Catching up with respected Texas-based blues guitar slinger, Shawn Pittman, who recently consented to do an Indie Pulse Music’s “5 Quick Questions” interview. Pittman moved back to Dallas in 2021, and as an adaptation to the pandemic, has expanded his repertoire to include acoustic/solo music.
Shawn has a batch of upcoming gigs with his new trio next month, too: November 4 at Katie’s Bar in Baycliff, TX; November 5 at The Big Easy in Houston; November 6 at Green Oaks Tavern in Humble, TX; November 9 at Antones; and November 12 at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, TX. His latest release ‘Stompin’ Solo’ is his first all-acoustic album on the CRS subsidiary Must Have Music.
IPM: What’s the very latest on Shawn Pittman, recording-wise?
SP: I am set to go into the studio this November in Austin, TX with owner and founder of Wire Recording, Stuart Sullivan. I have done several records with Stuart and he always gets the sound I want. Stuart has an incredible resume that spans all genres and has recorded and worked with the likes of Nick Lowe and producer Colin Fairly, who ran Power Plant Studios and Mason Rughe Studios in England. He also worked at Willie Nelson’s Perdenales Studio before the Perdanales was shut down, Shortly after that, Sullivan did a brief stint in London working at Air Studios in Oxford Circus as well as at MasterRock. He also helped Clifford Antone establish Antone’s Records and has recorded acts from Jimmy Vaughan to Sublime.
I will be building off of my last record ‘Make it Right!’ which was recorded in Denmark in 2019 and had a live sound to it with minimal overdubs and live performances built around a trio format.
What will make this newest record more unique is that now that I reside in Dallas again, it has enabled me to put a band together with Jason Crisp (Omar and the Howlers, Paul Oscher, Moeller Bros) on bass and guitar. I have been playing on and off with Jason for over twenty years. Jason also plays guitar which gives us the ability to play music from our heroes like Hound Dog Taylor, JB Hutto, Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside. It’s a great mix of sounds. We can do the traditional Texas style as well as Chicago and Mississippi styles.
Our drummer Mike King is well-versed at the Earl Palmer, Fred Belo and Ted Harvey-type of playing that fits well with our repertoire. It will be a raw and live feel to the record and we are excited about it.
IPM: Covid, at least for now, is in retreat, venues all across the US are reopening, and it appears you have some upcoming shows. Care to discuss this and your thinking behind gigging now, etc.?
SP: It’s very touch and go. When the news cycle goes bad in terms of more cases, some venues are quick to close down and it makes it difficult for me to plan very far ahead. It also depends on the city and state as well. Texas is a good place to be because you can play in DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth), Houston, Austin and San Antonio, and stay quite busy. I would like to start touring nationwide again. I had taken time off and in some ways I am re-introducing myself to those that have never heard of me and feel like I have a lot to prove in terms of staying consistently playing. Covid has made that just a little bit harder for me to establish that so far. I do know that I have learned from my time off and all of my starts and stops, and feel like I have a good outlook and attitude towards the future and a lot of work ahead of me.
IPM: You’ve stated that you’re someone that is “continuing the legacy of the Texas Guitar sound.” Please elaborate.
SP:There is a certain sound that Texas is known for. Guys like the Vaughan Brothers, Anson Funderburgh, Freddie King, Lightnin’ Hopkins and T-Bone Walker created a sound that I try to continue on when I play. Dallas/Fort Worth in particular has spawned the likes of Doyle Bramhall, Delbert McClinton, Derek O’Brien, and scores of others including The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mike Morgan and The Crawl, Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat, Tutu Jones, and Holland K. Smith. There is a certain groove that is unique to Texas and I consider myself a carrier of that torch. There is really only one place they refer to ‘Guitar Slingers’ and that is Texas.
IPM: Moving as you recently did from Oklahoma to Texas, just how different is the live music scene and gig opportunities in each state?
SP: Its night and day. I never really had any musical ties to Oklahoma aside from my early teacher Bernard Bigby from Tulsa. It might be because I left at a young age as soon as I fell in love with the Texas Sound. The economy is so much bigger in Texas and people are more familiar with the type of blues that I play in Texas. When I moved from Austin to Tulsa in 2014 it was really just to take a break from the music industry, although I ended up recording an acoustic record there, largely because I couldn’t find anybody that played the Texas style. They just don’t get into it there, (in Oklahoma), and there were not many opportunities for me.
IPM: What do you personally see for the future of both the recording industry and the live gig industry going forward, as we live in the age of Covid, and until (if) it is completely eradicated?
SP: I think it will get back to normal at some point because people aren’t meant to be couped up in their house all the time. Musicians will continue to play live and record just like they always have. I think that “eradicating” the virus is unrealistic. The goal is too lofty to have zero cases. It will be here just like Chickenpox and the Measles. It can be deadly and it is serious but I have had it twice, fourteen months apart. I just got my second shot of the vaccination, so I am a little sick as I write this. Just like anything else, I think it will run it’s course.