INTERVIEWS JAY GORDON
A BEAUTIFUL THING!
TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
CD 'GOLD RINGS SILVER BULLETS'
EDUCATION IN THE BLUES
BEAUTIFUL THING CALLED MUSIC
remember talking with someone about blues music at a party years and
years ago. We named off our respective favorites (mine being Muddy Waters and
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown). Somewhere in the discussion, we
started speculating if anyone was doing anything new with the Blues.
and then, you get rockers turning their amps down to make earnest yet
"blooze" efforts, and guitar great Eric Clapton comes around
now and then for a sincere offering, when he's not pre-occupied with
Contemporary music. There was nowhere to end this conversation. It
ended with a
question mark. However, upon receiving JAY
GORDON AND THE PENETRATORS' latest CD 'GOLD RINGS
SILVER BULLETS', I think I
found my answer to the question of who is taking blues into different
direction. "(Growing up)
had Hendrix, you had Stevie Ray Vaughan and you had Clapton; I grew up
listening to all of those guys and a long, long time ago I decided to
an original," says Gordon. "The most important thing is to be
yourself with the music. You've got to get as much out of music as you
into it. You've got to take it somewhere else other than sounding like
else. Whether you're singing or playing your own instrument, you've got
your own man and focus on being yourself."
RINGS SILVER BULLETS is not
your usual Blues-fair. This isn't blues on the order of 'My baby done
me!'. Jay Gordon's music is the music of survival. It's all about
head held high despite whatever the world may be throwing at you. It's
believe that such a beautifully gritty sound can come from just six
strings and five fingers. Guitar pyrotechnics aside; what makes GOLD RINGS AND SILVER BULLETS
a success is
the songwriting - something that the Blues is not always known for.
record, the words are very colorful and you can utilize them in such a
to where you can create a story through them." says Gordon.
"That's what I tried doing with this record."
recently had the privilege of speaking to Jay Gordon over the phone.
how it went.
is a great CD!
Thanks man! I 'm proud of that
album. I think it's the best
album that I've done.
you've released nine of them in your
Yeah. This one is
the tenth. There are six tracks off of
the ninth album that I added on this one and I added ten new songs but
really a brand new album because the six tracks that I'm talking about
released on an album called SIX STRING
OUTLAW. It was released on a French label out of
Paris . It was voted “Best
Release” in 2004 but the label didn't have proper distribution in the
States so a lot of people never heard that record and I felt that it
promoted properly for an award-winning record. The album had a lot of
However, six songs from that album have found there way onto this one
we've got one great album.
On the other
you're referred to as the JAY GORDON BAND, but this time, your band is
PENETRATORS. Is this a new band?
Normally when I release albums, I just use
Jay Gordon. I made eight
albums with my name and one album with the Jay Gordon Band. With this
the bass player John Schayer has been with me for ten years and we just
to give the band a name, you know? People know who I am, but now it's
me to let other people in on things and make everybody feel a lot more
comfortable and make the whole thing more like a family. I thought The
Penetrators was a cool name. John came up with it and we talked about
kicked it around and we were like 'Yeah, man! That'll work! It'll be a
different.' It puts a little sizzle on it. You know what I mean?
cover by the
Yeah. People look at that and
they like it, but they've got different
comments on it.
you're from Charlotte , North Carolina
I was born there and by the time I was a
year old, my mother did not
like it there so she took me to Chicago , and I
really grew up in Chicago my whole life. I consider Chicago my hometown
even though I haven't lived there in a long time.
influenced by that whole blues
When I was a kid all I heard was lot of
jazz and blues and gospel
music. My grandmother played piano and was a big blues aficionado and
and that was all I heard. My ears were geared for the Blues right off
And I liked it. It was different. I really didn't quite understand it
got to me somehow. When you're that young, you really don't understand
anything. I dig the music a lot and as time went on; my first
piano and accordion. My grandmother showed me all of the chords and
music theory when I was really young. It was fun and I dug it but I was
partial to strings and to the guitar. I picked the guitar up at nine
started emulating Blind Lemon Jefferson and
Robert Johnson and all of the
acoustic blues cats that were really famous. I was very intrigued by
of one guy that would make the guitar sound like two or three guys,
when they were playing bottleneck slide guitar. At the age of nine I
open tunings like Open G and Open a, Open D, and E and I did that for a
time. When you first start playing, you learn by trying to emulate. As
went on, when you're 13, 14 or 15 years old and putting together your
most white kids didn't understand where I was coming from because I
play the blues, so I wound up playing in cover bands and rock n roll bands
doing Beatles, ‘Stones and ‘Sabbath stuff, you know?
But I always stuck with the Blues. Even to
this day, the blues is my
favorite music. I feel that it's kind of been worn out because a lot of
play it in the traditional manner and they don't really step out of the
boundaries with it as much as I would like to see happen with it. So
were I come in. You had Hendrix, you had Steve Ray Vaughn and you had
and I grew up listening to all of those guys and a long, long time ago
decided to really be an original. The most important thing is to be you
the music. You've got to get as much out of music as you can put into
You've got to take it somewhere else other than sounding like someone
Whether you're singing or playing your own instrument, you've got to be
own man and focus on being yourself. But still to this day, when people
records they always put you in a box and compare you to other guitar
and all that which is fine but I believe I stand on my own merit.
I've played all types of instruments, man. My mother was always very
kind to me
buying me all kinds of musical instruments. I think I drove the woman
One week I'd want a bass, a piano, a guitar, a saxophone, a flute,
violin. I actually played violin for a little bit. I really wish I had
with it. I don't know how many times you've actually listened
record but there are times where I'm soloing you'll hear things that
violin arpeggios. I'm just trying to put out the best music that I can
It's not just about me. When you make a record it becomes everyone
You've got to please yourself first but it's the people that buy your
and support your music and the band that I have is a people band. It
it resonates, and so does life. Life has its own heartbeat and so does
I've read you started playing
clubs really early.
I was playing bars. My grandmother would
take me to all of these
famous clubs when I was like nine or ten and that was really how I
learned how to
play. I was sitting in with people who were really good who could
my ass. I would listen to records and slow down the speed of the album
watch people. I never really had lessons. For the first ten years that
played, I played by ear and then I did take some music lessons to learn
and all of the scales and the modes and once you learn that, you're on
own. I believe that music comes out of you and it comes from a higher
Not everyone can play music and I feel very blessed that I'm able to do
just think that the ear is a little more important than reading musical
notation. Doing that bores me and it's like reading a hum-drum book.
kid I sat in with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells
and Etta James and all of the
guys out of Chicago .
I feel I was very lucky to be in their presence and to listen to such
greatness. You know what I mean? If it wasn't for those cats I wouldn't
doing what I'm doing. I've got to give credit where credit is due
of the things
that jumped out at me was the lyrics in these songs (on GOLD RINGS
BULLETS). Is songwriting something you've always done?
Yes. I never really dug playing cover
music at all. I was always a
creative person. Even when I was 13 or 14 I was always writing a lot of
I wrote my first song when I was eleven. I 've been writing for years
writing all types of music from blues, rock, boogie, ballads, funk,
where it is. If you're going to be an artist, I feel that you have to
to do it all. You have to be able to sing, be able to write, be able to
and you should be a sponge and soak up everything and utilize
comes into your head.
A lot of
the lyrics don't have that sort of
banality that a lot of blues songs typically do. Lyrically things are
strong if you get what I'm saying.
I understand. A lot of blues songs a very
repetitious, in music and
lyrical content. They're very simple and very dry. They don't use a lot
flash. One time I did an album with this Phillip Walker, this black
guitar player and I wrote these songs for him and I got to know how he
how he acted, and how he viewed life. Those lyrics were real
record, words are very colorful and you can utilize them in such a
where you can create a story through them. That's what I tried doing
And you did a
Music is my life and I really don't
believe in too much of anything
else. Personally, I believe in love and trying to live life right and
through a world of madness. It's not easy for anyone to be alive right
especially in today's world. Music was my escape as a child and as life
the guitar becomes your best friend and your whole world. You're able
to somewhere else through sound.
There are a couple of tracks off of GOLD RINGS SILVER BULLETS that I
talk about. “Fire And Brimstone Boogie.”
It's a fun tune and it's upbeat. The
lyrics are out there. It's
about battling the demons within yourself. All of the songs are about
things that have happened to me and friends and things that have
Actually, at the time I wrote that song -
there are a few lines in
that song about raising the dead. There was a period in my life
went through a lot of sadness and death. It was kind of about making a
connection with the dead.
Sin” is a great track.
Thanks man! The whole album I like but as far as the blues, I think
that one is
a stellar track and everyone who listens to it is like "wow!" It goes
back to the beginning of time. We're all born in sin and sometimes
though it's the greatest thing in the world it could be a sin to your
the majority of times in my life, it has helped me get through things
other times, you can get the blues from it.
If you listen to that song, it's to that
guy that's calling himself
a President. You turn on the TV, listen to the news and its all
They feed you what they want you to see and hear. This is supposed to
be a free
world and you’re supposed to feel free to do things but at the same
people are getting in trouble for what they are saying. You have to be
careful especially when you're in the public eye and want to play music.
anyone has ever given you?
Listen. It's the best advice in
life and the best advice in