Friday, November 6, 2009

Still Keeping The Blues Live & Loud : An Exclusive Interview With One Of Austin's Kings Of Tone, Blues Rock Guitar Legend Van Wilks

In a career spanning over three decades Austin, Texas based guitarist Van Wilks has forged a blazing blues rock path filled with some of the most impressive playing to be found in the genre.

Lauded as one of the city's master players by both critics, fans and fellow musicians such as Eric Johnson and Billy Gibbons, the consistency of his work has made him stand out in a scene overfilled with hot guitarists year after year. While hot in - the - moment young axeslingers come and go, Wilks has earned the vast respect not only for his longevity, but for his commitment to his craft. Always learning a trick or two from newer players, he's succeeded in keeping his music fresh and vital in a genre characterized and bound in many ways by tradition.

Beginning his recording career with the hard rocking critically acclaimed Mercury Records release 'Bombay Tears' in 1980, an album hailed by the English rock mag Kerrang! as "a masterpiece",Wilks soon found himself out on the road touring the world with ZZ Top (with whom he shared management with at the time), Heart, Point Blank and others, showcasing in a live setting the taste and raw power which has seen him top both reader's and critics' polls in Austin as best guitarist time and time again. Declared "a perfect cross between Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen" by the Austin-American Statesman, his incendiary live performances have left many an audience stunned throughout the globe.

When more than deserving rock n roll success eluded him, Wilks turned towards a more bluesy direction after a long recording hiatus with 1995's 'Soul of a Man'. Still inspired by the English guitarists such as Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page,blues greats Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy alongside Jimi Hendrix, it was welcomed by both fans and critics warmly.

1999's 'Koko's Hideway', (which included a duet with Eric Johnson) 2002's 'Texas Jukin' and 2005's 'Running From Ghosts' continued the streak, with critics expousing platitudes in abundance at his outstanding instrumental and songwriting skills, once again establishing him as a unique force to be reckoned with in the highly competitive blues scene. Recently voted by the Austin Chronicle as both Best Acoustic Guitarist and Best Electric Guitarist 2009, its a testament to his enduring presence and talent.

Now Wilks is back with his first ever live album, 'Live & Loud From Austin, Texas'. Packaged as a combination CD/DVD package, for the first time those who have never had the opportunity to witness this exceptionally talented guitarist in a live setting will have the chance to do so. Although admittedly a bit short at 45 minutes due to it being recorded during an opening slot for Robin Trower, it still manages to convey the excitement of seeing and hearing the scorching hot blues rock attack which has been his stock in trade for many a year.

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Van at his home in Austin, where the topics of discussion ranged from the new live album, his thoughts on European versus American audiences, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the music scene in Austin, touring with ZZ Top, his musical influences and much, much more. Read on as we have an exclusive conversation with one of Austin's true kings of blues tone, Mr. Van Wilks at this location.

"Without A Word" from 'Live & Loud From Austin Texas" :

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