With Blues on Broadbeach securing Idaho based singer songwriter Eilen Jewell for their May festival, Blank GC’s Tiffany Mitchell chanced a few minutes out of the American’s tour schedule to find out what blues style she’ll bring to our sandhills.
Much of the Gold Coast blues loving community will experience your music for the first time at Blues on Broadbeach. How would you describe your style of blues and where do your musical influences flow from?
My style of blues is right at the junction of classic country music, old time music, rockabilly, and early rock ‘n’ roll. I love anything with “early” in front of it, and I don’t mix well with much of anything past circa 1969. This doesn’t stem from a snobbery per se, but just an aesthetic I’ve had since a very young age.
You have recently released an album of vintage blues gems. Tell us about some of the songs you’ve given a new life to.
Half of my album, ‘Down Hearted Blues,’ is composed of tunes I’ve been madly in love with since I first realised I had an inclination towards the blues, when I was about fifteen. For example, the Willie Dixon tune that Howlin’ Wolf recorded called ‘You’ll Be Mine’, the title tune as recorded by Bessie Smith, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ in Rambling’ by Memphis Minnie, and ‘Crazy Mixed-Up World’ by Little Walter. The other five or six songs are new loves. I’m still getting to know them. For example, the Charles Sheffield tune ‘It’s Your Voodoo Working,’ the Moonshine Kate tune ‘Poor Girl’s Story, and ‘Don’t Leave Poor Me’ by Big Maybelle. Some of them have a rural sound, some of them have a more electric, or urban sound. But all of them are tunes that I believe are worth bearing the torch for. I hope that my recordings inspire people to look back at the originals. Each tune is a homage to the music and the musicians that I love.
Having enjoyed songs from your past albums – ‘Queen of the minor key’ and ‘Sundown over ghost town’ – can we get a sneak peak of your set list for Blues on Broadbeach in May?
Sure. It will definitely lean pretty heavily towards ‘Down Hearted Blues,’ but I’m thinking it would also be a good opportunity to work in some of my bluesy originals from past albums. We might include ‘The Flood’ from our first album, ‘Final Hour’ from our third album, and maybe even some that will come as a surprise to me too.
Blues on Broadbeach has an array of American blues performers on the bill – have you performed with any of the other artists such as the Robert Cray Band, Charlie A’Court or Southern Avenue in festivals before?
I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage with any of those acts before. But I’m really looking forward to it now that it’s on my radar.
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Catch Eilen Jewell and her band, playing Saturday and Sunday at Blues on Broadbeach, which runs 17 – 20 May. Get set times at bluesonbroadbeach.com.