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Interviews

Rusty Wright Blues Band: I Ain't From Mississippi

By Published: October 8, 2008
AAJ: With all of the dynamics that affect every relationship, you have additional matters that affect performing couples. What would these be? How do you resolve these matters? Is it just a matter of Rusty remembering who is boss?



RW: I always discuss decisions with Laurie. I value her point of view and many times she gives me a perspective on things that I otherwise might have missed. Once in a while I have to make a command decision if I really feel strongly about something but most of the time we usually find a pretty good compromise.



LLW: We both have strong personalities and opinions but we get along amazingly well both on stage and off. Having a shared goal helps. I can count on one hand the number of out and out raging arguments we've had in the past eleven years. An awful lot of couples I've met are nicer and more courteous to strangers than they are to each other. I just don't get that at all. There are enough people out there willing to tear you down. Your spouse shouldn't be one of them. You're supposed to watch each other's back. For me, the biggest challenge right now is our hectic schedule. It's exhausting. We're juggling daytime schedules, administrative duties for our record label, rehearsals, duo gigs and band shows. Oh yeah, and once in a while we mow the lawn.



AAJ: Laurie, listening to your CD, it's clear that you have a dynamic voice, with an impressive range. Have you received vocal training? Also, until I saw your video on YouTube, I wasn't aware that you played guitar. What are your respective musical backgrounds?



Rusty Wright Blues BandLLW: Rusty will often tell people that I'm a singer who also plays guitar and he's a guitarist who also sings. And that's pretty accurate. I was always more interested in singing than guitar, but I wanted to be able to accompany myself. I've been playing guitar since I was ten, starting with folk and church songs. A family friend got me started playing bluegrass, country and a little rock. I even studied a little classical guitar in high school but by that time boys were a major distraction so I never progressed very far with that. As for vocal training, I practically lived in the choir room in high school. I took three or four classes per day when I could get away with it. I just needed to sing. I hate to admit this but it took years of conscious effort to "get over" my choir training and define my own voice and singing style.



AAJ: And you Rusty, what's your background?



RW: I started out when I was thirteen, playing guitar in my mother's gospel group, The Temples. After I left home at seventeen I played in my share of bar bands. I traveled all over the US and Europe as a sideman with various rock outfits, opening for people like Dokken, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and so many others I can't remember them all. I also spent a lot of time as a studio musician playing everything from gospel to country to metal, but blues and southern gospel was where I came from.



AAJ: Laurie, you indicated that you have a background in journalism. Where did you attend school?



LLW: I fell into journalism with absolutely no formal training. I've always been an avid reader and excelled in English all through school. My first experience in journalism came when I was 19 and I began working as a freelancer for the weekly paper in my hometown. The editor had been nominated for a Pulitzer in investigative reporting earlier in his career but didn't want that kind of pressure in his life anymore. He would take on small, struggling newspapers and would try to turn them around. I think he put up with me because I would do store runs for Twinkies and Pepsi—but I learned a lot from him.



When I moved up north he called the daily newspaper in Manistee, Michigan and told the editor he ought to hire me. Oddly enough, they did hire me when they had an opening in the newsroom. Eventually I was making more money at music than writing so I quit my full-time job but continued to write for newspapers and music magazines all the while I was on the road. I toured at least nine months out of the year, and writing assignments helped fill the daytime hours.



I moved back to Michigan and started my own music publication in the early '90s when my mom began having health problems. When my production cost tripled I cut my losses and folded it but continued writing for all of the regional newspapers and magazines. I stopped taking on writing assignments a few years ago when our music schedule started picking up drastically. I was burned out on writing—burned to an absolute crisp. I just couldn't bring myself to do one more dance recital preview story or vanity profile on a local funeral director. Currently I work at a community college, but we are working very hard to make a transition back into full time music careers.



AAJ: Rusty, what did you do professionally before your music caught fire?



RW: I'm a freelance graphic artist and web designer in addition to running Sadson Music.



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