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A Fireside Chat with Lucky Peterson

By Published: November 29, 2003

LP: When I was younger, I was looking up to Little Milton, Bobby Bland, B.B. King. I still look up to those same people, but now, I look up to God. As far as musicians, Chris Cain, I look up to myself. I look up to the older generation because that is where it comes from. B.B. King is still kicking. I look up to Albert King when he was around, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, that is the blues.

FJ: By playing everything and the blues, you are an artistic blessing, but a marketing nightmare.

LP: When I got with Bob, King Snake Records. Bob was like that. He said, "We want to record a blues album." From then on, everybody was like, "Just do what you do." What I do, I do it, but it always winds up to the blues. Like I said, I do a lot of different things and it is just the talent that God has given me to reach people and to play the way that I do. I am not the greatest player in the world, but I am a player. There is a lot of people out here that I respect and admire and I have a lot of people that I listen to like Chris Cain, Roy Rogers, Kenny Neal, Bernard Allison, I listen to a lot of different people, Wynton Marsalis. I listen to Parliament, Bootsy. I can go on and on, Incognito. I go to the gospel, Yolanda Adams. I listen to a lot of different people. I just love music, Fred. That is what it is.

FJ: Is there any music you will not play?

LP: No, for what? Why be afraid? I will tell you this, Fred. If it doesn't sound good, you won't hear it (laughing). At first, I was kind of afraid to play slide, slide guitar. I practiced a little bit and then one day I decided that I was going to try it. It do nothing but sound bad.

FJ: Has your impression of the blues changes through the years?

LP: It really hasn't. It just changed the energy. There's more energy. Today, the blues is life, everyday life, living. It has more energy. The energy is greater. I am sure when I get to be about sixty, seventy years old, it will be different energy from more young people coming up, up and coming. I am playing with more energy, but I am playing more seasoned, more soulful, more tasteful. I pick and choose what I do. That comes with age, you get seasoned. You get ripe just like old whiskey.

FJ: Your latest release, Black Midnight Sun was produced by Bill Laswell.

LP: My record label, Jean-Francois of Birdology of France approached Bill Laswell and asked him to produce the record and Bill said, "Yeah." He said that he was going to use Jerome "Bigfoot" Braily from Parliament and he mentioned it to me because I had never heard of Bill Laswell, but he gave me some of his stuff. Me and my wife sat down and listened to it and he was funky. "Let's go and try it. It can't be that bad." We did. We set up a date and met and did the record. Bill had all the guests. I didn't have a hand in that. I didn't do anything but go in there and play the rhythm on the guitar, play the lead, the organ and the keyboards and piano, left and came back home. My feelings of the record now isthat it is a great record. My feelings of the record when I first heard it, I didn't like it. When you are used to doing something and then your whole field changes, I am used to playing, like my last record, Double Dealin', was straight blues, funky blues, straight ahead. Then when I heard Double Dealin', I didn't only like it, my wife didn't like it either. We didn't like it. We put it in and listened to it for about thirty minutes and it was nerve racking and we turned it off. I said to myself, I woke up in the middle of the night and there's something about this record and this might be the main thing that takes me across. So we waited about another week and a half, two weeks and put the record back on and started listening to it again and it started growing on us. Everybody else that listened to the record loved it. But I guess by me doing it and knowing that it was something different and it was a different sound that I had, it didn't hit me. I didn't feel it, but now, I love it. I think it is one of the greatest records I have done.

FJ: How did you decide what tunes to cover?

LP: Me and Jean-Francois, we sat down in the hotel room and listened to about a hundred records. A lot of songs caught our attention and we wrote them down. Bill listened to some stuff on his own and we picked from there. I didn't have really the choice. The only thing I done was I wrote the songs "Truly Your Friend" and "Changes Your Ways." A lot of the stuff, they asked me if I wanted to do it and I said, "Yeah." I know Johnnie Taylor and I would love to do a Johnnie Taylor tune. I love Muddy Waters.

FJ: And the future?

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