24 Hour Blues, which
is a Bobby Bland song, because Iíve practically been playing that (along
with Keep Me Hanging On) since I first began and every
time I sing them, they just mean something.
all the songs youíve written, which is your favourite?
Connie: Well I
Suppose it would be 'Dog'. I'm still changing it. At the moment it's
going more gospelly and more hillbilly, especially with our new
band supported BB King on the 1998 UK tour and I know you did a special
performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Tell me about that.
Connie: It was
so amazing! When we were told we were playing with BB King, I nearly
had a heart attack, and then when they picked me up off the floor they
said that the first gig will be at the Royal Albert Hall, so I nearly
had another one. He was amazing, he was probably one of the few acts
who paid the support bands, or he did then. Normally the record
companies have to pay to get on, but he wasnít having any of that. He
was a real sweetheart to work with, and such a pro. To sing just came
at easy as breathing to him. He was so natural He gave me that quote:
ďThat woman makes my heart singĒ. I thought my whole life would change
then, but it didnít.
me about your gigs in Memphis and New York when you went to the States?
played in the States, but it hadnít anything to do with the blues, it
was all pop stuff. We played in Greenwich Village and had a lot of
auditions. I had an audition which I passed and went to LA to do a TV
show. I only did it because they paid for the flights and everything
but it was a great experience. And then this guy who became a friend
was really supportive of us and he was in Memphis a lot and knew people
like Teeny Hodges and Memphis Horns people, so I went down to Memphis
and played with them. Then they came over to England and we played and
recorded over here. They went back home and then they asked if Iíd go
back over and record with them. We recorded quite a few tracks but it
didnít really work out. I think they were on another planet at the time
but we became good friends for a while, although we havenít been in
contact for a couple of years. I played up and down Beale Street,
including BB King's Club, and they offered me a deal but I didnít want
to live there.
do you think about the Blues scene in the States compared to the scene
think itís harder in the States and they really have to work hard over
there. I can see why they come over here in droves and especially why
they go to the rest of Europe. The blues music in the US is treated
like lift music or bar room stuff, probably because everybodyís grown up
with it and itís been a background music in America so isnít treated
with respect. When they come here, they are amazed by their reception.
I went to see a show with Dorothy Moore (I know sheís not blues!) but
she was crying on stage when she sang 'Misty' and she said it was
because of the reception she got when I spoke to her afterwards. So,
Iím sure I made the right decision.
Thereís a lot
to be said about the British interest in the blues resurrecting it in
certainly did resurrect it. There is interest for it in the States but
itís hard work and not really enjoyable as an artist. Itís so vast, you
have to travel so far to do the circuit. Also, I did a few gigs with
Teeny Hodges (Al Greenís guys) when I was in Memphis in the early 1990s
and it was unbelievable the way they got treated, absolutely terrible.
me about Terry and the band. How did you originally get together?
Connie: We met
in the Cavern Club Ėitís such a cheesy story! We were watching a band
and we met when we 16 and 17 and weíve been together ever since. We
made music our child I suppose but we couldnít have done it any other
amazing all-round bass player...
tell him that!
is! But what is his musical passion because I donít think itís really
Connie: Heís a
real mixed bag, Terry, including being a bit of a rock-god. He loves
it all, but he does love rock.
Chris Powers told me
that he introduced you at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall a while ago.
you any plans to play there again?
were going to play there again but because I did all three openings at
the Arena, we thought that people wouldnít have come to the Philharmonic
as well. With your own home town, you canít do too much really. Iíve
just done one this week at Liverpool, down at the Albert Dock, and that
was one hell of gig. We are planning 'Connieís Christmas Cracker' so
weíll be doing that in Liverpool this Christmas and we have some other
things lined up. Liverpool has really built up itís cultural reputation
so thereís loads happening there now.
got a real buzz now.
has, so that's good.
music styles come and go but the blues is always with us. Why do you
think that is?
basic and it appeals to your roots, to the very bottom of your soul.
Itís basic and simple, and it just gets you.
you see the future of blues music?
think itís going to be tough. Itís due for a revival because everything
goes round in a circle but I donít think itíll ever be as big as the
jazz revival. However with Seasick Steve and a lot of the younger
artists coming up in the charts are heavily influenced by the blues,
there is hope! I think there will be a revival and itíll probably be
really close to where the apple originally fell from the tree.
about future plans?
Connie: We are
working on an album now but because weíve had a line-up change weíve
been concentrating on keeping on the road. If we donít play we donít
eat, especially as Terry and I are both involved. Itís been really
difficult to write or record but weíve got some booked time off in the
next few weeks to go into the studio and we want to try and get it
finished in time for Connieís Christmas Cracker. People keep asking us
but thereís also the money to think about. Me and Terry do everything
ourselves Ė we are a little cottage industry on our own!
I wish you
the very best of luck with it, Connie, and thank you for your time.
been a real pleasure Ė and thank you very much.
Alan White - earlyblues.com
Blues Interviews List
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