Friday, September 4, 2015

Blues Down Under (Part 3) - Ten Questions With.....Isaiah B. Brunt

This week, Friday Blues Fix wraps up it's look at the blues scene in Australia by paying a visit to Isaiah B. Brunt.  Brunt is a native New Zealander who came from a family of musicians.  He has worked as a recording engineer, playing music on the side, even recording with Keanu Reeves's band Dog Star.  In 2006, he decided to pursue his own music full time with a focus on the blues.

In 2011, he went to the IBC in Memphis, representing the Sydney Blues Society.  He received a lot of attention, even being featured on the front page of the Memphis Daily News.  From there, he returned to Australia and recorded his first album, a self-titled EP.  He played guitar and harmonica unaccompanied on nearly all of the tracks, accompanied only by the Didgeridoo on one track.  He wrote all of the tracks and proved to be a very versatile and personal songwriter with a firm grasp of traditional blues.

In 2013, he released a full album called Nursery Rhyme Blues, updating his sound a bit and adding more instrumentation, including ukulele, piano, bass, cello, flute, accordion, sousaphone, and vibraphone.  Again, he showed a great knack for making pre-war-styled blues with some interesting modern twists which kept things very interesting.  The whole CD has a gentle, lovely, sometimes haunting vibe.

Just The Way That It Goes is Brunt's latest release, and there are some notable changes.  For starters, Brunt traveled to New Orleans from Sydney to record.  He's backed by a strong group of Crescent City musicians who really give the disc a funky New Orleans feel, mixing in some local R&B and Jazz flavor.  This is also his first completely electric album, but it retains the relaxed groove as its predecessors.

I've enjoyed all three of Brunt's releases.  They're perfect listening for a lazy Sunday morning or for a nice long drive.  I've already mentioned his songwriting, but he's also a compelling singer and a versatile guitarist and he's not afraid to take chances with his music.  We greatly appreciate him sitting down for Ten Questions and we hope that all of you have enjoyed this look at the blues from an international perspective.  Hopefully, we will be visiting other locales in the future.  Meanwhile, check out more on Isaiah B. Brunt below and then visit his website.

Ten Questions With......Isaiah B. Brunt

Friday Blues Fix:  Can you describe the blues scene in Australia?  There’s obviously a considerable amount of interest in the blues there.  How long has this been going on and how do you explain the appeal of the music to fans down under?

Isaiah B. Brunt:  The Australian Blues scene is like a under current of the music scene here, the older crowd love to hear familiar blues standards and good blues music delivered with emotion. I’ve played to inter state audiences and had young people ask me how I worked out the Skip James cover I performed even though I never revealed the song when I played it. Blues music has been going distinctively since the 70’s when bands like Chain were pioneering there own original style of Aussie blues.

FBF:  What kinds of music did you grow up listening to?  

IBB:  Jazz and Blues and contemporary music.

FBF:  Can you describe how you discovered the blues?

IBB:  Listening to late night blues radio shows on a transistor radio, and watching Jimi Hendrix on a BBC show playing acoustic guitar singing, “Hear My Train a Comin'.”  

FBF:  When you became a fan, who were some of the artists that you listened to?

IBB:  Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Skip James, Albert Collins, Albert King.

FBF:  In making your latest album, Just The Way That It Goes, you journeyed to the Deep South to record all or at least part of them.  What were you able to get from this experience that was different than if you had remained in Australia to do it?

IBB:  I got a certain understanding of the richness blues music has in American culture, by hearing and witnessing the musicians play the music I love with my own eyes the way I heard it when I was very young.

FBF:  What was it like for you when you made your first trip to the land where the blues began?

IBB:  In the 1980’s I first visited America to travel up and down the West coast and heard blues music every where on the radio, in TV shows. Then in 2011 I visited Memphis and witnessed Beale Street, for the IBC competition I got a great experience seeing a lot of modern US blues artists.

FBF:  Can you describe your brand of blues?  Do you blend other musical styles with the blues?

IBB:  Indie Blues that incorporates a little jazz and R & B  + soul.

FBF:  Who are some of your influences as musicians, blues or other genres?

IBB:  John Lee Hooker, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall.

FBF:  Can you describe your songwriting process?  

IBB:  I write normally when I listen to what’s going on, other times I write about my own experiences.

FBF:  What has been your biggest moment as a blues artist?

IBB:  Going to Memphis representing Sydney Blues Society at the IBC.

FBF:  What would you like to do as a musician that you haven’t done yet?

IBB:  Make blues music popular in the main stream.

FBF:  Can you tell us about any of your future projects?

IBB:  I have been approached to take over and run a new recording studio, so I will be working as a consultant co-ordinator

FBF:  Who are some other Australian blues artists for us to look out for?

IBB:  Dream Boogie out of Melbourne, Chris Okunbor out of Blue Mountains Sydney.

Isaiah B. Brunt Discography

Isaiah B. Brunt (EP) - 2011

Nursery Rhyme Blues - 2013

Just The Way That It Goes - 2015

No comments: