|22 March 2010
Q & A with Pierre Lacocque
Mississippi Heat will headline the Grand Blues Festival in Lahti, Finland on 10
April. Band leader Pierre Lacocque is looking forward to visiting Finland for
the first time. The band are also happy to play songs from the forthcoming
album, "Let's Live It Up".
BluesWebzine.com: Your latest album, "Hattiesburg Blues", is a fine one. Do
you think it represents the Mississippi Heat at its best?
Pierre Lacocque: I love our last album. It is our second Delmark release, and it
was our first studio album for that label. It did well in stores, and paved the way
for our third and best Delmark CD to date: "Let's Live It Up". Our new recording
will be released on April 20th. Yes, "Hattiesburg Blues" is an example of what we
do best: a mix of vintage Chicago Blues with a unique sound as most of our
songs are originals. We record few covers.
Your singer Inetta Visor and guitarist-singer Carl Weathersby are great, well-
known characters. What do you think are the things that make them so
Inetta Visor and Carl Weathersby are special in many ways. Not only are they
splendid musicians who really add soul and feeling to our songs, for example, but
they are also always invested in giving their best to the band. "You can take a
horse to the water but you cannot force it to drink", as the saying goes.
Indeed, being great artists is not good enough. You need their willingness to
give their all without restraint, with joy and wholeheartedness. Carl and Inetta
bring both their talent and commitment to our table.
You have also worked with Lurrie Bell, who played the Grand Blues Festival a
couple of years back. Are you still in touch with the guy?
I am very close to Lurrie Bell. He is part of the Mississippi Heat family. Lately, as
his work schedule has moved to another notch, we don’t see each other as much
as a year or two ago.
Coming from Chicago, what do you think the Chicago blues scene is like these
days? Is it vibrant enough?
The Chicago blues scene is not as vibrant as it was decades ago. Nowadays, a
Chicago band must travel to make a living. Today the money made from Chicago
clubs is quite similar to what it was twenty years ago! Give and take a few
exceptions like (the club) Buddy Guy’s Legends.
For established blues names or bands, recordings become the passport to get
invited at big national festivals, as well as performances abroad like South
America (a popular destination for Chicago blues artists lately), Japan, and of
course, Europe. Without a recording history, the odds of getting good jobs lessen
dramatically. Moreover, being on a well-known recording label like Alligator,
Delmark, or Blind Pig, adds chances for bands like us to get ongoing work.
There are blues clubs located in the South, West and North side of the City. But a
musician cannot expect to earn much money, especially as a sideman. Good luck
if you want to make a living off playing blues in the Windy City!
Known Chicago-based blues bars, with a few exceptions like Rosa’s Lounge, don’
t necessarily feature blues bands. The band may call itself "so and so blues
band", yet most lean towards Rhythm and Blues. The younger the band, the
more it seems to be so. To hear pure Chicago Blues you got to look for people
like John Primer, Jimmy Burns, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell when they are in town.
It is not always easy as everybody travels to earn a living.
You haven't played in Finland before, but do you happen to know any Finnish
blues artists or bands?
I don’t recall ever meeting or following Finnish musicians or bands. The furthest
north we have performed in Europe is Norway and that was in 1996. Great
memories. We always look forward to traveling to new places and meeting new
people. We certainly are looking forward to Finland. First time for us!
The only Nordic-based person I have been in contact with is an American
Mandolin player living in Sweden who will appear, as we will, at the Grand Blues
Festival in Lahti in April. His name is Bert Deivert. A wonderful and cultured
What can the Finnish audience at the Grand Blues Festival expect from your
As we have been together for years and recorded many albums together the
pool of choices is vast! We have a huge repertoire of songs. Fans can expect a
medley from at least our last five CDs, as well as new songs from our April 20th
Delmark release, "Let’s Live It Up". We will perform pure, Chicago-style blues.
Carl Weathersby’s soulful guitar and vocals will also be featured. With him, it is
always an event when he performs.
INTERVIEW BY PASI TUOMINEN
Links: Mississippi Heat website and MySpace, Delmark Records