Blues guitarist and vocalist Bobby Thompson has been on the Arlington and northern Virginia live music scene for years. Some know him as the guy with that funny guitar that he plays on his lap. Others know him for the phenomenal Jimi Hendrix covers that he does with the Bobby Thompson Project. Some of us have been waiting for Bobby to release some of his own material. The wait is over. Bobby took some time out to talk with the Examiner about his latest releases and other things.
VB: Tell me about your new single and new album coming out soon?
BT: Our latest single, Good Things That We Have, has been well received. The song was produced by Todd Wright and We’re very happy with the way it came out. We are writing more material for a EP release to be produced by Todd for later this year. The new album, entitled By The Hand, was produced by Gary Crockett, who also played drums on most of the album. Gary has a few albums already under his belt, and he has worked with Tommy Lepson for many years. The album has a classic rock, raw rock and roll feel to it.
VB: Who’s playing with you on this new album?
BT: An array of great musicians are on this new album. Of note, Ron Holloway, who performs regularly with Gov’t Mule and Susan Tedeschi, contributed to two songs. I had the chance to record with some great musicians who are also great friends, like Benjie Porecki on keyboards and Jeff Frank on bass.
VB: For those who don’t know your music, can you describe, the recordings?
BT: Well, I listened to alot of classic rock like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and slide players like Robert Randolph and Duane Allman, while I was writing these new songs. I wanted to get back to the blues-rock guitar style that encouraged me to begin playing in the first place. I feel like I truly am expressing myself on this record.
VB: You are known as a inspirational blues guitarist, but didn’t you receive formal training?
BT: I did attend a music school, after high school, for a year and studied theory and harmony. I also studied jazz shortly after that while I was also touring in blues bands. Jazz helped me develop a balance between thoughtful playing and playing from the heart.
VB: Where do you want your music to go?
BT: I want to keep making albums and write better songs. I write better when I am surrounding myself with good songwriters. That’s where I want to go.
VB: What musicians have influenced your music the most?
BT: So many. First, my uncle Walter pushed me when I was a teenager to be more confident. He was really excited for me when I went to music school, and ever since then, he is always very supportive. A great influence on me. The others come mostly from records, John Coltrane, Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, to name a few.
VB: What is your favorite venue to perform in, in Arlington? Ever?
BT: In Arlington, Iota Club and Cafe. Great stage, sound, and the staff is wonderful. Best venue in Arlington by far. Best venue ever? West Beach Music Festival in Santa Barbara was great. We played right when the sun had set and the crowd was incredible.
VB: Where were you born?
VB: How old are you?
BT: Old enough!
VB: What high school did you attend?
BT: Yorktown! Right here in Arlington.
VB: Do you want to be famous?
BT: Not really, although the money would be nice, I like to be able to wonder around the streets. I picture the Beatles in a Hard Days Night.
VB: What is your favorite vegetable?
BT: All of them.
VB: Who is the biggest name artist that you have been onstage with?
BT: Junior Marvin, of Bob Marley’s Original Wailers. We’ve played some great shows together. Also, Mick Fleetwood, he plays a mean shuffle!
VB: How long have you been playing guitar?
BT: 15 years.
VB: What venue would you like to perform in most of all?
BT: I had a dream once I was soundchecking with BB King at an arena somewhere. If that could come true in someway, that would be the best.
VB: Do you get nervous before shows?
BT: Sometimes. Breathing helps.
VB: Where are your next shows?
BT: Check www.bobbytmusic.net for the schedule.
VB: When and where was the best performance you have ever given?
BT: Most recently, I think the studio performances on this new record have been my best. The trick is to match those onstage now.
Tonight the Bobby Thompson Project can be seen at Whitlow’s On Wilson at 9:30 pm.