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Interview: Sol (Now of Funk Root) I’m A Sol-Man October 7, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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“This is another in the line of lost interviews I did a while ago, lost when my hard-drive froze up and my computer crashed. Somehow, my ISP found these interviews saved to some dark recesses. I share them now with you.” David W. King

How far can you take the Blues and still respect the roots? Loving all music that has spirit and heart has lead Sol to experiment and appreciate a wide variety of music styles. He has soaked in jazz, funk, reggae, rock, Latin, and many other styles. The results can best be termed, “Blue Rasta Funk”, or “Heavy Groove”  Yet, Sol approaches them from his blues roots.  

Born the son of John Creech, who used to perform with Guitar Gabriel and Tim Duffy (founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation) as part of the Brothers in the Kitchen, all of the Music Maker blues artists are family to him. He’s learned how the root of most American music styles stem from the blues and this is something that he respects.

Sol leads a collaboration of musicians from the southeast and mid-Atlantic US. No strangers to the road,  together they have covered much of the earth on tour, lighting up venues across North America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean.
Sol has shared the stage with blues heavyweights such as Taj Mahal, BB King, Cootie Starks, Cool John Ferguson, John Dee Holeman, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Derek Trucks and others.

Paying homage to the greats, Sol seeks to bring Roots Music to a new generation of listeners.

BDA Your first name, Sol is also Latin for the Sun. Do you have friends who call you Sunny-Sonny?

Sol: I don’t get called Sunny- but I do get a lot of “Sol-man!!” (sometimes with the Sam and Dave tune I’m A Soul Man hummed) and my family sometimes calls me Sol-light.

BDA: You and your band incorporate a lot of different styles into your music. It is not a pure blues. What one single musical style do you think you use in your music above all others? How would you and your band define your sound?

Sol: I’ve grown up around a lot of blues musicians. My father, John Creech, used to perform with Guitar Gabriel and Tim Duffy (founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation) as part of the Brothers in the Kitchen,  All of the Music Maker blues artists are like family to me. I’ve learned how the root of most American music styles stem from the blues and this is something that I respect. I’ve been a guest musician on quite a few traditional blues albums. I love all music that has spirit and heart and this has lead me to experiment and appreciate a wide variety of music styles. I have soaked in jazz, funk, reggae, rock, Latin, and many other styles and I approach them from my blues roots.

My own band (based on the east coast) leans heavily on blues, funk, rock, soul, and reggae styles focusing on the roots of each style. We’ve been described as “Blue Rasta Funk”, “Heavy Groove”, or just simply “soulful”. Musicians that I respect and have worked with say I play with “alot of heart” and “great feel”. Guitar Gabriel talked about blues as a spirit and “where is the blues going to go?” I want to see how far I can take it, and still respect the roots.
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Guitar Gabriel talked about blues as a spirit and “where is the blues going to go?” I want to see how far I can take it, and still respect the roots.

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BDA: While performing as a musician, you have earned a degree in the recording industry. Looking out across the broad landscape that is today’s recording industry, what single, most important observation have you made regarding the state of this industry? 

Sol: As a musician I’ve been blessed to be able to perform all over the world. My degree in the recording industry helped me to get a broad understanding of music business in general and the fundamentals of recording process. Technology now is constantly changing, companies rise and fall, the internet and digital downloading has opened up whole new ways to share music. My father likes to remind me to focus on the things that are Eternal.

Artists will always have the creative drive to make music, people will always join together and celebrate through music. I try to keep up with all the technological advances, especially on the promotion potential, but I try to stay focused on the root of the whole industry-and that’s simply the connection between the creative artist’s music, with the all the great music fans.

BDA: Tell us about this recording of yours Volume: Blue, described as an underground blues hip-hop mash up. Have you listened to the work of other musicians who have attempted this mash-up? What were your thoughts?

Sol: The album Volume: Blue is my tribute to many of my musical mentors, the Music Maker artists I’ve worked with. It is my attempt to get the philosophy, life lessons, and soul of artists like Guitar Gabriel, Cootie Starks, and others to the youth of today. The music culture that has heavily shaped today’s youth (myself included) is hip-hop. I grew up listening to groups like Run DMC, Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, De La Soul, Beastie Boys, Slum Village, the Roots.

Many of the older blues musicians I work with don’t like hip-hop at all. I recently was on tour with Little Freddie King of New Orleans and asked him what he thought about the remixes of his songs that were released on the Fat Possum label. He said that at first he didn’t like the remixes, but later came to realize that through the new versions of his songs, the younger audiences were beginning to learn about the blues Now he digs and understands the new versions!

I’ve gotten to listen to many experiments of blues with modern styles- mostly after my record was released- people would get me to listen to Tangle-Eye, Little Axe, Wayne Baker Brooks (we’ve been talking about a collaboration), and some Fat Possum stuff. My favorite are the mixes that focus on hip-hop and blues, versus mixing blues and dance/rave music-simply because dance music isn’t my thing. Good hip-hop music focuses on the truths of life, and has a rawer funkier sound just like I enjoy my blues.

I’ve been told Volume: Blue is one of the few modern blues albums that approaches the music from inside the blues, and it’s probably because I have a deep respect for all the artists that are a part the album. All of them have had a great impact on me, not just musically, but also personally.

BDA: Tell us about the guys in your band. 

Sol: I’ll start by talking about the band on my most recent CD release Freedom. I have Jake Dempsey on bass, and “King George” Penn on drums. Jake owns the killer studio where we did a majority of the latest album recording. George has performed with reggae greats Jah Works out of Baltimore, and is currently recording on blues master Corey Harris’ new album. They are my good friends and very talented musicians. We have performed steadily in the Mid-Atlantic region at festivals, venues, private parties etc. I’ve also been blessed to work with many other pro-players in the various areas I perform in regularly (MD, VA, DC, NC). These are all working musicians that have toured with artists such as Deanna Bogart, Mary Ann Redmond, Mike Stern, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bonnie Raitt, Hobex, Skeeter Brandon, and more.

BDA: You have just released a new CD, Freedom. Without the benefit of having yet heard this newest  release,  can you tell us about what we are hearing. Of the tracks, is there any one that you would like to direct our attention?

Sol: The CD Freedom has gotten some attention and underground airplay alongside Sean Costello, Taj Mahal, North Misssissippi Allstars, Porter Batiste Stoltz, and others. The CD is really a blend of all the styles we enjoy: funk, blues, reggae, and rock.

The bluesier tracks are Rough Catfish (a take on the traditional Catfish Blues), Everything You Gain (an original with sparse funky drums, and spooky harmonica), Hellhound (reggae transportation of the blues with a nod to spirit of Robert Johnson), and Spirit Down (an Eric Bibb interpretation- I’ve crossed paths with Eric on tour in Europe and in Australia- and it’s a powerful song). Another bluesy track is a modern psychedelic version of Skip James’ Killin’ Floor.

Some cool quotes that were written about the album are:  “The band pulls together funk, soul, blues and reggae elements… Sol uses his right hand fingers, not a pick, to get his bluesy, dirty-sweet solo lines, and he delivers the raw and tasteful in even helpings. You have to admire a blues/soul singer who is trying to sound like himself, instead of some old blues guy.” – Tad Dickens Press Review, and

 “Freedom is one of the top 15 albums for 2008!” – Mister G (Funk Soul Music Director WHUS), Green Arrow Radio.

There are a few more bluesy cuts on the album: you can listen and read more about the album at http://www.CDBaby.com/SolSongs

BDA: Can you tell us what part each contributing musician had in writing the songs. 

Sol: On the album Freedom, a majority of the songs are my originals. Jake really locks in the pocket with his solid bass lines, and George throws down some nasty deep grooves, whether he’s doing blues, funk, or reggae. Also Chapel Hill, North Carolina based, Tim Smith, put together wonderful horn arrangements and background vocals throughout the album.

Many of the songs progressed as the band as the band performed them out live more and more. Some of the songs have been interpreted in new ways as I’ve performed them with other musicians, and just as time has passed.

 I’m thankful for the heart and spirit each guest musician brought on the album. The guest musicians live through out North Carolina and Virginia, and have also worked with Squirrel Nut Zippers, Ana Popovic, Hobex, Countdown Quartet, and the Alliens, to name a few.

Sol, Freedom (Satori Recordings, 2008)
Yohanus & Sol, Caravan (Satori Recordings, 2005)
Sol, Volume: Blue (Music Maker, 2002)
Various Artists, Sol Compilation (Satori Recordings, 2001)

Sol guest artist/featured on:

Laura Baron, Scenes from the Avenue (LBM, 2008)
Tim Smith Band, The World to Me (Raska Records, 2007)
Galen Kipar Project, Why It’s Needed (GKP, 2007)
Various Artists, Music Maker Treasure Box (Music Maker, 2006)
Lee Gates, Lucy’s Deuce (Music Maker, 2006)
Taj Mahal, Music Makers with Taj Mahal (Music Maker, 2005)
Pura Fe, Follow You Heart’s Desire (Music Maker, 2005)
Various Artists, Last and Lost Blues Survivors (Dixie Frog (France), 2005)
Cool John Ferguson, Cool John Ferguson (Music Maker, 2003)
Cootie Starks, Raw Sugar (Music Maker 2003)
Dave McGrew, Fruit Tramp Ballads (Music Maker, 2003)

Email: booking@sol-roots.com
Telephone Number: 703-303-1261
Website: http://www.Sol-Roots.com
http://www.myspace.com/solblues
http://www.MusicMaker.org

top photo courtesy of
Taylor Harris Photography
http://www.taylorharrisphotography.com

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