So, here we go. The next few posts are gonna be focused on the mighty bands playing at The Robert Johnson Birthday Tribute show we have the privilege of being a part of . It's gonna be a rockin' good night, and we'll expect to see all of you there!
Today's guests are the phenomenal Me And The Devil, a rollickin' hard-stompin' combo, guaranteed to bust yr ass and take you to the very crossroads. But don't take our word for it. Guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire Tony French was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. And, as ever, there's a nifty tune at the end for yr enjoyment.
A Big Rock Candy Mountain Interview with Me And The Devil
Big Rock Candy Mountain: Who are y'all, and what do you do?
Me and the Devil: We are Me and the Devil and we play the blues! Live acoustic music is what we are all about, keeping the old stuff alive and creating new songs. Our line up is Tony French - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar; Mark Verbeck - Lead/Slide Gutiar, Vocals; Eric McCabe - Harp, Vocals; and Cody "Goose" Siragusa- Upright Bass.
BRCM: Tell us about yr personal relationship with the Devil.
MATD: Funny thing about that, we tried to sell our souls to the devil but he said he already owned them.
BRCM: What/Who are yr influences?
MATD: Our main influence is pre-war american roots music when blues, folk and country were more entwined. Bluesmen like Robert Johnson, Son House, and Leadbelly. Folk/Country musicians like Jimmy Rodgers, Woody Guthrie and The Carter Family. We are an acoustic band but we also have a good dose of first generation electric blues in us from cats like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Howling wolf. I could go on and on on this one.
BRCM: What song best defines Me and the Devil?
MATD: Probably our song Devil in her eyes, it's just a 3 chord song about a no good woman.
BRCM: Drink of choice for Me and the Devil?
MATD: Whatever anyone else is buying.
BRCM: Yr playing the Robert Johnson birthday tribute show here in Chicago. What does Robert Johnson mean to Me and the Devil?
MATD: First off that's where we got our name from, his song Me and the Devil blues. Robert Johnson is such an important figure for many reasons first is his talent as a musician and songwriter. He had a truly unique quality to his sining and playing, almost haunting. To me he also represents all the other bluesmen of that era that never got lucky enough to be recorded, he's that mythic bluesman who sold his soul to the devil, lived hard and died young.
BRCM: Have y'all been to the Crossroads? If so, who did you meet there, and what did you sell? What did you get in return?
MATD: I was just there a couple of weeks ago, it was a bit strange I found myself standing there thinking wow this is a real place. Of course I always knew it was a real place but like Robert Johnson it's so mythic it's almost hard to believe it's real.
BRCM: Y'all are Chicago-based. How does Chicago treat yr brand of Blues?
MATD: We always get a great response from audiences but I wouldn't say we're really in the Chicago "blues scene". The tourist type blues clubs have a formula for success and white boys playing acoustic ain't it. There is a lot of great roots music going on in the city these days though, we end up playing with a lot of different types of bands from alt-country to rockabilly to bluegrass.
BRCM: How many angels can dance on the edge of yr guitar pick?
MATB: Never use picks............or angels.
BRCM: How do you approach yr songwriting? Which comes first, the lyric or the groove?
MATB: I usually have a rhythm and chord structure and then put lyrics to it but sometimes I'll come up with a lyrical hook then write the music and the verses. Normally when I bring a new song to the band it's just a skeleton of a song with my rhythm guitar and vocals then everybody jumps in and does their thing and it turns into a complete song.
BRCM: What can we expect from Me and the Devil at the Robert Johnson birthday hootenanny? And, following that, what's next for Me and the Devil?
MATB: Expect the unexpected! When people think of acoustic music they think mellow and we are anything but mellow.
Next up on our schedule after the Robert Johnson Birthday show is another exciting show for us, we are opening for T-Model Ford at Reggie's Music Joint on June 1st!
Still not convinced? Well, check out the following...
And, as ever, please support yr local, independent record stores, bands, and live shows!