Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - 99
We've been together about 15
years. We're like a family; we
know each other so well it's like
a spiritual connection - it's not
a backup band. I have a lot of
confidence because I know
that whatever I call off, they
can play. The solos are always
different, but the core music is
there. We have a very large book
of tunes, but I always get the feeling from [bassist] Jim Mouradian
and [drummer] Lorne Entress, and
support from [organ/piano player]
Dave Limina. I wouldn't have it any
other way. I've had many offers to
That's with Diane Blue, who
I've known for 10 years. I wasn't
looking for a singer at all, and
never expected to have a lady
singer, but she'd sit in with us
in various cities and I started
thinking how it feels like a
"God thing" - that's what we call
it. It gives me a chance to be in a supportive role and I love the whole thing.
"Blues for Hubert Sumlin" sounds
almost like something Stevie Ray
Vaughan might play.
Stevie was a contemporary of mine, so
I was very careful not to copy his style.
To me, it's more based on old Freddie
King instrumentals where he's playing double-stops. I gave it a different
On Just For Today, you pay homage
to your influences - John Coltrane,
Hubert Sumlin, Robert Nighthawk...
go places with a different bands
behind me, but then we're just
jamming. These are actual songs.
Just For Today is all instrumental except for "I'd Rather
I love Robert Nighthawk - he's so
overlooked these days. He took that
slide style from Tampa Red and made it
his own. He played in the open markets
on Maxwell Street in Chicago and had
that smooth style Earl Hooker later
brought to the forefront. He's one of
my favorites, but he's not known that
much because he died when he
was 40. I love playing the "Robert
Nighthawk Stomp," which is a
very old Chicago-style song.
With Dave Limina playing a
boogie, we tried to get that old
Maxwell-Street feel, like early
My first love has always been
Chicago blues. That's where I
learned to play my music. When
I play there, it's kind of full circle.
You've lately been working
with some talened young guitarists.
Yes, like Nicholas Tabarias; I flew
him out for our last four albums
because he's so gifted. In Boston,
we have Peter Ward and Pete Henderson. I think Paul Holdman and
Laura Chavez are really good, too.
When you play, are you thinking about the styles of other
I can't play like anyone else.
"Rush Hour" is for Otis Rush, but
I can't play like him. I just try to
put his energy, soul, and feeling
into what I play, and capture his
spirit. I'm a strong purveyor about
'59 and '62 Strats: Tom Hazeltine.
these strats, from '62 (left) and
'59, were Earl's primary guitars in
his time with Roomful of Blues.