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Mahindra Blues Festival: The John Lee Hooker, Jr. Interview

I saw how happy my dad made people feel, helped them solve their issues with his lyrics and music and of course I’m carrying on the tradition, educating and helping turn their ‘sads to glads’.

Shawn Fernandes Feb 11, 2012
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John Lee Hooker, Jr.

ROLLING STONE INDIA spoke to John Lee Hooker, Jr., two-time Grammy nominee and son of blues legend John Lee Hooker about his life, music and first ever trip to India:

You’re credited with a sound that aims to “carry the blues into the 21st century”. What do you think is the sound that will keep the blues vital and alive to a new generation of audiences?

A funky blues that sends a message of encouragement, dance, smiles and unbiased love.

You’ve lived an interesting life ”“ in fact, you’ve called it “living the blues’ ”“ and had quite a few setbacks along the way, only to come roaring back with your 2004 debut album Blues With A Vengeance. Since then you’ve garnered two Grammy nominations and taken your funk-infused modern blues around the world. Do you think life’s hardships ”˜season’ a blues musician and have helped you to take your music to a different level?

Yes I do. My music is not only funky, but it’s also political, it speaks of global warming, the failed economy and failed administrations.

It seems that you’re all about fresh ideas as far as the blues is concerned, pulling in sounds and elements from all over to create a rich aural stew for your music. How would you describe your particular blues sound?

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Pure funk, mixed with modern blues and a sprinkle of hip-hop

 

Obviously, John Lee Hooker was a major influence on your music. Who are the other artists who’ve influenced your style over the years?

 

Johnny ”˜Guitar’ Watson, Lou Rawls and Albert King.

The John Lee Jooker, Jr.sound is very different from your dad’s. You’re more urban, more R&B, with much glossier production. Also, your voice is your instrument, you don’t play guitar. What made you choose your particular musical path?

I saw how happy my dad made people feel, helped them solve their issues with his lyrics and music and of course I’m carrying on the tradition, educating and helping turn their ”˜sads to glads’.

In a way, you’re part of the vanguard, bringing the blues to a country that doesn’t know it as well as the US. How excited are you to be playing in India and what can audiences expect from your set?

I am so excited to perform inside Mumbai for the Indian people, to learn their culture, to incorporate their music with mine. They can expect audience participation, possibly a dance contest and a whole lot of grease popping. From the stage they will experience ”˜cooking with the Hook’.

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