Q: What inspires you to write the music you write? What made you want to play the instrument you play?
A:When I was younger, I always wanted to play the bass (like my grandfather). At the time, he wanted me to play the piano and sing at the Blues in Schools assemblies, but I wanted to play the bass. He always told me that if I could learn to play the piano, I would have an easier time learning other instruments. Now I can also play electric and upright bass. As for writing, life experiences or stories from older musicians I knew, both inspire me.
Q: If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be?
A: I wish I could have played with the Beatles when they first came over to America. Or maybe Jimi Hendrix when he first went to London. I would have loved to be one of the musicians during the glorious Chess eras, when Chuck Berry first walked into the studio and played Johnny B. Goode! I could have played the upright bass or piano, either one. But I guess my grandfather took care of the bass part and one of my former teachers, Lafayette Leake, played piano on that track - lol
Q: If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?
A: I just wish it was easier for musicians to get their music to the masses faster. There’s so much noise out there that it’s hard to get people to notice you sometimes. Also, I think people are too focused on genre, and I was always taught there was only good music or bad music, depending on your taste.
Q: What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?
A: It’s a double-edged sword for me as I have name recognition because of my grandfather, but I often get compared to his music and style. Although I love playing live, being in the studio and writing songs, sometimes my counterparts feel that I don’t have to play music because of the success that my grandfather had in the music business.
Q: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
A: Music sharing has been going on for ages, just in a different format. When I was younger, it was no big deal to record on a cassette tape and give it to a friend to have them check it out. But now, with the new digital laws, it’s harder for musicians to collect from the digital stream. There are times when I would see a lot of streams but would get paid very little. That can be very discouraging. I have given my music away for free to friends because I want them to enjoy it. That’s essentially why I make music…for people to enjoy.
Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself
A: I once got to tell Eric Clapton (in a grocery store parking lot in Los Angeles), that my daughter’s name is Leila. I’m sure that was the first time he heard that!
Q: Tell us the brief history of your musical career.
A: I started playing the piano at 5 years old because my grandfather (Willie Dixon) insisted that everyone in the family played an instrument, and he wanted to groom me to play in his band. I started playing with him professionally at 11 years old. The band that I have assembled now includes mostly family friends or Chicago blues veterans that I have worked with on various projects. The exception is for the lead singer, Lewis “Big Lew” Powell, who is a newcomer to the scene as a vocalist (he’s been a drummer for several years) and I wanted to help launch his career. This is something that I learned from my grandfather, which is what he did with artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Otis Rush, for example.
Q: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
A: My musical influences include Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Quincy Jones, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy…and the list goes on! Of course, I’m also heavily influenced by my grandfather (Willie Dixon) since he raised me and taught me how to play.
Some of my non-musical influences range from Frederick Douglas, Maya Angelou, Walter Payton, Michael Jordan to Warren Buffet. All of these people had/have no-quit attitudes.
Q: What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?
A: I know this might sound crazy, but Pet Sounds! Brian Wilson is a bass player just like me and my grandfather, and a great songwriter, which is what I aspire to be
Q: What song do you remember most from your childhood?
A: "In the Mood” by John Lee Hooker. Funny story…I used to complain to my grandmother about playing the blues in the car all the time, and she would always play John Lee Hooker. One time she stopped the car, kicked me out, and told me that “blues bought this car and you better respect it”. Ever since then, I’ve always had a respect for the blues. Years later I told John Lee Hooker that story and he laughed about it. It was an inside joke every time we saw each other. He was a really good friend of the family.
Q: What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?
A: So far, I would say, writing songs that have been respected in the industry. One of them I co-wrote on my grandfather’s Grammy Award Winning Album. Also, being proficient enough on upright bass to play and record. It is a whole different animal than the bass guitar!
Q: What's next for your band?
A: Since pretty much everything is cancelled for 2020…2021 should be great!