Blues From Berlin: An Indie Pulse Music Exclusive Interview with Guitarist, Will Jacobs
Take a Chicago born Blues Man and transplant them to Germany, things can get crazy in an exciting sort-of-way. Will Jacobs is that excitement, and plays like a Blues Man possessed. His mastery of the guitar leaves one in complete admiration of his dedication to the Blues/Rock craft.
What separates Will Jacobs from so many others and for that matter any Blues/Rock musician, is having paid their dues. It’s the single most construct for Blues performers. You can tell immediately that Jacobs has paid his dues with blood, sweat and tears. His soul shines through on every number he performs. His vocals are as riveting as his guitar work. They both (vocals & guitar) come together, with the backing of his amazing rhythm section, to grab your attention. Suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck are standing up and your arms are riddled with those goosebumps, that cool nights, sittin’ on the porch tend to bring on. Yes Will Jacobs is that sort of artist. He just plays at a level of wonderful emotion and skill. I could go on and on, but you get the picture… so click on the video download his music, and treat yourself to the very best. Will Jacobs is a star on the rise, without a doubt.
Indie Pulse Music interviewed Jacobs recently, here’s how it went.
IPM: What’s the latest goings-on in Will Jacob’s music world?
WJ: I just finished a month of exciting shows — In mid-July, I had the great privilege of performing twice at the 25th Annual Blues Cazorla Festive in Spain. The first night, I backed up one of Chicago’s finest bluesmen, John Primer (along with my bandmate, and Hohner endorsee, Marcos Coll.) Then on the final night of the festival, I had the last Headline spot with Marcos Coll and our own project. It was an incredibly beautiful experience and a full festival weekend with some of the best players in the music world. At the end of July, I travelled to Ukraine for gigs at Mystetskyi Arsenal plus a unique “hidden forest” private event. I’ve toured the Ukraine several times in the past couple years and it’s been cool getting to know the musicians, the promoters, and fans there…they love the blues!! Marcos and I are in discussions now for another small Ukraine tour as well as a return trip to Spain. Stay tuned.
IPM: Saw photos of you performing at the recent Blues Cazorla Festival in Andalusia with your arm in a sling. Care to elaborate how that happened?
WJ: Yeah, if you were at Blues Cazorla you definitely saw me wearing an arm sling! The short answer is, I had a bicycle accident. Two days prior to the Blues Cazorla festival, I was thrown from a bike and, in my effort to protect my guitar-playing hands, I turned to land on my back. Unfortunately my shoulder was the first thing to hit the ground and I completely snapped my left collarbone in half. It was pretty painful, but I knew I could NOT miss playing that Blues Cazorla show; so I postponed my surgery and the whole week wore a sling off-stage, then carefully played guitar with a busted shoulder. Since the festival, I had surgery to repair it and it’s feeling great now.
IPM: On your Facebook page, there’s a venue in the Ukraine billing you as the “Will Jacobs Big Band.” That would normally entail you playing with a horn section. Is that the case here, or just how they chose to bill you?
WJ: Yes in this case, that is correct. For my shows in Ukraine, I was fortunate this time to have a horn section by my side. Normally, I play with a quartet setup (Guitar, Drums, Bass, Keys), but when I get the chance, I love the addition of a horn section because just like back in Chicago, it allows us to play a wider range of styles in our show – we added soul, R&B and some funky blues music.
IPM: Do you miss living and playing in the U.S., and more specifically, Chicago, where you’re from?
WJ: Yes, of course. While I love living and gigging in Berlin and Europe, I miss home. Especially Chicago. All of these places have their own unique musical scenes but there’s something about the intense energy in Chicago and the US that’s so satisfying to me. Perhaps I notice it more intensely because I was raised in that Chicago music community — it’s home to me. I was able to watch and learn from musicians with an enormous range of skills in jazz, blues, funk, soul, R&B, gospel and reggae. I spent many a late night in clubs playing live music of all kinds for audiences of all ages who enjoyed these styles. It was quite an education. While I miss it, I’m happy here in Europe right now plus I’m getting musical opportunities unlike those I would have had in Chicago.
IPM: It seems yourself and vocalist/harpist, Marcos Coll, have forged a strong musical partnership. What’s the backstory here?
WJ: It boils down to a blues jam. When I first moved to Berlin, Marcos hosted a blues jam and a good friend of mine suggested I go check it out. So I went, Marcos & I met and hit it off personally and musically, and we’ve been great friends and musical partners ever since!
IPM: Do you have any troubles getting the guitar equipment in Berlin, where you live, as opposed to here in the States?
WJ: In my opinion, it depends on what equipment you’re trying to get. I’m a vintage Fender guy; vintage amps are my thing. In the States, those are fairly easy to come by (since they were made in the US back in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s.) In Berlin and Europe, it’s not that you can’t find those, they’re just harder to come by and more expensive than the US. That being said, I’ve found some pleasure here locating gear or experimenting with vintage European gear (that I’m not as familiar with) so that I can find my sound.
IPM: Other than Marcos Coll, who are some of the new musicians you’ve come across in Europe that have made the biggest impression on you?
WJ: Besides Marcos, another Berlin musician I’ve been impressed by is Stephano Ronchi – he’s very talented and tours regularly in Europe. Otherwise, it’s hard NOT to be impressed by some of the incredible musicians I’ve met recently in Europe…in particular, artists such as Sugar Ray (Sugar Ray and the Bluetones), Little Charlie Baty, Duke Robillard, Maceo Parker and Rockin’ Johnny Burgin.
IPM: It’s no secret that musicians make much (if not most) of their money these days at their gigs, selling their CDs and band merch. How far along are you in that area?
WJ: Right now, I have two CD’s that I sell — my first album “LIVE” and my project with Marcos Coll, “Taking Our Time”. And I’m working on completing additional music to build out a CD from the 3-song EP project I released this past Spring entitled, “Chicago To Berlin”.
IPM: Long-term, do you ever see yourself performing both in the U.S. and Europe, etc. on a full-time basis?
WJ: Absolutely, I’ve definitely thought about this a lot – I know it takes time to reach that level but doing exactly that, playing shows and traveling between the US and Europe on a regular basis, is my career goal.
IPM: Any parting thoughts you’d like to share?
WJ: First, thank you for the opportunity to do this interview – I really appreciate your support. I’m glad I’m able to share my music and that it brings people together, especially at this time in our world. To quote Bono, “…music can change the world because it can change people…” I think that’s the best gift of all.
More on Will Jacobs at http://www.willjacobsband.com; and http://www.facebook.com/willjacobsban
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