EXCLUSIVE: Producer of GRAMMY-Nominated Blues Album Chats with California Rocker
By DONNA BALANCIA
Blues great Joe Louis Walker is getting some. After all, that’s what he asks for in his GRAMMY nominated album ‘Everybody Wants a Piece.’
And Paul Nelson is helping him. Paul is the force behind the music, who rose the ranks as performer and as producer to, most notably, the late Johnny Winter. Paul produced and and also performed on Everybody Wants a Piece, which has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award this year in the Blues category.
“What I like about Joe Louis Walker is he’s a contemporary blues artist but he respects the tradition of the older musicians,” Nelson said about Walker.
Paul Nelson and Pork Chop
Nelson is no newbie to this GRAMMY business. He won a GRAMMY two years ago for producing the Johnny Winter album, Step Back, Johnny’s last record.
But with every musician there are different styles and different results from collaboration, Paul said.
“With Joe, I wanted to get the best performance possible,” Nelson said.
The songs were recorded at Chop Shop, Nelson’s studio in Connecticut.
“We had a lot of fun,” Paul said. “And the album also features my dog Pork Chop, who died. He was a miniature Pinscher. He barked on one of the songs. So, he’s now a GRAMMY-nominated dog! He will be forever remembered.”
Nelson said he was proud of the work.
“Everyone on the record did a fantastic job,” he said.
Is the Blues Genre a Dying Breed?
Nelson says he doesn’t think the blues as a genre is going away any time soon.
Paul Nelson: The Blues Will Live On
“I don’t think the blues is dying, it’s meshing together with other types of music, like southern rock, or with music from New Orleans, that kind of mixture. There’s been a huge influence from Britain. Everyone’s looking at the Claptons, a lot of British fans know the tradition. Jeff Beck, a lot of singing guitar players. We’ve lost the art of frontman. It’s hard to find the next Bobby Blue Bland.”
Nelson said the music may be evolving and so is the presentation.
Acoustic Blues Guitar
“There’s a big call for acoustic because of the economy and it’s easier to hire one artist,” he said. “There are pockets of places in Florida and New Orleans where you’ll see that. It’s really becoming difficult for artists to survive these days. But the Blues isn’t going away. It’s the first thing people learn to play to this day. It’s not going anywhere.”
Paul says he thinks of Johnny often and still has a hard time without his friend and mentor.
‘Johnny Wanted Me to Succeed’
“Johnny wanted to be considered blues but he always had rock stigma because of the clothes, because of his style,” Paul said. “He always wanted me to succeed, he wanted me to do well. When we were finishing up recording Step Back, he leaned over to me and said ‘If we don’t get a GRAMMY for this, they’re nuts.'”
Paul said he had to keep his resolve when he accepted the GRAMMY for Step Back.
“When I hit the podium at Staples Center it was difficult,” Paul said. “It was very emotional. Edgar came up with me.”
As for this year, Paul said he is thankful.
“I’m just crossing my fingers and I appreciate everyone thinking of me for a second time,” Paul said. “And the great thing is, my phone is ringing off the hook.”