Style: Various Blues
Influences: Delta Blues, Cream, Deep Purple
K: Hi Jean Batiste. You are originally from France. How long have you been in Glasgow?
JB: Hi, yes, almost 3 years
K: Which town did you live in before coming here?
JB: I am from the west of France, La Rochelle. It’s quite touristy and there is a music festival every year…but there is no Blues.
K: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
JB: Mostly rock music in the 70s. Cream and Deep Purple.
K: So what was the decision behind coming to Glasgow?
JB: I wanted to learn more English so I wanted to spend at least one year in an English speaking country. I didn’t really know Glasgow but I had heard that it was pretty good for the music and so much more, so I just came.
K: And how have you found it in the time you have been here?
JB: It’s been great! At the beginning I did not know anyone here, obviously. I stayed in a hotel and little by little I got a job, then a flat and then fiends. I feel good here.
K: You’ve been here 3 years now. Do you have any plans to stay longer?
JB: I don’t know. It depends what happens.
K: Do you find the music is a good way of meeting people?
JB: Oh yes. It is the best way to meet people. It just happens so quickly. If you go to a jam you can meet 5 or 6 people just like that and you can easily break the ice.
K: So would you recommend Glasgow to travelling musicians?
JB: Yes there is music all the time, everywhere. I did not really expect to find Blues in Glasgow but I have found it a great city for that. The city is really open-minded.
K: I saw you in Slouch last week with Martina Alberi. Is that a musical project that you are working on at the moment?
Our tea arrives and is poured for us by a beautiful young lady with turquoise hair. Love this place…
JB: Yes I have just started working with her. I have also been working with Wendy Rae for about a year now. We used to play twice a month at The Howlin Wolf and we host an Open Mic Pizza Night at the Project Cafe every 2nd Friday night.
K: So every 2nd Friday, what time?
JB: It’s from 6pm-10pm so you can come straight in after work, have a meal, listen to some music and then it’s still early so you can out after that if you like.
K: Ideal, it’s central as well. Just up from the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre). So does it get quite busy.
JB: Yeah, you should get there early if you want to play. You can go and play by yourself if you like but there is also a band with guitar, bass, drums, keyboards so it’s between an open-mic and a jam so we can play along if that’s what you would like.
Sometimes there is dancing We also get all kinds of musicians coming. One night we had a classical violinist…she was amazing.
K: So all types of music then. Back to your live performances. “Jook Resonator” is another project you have going at the moment? Tell me a bit about that.
JB: I met the bassist Rae, at a jam 3 years ago and I asked him if he would be interested in working with me and he said “ok”. We play original music which is not exactly Blues but is influenced by Blues.
K: Who writes the material?
JB: Both of us and we are writing at the moment and it is very old Blues, Delta Blues.
K: Do you have any plans of going to the States?
JB: The States? Yes, I was there for 3 months before coming to Glasgow.
K: Where did you go?
JB: I started in Chicago and then I followed the Mississippi pretty much. I went down to St Louis, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans and then Austin and then back up to New York.
K: How were you travelling while you were there?
JB: Mostly bus and sometimes the train…Amtrak. And a flight as well from Austin to New York because I did not want to spend 18 hours in a bus.
K: So I’m trying to paint a picture of you in my head of how you got around and what you looked like while you were travelling. Did you have a guitar with you?
JB: Yes. I bought an acoustic guitar while I was there, because I’d never really had a proper acoustic guitar before that and they were much cheaper there so I got one and I travelled with it.
K: So did you stay in Motels and places like that during your journey?
JB: No, I never really paid for staying anywhere I mostly got places to stay using “couch surfing”
K: “Couch surfing”? What is that?
JB: There is a website for travellers where people host you while you are travelling and you usually sleep on the couch and you stay with the host for between 1 and 4 days.
K: That’s phenomenal!! That’s amazing!!! Why have I not heard of this before? Wow!
JB: It is amazing. I could not have travelled for 3 months without that because I could have not afforded it.
K: So did you pay for breakfast and other meals?
JB: You do not have to pay. You are hosted. You can pay if you like but you do not have to.
K: Is this all over the world?
K: Man…that has blown my mind. That’s fantastic!
JB: You meet all sorts of people and even for the people who are hosting it is very interesting. They get to meet all sorts of different people from all over the world. For them it’s a bit like travelling the world but staying at home.
K: I’m glad I met you today JB, that has set a lot of wheels turning in my head.
Ok, so you have a suitcase and a guitar and you’re heading south, following the Mississippi and you don’t have the money to stay in a hotel. That’s pretty much old school Blues. I love it.
JB: Basically yes. I knew I would be in Chicago for 2 weeks but had not really planned out where to go from there. I have a cousin in Austin so I knew if things did not work out I could go there.
K: You must have heard a lot of different styles of music between Chicago and New Orleans.
JB: I really loved Chicago. When I went there I could not speak any English at all.
K: Really? How did you communicate?
JB: The first week was very tricky but I learned how to do it.
K: And then you went to St Louis?
JB: Yes, I was very lucky there because I was hosted by a professional guitarist and he took me to the studio and introduced me to his band during his recording sessions.
K: Very cool. And then you went to Nashville? What did you think about the standard of musicianship there?
JB: It was amazing. I arrived in Nashville on the Saturday night and at 11am on the Sunday morning I was sitting in a bar with a beer listening to Country music. Over there, the bar cannot be open at that time unless there is live music playing, so every bar has to have music.
K: Do they tip the musicians in Nashville? I know they do it in other cities.
JB: Yes there is a huge tip jar
K: As an aside, I often wonder if that would be a way forward in Glasgow. The musicians, even after all of this time, still do not get what they deserve. We should look into how that could work here and what the mutual benefits could be. Anyway, carrying on…from there you went to Memphis?
JB: Yes, I really liked the BB King Blues club with the stage and the balcony overlooking.
K: Did you make it to “The Crossroads” at Clarksdale?
JB: No, there was no public transport to there. I would like to go back and hire a car next time.
K: So you said you went to New Orleans as well. That’s on my bucket list. How was that?
JB: Yes, I was there around the end of November and it was around 25 degrees in the morning at 10am! The music was great. I really liked Bourbon Street. It’s the most famous street there but pretty touristy.
K: Was there much of a French speaking presence in New Orleans that made you feel more at home?
JB: No not really but I did meet one busker who was singing a song by George Brassens, who was a very famous songwriter in France and that was very good to hear that.
K: You’ve been on the road and away from home for some time. Do you get homesick?
JB: No, not much. I miss some things from my country but I kind find similar things here. I am free. If I want to go back to France I can do that so it is not a problem. I could back just now if I wanted to.
K: The world is a much smaller place than it used to be.
K: Well thank you very much for today JB. I will definitely be looking into “Couch Surfing” and good luck with your future travels.
JB: Thank you very much and thank you for the amount of energy that you are putting into this project. It is amazing.
K: Thanks JB, take care…
Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 24-120 f/4
Focal length: 24mm
Exposure: 1/100 sec at f/4
Time of day: 11:27
Lighting: Keylight Nikon SB910, 60cm softbox with egg-crate to reduce spill. Backlight Nikon SB700 with CTO gel.
J B Taton