MISSISIPPI HEAT INTERVIEW
* Answers by Pierre Lacocque
How would you describe your music for the public audience they have never seen you before?
Mississippi Heat’s upbeat music is directly influenced by post-war Chicago Blues. We also build upon it to create our fresh material. Hence our motto for the band: “Mississippi Heat: Traditional Blues With a Unique Sound”.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
My musical influences come from the electric Chicago Blues recordings from the 1950’s (and onward); as well as from pre-war acoustic delta blues. I also listen to music that has “blue notes” in it, or could potentially have them. Reggae, Calypso, Swing, Mambo, Jungle percussion, and Rumbas are perfect examples. I enjoy a variety of beats, other than the traditional
Chicago blues’ shuffles and lumps. I appreciate Santana and Otis Rush for instance. Especially their being drawn to minor keys. I am also fond of Taj Mahal and John Mayall. These legends venture outside the traditional blues idiom while … remaining in it. So does Mississippi Heat.
Do you write out your own lyrics? Do you ever change a song’s lyrics in live sets?
We tend not to change our lyrics during live shows. Yet with rare exceptions: sometimes our singer Inetta adds lyrics to a twist we recorded called “Cool Twist”. She typically inserts well-known Chubby Checkers’ lyrics to it like “Come on Baby let’s do the twist”, etc. She does it also on songs like Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do”, or on the well-known swing “Black Drawers”. Otherwise we stick to our songs’ recorded lyrics.
We write most of our material ourselves. Hence our unique and fresh sound. I am the main songwriter for the band, though I invite my musicians to also contribute songs they have written.
When Are You Completely Satisfied With Your Work?
Every time we finish a CD I can honestly say that I have given it my best. So I tend to be at peace after all is done with. And that includes CAB DRIVING MAN (2016), our new Delmark recording. However, the creative flow continues and new challenges come again and again. So I do not stay complacent for long!
Someone once said “write what you would want to perform over and over”. With that in mind, what song do you love to perform the most and why?
I enjoy songs that celebrate family, children, grandchildren, and life in general. We have songs like “Natalie”, “Cupid Bound”, “Johnny Boy”, “Lonely Nights No More”, “Birthday Song”, “Hey Pipo!” that highlight these topics. I also enjoy playing challenging songs like “Rosalie”, “Last Go Round” and “Can’t Get No Traction” which appear on the new CD. It took time for the band to learn them. Once we did, they became standard songs for live shows. They are now among our
What kind of music do you listen to today?
I carry an IPOD with me wherever we travel. It contains close to 5 thousand songs. Most are blues tunes though I also have classical, Latin, and even disco music files in it. Anything is game for me. Sometimes I listen for pleasure, though I always keep an open ear for ideas. I guess it is ingrained in me. Perhaps a professional hazard.
What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?
I enjoy listening to striptease music. Over the years, my friend Gordon Beadle (AKA Sax Gordon) has recorded quite a few of them on his wonderful tenor saxophone. Songs like “Waterbed Lou”, “Melancholy Serenade”, and “Tino’s Dream” are examples. Willie Mabon has recorded some as well like “Come On Baby”. I don’t get tired of that genre. So sexy and timeless! There is a sense of excitement in the gradual exposing, in the anticipation and in the revelation. Music can express
all of this so well.
If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?
I am attracted to Techno music with its mesmerizing rhythms, its trance, and its primal beats. I have been asked to overdub harmonica on techno tunes before, but I haven’t yet. A techno DJ in Switzerland, who loves Mississippi Heat, has asked me to record with him. I have not had the time to work on this project yet but… it is an exiting proposition. Dave Ferguson and Rory McLeod are 2 harmonica players who have recorded with techno musical backgrounds. I enjoy their work. They have posted exciting videos on YOUTUBE.
What is the furthest show from your home that you have done?
We have played in Tunisia, Venezuela, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Scandinavia among other distant places.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
God willing, a live CD/DVD recording or another studio recording. I thrive on composing and writing songs. As long as inspiration flows within me, I will move forward and create.