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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

In conversation with Homesick Aldo

If you think the blues is the sound of the past. Something that is rooted in another time and place. Then think again.

ElD - As usual people want to know where you've been, where your at, and where you are going?
So what got you into music, what's the current state of affairs and what's the ultimate plan?

Homesick Aldo - Well right now I'm keeping optimistic about things, cultivating a constant glimmer of hope for the unexpected twists and turns of what's out there while grabbing any positive opportunities that come my way.
I've been around a few interesting places since starting out, and I intend on going everywhere and anywhere that this takes me.
A US road trip is a dream that I'm determined to make a reality, but at the moment I'm concentrating on keeping the momentum going here in the UK.
I'm like a locomotive or something, and I've got to keep going at it until I burn out or pass out.
That's the very loose plan as I see it
If I jump back I guess it all started - as everyone's journey does - when music clicked with me as a listener.
There was a cassette called hits of the sixties way back then that led me to my dads record collection, Led Zep, Cream, the Stones and all that came next.
A BB King cassette was also important to me around then to, but the day I heard Sonny Boy Williamson was the day I decided I wanted to pay tribute to what these people were doing.
The current state of affairs is that I'm just playing gig after gig anywhere that will have me, enjoying the experience and the chance to share the music with others, staying persistent and somewhat hungry for the ultimate goal which is getting on the road and staying on the road.
I just want to stay true to the music I do and enjoy the freedom of the lifestyle that goes with it.

As an exponent of the blues what does it mean to you, and does it have a place in the modern world?

The blues to me is a form of punk.
It's in there as the roots of it. The old records are D.I.Y rough and ready, real working class music.
I like the improvisation and the directness of it all and I love how a guy can take a washboard and be a virtuoso on it and sing and play like his life depended on it.
It can, and should, have a place in the modern world simply because it's real.
However without sounding controversial it is a style of music that attracts failed rock musicians who are trying to make a quick buck, and from the research I have done it seems to have become a plastic tourist attraction in its homeland.
That saddens me.
I mean Eric Clapton is considered a bluesman, no disrespect to him as a musician, but the guys he took it from are mainly forgotten and buried in unmarked graves and that doesn't sit well with me.
I suppose what I mean is that some people copy the blues while others are playing the blues, and that's alright as long as the genuine roots aren't discarded and there is room for us to sing of our own modern experiences while tipping our hats to the originators here and there.

What do you think it was that made you go in a different musical direction than that of many of your peers?

I didn't at first. I briefly played in a band, and quit when they had grand dreams of rock n roll stardom.
I became quite jaded with it all and quit music for a year.
I spent that time locked away reading all the beat generation books, listened to everything and realized that freedom of expression doesn't always have to be in a guitar band, its in Coltranes horn, Kerouacs typewriter, in Warhols pop art, its even spray painted on derelict walls.
So I thought as the harmonica blues is my thing then why not fly in the face of convention and conditioned perceptions of what music should be and just go with it.

Has that made it difficult to get gigs?

Oh yeah. Very! Most promoters don't want to take the chance but I don't let it bother me.
I wont change who I am to suit there venues and current trends. It's a take it or leave it deal, but there's enough people out there who understand what I am trying to do and help me out and it is easier now that what it was when I first started out.
I am noticing of late that there is more of an audience for left field acts anyway which is good.

Is it important to you to maintain a sense of who Homesick Aldo is as an artist?

Yes I don't let anything compromise or threaten that. I couldn't.
I know what it is that I'm am trying to do and nothing would change me.
I'll not latch onto trends, or be told what to play, or what to wear to further myself.
I have seen it happen to musicians. The proverbial sell out.

Who is Homesick Aldo though?
There's the off stage persona and then there's the on stage persona and a gulf between the two.
How much is he a role you are playing, or is Homesick Aldo just an expression of another facet of your personality?
Do you even know?

I'm by nature an introvert, and almost shy, but whatever gets thrown at me, the highs and lows of daily life, Homesick is with me observing shaking his head or laughing manically at the absurdity of it all.
As soon as there is work to be done though the hair get a liberal dose of hairspray, the jacket gets slipped on, the case full of harps gets lifted and with a mic in hand he shoves himself forth to be everything I couldn't be.
Every second of Homesick Aldo's time makes up for being a secluded youth, being an outsider in school and work, and to some extent being a social misfit as perceived by others.
All my frustrations are churned out in the form of Homesick Aldo.
It's still me, just a more confident wilder me.

I know you have some songs on Soundcloud, but how are you going to capture the lightning in a bottle aspect of your live performance in a studio and get it across to people?

It is difficult to capture it, I shouldn't admit this but I never play the same thing twice I don't have the memory to do that and I never work with set lists. It sounds unprofessional but its always worked, maybe a live set recorded would work. That's what I am looking into, in a sense though its comforting to know that there's no expectations for me to play a polished set of songs.
I probably would have moved on from that. I like to keep it spontaneous depending on mood/audience, but yes its looking like a live e.p recorded in a packed out bar (hopefully) is the way to go.

So if you never play the same thing twice are you really hoping to be considered as purely a live performer with recordings just being snapshots of an event?

Yes that's how it seems to be going at the moment.
I would be quite happy to just have a reputation as a live performer above all at the moment, and the recordings just being snapshots of events (a great term for it). I like the idea of them being like souvenirs bootlegs, but spending a day in a studio would be great fun when I think of it so I will leave it with the old "never say never" and just wait and see what transpires.

You can keep up with what Homesick Aldo is doing here, including live dates.
and here's the link to the material upped on soundcloud.
and if you want to contact the man for booking email

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