by Walter Price
My heart is heavy with how could this be as I understand the devastating news that Texas guitarist, songwriter, blues-rock purveyor and the personification of Texas music JT Coldfire has passed.
Although I hadn’t known Coldfire as well as I’d liked, I did meet the guitar slinger in Odessa TX I guess nearly 16 or so years ago as he performed at an over-sized BBQ and it wasn’t long before we were talking about music, food and girls and not long after he made his way up to New York for a visit and some meet and greets with some industry players. I wouldn’t lie and say the trip was successful in furthering his career but I do know he loved New York’s allure, music history and subsequently he decided to live there for a short while. We even shared a horrible little apartment right after the 9/11 attacks. It is worth noting that right after the attacks JT made his way down to the World Trade Center site several times with gloves in hand to see what he could do to help. A move that I found as brave as I did risky at the time. But that is part of who he was…
The man had heart.
As the years moved along we spoke here and there and I followed his ups and downs from afar. His achievements growing in number and his love of craft and audience unwavering struck more than impressive. Rock In Peace brother, the world has lost one of the most brilliant song writers and guitar players Texas has ever produced and one of the most genuine and kind humans, period…
I think it would be fitting to share our last on the record conversation that took place in August of 2014.
JT Coldfire: The Hardest Working Musician In Austin (Q&A)
Texas has produced some of the best guitar players in music history. With names like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, Eric Johnson, WC Clark, Freddy King, Charlie Sexton and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
But do not get caught trying to compare JT Coldfire to these greats, that would be too easy. In many ways, he is all of them in one cool guitar master and vocalist with a brain that translates music into his unique brand of Texas roadhouse and honky tonk rock-n-roll.
JT has been tearing the world a new one for nearly 20 years now with his brand of’ ‘in your soul’ guitar riffs and pure Texas vocal swagger. And he’s a young man! With a new album on the way called ‘Texas Honky Tonk Blues‘, playing endless gigs, family life and being sponsored to become a member of the Grammy Recording Academy this Texas legend in the making is a busy man. I’m ecstatic I had the chance to ask him a few questions.
Hey JT, the last time we really spoke was a few weeks after 9/11 in NYC. How have you been man?
Hard to believe its been that long but yeah things have been pretty damn good. Still out here keepin’ on keepin’ on.
I’m glad to see how well your music is doing. Let’s take people back about 16-17 years. How and why did you want to play blues licks? I don’t know many young teens that are into the blues.
Well it wasn’t so much that I WANTED to play blues guitar as much as it was a language that simply made sense to me. I play all kinds of music but it does seem that everything comes out with a bluesy flavor.
Well, I was going to mention this later but since you said that. You have a stellar library of tunes in that head of yours. It has even been said that you can play 8-9 hours without playing the same song twice. That takes a real lover of music. When you first hear a song, does your thought process immediately go “I can make that my own”?
Wow!!! even after 12 years you still remember that?!!!! That’s exactly what goes through my head. I try to absorb songs, melodies, lyrics, music arrangements and then try to incorporate them into something I can make my own or tweek what I heard on the recording into what I hear in my head. I have played many gigs throughout the years where I have had to just keep going and before I know it, its been 8-9 hours. Many times my band gets upset or tired but usually we are having such a great time, we don’t even realize it.
Are you still having a good time traveling all over Texas and beyond spreading your style of music?
Oh yeah!!! I’ve been to 3 continents, 7 countries, and all over the southwest. I absolutely love the life I live because I live the life I love. And even though it does get difficult for my family, they are my biggest supporters. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That is awesome, not jaded yet after all these years banging away. Let’s talk albums. I was reading some reviews of ‘Always and Never’ and ‘Crazy Sun’ and they are all pretty positive. I know you have a new project in the works, are you a formula man or how do you approach making a new album?
Thanks. many of the reviews were very flattering and it made me feel good when some of the magazines actually recognized that I was deliberately making each song unique so the albums don’t run together. I’m not really into formulas when it comes to writing or producing, I just try to constantly develop myself and my music so there is quite a difference between both of those records and the next one will actually be even closer to the sound I have been chasing for a while. Just like in anything else, a person needs to learn from previous experiences and try to grow while maintaining the common thread that is theirs and theirs alone. Whether they be artists, writers, chefs, film makers, or even parents, surfers, or stock brokers,
Our present lives are a sum of our previous experiences and should be a part of where are going not just where we were or are. I’m very excited about the next record. My last 2 were recorded in Scandinavia because that is where we were on tour so we just made it happen with what we had. No formulas except : turn on the mics and hit record!!! The next one will be recorded in the Hill Country in Texas so this one will leave you with the taste of a little dry dust.
When will the new one be out?
Hopefully by the first week in Oct., still in pre-production but getting pretty darn close.
Are you a studio guy or do you prefer the road/stage part of it more?
Love the studio but there is nothing like being on stage.
What advice would you give a kid who wants to take on the life of a working musician?
Advice…take all the ups and downs and if u r still standing u will know why ur playing.
Have you come a long way from the guy I met in Odessa, TX twelve or so years ago, the guy who decided to walk the ledge of a high rise building in NYC or the guy who rushed down to Ground Zero after 9/11 to see what you could do yo help….Maybe, but you also sound like they same guy who loves music and loves what he is doing with it.
Thank you for talking with me today JT. Let’s not let the years get the better of us!
Been a real pleasure catching up with you and look forward to keeping up with your blog. Be good or be good at it!!!!!
JT Coldfire Recommends:
Redd Volkeart – killer guitar slinger
Stewart Mann from Statesboro Revue ( we grew up together)