Blues artists Eddy Gartry is set to play Toft House in Middlesbrough with his Werewolves of Powys, so Lee Allcock caught up with him to talk about his favourite ever gig, the best advice he’s ever received and more.
What do you learn about yourself from playing the blues? And what does the blues mean to you?
It’s my source of inspiration, a simple route to my inner-self and a constant source of learning. Blues music is about communication, fraternity and compassion – that means everything to me.
You’ve played across the world, but what has been your favourite gig to date and why?
There’s been a few. Singing with the Doctor Hook band in Holland – they’re all great blues enthusiasts despite their many pop hits. Another would be playing in an English pub with Tony McPhee (Groundhogs) and Gypie Mayo (Doctor Feelgood) – they’re both great blues guitarists. It was the first time they’d played together and that was very special.
Supporting the Muddy Waters band takes some beating too, as does the many gigs I did in Africa. It’s always been the blues tunes that have made these nights shine.
You’ll be playing at Toft House in Middlesbrough, so what can gig-goers expect from your set?
Our fans will hear some fantastic lead guitar playing from our special guest, and Dutch guitar virtuoso, Micha Sprenger. Plus, there’ll be some explosive and unique drumming from Paul ‘Animal’ Recchia.
There’ll be a mixture of old and new material with some songs from the new albums played alongside a large selection of blues-rock numbers. There’ll be two sets: one on acoustic instruments and a set on electric guitars, drums etc. I haven’t played close to home [Thornaby] for over 30 years!
What memories from working with Tony McPhee, Dr.Feelgood, Yardbirds and Chris Farlow do you cherish the most?
Tony McPhee told me that he had to teach John Lee Hooker how to sign his own autographs -that’s an impressive accolade. John Lee couldn’t write back in the early 60’s. Tony’s a quiet, thoughtful and intelligent man with an explosive guitar style and a real blues voice. He had a love for cryptic crossword puzzles on the way to gigs and loved nothing more than a pint of real ale when he got there!
The Feelgood’s were all good-humoured characters. Wilko is a born entertainer, even at home. He’s bright, frank and very funny at times. Gypie Mayo was the vastly under-rated guitarist that took Wilko’s place. He’s a truly amazing and devoted guitar player who was a life-long blues advocate. Gypie did a long spell with the Yardbirds too. They seemed like reserved men to me: well-educated, civil and polite. Chris Farlowe told the audience that he’d never heard anybody perform a Bob Dylan song as well as our band did. Personally, I’ve rarely heard a better voice than his. He’s a very worthy legend.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Howling Wolf’s guitarist, Hubert Sumlin, advised me to be honest and true to myself and don’t copy other singers. “There was only one Wolf”, he said: “and he’s gone – be yourself; whenever you’re up there singing, be real”.
And finally, what else do you have coming up in 2018 that your fans can get excited about?
Two new albums are on the way this year, with one electric and one acoustic. They’ll include blues and original songs. The band’s second visit to Edinburgh Festival and our annual visit to Europe will be special too!
Eddy Gartry’s Werewolves of Powys plays Toft House in Middlesbrough on Thursday 2nd August. Tickets, priced at £8.00 advance, are available by heading to the Facebook event page. Tickets on the door are priced at £10.00.