Interview Scott Sharrard: Interpreter of the blues
Credits: Interview by Michael Limnios
Scott has released three solo albums to critical acclaim, and he continues to tour and showcase with his new lineup, Scott Sharrard and The Brickyard Band. Scott also recently formed the CKS Band with fellow Gregg Allman band member and organ player, Bruce Katz, and current Levon Helm Band drummer, Randy Ciarlante. This powerhouse organ trio will be touring nationally and internationally in 2012 and beyond.
Scott began his career in Wisconsin in the early '90's, spending his teenage years attending Milwaukee's prestigious High School of The Arts by day while spending his nights playing in clubs and touring with local blues legends like Stokes, Willie Higgins, and Harvey Scales, and with such international blues and jazz luminaries as Buddy Miles, Melvin Rhyne, and Clyde Stubblefield. After rising to the top of the local circuit by the age of 19, Scott moved to New York City with his band, The Chesterfields. They recorded and released three albums, toured nationally, and received support and encouragement from people such as Ahmet Ertegun, Russ Titlemen, Rob Thomas and Dr. John.
Over the years, Scott has also performed with such artists as: The Allman Brothers, Levon Helm, Amy Helm, Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, Jennifer Johns, Marshall Crenshaw, Kelley Hunt, Katy Pfaffl, Brian Charette, and Jay Collins & The Kings County Band.
Interview by Michael Limnios
Scott, when was your first desire to become involved in music, what does the BLUES mean to you?
The blues is the basis for all the great American music. You can’t play Jazz, Rock, R&B, Country, or Folk without being able to play the blues. It’s the roux in the gumbo and it's made me who I am as a musician no matter what I play.
What characterize Scott Sharrard’s music philosophy, how do you describe Scott’s sound and progress?
I hate "genres" and boundaries in music. That’s for the marketers and bean counters. At the end of the day for me it's all about SOUL. Bach had it, Marvin Gaye had it, Jimi, Miles, Prince, Otis…music is at its best when you can take it ALL in and come out with a singular voice. That’s my goal.
What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician and songwriter?
Playing, practicing and having great musical mentors. Also learning the music that came before as best as you can….not to mention getting away from music, reading, checking out art, movies and most of all being with my family. It's all inspiring and crucial to having something to say musically.
What do you think is the main characteristic of your personality that made you a bluesman?
First off I would never call myself a "bluesman" that's reserved for the creators of the genre like Lightnin Hopkins, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. I consider myself an interpreter of the blues and I do my best to incorporate it into my music.
Which memory from the road with the Gregg Allman Band makes you smile?
Just hanging out with Gregg and the band on the bus listening to tunes and hearing all the guys share road stories and musical and personal philosophy. Barreling down the highway to the next gig with those guys in the middle of the night after a great show is one of the best places to be!
What advice Gregg given to you?
To play LESS notes. And also watching him every night, how he sings and leads the band. It’s always inspiring.
Why did you think that Gregg Allman, continues to generate such a devoted following?
Gregg's one of the best rock/blues singers of all time. And he drips natural soul and tells a story EVERY time he sings. Not to mention he's a great songwriter and organist. He always delivers.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?
Practice and memorize every solo and song you can get your hands on!
What the difference and similarity between the BLUES, JAZZ, and ROCK feeling?
If you are playing them right they are all the same!
You have played with many musicians, it must be hard, but which gigs have been the biggest experiences for you?
Playing with Gregg obviously, sitting in with the Allman Brothers and playing guitar with Levon Helm on his last gig…all life changing for me, I’ll always be thankful for those opportunities.
Tell me about the beginning of Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band. How did you choose the name and where did it start?
My band mate Moses Patrou (drummer/singer/songwriter) came up with the name. It's inspired by that Allen Toussaint song "Brickyard Blues". The group is unique because we have Moses playing double drums with Diego Voglino and also singing lead and playing keys at times. Jeff Hanley is my bassist for many years and Ben Stivers is a great keyboard player and B-3 Organ master. This band is really great. The Brickyard Band is really in the mold of those great collectives loofa the 60's/70's like Traffic, The Meters, Little Feat, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs etc…. I can't wait for people to hear our record which is coming out in the Fall of 2012.
How do you characterize the sound of THE CKS BAND?
Randy and Bruce are musical masters and it's an honor to play with them any time. CKS is a true collective and we try to also honor our bosses, Gregg Allman and the late great Levon Helm, by covering their material and also doing our own. It’s a powerful rock/blues organ trio and Randy and I have a great vocal blend. Those guys just knock my socks off, you've gotta hang on for dear life when they hit the stage!