Kicking off the new year with the best in the BLUES - Larry Whitt!
Per this article by Tim Preston for the Daily Independent:
Larry Whitt plays a guitar so sweet he calls it “Honey.”
“I have a reputation, I guess, as a player and a singer, but I’m not well known in our own area. I play more now than I did 10 years ago when I was trying to make a living at it,” Whitt said with a slight grin and shake of his head. “My style of playing is definitely high-energy, Chicago style blues.”
Whitt, 52, said he got serious about his music around the time he graduated from Paul G. Blazer High School in 1977.
“I started playing local bars in the Tri-State. There were a lot of gigs around here at that time,” he said, remembering his part in the area music scene before he relocated to Chicago.
“I was in Chicago for six or seven years. I was playing there, not so much in the clubs but on the south side in the black churches. They’d never heard anything like me and it blew their minds — a little white boy from Kentucky.”
Like many musicians from the Ashland area, Whitt said music was extremely important to his family and his relatives provided him an
excellent foundation to build upon.
“My family got me started. There are a lot of musicians in my family. My dad, Bob Whitt, played dobro. He was my absolute musical hero,” Whitt said. “I started with country and bluegrass and three-chord rock and then I fell in love with rockabilly and dynamic guitar players like Gary Moore, Billy Gibbons and Pat Travers. I’ve never really mimicked any of them. I have my own style I’ve developed over the years. I really like to take old songs and restructure them to fit what I do.”
Whitt moved home to Ashland in 2000 and was soon playing local fairs, festivals and other shows as leader of The Larry Whitt Band, backed by bassist Brent Jack, guitarist Bobby Burnette and Dewey Frye, who he says “is the
best drummer I’ve ever worked with.”
He’s also collaborated extensively with longtime musical partner Terry Withrow, who helped him record a CD of well-known gospel songs that were reworked to reflect Whitt’s distinctive blues flavor. Along with bassist Brent Jack, Whitt also works as half of an acoustic-based duo for small venues.
While he tries to play as many local shows as possible, Whitt said
he usually has to travel for a paying gig.
“It’s just at a point where there’s no venues for a blues player,” he said. “We have a lot of talent around here. We have clubs for rock players and festivals for country and bluegrass people to play, so for me to play around here
I have to be able to play a little bit of everything.
“Local musicians are so plentiful that they’re taken for granted around here and they end up playing for nickels and dimes,” he added.
“You can’t do that as a professional musician.”
Whitt said he relies upon only two guitars for his performances — a 1993 James Burton signature model Fender Telecaster he calls “Honey” and a
1994 model Gibson Gospel acoustic. His guitar style has been
described as everything from finessed to ferocious.
“I’ve been told I play explosive,” he said with a slight shake of the head as if indicating he’s not certain that is the best word to describe his approach to the instrument. “I have a hard time trying to describe it myself.
I get lost in what I do, if I could really describe it.”
Also a fluent practitioner of fingerpicking, Whitt said many who are familiar with his songlist have long associated him with the JJ Cale song “Magnolia.”
Whitt stressed he appreciates everyone who has ever applauded his musicianship, although there is one fan who stands out above all the rest.
“My wife, Karen Whitt, is my biggest fan. She supports me and supports everything I do and she’s not tired of me yet,” he said with smiling conviction, adding his greatest performance thrills come from live shows when he knows their four sons and six grandchildren also are in the audience.
August 25, 2011
LIVE music featured each month during F!nal Fr!days!
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<-- Singer-songwriter Mark Fosson (see www.markfosson.com) is a Gallery favorite!