in August 2009 and
I caught up with him after the set.
What are your
first musical memories as a youngster in Newcastle?
Paul: Listening to
the radio 2 way family favourites, Jean Metcalf etc.
Did you always
want to become a musician?
Paul: It was around about the age of 14 years, when I felt the pull
of the music but wasn’t sure how or what I could do about it.
How did you get
started in music?
Paul: I heard the
album “The World of John Mayall”.
What kind of
material were you playing in the early days?
Paul: In the folk clubs of the North East playing Sonny Boy, Blind
Boy Fuller & Sonny Terry.
Alan: What first attracted you to the blues?
Paul: The feel & the
Great Britain in the world harmonica championships which led to a time
with Sonny Terry, how did this come about and what was Sonny like?
Steve Rye introduced me to Sonny in 1974. It was a great learning period
for me with the maestro. Sonny was very kind & spent a lot of time
educating me about the Blues.
Alan: Tell me about Sonny's influence in your music writing and
playing the harp - carving out your own style based on what he taught
Paul: Sonny is
everything to me, even back then, I knew he was the master. He had a
“band sound” all of his own & my style of playing reflects this style.
Feeling what you play & playing what you feel…I have listened to all the
greats not just the harp players but all instruments to hone my craft.
performed with such greats as Brownie McGhee, Buddy Guy and Junior
Wells, tell me a little about these times and how they inspired you.
Paul: Well all of
those guys are great performers & spirit players. Brownie & Buddy have
now passed away but I still talk & sometimes play with Buddy. My first
memory of Buddy was opening up for him at Dingwalls in 1984. The whole
year was a blast but that gig remains firmly in my mind. Thinking back
to those days keeps me on what I call the Journey. They all inspired me
& pushed me further on the road of discovery.
How did The
Blues Burglars get together and how did the King Snakes evolve?
Paul: We were guys hanging around Newcastle with a respect for this
music. Getting together we started of with covers & started playing the
bars. Pretty soon there was an excitement about the band & we signed to
Red Lightnin Records. This is when all the travelling started with large
venues supporting American acts & also building a firm fan base of our
own & writing our own stuff.
The majority of the band hated being on the road & so Johnny Whitehill &
myself took off down the smoke. The band became known as The Paul Lamb
Blues band & evolved into Paul Lamb & the King Snakes.
Ryan of course grew up with the blues, but did you think he would
eventually be in the band?
Paul: No I did
not. It happened quite slowly, after using many different guitarists,
Ryan played a few solos. I then realised that the best fit for the band
was in fact Ryan. He gelled perfectly & has shown his true worth ever
Are there any
particular songs that you play that have special meaning to you?
Paul: All of them
have special meanings. I write about true life, love, money, women ,
drinking….all parts of our being. If I have to pick one then it would be
Sonny Terry called “ Better Day” on Folkways. The song means that
whatever hard times you may have, there is always a better day to come.
After many years
in the pubs and clubs of the North East, you moved to London, how do you
compare the London blues scene with the North East?
Paul: Things have
changed so much since the 80’s with clubs & bars closing down or moved
away from Blues . I don’t think there was much difference early on. The
bars were mainly where people went to have a good time, not always to
see music. As the bands reputation grew, so the audience started to
listen & respect the music. There was the Broken Doll in Newcastle & The
Station Tavern in London which started to be “The Blues places” & many a
band have started & worked their way to the top from these venues. I
guess the only real difference was that the A & R guys seemed to stay
down South, so there was more of a chance of a record deal?
Do you still get
a buzz from your heavy tour schedules?
Paul: Totally……… Big Time.
How healthy do
you think the blues scene is in the UK/Europe compared with the US and
the Far East?
Paul: Europe is
still very strong for us & the emerging European countries such as
Poland are really staring to build, big time. I am off there for the
whole of November. U.S.A. is still one to crack, budgets are tight &
they have plenty of home grown blues acts to pick from.
Hong Kong & China are
great with ex pats & the locals going crazy for the blues. It’s still a
big world out there.
You have done
BBC TV soundtracks and have had your music in motion pictures; do you
aspire to be a film star? How about appearing as Sonny in a movie on
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee!
Paul: Not sure about a film star but portraying Sonny Terry would be
fantastic but I might need a little make up?
Alan: You've (rightly) had many awards over the years - is there
one that's special to you?
Paul: They are all
special but the one inducting me into the Blues Hall of Fame is a good
one, also my award for swimming aged 13 J
Alan: Tell me
about the making of your 'Playing with the Blues' album with Johnny
Paul: When Johnny &
I had a small tour, at one of the gigs the sound guy presented us with a
tape of the show. He had taped it directly from his sound desk. We took
it home, picked the best tracks & the record was born….simple as that.
styles may be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do you think
Paul: It’s the truth
& it’s the honest truth.
How do you see
the future of blues music?
Paul: You see fads,
ebb & flow just like life. The Blues follows these lines, ever changing
but always there.
What are your
future plans / gigs / tours / albums?
Paul: I am due to
record a studio album in December, along with working hard touring the
Alan: Thank you so much
Paul, I really do appreciate your time.
Paul: It’s a
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