BB: How did you get started as a musician/performer and what drew
you to the Blues?
JG: At the time I started playing music, it was the idea that
if I could play this here guitar and make music I could make some
money to put me in places that picking beans could never get me
to. Desperation was my motivation having been orphaned at a very
young age with my sisters and brothers broken up and sent to various
aunts and such in our family to live. We worked the fields of
central Florida as migrant workers picking beans, oranges or whatever
to get by. Nobody was going to send me to college or help in a
substantial way so I knew from a young age the only escape from
my rough background was to use music as my outlet. Central Florida
in the 1950’s was still the Deep South and Blues was just
a natural progression from that. I had my first gig at a gas station
opening when I was fourteen that the sheriff broke up because
colored and white people were dancing together. Other than a stint
in the Navy, and for a year when I was married in the 1970’s,
I have never done anything else for a living besides play music.
I have always considered myself an entertainer doing music to
survive, not just a Blues man.
BB: Who are some of the players that have influenced your style
and approach to your music the most?
JG: As far as guitar styling
with Blues/R &B, Little Milton and B.B. King have had the
most effect on me. I also play some Tyrone Davis songs in my
live show when I sense audience feel wants some of his type
of material. My band and I play a variety of artists' material
we like when we have a lengthy show including Elmore James,
Freddie King, Albert King and various Motown artists. There
are a lot of black and white artists over time I have picked
up things from. When I first started playing Elvis was an influence
on me as far as stage presence.
JG: You’ve shared the stage with a number of impressive
individuals, among them James Brown, Etta James and Bobby Bland.
Is there anyone you’d love to perform with that you haven’t
JG: B.B. King and Buddy Guy.
BB: How does it feel coming off your win at the 2006 International
Blues Challenge in Memphis?
JG: I feel vindicated for myself and a lot of other older musicians
that have been provincial acts over the years. The IBC rules changes
are a good thing for allowing musicians in that have had semi
successful careers in the past but have gotten lost in the music
business shuffle only to feel their talent was lost with no where
to go. Also I feel a debt of gratitude for the people that unflinchingly
backed me like Dennis Brooks, Jackie Mulberry, Enid Decker, Robert
Stolpe, Bobby Weinberg, Jerry Blum, Dave Blum, Dennis Murphy and
the rest my supporters from the South Florida Blues Society board
and membership. My manager, Jim Nestor, constantly drives into
my head that “nothing happens by accident.” I saw
that this year when people I did not know were coming up to me
on the street in Memphis telling me how happy they were that I
came back to the IBC and saw what a ground swell of support I
had from all over the country. It feels great that my supporters
Larry, Doug and Mike from the Blues Society on Taiwan could share
in the victory this year. The work that it generated was great
but the fan appreciation was even better. Now I feel like a true
ambassador of the Blues worldwide.
BB: Your 2005 CD release, "The Ghosts of Mississippi Meet
The Gods of Africa" was well received by critics and fans.
What other projects are on the horizon?
JG: We have a Live CD that has been in the works for several
months. It is being produced by Al Rude and Jim Finch. They produced
Alberta Adams last CD, which was nominated for a Handy
Award in 2005. At the same time I have been writing with George
Caldwell, my bass player, on material for a Gospel CD and a Blues
follow up to Ghosts of Mississippi, which will feature songs also
co-written with Jim, George and Graham Wood Drout. I am not sure
which will be released first but I know the Live material will
be out in 2006 with a companion DVD. Also there are several film/video
companies working on projects like a documentary movie and reality
show based on my life and music career. Bluzpik Productions is
producing a one hour TV show that is all Blues content, which
I will be hosting with Dar McCauley from WKPX in Fort Lauderdale
and shopping to the cable networks.
BB: Your career has spanned several decades. How do you manage
to keep your music fresh and inspired?
JG: Well first off I was ten years without a new release so my
fan base is getting a lot of material that was pent up for some
time now. As far as writing new material goes it is a collaborative
process between my management team and my band. My manager and
his staff started working on about a hundred pieces of material
for Ghosts of Mississippi and other projects in mind about six
months before we went into the studio. Once in the studio we sat
down with forty or fifty song ideas to start, then cut it down
to about twenty that we decided to record. As the recording progresses,
Jim, George and I break down the songs we agree on for a theme
to the CD and my arrangements start to emerge from the lyrical
content. Then the rest of the band works on their parts for the
final arrangement. Life provides musicians with a bounty of material;
all they have to do is grasp onto it as life goes by. I write
and play what I feel at the time.
BB: How have the venues, fans and opportunities changed over
the years within the music business and especially the Blues
JG: I have been performing and promoting shows for over forty
years. Back in the day, we promoted a lot of shows in the black
community and had a captive audience because of how things were.
There were two separate downtown areas that thrived. Financially,
integration was not the best thing for a black promoter as it
decentralized the fan base. Clubs come and go. Over the years
I have played at the same venue many times with a different owner
and theme. These days we are lucky to play on both sides of the
tracks so to speak and often play on the same weekend in the same
city to two totally different audiences. When my manager books
me at a “Blues Society” type event I am billed as
South Florida Blues Legend Joey Gilmore but for the chitlin circuit
type events we are billed as R & B even though I play much
of the same music. The organized Blues community has evolved over
the years to become older middle class white folks who take on
the festivals with fervor. Look at the crowd that shows up for
the Blues Cruise or at the IBC. I love all my fans and have been
blessed over time to have a diverse appreciative audience.
BB: What would you most like your fans to know about you and
JG: My songs are about life’s real situations and many
of the fans I meet are the source of my music.
I have always concentrated on live performances as the focal point
for my band. We will be constantly touring throughout 2006 and
2007. I’d like to personally meet and perform for every
one of my fans worldwide.
BB: What are some of your unfilled goals?
JG: Make enough money
for a tour bus and professional driver before one of my band
members drives my van off the road.
BB: Lastly, what do you value most about making music?
JG: Appreciation from the fans.