Blind Wllie Johnson

Quick Q and A with Kerri Powers

Kerri Powers is a multi-talented artist.  She writes, she plays, she paints – she creates.  Kerri’s songs reflect her deep respect and love of blues music.  She sings and plays her own mesmerizing songs and reinvents songs from a wide spectrum  including those by Blind Faith and the Bee Gees.  Kerri’s prowess playing her trusty guitar and harmonica combined with her intoxicating vocals make for a memorable music experience.

You can learn more about Kerri on her website.

“Tallulah Send a Car” is one of my favorite Kerri Powers song.  The blues.  Rough. Rugged. Direct. Magical!

Kerri Powers will be playing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, November 1, 2019 along with Danielle Miraglia and Erin Harpe.

What prompted you to pick up the guitar in the first place?

Poems and stories, words. I wanted to learn guitar at a young age (around eight or nine years old), because I wanted to put the words I’d written to music. I hounded my parents for a guitar one Christmas, and my father and I decided we would take guitar lessons together. He bailed after a few lessons and I kept going.

Did you know about slide guitar playing when you first started?  Do you have a slide guitar hero/heroine?

I was aware of slide, always loved the sound of it, but didn’t actually start experimenting with it until I was in my mid to late twenties. I love and have a great deal of respect for blues masters, Elmore “Skip” James, Blind Willie Johnson, and Robert Johnson, as well as players like Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, Ry Cooder and Derek Trucks. I think it’s important to have many heroes/heroines, as inspiration is a game changer. It transcends mediocrity into a next level creative process. The more inspiration the better.

 Tell us about your experience with recording.  How many CDs have you recorded and what have you learned about the recording process over the years?

Technically, I’ve recorded five albums and an EP, but (to my knowledge) only three are still in print. I guess the most important lesson I’ve learned is to chill, both in studio and live. Simple as it seems, I had to realize that recording and performing live are apples and oranges. I’m supposed to sound different during a live performance as opposed to the experience of hearing a recorded version of the songs. I’ve grown to respect the two individually.

Do you have a regular writing or practicing routine?

I do now, yes. I’m more disciplined. I write in the early morning hours when my brain is fresh (I’m being hopeful here). Most days are as routine as I can be, with early morning writing sessions and then rehearsal in the afternoon. If the writing isn’t going well, I don’t force it. I take the dog for a walk or do something different and return to it at a later time or the next day.

Do you have any anecdotes or stories about when inspiration hit you at an unexpected time?

“Free Bird Flying” is a song on my most recent album, Starseeds. It was written about my mother and was a tough one to finish. I put it aside and after about 4 months, I was in The South of France in Collioure and woke up all of a sudden at around three in the morning with the last verse of the song and a more structured melody for the chorus. It was a strange but welcome experience. My mom is a visual artist so I guess it all makes sense. The area we stayed in was a holiday favorite and inspiration for artists Henri Matisse and Andre’ Derain, and the Fauvist movement.

In addition to playing music, you are an artist.  Which came first—music or art?

 They were both present at the same time. I’m a synesthete, I see colors when composing music or writing songs. I think that’s why the two are so heavily interconnected. I remember illustrating a good deal of the short stories and poetry I wrote. The music inspires the artwork and vice-versa. It’s always worked that way from the time I can remember. I’m really not sure how one would work without the other.

Do you have a favorite kind of medium?  Have you exhibited your paintings in any formal way?  If not, would you like to?

I really enjoy mixed media and utilize a lot of various textures, sometimes mixing sand or some kind of element in with acrylic paint or gesso, and I love using charcoal and conte crayons, or various colored pencils and pastels to make scribble marks as a base for paintings. Yes, I’ve exhibited in a small gallery in Taunton, MA, The Buttonwood Tree, and a few libraries in Connecticut, and actually had a small print of one of my paintings exhibited at the MOMA art school, NYC.

You’ve just recently toured in Europe.  What is that like?  How did the European audiences react to your music?

I love touring overseas and was recently in The Netherlands. The audiences over there are soulful. They have a vast appreciation for songwriters and roots, blues, and Americana music and are really supportive. It’s a blessing for an artist to have the ability to play for anyone anywhere. Whenever I travel abroad, I’m reminded that human emotion and empathy span the globe. It’s magical. There’s nothing more beautiful than making a soul connection through the songs and music. That’s an artist’s job.

What’s coming up for you that you’d like to share?!

Well, we’re gearing up to release some new music, a single in the coming months, and I’m heading back to Europe for a longer run of tour dates in March. Really looking forward to all remaining US dates in 2019 and to spending holiday time with my family.