Carlye Archbeque: The liner notes for the new live CD tell
the horrible tale of the sleep and food deprivation you suffered
before you recorded in Tampa Bay. What did you do when the show
was finished and you could walk off stage?
Walter Trout: Walked immediately to the Blues Revue booth
(Blues Revue Magazine) and signed autographs for three hours. Then
went to the RV which served as our dressing room and ate some sandwiches.
Then crossed the street with my wife and children to our hotel and
entered unconsciousness until the morning!
CA: Urban legend has it that you were inspired to play live
blues by a chance meeting as a kid with Duke Ellington. How did
that chance come about and how old were you.
WT: I started studying the trumpet at age seven. I was pretty
serious about it. For my tenth birthday my mother took me to see
Duke Ellington (who we'd seen many times before) and Tony Bennett.
We went to the theatre early in the afternoon to get tickets and
my mother said: "I have an idea". We walked over to the artist's
entrance and she knocked on the door. A man came and opened the
door and my mother said: "My son is an aspiring trumpet player and
today is his 10th birthday. Is there any chance Mr Ellington could
say hello to him". Within five minutes we were ushered into the
dressing room and ended up spending a few hours with Duke and his
orchestra. One of my main memories of that day is having Duke sit
and talk to me one on one about a life in the music world. And then
having legendary trumpet player Cat Anderson show me his technique
for playing those incredibly high notes he could play. This meeting
changed my life. I had never met such warm, kind, sincere and charismatic
people before. And I decided I wanted to be like them. Four years
later I met Buddy Rich and that almost changed my mind..... but
that's another story.
CA: How soon after that did you play your first live gig?
WT: On the trumpet I was playing in bands and orchestras
all though my childhood. But my first gig as an electric guitarist
happened in 1967 in a record store in New Jersey.
CA: If you were tutoring a young blues guitar player, what
are the first three albums you would tell him to listen to?
WT: 1. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: (self titled album)
2. Buddy Guy: A Man and the Blues 3. BB King: Live at the Regal
CA: What is the difference, for you as a musician, between
studio recording and playing live? How much does the interplay between
yourself and the audience bring to your playing?
WT: Playing live is the ultimate experience for me. Sometimes
I find the studio too confining and controlled. And as my drummer,
Bernard Pershey says: " Using the word 'control' and 'Walter' in
the same sentence doesn't make sense". The audience is incredibly
important because I feed off the energy they give me, and am able
to use it to hit greater heights.
CA: If you could have any other profession, what would it
WT: Brain surgeon.
CA: What do you think of the state of the blues in America
as compared to Europe?
WT: The State of the Blues? Is that near California? Just
kidding.... I think the Blues is at it's healthiest time in America
right now. In Europe I think it peaked about 10 years ago, but it
is still doing great.
CA: What's your favorite pass time when you're not on the
WT: Freelance brain surgery.
CA: I know each live show is different, with its own energy
and life, but what would you say was the best show, best meaning
most over all fun, you've played?
WT: I don't have one favourite show. I have done so many.
In the last 30 years I've played constantly and taken very few breaks.
I've got many great memories, but not one that stands above the
CA: Is there any venue you haven't played that you really
want to? What is it and why?
CA: What's your proudest accomplishment?
WT: My untapped skill at brain surgery.