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John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



 

 

Early Blues Interview
Ramon Goose
singer/songwriter/guitarist/record producer
with The Ramon Goose Trio and the Coconut Revolution band

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© Copyright 2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Ramon at Linton Blues Festival, 2008 © Copyright 2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

"Ramon Goose is one of the most versatile and unique Blues artist of his generation, grounded in an education of the blues he has travelled to many distant lands & explored many distant musical genres and still continues to do so. He is now touring with his new Blues Trio with twin brother Joe Goose & drummer Tim Hillsdon performing songs off the recent album "Uptown Blues" (Blues Boulevard Records).

Ramon originally established himself as the guitarist; chief songwriter, producer and driving force for the acclaimed British band NuBlues (with Ed Vans), also working with Senegalese world music star Diabel Cissokho and forming The seminal band The West African Blues Project, his most recent new venture is a collaboration with Jim Palmer & Modou Toure called Coconut Revolution. Through the years Ramon has worked with Eric Bibb, Pee Wee Ellis, Chris Thomas King, Diabel Cissokho (Senegal), Daby Toure (Mauritania), Atongo Zimba (Ghana), Justin Adams & Julian Joseph to name a few".
 - Ramon Goose Biography

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Alan:       What are your first musical memories growing up in Colchester?

Ramon:   Well Alan, myself and my twin brother Joe Goose, would listen to my mum's record collection which consisted of Blues albums such as John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat along with Jazz, Rock and R&B records so I had a really wide range of musical influences right from Classical, African and South American music playing in the house Ė I was very lucky to have parents that really did love music. Believe it or not growing up in Essex had its in benefits because many great British Blues artists live there  such as Dr. Feelgood, also Peter Green often comes to stay in the area so there is kind of a special Blues thing going on there and lots of Blues bands would pass through and play the local venues.  

Alan:       Did you come from a musical family - is there a long musical heritage?

Ramon:   My mum played piano by ear and she sent my twin and I for piano lessons early on which we gave up pretty quickly. Then later in our teens my twin took up the bass guitar and I started on the guitar. My grandmother was also really inspirational and her brother was a professional singer in London in the 1940s & 1950s. My dad being Argentinian was always playing South American music such as Cumbia and Tango especially on Sundays so that was like his ďmusicĒ day and nobody could play any other music around the house so was kind of cool we had this musical and cultural exposure!  I chose the guitar because when I used to walk past a local music shop on my way to school and I saw a guitar that looked like the one Mark Knopfler played in Dire Straits but it wasnít until I left school my grandmother offered to buy me a Fender Telecaster and an Amplifier Ė I said yes!  

Alan:       Did you always want to become a musician and how did you get started in music? 

Ramon:   Well I guess I take after my Grandmother in that respect because she loved to entertain people and me too, I love to entertain and perform music for people itís a great gift which can bring great happiness to people so you should use it wisely and for good intentions. So yes that aspect of performing has always been a great joy Ė playing the guitar is kind of just my vehicle into that world. I started by learning from my mums records and playing in pubs with my twin brother Ė for the first few years after school thatís pretty much all we did Ė we played for our food and rent and travelled to Germany. We didnít know anything else in the those days we just wanted to be musicians.   

© Copyright 2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:       What kind of material were you playing in the early days and who were your heroes?

Ramon:   I was always trying to combine many different influences and I started electric guitar by listening to Johnny Guitar Watson Ė who is actually still my favourite guitar player and singer of the Blues. I got hold of BB King's Live At The Apollo album and also listened to Blues artists such Albert King and Otis Rush then I listened to the Blues Breakers albums and especially Peter Green, I had an epiphany when I heard Peterís beautiful playing Ė and soulful voice. Then I heard Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller and was hooked into the whole Piedmont and Mississippi Delta blues. The 2nd epiphany occurred when I heard Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. Then I knew I better start working hard on my guitar playing as these guys had gone long before and were so amazingly good. When I was playing in the early days I stuck mainly to straight ahead blues as I was not really versed enough in Jazz to incorporate that style into my playing. That would come later. I spent a year studying Jimi Hendrix and reading about him etc. researching him, which led me onto Stevie Ray Vaughan which everybody was talking about as he had sadly died shortly before. Another big ďguitarĒ discovery happened when I was 19 years old and I walked in a shop and bought Talk To Your Daughter by Robben Ford.  

Alan:       What first attracted you to the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

Ramon:   I was first attracted to the Blues by artists such as Johnny Guitar Watson, Peter Green and BB King those guys could really make the hairs on your neck stand up with their performances Ė but the same intensity was also apparent in Robert Johnson or Skip James music Ė a common thread was starting to appear for me when I listened to this music. For me the blues is also lonely music at times and I like that introspective nature of the themes and subject matters that are expressed in songs.

Johnny Guitar Watson really taught me that the Blues can be many things, and still have the feeling and emotion even in many different musical contexts. Thatís stayed with me even today when Iím performing Ghanian Highlife or Moroccan Gnawa music, Iím still playing the Blues.  

Alan:       Your first band was the hip-hop blues band NuBlues, tell me a little about them and the blues they played.

NuBlues © Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights ReservedRamon:   Well we were young and having some great fun, pretty much doing what we wanted, regardless if it sounded like Blues or anything in particular it was just a big experiment, not one Iíd care to do now, I hasten to add but at the time it felt right. I formed the band with the bass player Ed Vans who now helps me in production and recording some of the projects Iím now involved with.  It was funny because we really didnít even want to be in the Blues scene but ended up on a Blues label so we pretty much were pushed in that direction and in the end it kind of limited the progression of the band. The best part of it was working with Chris Thomas King and signing the first album on his New Orleans based record label. I guess you could call it Blues and Hip Hop but we incorporated rock, funk and a little nu-metal (more at the concerts where we could let go and rock out). The record company and agent gave us a van and a list of gigs in Europe and said ďoff you goĒ, it was a great experience and there are some cool memories like touring with the band Fishbone.   

Alan:       You have done a lot of work with The West African Blues Project, tell me about the project, what it means to you, and how you first got involved.

Ramon:   Well Iím lucky to be involved in that project and its really my baby, but also a close collaboration with all the musicians involved so although Iím steering the ship itís very much a team effort. Its kind of an exploration into the African Blues which is now a whole genre unto itself. I feel along with artists such as Ali Farka Toure, Ry Cooder, Justin Adams & Taj Mahal (to name a few) I have played a part in the inception or creation of this genre and I was really honoured that Putamayo included a song of mine on their African Blues compilation along with such artists as Taj Mahal. If your talking about the origins of the blues then as well thatís one of the reasons I started this project to really see if I can find some common thread between the music of African and the music we call the Blues. The musicians themselves in the project come from all over West African and also even North Africa so the concerts are very special indeed not alone for the audience but also for us as well.  

Alan:       You have produced many albums for yourself and other artists, including blues legend Boo Boo Davis and Senegalese world music artist Diabel Cissokho, tell me about these projects. 

Ramon:   Boo Boo is such a fantastic guy and being from Mississippi I really felt close to the source, these old guys are just the best. A very humble and gentle human being and it was real pleasure to have worked with him. I had just finished the nublues project so that kind of creeped into Boo Booís album in terms of production but I actually played more acoustic instruments and my twin also played double bass along with Mick Hutton (a great British Jazz Bassist) who also contributed. The record company owner asked me to co-write the whole album with Boo so I was very excited about it. One song off the album was even included in a primetime American TV show so that was cool.  

© Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved
Ramon with Boo Boo Davis

© Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved
Ramon and Diabel Cissokho © Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

 
The album I made called Mansana Blues with Diabel Cissokho is one of the highlights of my career so far, Diabel is a Griot from Dakar, Senegal and I learnt so much from him about his culture and music. We wrote the album together and recorded it very quickly thanks to Diabelís great talent as a singer and Kora player. We toured a lot all over the UK and Europe and I got to meet and work with some amazing African musicians thanks to Diabel. I hope we will reunited one day to make a follow up to that album.

 

 

© Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved.
Ramon with Youssou N'Dour and Diabel Cissokho
© Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Alan:       Who has influenced you the most in your music writing and playing? 

Ramon:   It depends really what the project is, influences could come from the great Lebanese singer
Fairuz, the Nigerian highlife artist Osita Osadebe, Tchaikovsky or my main man Ry Cooder. Iíve incorporated elements of all those artists in my projects so I like to think that I can draw on a vast array of music Iíve listened to over the years and pick certain influences that would fit the project brief. At the moment Iím really into Johnny Guitar Watson & Gil Scott Heron for an album Iím writing for my Blues Trio.  

Alan:       Are there any particular songs that you play that have special meaning to you? 

Ramon:   Castles Made of Sand by Hendrix, that takes me back to when I was first learning guitar. Also the song by Osita Osadebe called Ka-Anyi Jikota which first drew me into African music. The guitar playing I heard on Jumpin at Shadows (the live version at The Boston Tea Party concert)  by Peter Green first made me realise that Blues electric guitar playing was not just widdling aimlessly over a 12 bar but could be a real form of artistic expression.  

Alan:       You play a Fylde acoustic guitar, tell me a little about the guitar. 

Ramon:   Fylde Acoustic guitars are made by Roger Bucknall and I first heard about them when I worked briefly with Eric Bibb, he was playing one and I really loved the sound he was getting. I think for the music I play they are the best handmade acoustic guitars in the world. They are made in the Fylde coast of Lancashire so its great to be British and support a British guitar maker!

Alan:       In 2009 you did a tour which included four performances at maximum security prisons, how did this come about and what was the experience like? 

Ramon:   That was an unnerving experience, my twin brother and I were both a bit scared but we really enjoyed and of course Blues music goes down so well in a prison, they loved it. We were actually followed around by quite an intelligent man whom we later found out was a serial killer. We also played a womenís prison too and met some great singers in there, I promised Iíd keep a look out for them in ten yearís time when they are released.  

Alan:       In 2011 you formed the Coconut Revolution band along with two other musicians, how did this come about and are you recording an album?

Ramon:   Well I was hanging out backstage at the WOMAD festival, and I met singer/musician & producer Jim Palmer who had just been performing with Baaba Maal (who was headlining on the main stage). So we got talking about musical influences and experiences and quickly found out we had lots in common and wouldnt be great to work together on some kind of project. Around this time I also met Senegalese singer Modou Toure and the three of us formed Coconut Revolution after a song Jim had written by the same name about a documentary film Jim had watched. We are currently in the process of recording in a studio close to London and I'm very very excited about the album as I think its going to be very different but at the same time be very accessible to everybody. It's also wonderful to be working with such talented musicians as Jim and Modou are. 


Ramon with Modou Toure and Jim Palmer © Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Alan:       You now have a new Blues Trio, tell me about the band, their backgrounds, and when did you get together?

Ramon:   Well actually its funny, but my mum requested that I work again with my twin brother Joe Goose. Because its been over 10 years since we were in the same band.  Joe is really an amazing bass player, he studied Jazz by moving to Paris and really hitting the Jazz scene over there. Whilst in based in Paris he worked with Eric Bibb playing Upright Bass on several tours. He has since moved back to London where I live and it's made it possible to both play together again. The drummer is Tim Hillsdon who is a really great musician and his style has influenced a lot of the music Iím currently writing for the Trio. His influences are mainly old Blues, Jazz, Rock and Rhythm and Blues music so he is perfect for this band. We all got together this summer so its early days for us but we are already writing a Blues album which will come out some time in the future.  

© Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved.
Ramon Goose Trio at 100 Club, London © Copyright 2012 Ramon Goose. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Alan:       Tell me about the making of your album 'Uptown Blues', and how you selected the mix of tracks. 

Ramon:   Well Uptown Blues was released late last year on the Music Avenue label in Belgium, and Iím quite surprised by the amount of publicity we received in the press and radio because I decided not to tour at all in support of it as I was concentrating on working on the Coconut Revolution project so its been nice to hear people actually got to hear it. The highlight was performing on Radio 2 with Paul Jones and Pee Wee Ellis along with great drummer Evan Jenkins and my good friend and amazing pianist Dom Pipkin. In fact I was in Paris not long ago and saw it in a record store there so I have to thank the label for making all the effort to get it out there. I made the album with some great musicians such as Malcolm Miles, Duncan Eagles, Gabriel Garrick, Akos Hasznos, Eric Ford and also my very good friend and nublues bassist Ed Vans who really helped with the Production and mixed and engineered the whole album. 

© Copyright 2012 Al Stuart. All Rights Reserved.
A very special lineup  at BBC Radio 2 to perform songs from the Uptown Blues album:
L to R: Evan Jenkins, Joe Goose, Ramon Goose, Pee Wee Ellis, Dominic Pipkin & Paul Jones.
© Copyright 2012 Al Stuart. All Rights Reserved.  Used with permission.

Alan:       What are your future projects / gigs / tours? 

Ramon:   Well Iím now concentrating on the Coconut Revolution album with Jim Palmer and Modou Toure but the West African Blues Project is an ongoing band that always has concerts booked and is always changing and evolving. But in terms of the Blues, my Trio with Joe Goose and Tim Hillsdon is currently touring around the Blues scene here in the UK and in Europe and hopefully soon also in the US and also Japan.  

Alan:       Thank you so much Ramon, I really appreciate your time. 

Ramon:   My pleasure Alan it's been really fun to answer your questions.  Thank you!

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www.ramongoose.com

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