1 What’s it like as an established muso with his own distinctive style to pair up with an artist who likewise has his own profile and following?
Live music events can fill you with inspiration in all sorts of ways. If you’re a musician witnessing a great performance it pushes you to want to emulate the playing style, or to write music as good as what you’re hearing in that moment. For me I also get to feeling like I want to get in amongst it and be in that band, or to trade licks with that great player. Jimi is one of those players. He pushes me, kicks my arse to play the best I can.
2 Is it possible to preserve your own artistic identity and flavour when playing with and alongside your `opposite number?’ Can we expect you to shed some of your unique recent experiences (Kings of Kings) in your solo set prior to the all-in jam?
One of the things you learn along the way is to always play it your way. This may be especially true when it comes to playing the blues. The whole aim is finding your own voice so there is never any point in trying to outplay another performer at their game. Yeah, I recently had the chance to share the stage with the great Dave Hole & Shane Pacey playing some classic blues songs. I had Dave Hole standing right next to me every night and I can tell you, those gigs were some of the best guitar lessons I’ve ever had… but whenever it comes my turn to play, I dig deep and do my thing the best I know how.
3 I’m guessing some friendly rivalry would play out as well in that shared space? Particularly with you both leading the jam. How do you expect to manage and lead Kaliopi & the Blues Messengers during the jam?
Jimi & I enjoy the bitchy banter we get into. It’s even funnier to us if anyone thinks we’re serious. It started when we were playing some of our first gigs together and you’d occasionally overhear comments along the lines of ‘Jimi’s gonna wipe the floor with him tonight’ or some such thing. We decided it was actually more fun to play up to that idea of us competing for some sort of guitarist supremacy and we started calling those gigs our ‘Guitar Showdown’. The music is always our focus – but be prepared for a battle of wits between songs. Oh, and the jam set? The best thing about those moments is that they are very loosely planned, if planned at all. I am careful not to think too hard about what might happen then lest we spoil the magic!
4 You’ve been paired with each other before – how might your upcoming gig for Double Trouble Blues Sessions be different or similar? What can your followers expect or is it always a case of `expect the unexpected’?
This is a different format to our Showdown gigs. The difference is that we’ll each to showcasing our solo material which highlights our individual styles. The similarity is that we’ll end up on stage together with a cracking band backing us up and trading licks on electric guitars. Add Kaliopi to the mix and suddenly we shall have a triple guitar threat… but of course only one can reign supreme. Who shall it be? Whom shalt doff this coveted crown?