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5 questions with Southern Hospitality's Damon Fowler

WANT TO GO?Charlie West Blues FestWHERE: Haddad Riverfront ParkWHEN: 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and 12 to 11 p.m. SaturdayCOST: FreeINFO: 304-389-1439 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Southern Hospitality's Damon Fowler only had a few days off before he'd be headed out the door for the next round of touring.Just back from some festival shows in Europe, Fowler said he was glad to get home and a little sorry that he missed the Blues Music Association awards show the previous night, where his bandmate Victor Wainwright took home the "Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award."Still, Fowler, who'll join the rest of Southern Hospitality for it show Saturday night at the Charlie West Blues Fest, said he just needed to take a breath. The gazz spoke to him about the blues and how he might not be one of those blues players who limits himself to just one special guitar. Q. How'd you get started in the blues?A. "I started playing guitar when I was 10. I had an uncle who was in a country band. His son and I used to play music. We'd go and sit in with the band. A couple of guys in the band were nice to us and would show us things. That's how it happens; young people hang out with the older guys and end up learning. It's how you grow."They played country, but they played a little blues. They would do one blues song a night, and I just loved the structure of the songs. Later, I got into B.B. King and was really heavy into Albert Collins, then John Lee Hooker."
Q. Some guitarists have a preference for a particular instrument, but you play lap steel, a six string and a dobro, among others. Do you have a favorite?A. "I like the different styles of them. The lap steel is right in front of me, so I could feel where the frets should be. The lap steel is very unique instrument."Do I have a main axe? I've got a few that I keep going back to. I have a Les Paul that I love. A friend gave me a Telecaster he made, and I love that guitar a lot. I also have a Hammond H44; it's one my favorite guitars."
Q. What's the rest of the year look like for you?A. "It looks good. We just got picked up for the Heritage Festival in Wheeling. It's our third year in a row for that."Southern Hospitality just released a record, 'Easy Livin,' and I'm going to be working on a new [solo] record for next year. I think J.P. [Soars] is definitely working on a new record, and I'm thinking Victor probably is, too."For us, we've all got our own careers. We toured on our own before, and Southern Hospitality is something where we come together for a while when we have little breaks in our schedules."Q. How is playing solo different than playing with Southern Hospitality?A. "The songs. What I play with Southern Hospitality and what I play with my trio are different. There are only one or two songs I play with both projects.
"I also play a lot more guitar with my trio than I do with Southern Hospitality."Q. Why do different material with both bands?A. "Southern Hospitality is a bigger band, so the material you might choose for a bigger band might be different than you'd do with a trio."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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