New Yorker Dave Fields talks about Hubert Sumlin, Big Apple’s blues scene and his own music paths
Posted by Michalis Limnios BLUES @ GREECE on November 18, 2012 at 1:44pm
“I hear people try to copy it today but it’s hard. The Chess played the way they lived. Times have changed. Music today reflects that.”
Dave Fields: Blues Detonation in Big Apple
Dave Fields has music not just in his blood, but also in his genes. Fascinated with music from the very beginning, he studied piano at a very early age and began learning musical composition, arranging and production on his father’s knee. His father is Sammy Fields, a well known composer-arranger-producer of great American standards as well a collaborator with the great Hollywood, Broadway and standards writer, Sammy Cahn.
Dave Fields discovered his love for the guitar at age thirteen and was soon playing on sessions with his father, and writing his first score for a big band at age 16. In high school, Dave had been exposed to some of the top session musicians, composers and arrangers in America.
After high school, Dave attended the Berklee school of music in Boston where he studied performance and composition/arranging. After college, Dave soon found a career back in New York as a budding composer/arranger/producer working for independent record labels and also playing on records as a “first-call” guitarist-multi-instrumentalist with likes of GRP productions and Ahmet Ertegen.
Dave Fields was the band/writer director for the world renowned new voices of freedom performing with U2 in their movie “Rattle and Hum”. He has also worked with other musical legends including Hubert Sumlin, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Sean Lennon, the Drifters and Tommy James.
Dave Fields is a former staff member of look music where he produced and wrote many national TV and radio commercials. He has also been a significant contributor to a variety of stock music libraries including aircraft music library. Fields music is proud to announce “Back in Bluesville” (Roxy Perry) wins best self produced CD for 2006 in Memphis at the IBC!
On September, blues-rock guitarist/singer-songwriter Dave Fields released a new studio album, “Detonation”. Expanding upon the premise of his two earlier blues-rock albums, Time’s A’ Wastin’ (2007) and All Wound Up (2008), Detonation, produced by David Z is a 12-song exploration of Fields’ genre-defying style and electrifying guitar prowess.
Interview by Michael Limnios
What do you learn about yourself from the blues, what does the “Blues” mean to you?
The blues is a feeling that resides in all human beings whether you’re from New York, Mississippi, Moscow or Athens. The blues equals life, the human spirit and are existace on this planet. I learned that we are all connected by the same emotions: love, dispair, joy, pain etc.
From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues music?
I keep learning the more I listen and I grew up listening to the blues! Lately I’ve been relistening to Albert King. The way he would bend the strings still gives me chills. When I worked with Hubert Sumlin I got to see first hand what it was like to be a living blues angel. He was amazingly kind human being. He inspired me to be a better person.
Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
Friends, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY! It’s hard to pick a best and a worst. Best: (subject to change) getting a phone call from John Mayall telling me he was going to record my songs TRAIN TO MY HEART. Worst: being around mean people (I wont mention names!)
Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?
Honestly, the past ten years have been the ost interesting. About ten years ago I made a conscous decision that I was going to have an ‘outrageuous’ life and even with the highs and lows I’m having a blast.
What experiences in your life make you a GOOD MUSICIAN and SONGWRITER?
How your channel your experiences into your music is a very personal thing. Its’ hard to say which ones make you good or bad. I’ve always believed that being a good musician is part a product of craft: being proficient on your instrument, soul: bearing your soul when you play, and attitude: being mentally and emotionally together and being professional. Being a good song writer is: 1) understanding the craft of words, melody and rhyme and 20 being real with your songs
How/where do you get inspiration for your songs & who were your mentors in songwriting?
I’ve always tried to write about what was reqal to me whether it be a broken heart or something I found funny in life. I’m always finding new song writers that blow me away. I’ve always been drawn to song writers who weren’t afraid to bear their soul in their music.
Tell me a few things about your meet and recording time with David Z, which memory makes you smile?
I have a great story, when we were done with the CD we had a CD wrap up party in my apartment in the lower east side of Manhattan. My neighborhood is right on the border of China town and the jewish part of Manhattan. At the time David Z had just moved from Nashville to LA. He was complaing that he couldn’t get any good egg foo young in Tennesee. That night I my wife Judy and I got him the best egg foo young he ever ate. To this day my nickname for him is egg foo young! HA!
When my manager Sandi Rose and I were looking for a producer for DETONATION we spoke to a number of people. David Z being one of them. David was so persistant with us. He would call every week to see where we were in the selection process. His diligence paid off. He’s a joy to work with and not mention an amazing engineer.
Are there any memories from Hubert Sumlin, which you’d like to share with us?
There are many of Hubert. One time after a show there was a long line of people waiting to get his autograph. At the front of the line was a youngster with his guitar who couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen. Hubert sat the young man down and spent a good fifteen minutes counciling him and giving him sagely advice. That was the kind of man hubert was he was a giver.
What is the “feel” you miss most nowadays from Hubert Sumlin and Chess era?
I miss the feeling of the unadulterated rawness. There was a ‘down homeness’ that you don’t hear in today’s music. I hear people try to copy it today but it’s hard. The Chess played the way they lived. Times have changed. Music today reflects that. There was no internet, iTunes and cell phones back then, only Cadillac’s with big fins, record players and the radio!
How do you describe Dave Fields’ sound and what characterize your music philosophy?
Passion, being real, sharing unique musical moments with the listener/audience, having fun, music is life
What is the best advice a bluesman ever gave you?
“Play from the heart” Roxy Perry (a blues woman!)
What’s the best jam and gig you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you’ve had?
The best latest jam was with Norwegian Blues Roots Americana great JT Lauritsen in Yongyearbyen Spitsbergen which featured Billy Trioiani, Tad Robinson and Jace Everett. It was at THE DARK SEASON BLUES FESTIVAL.
How do you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?
No matter how big or small the venue is I always want the audience to feel like their in my home, more specifically in my living room and we’re just hanging out and I’m playing for them one on one. I also want to take them on a journey with me. A journey that travels to many different feelings and emotions.
Make an account of the case of the Blues in New York. What characterize the “New York’s blues”?
New York blues is mixture of blues, funk, jazz, latin and rock. You can hear all that in such artist as Michael Hill, Michael Powers, Bill Sims Jr and of course, Dave Fields!
Why did you think that the Blues continues to generate such a devoted following in Big Apple?
The blues is the backbone of so many great New York area artists whether they are blues or not. Ex: Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen just to name a few
What the difference and similarity between NY and other local blues scenes?
The more I travel the world I see that all blues fans are like one big family. There’s something that resonates in all blues fans souls that is a like a glue that connects every one of them together. NY, Chicago, Oslo, Moscow… it doesn’t matter the city, state or country, we are one big blues family.
Which things do you prefer to do in your free time?
I hate to admit it but I like to watch American Football (NFL) I love the NY teams NY Giants and NY Jets! I love motorcycling.
What is your MUSIC DREAM?
To tour the world and play for people, hopefully inspiring them and connecting with them. That’s one of the great joys of being a musician. You can meet your audience and touch them
What would you ask Hendrix?
I don’t know what I would ask him but I would listen to whatever he said!
How you would spend a day with the Devil in crossroad?
I WOULD JUST LISTEN AND WATCH!!!! HA!
Nov 7th 2012
Wow… what a life changing few weeks… Let me start off by saying that my trip to Norway Oct 17th-Nov 1st was utterly fabulous. I love my Norwegian friends so much and I made many new ones. Andy Huenerberg, Kenny Soule and I have such full hearts from our trip. My buddy JT Lauritsen kicked off out tour by bringing us on his blues cruise along with Nick Moss, Tad Robinson, Jace Everett and so many more. Due to my pals from Finse, I never knew that I could drink that much Aquavit and still wake up the next day! Then Berit Liband was so nice open up her home to us in Oslo while we performed for The Oslo Blues Klubb at BUCKLEYS BLUES BAR. My dear friend Merete Eide took me into her home and I got to live a true Norwegian. The trip ended with Gry Sneltvedt’s DARK SEASON BLUES FESTIVAL in Svalbard. Wow…. Even though I’ve been there three times I still get goodebumps thinking about the majestic beauty of that island and Longyearbyen (78 degress North the northern most city in the world). Our handlers for the festival everytime we are there are Ken and Judy Pederson and they are always so lovely to us. It was at the end when we were about to go home when the trouble began…
Hurricane Sandy came roaring into the NY tristate area the day we were supposed to come home. We ended up being trapped in Oslo for three extra days. When the storm knocked out the power and the phones I began to panic. Being unable to reach my wife Judy and seven year old son Jasper was really disconcerting. Not to mention it was an ordeal to rebook our flights. Somehow we managed to get back to Newark and the devastation. My loving manager Sandi Rose who lived in Rockaway Beach was also one of my main concerns. It wasn’t until I had got my luggage at the airport that I was able to reach her by phone only to learn that a five foot storm surge had ruined her home destroying all her belongings. When my wife and son picked me up at the airport I immediately took them to upstate NY, New Paltz to be exact, to where the storm had done little. On the way up we saw all the downed trees, homes without power and the scary gas lines filled with people trying to fill their gas cans for their generators. Our home in the lower east side was without power, heat, water and gas for one week and there was no way I was going to subject my family to more suffering. I count myself among the lucky, I have a first floor storage space located on South Street and the East River. There was only the tiniest bit of water in my space after the first floor had flooded with 4 inches of water.
Since returning from upstate NY I have played two amazing shows: BRIAN’S BACKYARD BBQ in Middletown NY and TIME OUT PUB in Rockland Maine. My next stop is Ro Daley’s house in Medina Ohio and a show at BROTHERS LOUNGE and THE BLUES ROCK CAFE. Then The Big City Blues Magazine Award in Detroit.
Its hard to describe what its like to see your home town ravaged by mother nature and to see your friend, neighbors and loved ones suffering. The past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. Filled with amazing highs and terrifying lows. I guess that’s how life is sometimes… Out of the ashes us New Yorkers WILL rebuild.
I look forward to seeing you soon!
Andy Huenerberg, Kenny Soule and I are in Oslo Norway. We just finished The Colorline Blues Cruise (JT Lauritsen being the host) which went from Oslo to Keil Germany. Some of the other artists on the blues cruise with us were THE ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD, CLAY McCLINTON, NICK MOSS and THE FLIPTOPS featuring MICHAEL LEDBETTER, TAD ROBINSON, MITCH KASHMAR and JT LAURITESEN & THE BUCKSHOT HUNTERS.
I can’t tell you how much fun this cruise was! The only problem was it was too short! The cruise is only two nights but it’s a blast!. I made so many new friends and sold many CD’s. The next show for us is BUCKLEYS in Oslo Wed 24th 9pm. Then Svalbard (Longyearbyen Spitzbergen) for THE DARK SEASON FESTIVAL Oct 25th-29th. I’m so excited!
I’m also fired up by the fact that my new CD DETONATION is #13 on THE HOUSE OF BLUES CHARTS! I want to send out a special thanks to my manager Sandi Rose and my PR team Carol Kaye, Bob Laul and especially Rick Lusher for the amazing work they’ve done promoting the CD.
Well…. I’m still jet lagged so I’m going to stop now!
It seems like like Oct rolled around so quickly and here it is Oct 15th and I’m about to be a guest on Music On The Couch and the next day my long awaited trip to Norway.
Tonight Oct 15th I will be a guest on Music On The Couch http://goo.gl/AIxNu you can tune in around 9:40 to hear my interview.
The very next day Oct 16th, Andy Huenerberg, Kenny Soule and I jump on a plane and head for Norway for a two week stint. Our first stop will be The Norwegian Blues Cruise Oct 18-20th, thanks to my buddy JT Lauritsen. Then we will perform at BUCKLEYS BLUES CLUB care of The Oslo Blues Klubb in Oslo on Wed 24th. Then our last stop will be THE DARK SEASON BLUES FESTIVAL in Svalbard Oct 25th-29th thanks to festival promoter Gry Sneltvedt.
This is my fifth trip to Norway and the second with my band. We are all fired up, I can’t wait to see all my Norwegian friends!
Tuesday September 25th 5pm
I will be on Jan Marius Franzen’s Radio Show PURPLE HAZE
Listen to the interview at this link:
DETONATION “Electrifying Rock with a Blues Soul”
Dave Fields is an electrifying rocker with a blues soul. His new CD DETONATION, is produced by legendary Grammy winning producer David Z (Prince, Government Mule and Johnny Lang). Dave’s searing guitar style, scintillating singing coupled with his heart felt song writing are more present than ever before.
David Z’s brilliant work on DETONATION captures the pure magic of a live Dave Fields show. All guitar, vocal and band performances are from original takes recorded live in the studio. If you listen carefully you can even hear the sound of Dave’s guitar strings coming through on the vocal mic! This is the first recording that has Dave’s band: Andy Huenerberg (bass), Kenny Soule (drums) and Russian sensation Vladimir Barsky (keys).
As it is with all Dave Fields CD’s, DETONATION contains many different musical flavors of Dave but always stays true to his blues and rock roots. Special guest blues legend Joe Louis Walker who does a blazing slide guitar/vocal duel on the sultry “Doin’ Hard Time” (Track 3). The mournful slow blues “Pocket Full Of Dust” (Track 9) is an ode to lost love. Its tempo change in the solo section reveals Dave’s most passionate guitar playing. Bluesy-shuffle “Better Be Good” (Track 7) speaks in a tongue and cheek way for a better world. New York City world music star Delmar Brown raps on the reggae master “Bad Hair Day” (Track 5). Dave shows off his rockin’ side with “Addicted to Your Fire” (Track 1), “In The Night” (Track 2), “The Altar” (Track 6) and “Dr Ron” (Track 10). He even dips into psychedelic with a call to the human race “Prophet In Disguise” and the mesmerizing instrumental “Lydia” (Track 11). The CD climax ends with the anthemic “You Will Remember Me”.