Q: What did your father teach you about the blues?
A: That “feel” is the most important. You can play all the right notes with the wrong feel, and it won’t sound right. On the other hand, you can play the “wrong” note with the right feel and make it work. That might sound confusing, but if I played what I meant, it would make sense.
Q: You were self-producing your own records in the ’70s, about 30 years before that became a typical thing. What was the toughest part of that?
A: Convincing everyone else I could do it. HAHAHA! My father believed in me once he saw me in the studio and saw how serious I was. It took some convincing to make other people understand how clearly I knew what I wanted to achieve in the studio.
Read more from the Shuggie Otis interview at Nashville Scene.
Currently on tour and with an upcoming show scheduled for October 12 at the House of Blues in New Orleans, Shuggie Otis was recently interviewed by The Times-Picayune about his music career. Here is an excerpt:
Q: It’s been 40 years since you released an album, although you didn’t stop writing and recording. Why is now the right time to put out the material, and play live shows?
A: If it were up to me, I would have been releasing my music the entire time. I spent many years sending tapes and taking meetings with every label in the industry. I was turned down by everyone at least twice. Now, most of those labels don’t exist anymore. So when Sony contacted me about re-releasing “Inspiration Information” along with the companion “Wings of Love” album, I suppose it was the universe – and not me – that had decided now was my time to get back out there.
Q: Growing up with your dad as a famous music personality, what kind of music do you remember listening to or experiencing live? What are some of your favorite memories from being around him as a musician?
A: I had so many great experiences. Seeing him play at places like the Apollo Theater, and play with people like Lionel Hampton and Etta James. My most memorable experiences with him were the sessions we did together at home – just him and myself. We had a studio in back of the house, and he’d be in the live room playing drums while I was in the control room working the tape machine and playing bass. Just me and him cutting tracks together. Those were memorable moments.
Read the complete Shuggie Otis interview at NOLA.com.
Scion of the founding West Coast R&B dynasty going back to his father, classic Forties/Fifties bandleader Johnny Otis, Shuggie’s set Sunday demonstrated many amazing qualities. For one, how to preside over an audience while rooted to one spot and just wailing. This is how enormous the man’s stage presence is: He does not have to move a muscle, fingers and vocal chords aside.
Secondly, this man and his music can make every butt in a dwindling house shake unfettered, yet he and his songs remain unruffled. Shuggie’s sounds are definitely the smoothest to ever have a South Central address.
Third, Otis’ guitar work draws a direct line to the second word in the phrase “rhythm & blues.” … How the man can cut like he does and still retain a mellow tone on his instrument is a true mystery.
Read the complete concert review at The Austin Chronicle.
Photo credit: Sandy Carson
Blues and R&B musician Shuggie Otis is back with a new album for the first time in almost 40 years. For the reclusive Otis, the release of Wings of Love is major news. Its release is paired with his 1974 masterpiece Inspiration Information. On World Cafe, Shuggie plays some of his recent material with his band, and talks about how he developed the cornerstone of Inspiration Information using a drum machine.