San Francisco Blues Festival & an honest opinion!

Posted 10/09/06

The Hollywood Blue Flames played the San Francisco Blues Festival in late August, along with Ruth Brown and Little Richard. The set was too short, over before we even began to sweat. My good friend Junior Watson was also on the bill and we shared a guitar and had a big time. If anyone has photos send 'em on over and we'll post 'em. But wait, there's more... As an unusual side note to the SF festivities, I have to relay a conversation I had with an older Belgian man backstage (unfortunately, I forgot who he was or why he was there). Anyway, the man came up to me after our set and, in a thick accent, said: "Ahh, that was wonderful, Rick Holmstrom doing what he does best!" I thanked him for the kind words and listened as he went on..."I hope your next record will be a traditional blues record...none of this loops and samples crap...please tell me this is true!" I told the man that I had a traditional live blues/roots record in the can, but that I am also working on a follow up to that "crap" Hydraulic Groove record as well as an instrumental record to be released whenever I manage to finish. He went on to tell me (and I'm paraphrasing here but trying to keep it clean): "No one liked that record. It was crap (or another colorful adjective). You are such a talent. In my country, you, Junior Watson and Hollywood Fats are the holy triumvirate of traditional blues guitarists. But then you go and ruin your legacy with that horrible hip hop electronica #%@#! (insert colorful adjective here)...but to see you today playing with the old Hollywood Fats Band, and playing so well, gives me hope!" We went on to talk for another 10 minutes or so, and I thanked him for his honest opinion. Someone asked me later if it hurts hearing things likes this, and I told him that initially it gets your blood boiling, but it's so refreshing to hear someone actually voice an honest opinion that I got a big kick out of it. My thinking on the subject is this...I want to make music that makes people have strong feelings one way or the other. Love it, hate it, whatever. Go ahead and tell me what you think. Tell it to me straight. I don't like every record by any of my favorite artists. But I always like the ones where they went out on a limb and did something bold. It makes such a difference hearing a record by an artist who was obviously inspired when they made the record, and not just thinking "Well, this'll keep 'em happy for awhile." The blues audience barely makes up 1% of the record buying/downloading business. Might as well do whatever you want, try whatever you want, and be fearless. Just realize that I still love traditional blues. Always have, always will. Bricks in My Pillow (by Robert Nighthawk) is my favorite alltime record. But I'm going continue chasing whatever interests me at that particular time, and continue trying to please myself while hopefully making unique records, regardless of whether somebody else might think it's %$^$#! (yeah, insert a good one here!). Wherever you are Mr. Belgian man...I look forward to having a beer with you sometime soon!