At 34 years of age Ramon Goose is one the emerging artists in a strong UK blues scene. Known for his stellar guitar playing, Goose is not limited to one genre as he covers a variety of styles from Delta Blues to African music. We had a chance to catch up with the upstart guitarist about his upcoming album, influences, and the meaning of the blues.
You have a new album set to be released, what can you tell us about it?
Well I’m really excited about this album release because it’s the first time I’ve just gone into the studio to play what naturally comes out and really tried to play the type of music that first inspired me to pick up the guitar. I was influenced in the beginning by artists such as T-Bone Walker, Johnny Guitar Watson and Peter Green. Then later on by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robben Ford so I’ve tried to include all of these influences. It really feels like I’ve kind of come home with this album, but I needed to do all the other albums first before I felt comfortable doing this record, it feels like I have paid my dues, now it’s blues time! Also it’s the first official album that I have put out as my solo album because all my other work has been the result of musical collaborations or bands.
What kind of differences can we expect from your sound in Uptown Blues compared to your other releases such as your work with NuBlues?
A big difference! In fact there’s no way you can compare the two which is actually a cool thing because I love musical extremes. NuBlues was all about that hiphop blues sound that came around the late 90s and early 00s. Artists such as Moby and R L Burnside were mixing Blues with loops so we were kind of released as the British answer to that on Chris Thomas Kings label in New Orleans. It actually gave us a lot of kudos, but at the same time it can be limiting because your known for just that one sound. If you want to play more traditional blues then you’ve had it. People expected us to turn up with a sampler and turntables at all our gigs. With Uptown Blues it’s a totally traditional approach all recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs.
What guitars did you use to record the new album?
I used my trusty Nash Stratocaster (with Lollar pickups) it has a huge neck so it is a very comfortable guitar to play. I also used a Fender Custom Shop Robben Ford guitar which has a very interesting sound, a Gibson Les Paul Standard and also a Coodercaster which is a Stratocaster with Supro lapsteel pickup installed, which I use for slide guitar. I used Mystic Blues amps hand made by Tommy Cougar in Sweden who is just the Amp King for me. I have two of them and they are very special indeed. I also used a Blackface Fender Vibroverb with a 15 inch speaker for some of the rhythm tracks.
You’re a very versatile player capable of playing many different styles. Who are some of your influences?
Thank you so much for your kind words! Ry Cooder for me is one of the greatest guitar players and his style is so unique. As I said earlier I love Johnny Guitar Watson, he was such a bad ass guitar player and character! I was lucky enough to see him in Germany perform before he died. That was one of the best gigs I have ever been to! I always listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan and owe a lot of licks to him, Robben Ford for me is one of the most inspiring guitar players, I loved the albums he released with The Blue Line. I was also influenced by older blues guys like Blind Blake (the song Delta Moon is a tribute to Blind Blake) and blind Boy Fuller and then African artists such as Ali Farka Toure and Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe.
In addition to being a great guitarist you’re also a fine producer. How did you get into producing?
I guess I kind of naturally fell into it by always putting my own projects together with a strong musical vision and direction, if you are not playing covers then you need to know where you are heading and the band always looked to me for answers so it kind of grew out of that. Another reason is I love to take a risk and really try to think outside the box and try something new. I’m not afraid to fail, in fact I’m more afraid to sound like someone else.
You put your own touch on the blues and today there is a bit of blues renaissance going on with several great artists. What does the blues mean to you?
The Blues means so many things and can change its meaning through time and place, it can mean how the black slaves felt working in the cotton fields in Mississippi way back, it can be a feeling in traditional Celtic music or West African music and it can be everybody’s feeling in this current economic climate; it belongs to everyone from every age, but it can also be a joyous thing like in African music where they turn it into a dance rhythm and have a party! BB King does the same thing!
What’s on tap for you next and where can people find your music?
My next project is called The West African Blues Project and will include some really special guests, I’m very excited about that. We are actually recording right now so that will be out sometime next year. In the meantime I’ll be touring Uptown Blues with a great lineup of musicians. You can check me out on the net : www.ramongoose.com and from there you can connect in all the usual ways. My album Uptown Blues will be out very soon on Music Avenue Records.
Thank you very much indeed!
*Photo Credit – Al Stuart