Interview with Blues musician: Wes Lee
Wes Lee, an Americana, Blues, Roots musician from Mississippi, USA.
Ahead of his performances in Melbourne, we asked him a few questions.
What are you most looking forward to for your visit to Melbourne?
I’m looking forward to experiencing a culture different from mine. I’m also very interested in meeting fans of the acoustic Blues.
How did you discover Blues and at what age?
I was young, real young, when I was first hearing the style. My father was a trumpet player so growing up we were hearing all kinds of records from Etta Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, to Dixieland records as well as classical stuff. And even the soul in some of the classical music is so very apparent. So I was hearing Hesitation Blues, St. Louis Blues, Basin Street, When the Saints go Marching in, etc., before I knew what a “genre” was. It was simply music that I really loved. As I got older when I met the Blues, and listening to BB King, that’s when I decided I have to know more about this music. And its just been an ever-increasing desire ever since. It took a while longer to have my own experiences to write my songs from.
Having just returned from a tour in Europe what was the highlight?
Well, I could tell you the beer and that is true. I could tell you the amazing architecture and that is also true. Performing with a 40 member choir in a church built in the 1600’s singing old Southern Gospel and Spirituals was amazing. But the real highlight was meeting all of the people. Performing with Marc and Luc Borms and sharing laughs was wonderful. Some people had never heard Blues music before or danced to it, or heard stories about some its characters, and are now some of the most dedicated fans, as I watch their Facebook walls. Some folks who had no idea about me when they had come to the first performance, ended up coming to every show. The people, always the highlight, bigger than all of the accolades of reviews, standing ovations, etc. Making new friends and inspiring someone, that’s the highlight.
Tell us a bit about your studio- any interesting equipment?
My studio is 25 plus years of collecting. So its old tech and new tech. A few Neumann mic’s, Analog console, other assorted outboard gear, teamed with computer for storage. Although for this new album I am working on, Mississippi Legends, I have acquired a reel to reel tape machine. My goal is to further & further immerse myself in the legendary music and sounds.
Who’s your biggest inspiration in the blues world?
I take something away from everyone I listen to, no matter the genre. I do not see the world as Blues and non blues, for me its all music. It seems that every few days I have a new favorite, my friends and I laugh because we say it is like having a new superhero toy as a kid. But, you can hear Charlie Patton, Bukka White, Sam Chatmon, pretty clear in my style. My friend Jimmy “Duck” Holmes always shows me something new when I visit him in Bentonia.
If you collaborate with anyone outside the blues world, who would it be?
I love the Playing For Change stuff so that would be cool.
Do you have any self-imposed policies when performing?
Always give 1oo percent and do my very best.
Given the choice, would you ban smartphones from the concert hall?
That’s a hard one. It’s such a part of today’s culture. Also, it’s one of those things that I cannot change so I don’t worry about it. Most theatres and listening rooms, folks silence them and they are there for the music.
What does playing in Melbourne mean to you?
It’s a dream come true. When I was a teenager, we read surf magazines and always dreamed of surfing Australia. So now to bring my music is very exciting to me.