DON HOFFMAN BLUZ - INTERVIEW
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Musically, I’ve always been influenced by artists in all sorts of genres and my collection included everything from folk to classical to country, blues, rock, jazz… everything but “pop.” More specifically it’s guitarists, and early on it was players like Eric Clapton and Roy Buchanan and then Stevie Ray Vaughan. Through the music of players like them I was able to trace blues back to its roots and discover artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Elmore James, Huddie Ledbetter, Robert Johnson, and many others. I love women players like Bonnie Raitt and my favorite today is Joanne Shaw Taylor. These days I’ve been learning things from BB King and Jimi Hendrix. If I could have my choice of any band in the world to get to join on stage, I’d choose Los Lobos and David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas are probably the two guitar players I admire most in today’s world.
Non-musically, if I could have a choice of one person to spend time with and learn from, it would be Frederick Douglass, who had the clearest understanding of anyone who’s ever lived of the essential equality of all persons as human beings.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Simply the understanding that “Perfection” is unattainable in this life and does not exist in this world, apart from God himself. “Excellence” on the other hand is attainable by every being on the planet. So if you try to pursue perfection you can have no other outcome but failure, and disappointment. But if you sincerely pursue excellence in everything you do, you will always come out a winner. It’s just a question of how big.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Make note of it in that second for future reference, get back in the groove, and keep rolling. It happened, it’s over, it came, it went, and the train’s goin’ down the track with you or without you. I make mistakes every time I perform, (the worst is launching into a song in the wrong key), but I have yet to talk to anyone in an audience who ever said that they noticed a single one of them.
Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?
There are many and they actually cause me to weep. Listened to one of them last night, and it’s not actually the music itself, but the reaction of the audience. It’s on an album called “E.C. was Here,” an Eric Clapton live album from 1975. Clapton is playing acoustic guitar on “Driftin’ Blues” and during a pause between riffs you hear a guy in the audience yell out, “Jam it!!!” I’ve heard that guy’s shout a thousand times over four decades and still when I heard it last night, sitting at the dinner table, tears filled my eyes, and I was reminded in a way that cannot be put into words why it’s my passion to play the blues.
How would you describe your perfect day?
Most days I have about twenty pounds of possibilities to accomplish and the understanding that each day is a ten pound bag, so ya just can’t do it all. So a perfect day is when I can lay my head on my pillow at bed time and be happy with my choices on what to stuff into the bag. Hopefully I managed to balance the labor, the learning, and the loving.
Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?
When I was young I used to literally have recurring dreams of meeting Eric Clapton and then having the chance to perform with him. In the dreams I was very nervous and we never got to the playing part before I woke up. Fast forward to today and I’m happy to say that the one guitarist that I would most want to meet and play with would be David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and I’m happy to say, thanks to Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez (Los Lobos’ drummer), that I have been blessed several times with the opportunity to hang out with David and chat. Haven’t had the chance to play with him, but who knows what the future holds. If it ever does happen I’m sure I’ll be nervous and I know I’ll be thrilled.
What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?
HaHa.. I can’t say that there’s anything embarrassing in my music collection because I love all kinds of music.. the embarrassing part is probably that I don’t have an MP3 player and don’t even know how one works!
If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that be?
On stage, feelin’ good, in front of a festival crowd of folks who showed up to see good live music.
Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?
Always keep learning. As a musician it never ends and it should never stop. I’ve been playing guitar since the late seventies and still I’m constantly learning, still “taking lessons” from teachers via the Internet or lesson DVDs, just trying to get better as a player and to get a better understanding of my craft.
Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?
Same answer as for the “blink my eyes” question… On stage, feelin’ good, in front of a festival crowd of folks who showed up to see good live music, maybe jammin’ members of a band like Los Lobos.
What is the furthest show from your home that you have done?
Just a few hours away, unless you count when I was in my first band and was serving in the US Navy. We did a show for the crew on board the USS Ajax in the Gulf of Oman! LOL
Don Hoffman Bluz - Unfinished Business
Don Hoffman laat op zijn debuut album horen uit het juiste blues hout te zijn gesneden. Ruim 50 minuten horen we blues recht uit het hart. Don Hoffman zag in 2001 een concert van Dan Peters en zijn ' West Side Winders' op het Bethlehem's Musicfest. Dit was de aanleiding om na 15 jaar de gitaar weer gepassioneerd ter hand te nemen.
Op 'Unfinished Business' horen we terug dat dit uitstekend is gelukt. Al op het eerste nummer van het album 'I Remember The Day' horen we al het relaas van de bijzondere relatie met de gitaar. De teksten op het album zijn oprecht en vertellen de luisteraars een verhaal. Het enthousiasme van Don Hoffman Buz is iets wat goed terug te horen is op het album,
Wat mij betreft is het debuut album meer dan geslaagd. Mijn favoriete nummers op het album zijn ' I Remember The Day' en 'If I Were To Lose You' met een vocale gastbijdrage van Jenn McCracken. Wat mij betreft is Don Hoffman nog lang niet klaar met de blues.