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Interviews |  30 Oct 2014 18:32 |  By RnMTeam

UK Blues guitarist Mick Clarke: "My first visit to India has been enriching"

MUMBAI: British blues guitarist Mick Clarke, who started his career in the late 60s and has toured alongside big names like Johnny Winter, Canned Heat and Rory Gallagher, recently announced his band’s – The Mick Clarke Band –  India tour to promote his album 'Crazy Blues'. The musician began his career with his band The Killing Floor that backed Texas blues star Freddie King and toured with legends such as Howlin' Wolf and Otis Spann.

As a part of the tour, the band performed in India for the first time, headlining the ‘Simply The Blues’ festival on 25 October in Mumbai and 26 October in Bangalore with a favourable response. Mick Clarke talked about the tour and the opportunity for the ‘blues’ genre to grow in the country.

Why did you decide to tour India?

I saw a documentary on television about Iron Maiden touring India, so I could see that there was enthusiasm for hard rock, and I thought there should be some interest in blues rock too. I got some tracks out on download and streaming and they did okay, and sold a few ringtones too. I did some research on the blues scene in India and came across this very interesting blues festival called “Simply The Blues”. They came across as a young outfit and very enthusiastic about promoting the blues in India. I immediately got in touch with their promoters - Starkonnect Events & Promotions, and all fell into place.

How would you describe the experience?

In spite of the usual jitters, the experience was absolutely enriching. I loved the vibe the audience brought in. There were cheers and excitement all around. Everyone in India is truly amazing. I feel extremely grateful for an amazing audience, and to Mr. Anil Mehta (man behind ‘Simply The Blues’ festival), who made my first visit to India so enriching.

We would love to perform in India once again given the chance.

Do you think ‘blues’ as a genre, in India, has scope to build into something like in the UK?

As Blues legend Willie Dixon so aptly said, “The Blues is the roots, the rest is the fruits.” I think Indian music fans are still in the process of discovering the blues in its different forms – it is mainly a new thing to them. Blues as a genre caters to a very different age group and audience. Being fairly new to India, the growth for Blues will be slow but, it exists, even if it is niche.

Surprisingly, I had one of my blues singles released on Artist Aloud and Hungama, one of my reasons to come to India. I usually release all my tracks digitally to promote it on a larger scale.

Are there any Indian blues musicians that you know of and are a fan of?

Through ‘Simply The Blues’, I have heard of Indian blues musicians such as Soulmate, Blackstratblues and Ehsaan Noorani. I have not really heard them, but I intend to do so. The opening act was by Big Bang Blues from Delhi who were absolutely amazing.

In your journey of more than five decades, what has been the greatest learning as a musician?

Well I have survived, so that is something and I am still here after 50 years. I am being able to make albums, have people come out to see my gigs, and new projects keep coming in such as our India tour. I think I look at my career as a whole, and I would like to believe that I have not done badly.

I cannot really credit one experience or one learning as the most enlightening. Each one has had a lasting impact on my music. From Freddie King to Howlin Wolf to Elmore James, down to Rory Gallagher and ZZ Top, each has contributed to my growth as an artiste. Keeping the faith in music and creating it constantly is probably one of the biggest lessons.

Where are you headed after India and what are your upcoming projects?

I have been playing dates in the UK and Europe, including some festivals in Italy. Now I am back in the studio, working on new ideas, which is what I really like to do. There are more UK and Europe dates being lined up for this year and the next as well. Also, we are already working on new ideas in the studio for an album.