Blesok no. 30, January-February, 2003
Interview with Tony Vega
– Do you recall your musical beginnings and how did it all happen?
I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old. I was playing rock music first. Hendrix, Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath was the first stuff I was playing!
– Was there any family music tradition in your house?
I have an older sister and brother, so they always had great records lying around. Beatles, Cream, Zeppelin, etc. My brother played guitar first. He was my first musical influence. I just wanted to be like him. My brother still plays in a band. He's into Heavy rock music. His band is called “PsychicMafia.”
– When did you become aware that music would be your future?
As soon as I picked up the guitar at 13!
– You do mainly your own material, do play some older stuff by Texas blues masters like Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, Freddie King…?
Of course!! You can't be in a Texas blues band and NOT play some of those songs by the masters. I wouldn't be into blues if it weren't for those guys.
– Do you remember your first band and when was that?
I was 13 and the name of the band was “Vega.” We played my junior high school talent show and won!
– Who were your earliest influences in music?
Beatles, Hendrix, … all of my brother's & sisters 45's.
– Who influenced your guitar style and why?
Who hasn't influenced my guitar style?! I love early T-birds Jimmie Vaughan, Albert Collins, There are so many wonderful players in Texas that I got to see in the last several years. Guys like Derek O'Brien Anson Funderburg, and Alan Haynes.
-What's your basic studio and stage equipment? You have sold some of your guitars recently?
I'm so blessed. My fans, friends and supporters here in Texas all pitched in and bought my guitars so that I can get the guitars I really wanted. I wanted a pre-CBS strat and I wound up with a '64 Fender strat and a custom shop fender strat “relic.” They surprised me on my birthday! I use a Fender Vibro-king amp. In Europe I use whatever I can get. Usually a Fender amp.
– What's your opinion on the current state of the blues and what can be expected in years to come?
Blues will always be around in some form or another. There are too many people that love it religiously to let anything bad happen to it! But, if you think about it, after BB and Buddy die, we won't have many living black links to the delta anymore. It's kind of sad.
– You have worked with some well-known blues people, could you point out some interesting experiences?
Living & working in Texas puts me in position to work with some great musicians. Right now I'm playing with my favorite bass player of all time – Preston Hubbard! He's played with the T-birds, Roomful of Blues, Muddy Waters, you name it.
– What are your future plans, any new recordings soon?
We have a new live CD “Yeah You Right!” coming out in April. I'm really exited about it. We'll be touring Europe to support it in September.
– There were some line-up changes in your band, what happened?
I had the same guys for four years! That, in this business, is a miracle! Brock (bass) was the first to leave because he was tired. We call it “burn-out.” Orq wanted to start his own band. He'd never fronted a band in his life and he wants to see what it's like. I just recently “rebuilt” the entire band in effort to have musicians that are ready to get up and tour whenever we need to. Also, it was time for me to start playing with guys that are seasoned and more experienced than I am. I am, currently, in the best band I've EVER been in! It's monstrous. “Magic” Sam Massey on guitar. “Snit” on drums. Preston Hubbard on bass.
– Your fans in Macedonia would like to see you perform again at our Annual Blues & Soul Festival, would you like to come and play again?
Honestly, I have to tell you, playing that show in Macedonia was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had! I'll never forget it! The Macedonian people were so warm and friendly to us. I felt like family! I mean that from the heart.
– At the end, what would be your message for our blues fans?
I miss you and I look forward to seeing you all in September! I can't wait!
Tony Vega Band website