BluesWax Sittin’ In With
Eddie “Devil Boy” Turner
By Stacy Jeffress
Stacy Jeffress for BluesWax: Your debut [Rise 2005] was nominated for a BMA for New Artist. What do nominations like that mean to you?
Eddie Turner: Someone has lost their mind! I was completely and totally shocked, ‘cause I thought my record was going to go right to the cut-out bin. It was a little too esoteric. [The nomination] gave me the ability to go, “Somebody gets it.” Music is about having a really good time. Music is the binder of community; music is what holds a group of people together. That CD was me reaching back to some of my best friends and saying, “OK, I want to hear what you have to say, because you are part of my community.” The only reason we got to do it was because of Otis which I always thank him for. It was a wonderful experience to have the blues music community say this is a cool record.
BW: There’s a beautiful version of “The Wind Cried Mary.” How did you decide to do that particular Hendrix tune?
ET: I came up with some new chord changes; the same chord changes – I just basically changed the tonality of it. I don’t have a really good voice, but I had to sing it for my voice. It came out that way. We basically rearranged the song to fit my crummy voice.
BW: You think it’s crummy?
ET: My voice is terrible. It’s just like a frog. But if the music around it’s really cool, even a frog sounds great.
BW: You’ve also described yourself as, “I’m not what you call a super incredible guitar player. I just try to be as tasty as possible.” Do you still think you’re not a super incredible guitar player?
ET: No, I’m not. There are a lot of guys out there who are great. I’m good, but there are great guys out there walking the face of the earth today. We’re not talking about dead people. I’ve opened a show for Duke Robillard. He’s great. I’ve got records of his where he plays this jump blues thing that just blows me away. He doesn’t even play that type of stuff live, but I cherish this record. Why doesn’t he play that stuff live? It’s probably because it goes over the heads of most people. It’s a man and his guitar. I’m moderately unique. Some people like it; a lot of people find it moderately distasteful. But that’s okay, because I get to do it, and they don’t.
BW: You’ve received recognition from the Independent Music Awards with several nominations.
ET: Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.
BW: Otis [Taylor] expressed to me that he never gets nominated for a mainstream BMA, it’s always other [the category of] instrument, banjo.
ET: Who is this? It sounds like Otis. He should play with me and Kenny.
ET: He should, but it’s never going to happen.
BW: Have you invited him to do that?
ET: No, I don’t invite anyone to do anything; people do what they want to do.
BW: How does he know the invitation is open to him?
ET: When things are right, things happen. The world is interesting, the world is different, and some people say it’s a very dark place.
BW: What do you say?
ET: I say the world is interesting, the world is fun, sometimes it’s a very dark place.
BW: You currently have this Blues Blast nomination for Miracles and Demons. Are you going to Chicago for that?
ET: Yeah, I’m going to see my mom and hang out, take the band because we’re supposed to play, which is cool. We’re going to do a show in Pekin, now I’m trying to find a couple more shows so I can pay for the gas. I’m happy to be a part of anybody who wants to nominate me for anything.
BW: Is it weird to be in competition? There are so many stellar folks in the same category.
ET: Well, it’s like this. To get nominated is the real award, because after that it’s a beauty pageant. To get nominated, they went through a bunch of people who said, “Oh he sucks, he sucks, too, this guy’s okay.” So I made it all through that process. After that, it’s a beauty pageant – how many people are going to vote for you? People who know music put me up next to Buddy Guy. Well I know I’m not even close to Buddy Guy, but it’s nice to be part of the rarefied air that Buddy Guy breathes.
BW: My favorite song on Miracles and Demons is “I’m a Good Man,” but I haven’t seen that song singled out in the reviews. Why do you suppose that is?
ET: I have no idea. It seems everybody loves “Booty Bumpin’” and that’s because it hold closest to the traditional let’s-go-out-and-party-and-get-drunk blues. “I’m a Good Man” is closer to that blues jazz sexy late night; it’s about having a good time but not having a good time in a bar.
BW: Do you have something else you’re working on now?
ET: I’m going through the thought process right now. Hopefully I’m going to start recording the end of the year and first half of next year. To me it’s always a process, because you don’t want to do what’s 100% expected. I’m finding things that I think are really cool. Hopefully people will find them cool. If they’re really interested they’ll delve into the song and see where I stole my influences. Then they’ll go back and find those influences.
BW: Will you still be on NorthernBlues?
ET: I think NorthernBlues is kaput. It’s now the Watermelon Slim label. I’m looking for a new label. Hello! What a perfect place to say, “I’m looking for a new label.” What you see is what you get. I’m a nice guy, I like to hang out, and I think I make good music.
Stacy Jeffress is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may comment on this interview below.
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