Getting people moving
December 14, 2007
It’s Tuesday afternoon, and guitarist Todd Tijerina has to be feeling like a bluesman.
He’s standing on the side of a highway in New Mexico, next to his broken-down station wagon, late to work at his part-time job. Waiting for the tow truck to get there, he has a couple of minutes to talk about his music, which he’s been playing since he was 9 years old.
Tijerina, who fronts a blues rock trio of the same name, seems to forget about his relative misfortune once he gets to spouting off the names of his influences. It makes sense – B.B. King, Muddy Waters, all of his heroes, sang and played guitar to feel better. Tijerina feels better just talking about them.
On Friday and Saturday, the band will return to The Tugboat Grill & Pub with its mashup of blues, funk, jazz and rock. Tijerina took some time to talk to 4 Points about the blues in popular music, the importance of groove and keeping things interesting for himself by keeping his songwriting on the move – even though on this Tuesday, he’s not moving anywhere.
4 Points: Sorry to hear about your car trouble. Do you want to talk about the shows you’re playing this weekend? What can people expect?
Todd Tijerina: I like to think that we have our own sound. It’s a fairly funky blues with strong roots in Texas and Louisiana, New Orleans style. It’s somewhere between the two of those. I try to concentrate on not getting too busy – the grooves should really speak for themselves.
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4 Points: What do you mean by “busy”?
TT: I’ve heard it done where a song gets really busy, and there’s not a whole lot really happening underneath all the busyness. My feeling is start with the substance and a strong foundation, and something that really gets people moving, and it’ll get me into it as well.
When I write a song, I try to write something that sounds unique, that doesn’t sound like something that I’ve heard before, even though they’re based on songs that I’ve grown up with.
4 Points: Is that something people want, necessarily, when they’re listening to blues-based music? I feel like a lot of what you’re looking for with the blues is what you’re familiar with.
TT: Most people are probably looking for something that they enjoy, whether it’s unique or not, but what I try to do : (the conversation breaks here, because Tijerina’s tow truck might be on call waiting) : For me, I don’t particularly want to sound like everybody else. And even when I practice and write a song, I don’t want to write a song that sounds like the last one. It’s the same thing with soloing.
I’ve heard this from other musicians that are soloists that sound really good, and I’ll go up and talk with them and say that I really enjoyed the show, and they’ll say, ‘Well I’m glad you liked it, because I feel like I’m playing the same thing over and over.’
That’s part of the reason that I try to constantly grow and keep myself excited. Any musician’s uniqueness comes out of trying to keep himself interested.
4 Points: Even when you’re trying to do something new, do you find yourself falling back on what you’ve always listened to? Who were you influenced by, to come up with this mix of styles?
TT: Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, a lot of blues guys.
I didn’t know what the blues was as a kid. Some of the bands were actually playing blues that I liked, like Led Zeppelin. And then I listened to a lot of Motown, and I liked Prince, and of course I always loved James Brown, so a lot of funk stuff.
I’ve always loved music.
A lot of them were doing blues or funk stuff and yet they were known as rock bands. Then later on I got into the blues. I think when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time, that’s when I really got into it.
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