There are so many great guitar players out there. From Stevie Ray Vaughn (rest in peace Stevie) to John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, they each have their own special way of making a guitar talk. You don’t even need vocals when they play… the music says it all. The man I am sitting with today does use lyrics, but that’s just fine; he has an amazing voice. He also writes some pretty incredible lyrics. Looking at him you wouldn’t think he was a blues musician. His hair is spiked up, and he has precise goatee going on. But as soon as he picks up a guitar you just know he was meant for the stage. I am still not sure how I was introduced to this man, but I am glad that I was. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the new age of blues music, Hamilton Loomis.
Your name is quite unique. What is your heritage for a name like Loomis?
I’m half Greek, half mutt. Loomis is actually an Americanized version of my great grandfather’s Greek name… he changed it back in the 20s.
How long have you been performing?
I’ve been touring for ten years, performing professionally for twenty.
What’s your first memory of the guitar?
When I was six or seven, I played my dad’s bass and guitar on my lap with my thumbs. I got my first real guitar when I was about ten years old.
Do you write all of your own lyrics?
Most of them… the show contains about 90% of my own lyrics.
Where do you get inspiration for a new track?
It can come from anywhere… sometimes out of thin air. My latest song, Stuck in a Rut (Now I’m in a Groove) was inspired by getting my car stuck in someone’s lawn.
What comes first, the lyrics or the guitar?
Sometimes words, sometimes music… I write a lot on piano too, because it’s such a different instrument that you’ll find things you wouldn’t normally do on guitar.
I hear a harmonica in a few of those songs. Is that you?
That’s me… often I have to play harp and guitar at the same time, and it’s really hard. I’m still working on it.
Tell me about the other guys in the band.
Stratton Doyle (sax/keys) is the best sax man in the Gulf Coast. Kent Geatty (bass) is not only solid, but a bass virtuoso as well. Ryan Cortez (drums) was nicknamed “groove”, and lives up to it. He also has the fastest right foot in the Gulf Coast.
What’s a typical Friday night look like for you?
We drive to the next town, check in to the hotel, get ready, go to the gig, eat dinner, sound check, do a show, meet and greet the audience, say our goodbyes, go to hotel, and sleep. It may sound routine, but we love it.
Who are some of your biggest influences in both life and music?
Actually, those who influenced me musically also taught life lessons. guys like Bo Diddley, Joe Hughes, and Johnny Copeland all taught me musical lessons like, “be original” and “listen to those around you”, but they also encouraged me to “respect and be generous to others”, and “share your gifts and your knowledge with others”.
I have never seen you live, but what can someone expect from seeing you perform?
Expect a high-energy, funky, fun show. I might even do a solo on your table…
Do you have a job outside of music?
Music is my only job… it’s my career. I’m lucky to be able to do what I truly love for a living.
One of your songs talks about “ice cold beer”. What kind of beer do you prefer?
Ironically, I don’t drink anymore. It takes my energy away.
Speaking of beer, what are you drinking on stage? (I now know it’s not beer!)
Room temperature water, please.
How has the Internet changed the way people absorb music?
It has it’s pros and cons. Obviously it allows your music to be exposed to a larger audience, and makes it very easy to hear and buy music. One of the downsides is that people can often obtain your music without paying for it.
Tell me more about Blind Pig Records and Ham-Bone Records. I love that name, by the way.
It’s two different labels. To clarify, Blind Pig Records is the label I was on from 2002 – 2008. Ham-Bone Records is my own label, as I am now independent. It’s ironic that the names both pay tribute to pigs.
In your opinion, who is the greatest guitar player of all time?
There are too many to name. There are also so many different aspects of what makes a guitarist “great”.
Where are you originally from?
I am from Galveston, Texas.
What’s the best concert you have ever been to?
Stevie Wonder, by far. He played for three hours straight, and told amazing stories.
You have a new album out. Tell me a little bit more about Live in England.
We recorded it last year, and it’s kind of a snapshot of the live show. It was recorded live with no overdubs, and I’m really proud of it. What’s funny is that if you listen to the audience, they’re really quiet during the songs, until they’re asked something, or until the end of the songs. The English are so proper and don’t want to interrupt the artists!
Do you prefer playing overseas or here in the United States?
I like both… one is not better than the other, they’re just different. They’re both fantastic!
You have some strong feelings toward Bo Diddley. Did you ever get the chance to see him perform?
Of course! We did many shows together down in Texas. I got to hang with with him at his house. He was generous enough to write and record with me on my last studio CD.
Love your hair! What sort of product do you use to keep it looking good all night long?
I use “fiber” by American Crew… uh, let’s go back and talk about music…
You played every instrument on your album Ain’t Just Temporary. What did your band have to say about that?
They actually did play some parts on the CD, but they also understand that one side effect of me playing several instruments is that i have an insight and respect for other instruments besides guitar, so it actually helps me communicate ideas easier to my band mates.
You are always on the road. Is it possible to pick a favorite venue?
Wow… there are so many…
So what’s wrong with your pen?
It goes too slowly! It’s hard for me to write songs, and sometimes it’s a painstaking process for me.
You had a song on VH-1. How did that all come about?
Actually I was in a movie that was on VH-1… it was just a small role as a drummer in a rock band. You can look it up if you want…
If you could only play one song for the rest of your career, what song would you choose? It can be yours or a cover, that’s your call!
Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye…I’ve heard it since I was a baby, and it was also the first dance at my wedding! What a great song.
Can I get some Hamilton Loomis merchandise?
Yes! Go to www.hamiltonloomis.com/merchandise.htm.
Describe your genre in one word.
soulbluesfunkrockpopgroove. How many syllables is that?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Who knows? Stadium gigs! A private plane!
What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?
I just want to be the best musician I can be and pass on my knowledge to young players, like the masters did to me.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
Go out and support live music… anyone can listen to music, but it’s better to experience music.