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Talkin' Blues

Talkin' Blues with Jimmy Herring

By Published: December 27, 2011
AAJ: Well, I hope if you do tour again for a solo project you think about doing what Susan [Tedeschi] and Derek [Trucks] did last month with that concert on iclips. That's great, fans from around the world have a chance to catch you in concert.

JH: Derek's younger brother is actually here at the house right now, and he was telling me about that. I haven't seen it yet, but I'd love to. You know, that's something I've been thinking about, I'd really love to tour Europe, Australia and Japan. The problem is that it is really expensive to take your equipment over there. And I've heard horror stories about musicians going without their own equipment, and showing up at a gig where the equipment was provided, but then it doesn't work. What would be a nightmare and I'm terrified of that happening.

I'm going to be fifty in January and I'm at that point in life, where if I can't do it right, I just don't want to do it. I know that it is important to do it, and I want to do, and I want to see the rest of the world and play there. But I don't think I'm ready yet, I don't think I have enough music yet to do it right. So I've still got some things to work out, but it's going to happen. Souvik Dutta, from Abstract Logix, keeps telling me I've got to do this, and he's right, I know I need to do this.

What I need is a three to five month period when I can put my energy into getting ready for something like that. Writing music, doing another record, and assembling enough songs so I feel like I can go on the road for a month in another country without getting bored playing the same ten songs every night. And I don't want to do all covers either. I've gotten into that before.

On my last record there was a lot of orchestration and a lot of people playing: flutes, saxophones, keyboards and overdubs that were a part of the orchestration. So without that part of the picture those songs just don't come off the same. So with a four piece band you really can't pull off some of that stuff, yeah you can do it, but it sounds half empty.

AAJ: Right, like the "Jungle Book Overture."

JH: We did that a couple of times as a four piece band and I just didn't think it came off very well. So that's the secret, write some music that can come off as a four-piece band. So that's what it's about right now, trying to write for that situation.

As I was doing that record I wasn't even thinking about trying to recreate that stuff live. So what we went out there with, was really only about half of what we could do live.

AAJ: Yet it is nice to have a studio album like that. There was a time when people were hesitant to take advantage of the studio and do overdubs. I thought you used the studio very creatively for that album and made some great music.

JH: Thank you very much. I feel the same way. All the years I've been doing this, most everything has been live, and as a result I never got to try some of the things I wanted to do with overdubs. So when Souvik allowed me to make the record I wanted to make, I thought of the studio itself an instrument, and I wanted to see what it was capable of and not worry about doing it live.

And of course I could recreate it if I could add a few more people to the band. But to tour with even two more people in the band would be nearly impossible because of the cost of everything. I have to be ready to sacrifice, and I did do that when we toured as a five-piece band with Greg Osby
Greg Osby
Greg Osby
. And I was glad to have him there, but when we went to the West Coast we had to have a bus. And Souvik had warned me, but I thought the music was more important to me right now than the money. I just wanted it to come off the way I wanted to hear it. In the end I learned that Souvik was right, there wasn't enough money.

You know, even as a four piece I can't afford to tour the way I want to tour. I want to have a Hammond B3 organ. You know, touring with a B3 is a whole new situation, it's so big and heavy. You've got to have enough space to carry that thing, and it's expensive.

AAJ: Especially if you're flying around with it.

JH: Yeah, flying around with it isn't even an option unless people have really deep pockets. The only option would be to rent it, and then you never know what you're going to get.

And with a B3 you've got to bring someone along who can fix it if it breaks, and that person gets paid a lot of money.

AAJ: And that's the sticker, that sound; you can't replace it.

JH: That right, you can't, and that's hung me up for quite a while. That's kept me from touring because I need that, you know that sound, it's "earth"—a fake B3 sound just doesn't cut it, it's not earthy enough. And I know plenty of great players, so that's not the issue; the issue is being able to tour with that big thing. It's so frustrating.

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