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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

New B. Christopher Interview with Macalle Blues in Italy.

B. Christopher just did an interview with "Macalle Blues" based in Italy. Check it out below!

Here is the translation from Italian to English.

First of all, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with you, tell us something about you and your musical story….. The beginning of my story is pretty typical in the sense that I was in bar bands kicking around on a local level. Beginning in my late 20's I was a touring musician for ten years. We played a lot of gigs.Then I got a call to submit some music for a television show and they took the music, which started me down a different path than most musicians. I realized pretty quickly that I really had a knack for doing that type of work. That was about 2002. I played live for quite a few more years, but as the opportunities continued to grow in TV/Film music my focus moved 100% to that and I stopped playing live in 2012. My music has been used on TV in over 30 countries over 30,000 times on hundreds of shows. To say the least it has been a pretty good run! Just to give our readers an idea, I would say that “Snapshots From The Second Floor” is a straight electric blues album with an overall modern feel and sound where the razor sharp guitar we can hear throughout the record plays absolutely the main role. It’s a guitar that often reminds of Buddy Guy’s nervous, stinging yet intense playing if I had to find a comparison. Would you agree with this statement? I have always enjoyed Buddy Guy’s music. I vividly remember the first time I heard “Damn Right I Got The Blues”. I just couldn’t believe the angst in it. He was one of the first blues artists that I was exposed to when I started digging deeper beyond blues/rock guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood and Gary Moore. Buddy's approach is so explosive. It’s his ability to get from a whisper to a scream in a seamless instant that is so kinetic. One of my favorite songs of his is "Keep It To Myself". It's just so good! So I will gladly take that comparison. Which were the guitar players that inspired you the most back in the days and you think that are the foundations of what you are today as a musician? There were so many blues guitar players that influenced my playing. I have been a student of the blues for most of my life. Early on, in terms of blues guitar players I was very interested in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. In recent years I have really enjoyed Elmore James, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and John Lee Hooker. Michael Powers is a guy that has had a monumental impact on me. I’ve seen him at least 100 times in a little blues club in New York City. I was seeing him regularly in my most formative years, in my 20’s. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player that is as loose as he is. There have been so many guitarists that I grabbed licks from over the years, but in hindsight I’d have to say Michael Powers and Clapton have had the most lasting impact on my playing. As it was for your previous albums, on which luminaries such as Hammond and piano master Bruce Katz, harmonica ace Jerry Portnoy, guitarist Michael Powers, drummer Shawn Pelton to name a few have played, once again on this new record you have come up with a powerhouse set of musicians….. I have been very fortunate to make records with such talented people. To work with the guys you mentioned as well as Anton Fig, Kenny Aronoff, Nathan East, Stu Hamm and Andy Snitzer is a rare privilege. Anton played all of the drum tracks on this record and the last one, as well as most of the two prior. So he’s been the main drummer for 4 albums. Working with musicians on the level that these guys function at is inspiring. It really forces me to be at my absolute best. These guys were hero’s to me when I was younger. The body of work that they have been a part of collectively is astounding. Making records with people that influenced me is a privilege that I definitely do not take for granted. In defiance of the rule that blues is a genre where the lyrics tell stories while the music basically underlines them, in this album we find that half of the tunes are instrumentals. That’s a courageous choice but I have to tell that there is no lack of lyrics on those tracks because it’s the guitar that does the talking….. I really consider myself an instrumentalist. The bulk of my recorded work has been instrumental. Although the blues is my absolute comfort zone I have always really loved Joe Satriani. Obviously he’s an exceptional guitarist, but it’s his melodies that I really identify with. His ability to write a song that doesn’t need vocals is inspiring. I love that the guitar is able to be the “vocalist”. Good instrumentals are well arranged songs with defined parts. Freddie King was a master of doing it in the context of the blues as any fan of the blues knows. I have studied the guys that are really great at it for decades. When I say study I don't mean I have listened a lot. I have dissected them and tried to apply it to how I play guitar and write music. Surf music is another great example of how impactful instrumental music can be when it is in the context of a composed song and not just a jam session. Alongside the guitar, another instrument that benefits of a lot of space is the harmonica played by Chicago legend of his own Studbaker John Grimaldi….. I really love harp. It adds a color that I felt I absolutely had to have on this record. I was going for a more stripped approach than the last blues album I did, which had keys and quite a bit of horns. Studebaker John was the perfect choice to play harmonica for this album. I have always been a fan of his music. I love his guitar playing and singing as well. His playing is so gritty and emotive. He has such a deep understanding of the blues I think from being in Chicago and seeing all those great bands live. As the album was being mixed I must’ve said a dozen times “Man, we found the right harp player”. I am so happy with what he contributed to the album. The vocals parts are held by E.J. “Moose” Boles and what a strong, passionate singer he is….. If I were a singer I would want to sing like Moose. We were in a touring band together twenty years ago. We played all over the U.S. and Canada. We did a lot of gigs and miles together. We lost touch for quite a few years but reconnected in 2019 when we did the “Two Rivers Back” album. He has always been the right singer for me. I have always thought that we brought the best out of one another musically. He sings how I hear it in my head, but better. He is just the real thing on every level. Giving an eye to the songs I would say that “Where You At” is the first tune that stikes me hard. The sound of the guitar is so liquid that one may say you’re playing slide on it but, although you use to play slide throughout the record, I’m not really sure of that regarding this particular tune. There is a slide guitar as one of the rhythm guitars. But all the fills and the solo are not played with a slide. I think blues guitar and blues music as a whole seem simple on the surface. But the good ones are able to really manipulate the notes and get their fingerprints on them. That's the hard part. It’s all about the push and pull that makes it interesting. You can just hear when a musician means business and has done their homework. Most of my favorite music has moments of real discomfort in it. Not dissonance, just tension. The kind of tension that feels like it’s going to fall apart at any second, but doesn’t. Loose and confident is what I was striving for with this track. I want it to feel like the train is coming off the rails but somehow hangs on. It makes for an exciting ride. Also there is something that vaguely reminds of Albert Collins….. I love Albert Collins! I think he is grossly underrated in the guitar world. His playing was slinky and meaningful. His approach to the guitar was so unique. He is one of those players that was simply special. There is so much sting in his playing. It is glaringly obvious in a very short listen that he came to play and he meant business! “Late Night Crying” seems like something from Muddy Waters revisited with a modern sensibility….. It is a classic twelve bar slow blues. Just meat and potatoes with no garnish. Nothing fancy about it at all. This track has a great performance from everyone in the band. A very strong vocal track and harp presence that is drenched in blues authenticity. It is all about getting the right people together and simply getting out of the way and letting them play. Muddy was a master of putting a great band together as we all know. His band members are a Who's Who of Chicago Blues. Just the harp players alone that came through that band...Good lord! He wrote the book on electric blues as far as I am concerned. Muddy and Elmore James are a couple of my favorites. Of course there are others, but those two really speak to me. “Ain’t That Cold” reminds a bit of a John Lee Hooker’s boogie….. This one started as a TV track actually. John Lee Hooker is absolutely one of my all time favorite artists. Talk about a unique take on the blues. Nobody sounds like Hooker. We all play his boogie, but not like him. I love that he didn't feel committed to the 12 bar format. It takes guts to play a 17 bar blues. I don't have that kind of courage. It sounds so natural when he does it. It's incredible. His music is some of the deepest and dirtiest music I have ever heard. Talk about tension! The tone changes only on the brief final track where the atmosphere becomes more intimate, the rhythm slows down and that slide guitar alone gives the cut kind of a “front porch” feel….. Yeah, The title of the song is "Smoke". I played a lot of slide on this album. I love the sound of that metal tube being dragged across those strings. It opens up so many possibilities. I actually recorded this one on a day that it snowed in early May during the Covid lockdown. My wife and I were looking forward to warm weather and being outside by our fire pit and we got something like four inches of snow. Between the Covid lockdown and the weather it was demoralizing. I think it captures that image perfectly. Although it sounds southern and sweaty it was a direct reaction to a snowstorm that was way too late in the season. That is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Could we sum up saying that “Snapshots From The Second Floor” is a killer album of fantastic guitar work and showmanship?

I appreciate your kind words on the album. I am proud of it for sure. As I said earlier, it is all about getting the right people together and then hoping we are able to capture something that is real. I feel like we made a solid blues record that has its own voice. It is not a reinvention of the blues by any stretch, but just our interpretation of it.

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