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Bill Lupkin...Hard Pill To Swallow

Blues Interview
Real Blues
Real People
By MissVickie@stlblues.net

Bill Lupkin...Hard Pill To Swallow

Bill LupkinI am really happy that I was asked to do this interview. I fell in love with Bill Lupkin's harp sounds when I first met him at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups during the Harmonica Hurricane. You remember...Bill came into town for a gig and John May had a better idea to put on a harp show. It was great! I was hooked! Hey! The Harmonica Hurricane you say? Yep, that's also where we met up with Nick Moss. I found out thru this interview that Bill and Nick are good buddy's...they go way back. Could be why Nick is producing Bill's newest CD, Hard Pill To Swallow. And Kate Moss (Mrs. Moss) did the artwork. She is really a good graphic designer. She also had the idea for the old time bottle on the cover of the CD. Makes me want to send her a project. (laughter) Nick and Bill have played together in Chicago before Bill moved to Indiana and have continued to play together forever. Nick plays guitar on this new CD. Another musician we have heard about is Gerry Hundt. He's one of the Flip Tones. Gerry also plays guitar on this CD and Victor Spann, another F.T., also has a part on this CD. Tim Wire plays the keyboard on all but one track and has been friends with Bill for many, many years. And Steve Lupkin, Bill's brother is playing bass. Brothers in arms and music! How great is that?

When I spoke to Bill over the phone for this interview, I asked him if he'd ever been likened to Rod Piazza. NO? My thought is, he sounds like Rod in the “early years”. Bill actually met Rod when he was in California many moons ago. Most people listen to Bill and hear the likes of Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers. Bill thinks so too. Let's you know where my ears are, eh? (laughter)
Many of you reading this interview may clearly understand some of Bill's growing pains as he works hard to raise “TEENAGERS” (YUK) and tries to keep his music going strong...need I say more? (laughter) But Bill Lupkin has prevailed and with Hard Pill To Swallow as the title for his newest CD, you can imagine where he gets his inspiration. (laughter) Actually, Bill likes to talk about Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, and many others. You can hear these influences on many of the songs he writes and plays.
As with Nick Moss, Bill, too, loves to write songs. He wrote all of the music on this CD. This CD is the third since 1999. Bill has great confidence in his writing, with the likes of Nick Moss and Gerry Hundt and the influences of Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers, and the ability of his musician friends to come to the table and play hard, serious, blues,... he has found the right mix....friends are what it's all about!

Let's talk to Bill Lupkin and see what he says about the making of his latest CD, Hard Pill To Swallow.

MV: Hi Bill! What do you like about song writing?

BL: I just find it very satisfying. I really do enjoy it. You can be very creative at times. I like song writing. I like the way you can write a song like track #3,Bad Luck, which I do some different things, it gets a lot of air play on the radio.

MV: I like track #6, Elgin Bounce. It's a real toe-tapper!. This whole CD will get you tappin' one thing or another! (Laughter) You're harp playing is great!

BL: I'm surprised you said that! I've gotten lots of comments from people about this song. It's a toe-tapper. (smile)

MV: In your bio, it mentioned that you have been influenced by Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers. I said Rod Piazza. (laughter)

BL: No! That's a first! But I did get to play at the same gig in California years ago. (Big Laughter) Many people have pointed out the influences of Big Walter and James Cotton. I have to say that Jimmy Rogers was the MOST influential of anyone in my life. I find myself going back to that influence over and over again. I also like trying to get a little more “laid back” on my vocals. It keeps me from getting my throat too sore. (Big Laughter) I'm trying to mellow out in my old age. (Big Laughter)

MV: I really like the “laid back” vocals styles on this CD. I think what you “down play” in vocals, you pick up and “wail” on the harp. It really plays out in this CD.

BL: Thanks! I like that take on it.

MV: I spoke earlier in this interview about the musicians you have on this CD. The multi-talented Gerry Hundt, Victor Spann ( a really great drummer!), Nick Moss, Tim Wire, and let's not forget your brother, Steve. (laughter) Who will you bring with you when you come to BB's on Thursday October 18th.?

BL: It will be my regular band, my brother on bass, Mark Fornek on drums, and I have a new guy on guitar from Denver...his name is Jerry Vasquez, he's a really terrific guitar player. Barrelhouse Chuck and I have started working together again, but he could not make this trip. We'll be back in January at BB's, possibly the 20th or 22nd, it all depends, and he'll be here on that trip.
(Bill and I agree that Barrelhouse Chuck is GREAT on keys! He's the authentic deal!)

MV: You have a “Thanks” to John May on your cover. Tell me about how you hooked with up him?

BL: Keith Doder was the first guy to get me down here, oh geez that was a long time ago. He was playing with Jimmy Rogers, at the time, and told me to come on down here. Keith is a great guy! I met John thru Keith. One night we were down here and supposed to play a gig somewhere else, but it got cancelled. John May had us hooked up in no time. He's a life saver! We've loved coming to BB's ever since. He's always willing to give you what you need to make it into town. BB's has a great sound. We love playing there! Some places we've been to the management just doesn't respond to your needs. It makes the gig a little more difficult, but John has always come thru for us. He's the man!

MV: He's got some connections, eh?

BL: Yeah! He can wheel and deal, 'em. (laughter)

MV: What did it take to put this CD together?

BL: It wasn't too bad. In fact it went kinda easier than the last one. Nick was able to get a lot of tracks done at one time, I had a lot of the material...we cut the CD in two days.


BL: Yeah. We were doing really good there. It was good! It makes it very spontaneous. The thing is to know the guys you are playing with and get comfortable.

MV: You didn't second guess yourself on the CD. It sounds really good!

BL: I've heard that from a lot of people and I thank you for saying that.

MV: What do you like best about this CD?

BL: I like the overall quality and the fact that it blends really well together. I like the tunes and the lyrics, very much. I really like it! I'm really pleased with it and I hope the next one is even better!

MV: You have a tendency to keep it real and focused and that's very cool!

BL: Well thank you very much.

MV: No, I mean it. I'm going to take a nap before you get here so I can stay up all night!! (Big Laughter)

The “Warning” label on the back of this CD says it best..”.Warning: May cause intense movement of the legs and feet. If music remains in your head for more than four days, don't be at all surprised!

I'd like to thank Bill Lupkin for his time with this phone interview. We had a great chat! (Big Smile) He's a funny man and a great performer on stage. And once again my “Thanks” to John May. The October band schedule really ROCKS!

You will really enjoy this newest CD, Hard Pill To Swallow! It's a real toe- tapper, Folks! I know I want to get up and dance!! I find it very interesting to see so many musicians interacting with each other’s bands and CD's. I am REALLY looking forward to the gig, Thursday October 18th, at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups!! Bring your dancin' shoes!!

Check out Bill's websites for more music and info at...www.billlupkin.com, www.bluebellarecords.com, and www.myspace.com/bluebellarecords.

Keep supporting the music ya'll!

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