The Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival book only the finest artists to entertain the good people of Bristol who are a musically astute, discerning and openminded…
As we approach this year’s Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival (6-8 March), I shared some words with Huey Morgan of BBC 6 Music, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and of course The Pee Wee Ellis Funk Assembly, who play the closing night.
You’re a native New Yorker, and have lived in Hawaii, Dublin and London, yet both you and Pee Wee Ellis now reside in Frome, Somerset. How is that both of you wound up living in this small West Country town, and how does it compare to your previous life?
I’m still living the same life I have been living all along. I can’t speak for Mr. Ellis, so for me living where I am was a choice I made with my family and comparing by definition is to find one or the other better or worse — which I don’t. I love living out here as I do love living in NYC or any other example you might want to bring into the equation. I believe you meant to ask me if it is where I want to be; and it is.
You and Pee Wee first met at last year’s Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival gala dinner. What can we expect to hear from your collaboration this year?
What the people will hear when the Pee Wee Ellis Assembly play is; world class funk music played by a living legend.
Other than yourself and Pee Wee, who are the other musicians to watch at this year’s festival?
Dr. John and his band are some of the best in the world and the Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival book only the finest artists to entertain the good people of Bristol who are a musically astute, discerning and openminded. I’m confident that fun will be had by all.
Bristol has a very vibrant music scene. But nationally, many independent music venues are struggling to stay open. To what extent do you feel that festivals such as this contribute to the survival of live jazz and blues as artforms?
In my opinion, the reason for the live venues in the UK ‘struggling’ to ‘stay open’ is because most forms of popular music aren’t played exclusively by musicians that can do it live in front of an audience without assistance from computers and teenyboppers who entertain neither the want or capacity for independent thought.
From your residency on BBC 6, and your various musical projects over the years, it’s clear that you have very broad musical tastes and influences. Would you say there was one style or scene that has had a larger bearing on you than others? Was there a particular scene that nurtured you as a young musician?
I believe the only influence that led me toward music as my means of expression is the City of New York. It is a diverse city with a world view that includes rather excludes and with that attitude; life in New York City bears a richness in the human endeavor that inspires and nurtures an artist at every turn.
With your band Huey and the New Yorkers, was it a conscious decision to return, musically, to the city of your birth?
Yes. New York City is a place where the world came to live and brought its cultures and music with it. And with that said, my album with Huey & the New Yorkers was a testament to our collective musical education from each members perspective.
Is there any city or country that you’ve noticed has a particularly interesting music scene at the moment?
No. Unfortunately, I am seeing a worldwide trend in the last decade of the dilution of music to its lowest common denominator. And I think that has to do with the cult of personality propagated by television. We now see music as a side dish, and rightly so. Something to have on while we do something that has weight, which most popular music now does not achieve.
Having gone from being the lead singer of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals to becoming a solo artist and radio DJ, where do your foresee your musical career going in the future?
The Fun Lovin’ Criminals are going planning a 20th anniversary tour of our first album , ‘Come Find Yourself’ that will take place next year. There are a series of books I wrote that will be published; the first this June titled ‘Huey Morgan’s Rebel Heroes: The Renegades Of Music & Why We Still Need Them’, and I’ve been working with some very talented young musicians as a producer which will see a few releases over this year. But, my most interesting project is a nationwide television show called, what else but, ‘The Huey Show’ that will bring to light all the great young talented musicians of this generation, inclusive of all genres, to a national platform.
Thank you Huey — head here for more on Huey’s particular instalment at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2015.