Featured Interview – Dave Specter

Interview, by Mike Stephenson, of this Chicago based guitarist took place in his home city in 2019. Many thanks go to Jim Feeney for all of his help.

dave specter photo 2I’m Dave Specter and I’m a native Chicagoan, born in Chicago in 1963 and I grew up on the north side of the city and I’m from a very musical family and that’s how I first heard the blues. I’m the youngest of three and my older brother used to go hear Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor in the clubs and was friends with Howlin’ Wolf and would tell me stories of how he would buy him peppermint snaps.

There are still clubs like that now but it used to be all ages venues that didn’t serve liquor. There was one in Evanston, a place called Amazing Grace, that was very popular here in the seventies and into the early eighties, which was an all ages venue. You could bring your own wine and beer.

My brother also plays blues harmonica and guitar and bluegrass and my sister plays guitar and was into people like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and my parents are also very musical, mostly classical and they also like folk music.

There is a radio station that is still popular in Chicago that is mostly a classical station called WFMT and every Saturday night they had a show called Midnight Special and on there you could hear Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and Lead Belly or Big Bill Broonzy or Muddy Waters and that was one of the first times I heard blues because my parents always had music on in the house, in addition to my brother’s record collection.

At a young age I developed a good musical ear but I didn’t start playing guitar until I was eighteen. My grandfather, whom I didn’t know, was a Steinway piano dealer in Chicago and my parents had a Steinway baby grand piano in our house and we all took piano lessons, so I learnt how to play basic classical piano when I was very young. Until I was eighteen all I wanted to do was play basketball. I was a big sports guy, a big jock as they call us. I was going to concerts and I think I went to my first rock concert when I was twelve; my big sister took me to see Patti Smith and my dad, although I don’t remember how old I was, took me to see B.B. King and Bobby Bland, maybe when I was fourteen, at a theater called Mill Run that used to have a rotating stage.

I got very much into the Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, The Doors, and when I started playing guitar Keith Richards was my first guitar hero. One of the first solos I learned was ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and I remember when I learnt ‘Brown Sugar’ I felt a profound sense of accomplishment.

Then, like so many others, I started realizing that bands like that were covering a lot of blues and then I started getting into Buddy Guy and T. Bone Walker, Otis Rush. I started listening to their records and started going out to see such blues acts. You had to be twenty one to get into the bars, but when I was like seventeen I had a fake I.D. that made me four years older, so I started going to hear Junior Wells and Otis Rush and Koko Taylor and Magic Slim. I went away to college down in central Illinois to the University Of Illinois and they had a student union that would occasionally bring in Chicago blues bands and I remember seeing Buddy and Junior and Koko there and that had a big influence because that is when I started playing guitar.

I started playing for fun. I was going away to school and my brother had a few guitars laying around and he told me to take one and he taught me a few chords and told me to take it to school with me and he thought I would meet a lot of other musicians, so that’s what I did. It was a nylon string classical guitar and after I started playing I really liked it and then got my first electric guitar. I think I bought that from Chicago Slim who has a couple of records and whose real name was Noel Schiff and he was a really good slide player and he had a store not far from this area on the north side, the Rogers Park neighborhood and he used to sell guitars to the Stones and The Who and famous rock bands, as he was a big vintage collector. I bought a Tele first from him and then a Les Paul.

The next step for me was pretty important and it changed my life because I really got passionate about playing and playing blues and wanting to learn blues. I was playing so much guitar and realizing there was so much live music in Chicago obviously. I thought to myself that I would take some time off from school and go back to Chicago and work and hang out at blues clubs and meet musicians and maybe try and even play. So that is what I did after my third year on college. I came back to Chicago around 1984, maybe early ’85, and one of the first jobs I got was working for Delmark as their shipping clerk. Steve Wagner, who still works at Delmark and who runs the studio, we grew up in the same neighborhood and Steve is the same age as my sister and they knew each other, so I reached out to him and he introduced me to Bob Koester and then I got the job there.

Another one of my early jobs was being a doorman and bouncer at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted when I was in my early twenties and that was great, because they paid me to stand in a blues club every night. I had to collect the cover charge and break up the occasional fight and help bring up the liquor and I was listening to the music constantly and meeting blues musicians and then starting to get hired to play shows pretty soon thereafter. I used to go to blues jams and B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted used to have a Monday night jam that Big Time Sarah used to host and I went to the jam at Kingston Mines, and I think that was the first blues club I played at as an amateur was that jam night at that club when I was still at college.

I sat in with some great people like Sunnyland Slim quite a few times. He played a steady Sunday night at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted and an important story is that I met Jimmy Johnson and we became friends and this was when I was twenty two and I asked him if I could get a couple of lessons from him and he wasn’t sure as he didn’t really teach, but he gave me his number and told me to call him and come over to his house.

dave specter photo 1So I did that a couple of times. I went to his house and he taught me quite a bit and was really nice and didn’t charge me and he said he was busy and that he couldn’t give me lessons again but he wanted me to meet Steve Freund, as he thought he would be a good teacher for me and I had heard Steve but I didn’t know him. So I started taking lessons from Steve and Steve became like a mentor and a big brother to me and he was Sunnyland Slim’s guitar player at the time so that was really important. Other people I played with in those early days was Jimmy Johnson and he was interested a lot in playing keyboard gigs and he used to play at a club called Lilly’s and he hired me to play guitar with him a few times while he played keyboards.

I remember sitting in with Big Smoky Smothers, Floyd Jones and Kansas City Red. I remember I used to drive Floyd Jones home on Sunday nights and that was one of the best weekly gigs in town when Sunnyland Slim would play and a lot of great musicians would hang out there and Floyd was one of the regulars who Sunnyland would call to sit in and I remember driving Floyd home and playing T. Bone Walker cassettes in my car as he really liked that.

I sat in with Johnny Littlejohn and he was great and one of the first road gigs I got was with Sam Lay in about 1987. It all happened pretty quick and I remember Sam hiring me for two weeks in Canada to play in Calgary in the middle of winter, which made Chicago seem warm. He called me a couple of weeks before and he said he was thinking of having another guitar player on the gig and he wanted to let me know what was happening so I thought that was great being young that Sam Lay was calling me and I asked who was going to be on second guitar and he said it wouldn’t be second guitar and that he was asking Hubert Sumlin and I just about dropped the phone and got very nervous and excited and that two week tour turned into a three week tour, so I was on the road with Sam and Hubert at the same time, which was pretty epic for me in my early twenties and just learning the music. I was caught off guard a little because Sam I didn’t really know and he wanted to play a lot of rock and roll covers, as he was in love with Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and even Johnny Cash. I was expecting to play stone cold Chicago blues so it was a good leaning experience and a little disappointing and it taught me that a lot of my blues heroes were interested in other music as well.

Sam Lay wasn’t working a lot and he was hiring pretty big bands with a lot of musicians and the money wasn’t terribly great and I got hired by Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, in one of those later versions of The Legendary Blues Band, and I did that briefly as they weren’t working as much as they used to, but it was great to play with Willie and Calvin ‘Fuzz’ Jones, Muddy’s former rhythm section and the great piano player Piano Willie was in the band, Madison Slim on harmonica.

At the end of summer of maybe 1987 I heard that Son Seals was looking for a rhythm guitar player. My friend Brad Weeks was in the band and had to leave and told me, so I went and met Son, I think at Blue Chicago downtown, and sat in with him and he offered me the gig and I was probably twenty five then and I ended up playing with Son for almost two years and he was working a lot every weekend and was touring the East coast a lot so we got to play New York a lot, which was great, and that was my first big full time guitar gig in the blues.

I can’t remember if I started with Son in late 1987 or early 1988 and we played the Chicago Blues festival in 1988 on the main stage and we used to play the Village Gate and The Lone Star in New York and I remember we played in Central Park New York once and it was when Son wasn’t really recording so I never recorded with him.

The album Bad Axe was out but that was recorded before I joined Son. That’s how I used to introduce him after we did a couple of instrumentals, then I would say “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Bad Axe from Chicago”. That was an important gig for me, we were playing in front of big crowds and weekends in Chicago all the time and touring and headlining.

In Boston we did a show with John Mayall and I remember playing the Village Gate in New York with Johnny Copeland and I remember we played when Koko Taylor had her van accident and that was one of my first gigs with Son. Koko Taylor had a wreck on the highway and there was a big benefit at the Riviera Theatre to raise money to help her and the musicians that got hurt and that had two thousand capacity theater.

I think I got to the point of where I started to have a vision of where I saw my musicianship, my guitar playing, going and I was Son’s rhythm guitar player which was great, a super important role to play if you are a guitar player, to become a good rhythm guitar player and to play behind someone else that is really important. Son almost always had horns so we would open up with things like ‘Watermelon Man’ by Herbie Hancock or ‘Mr. Magic’ and occasionally a straight ahead blues and then Son would give me maybe one or two solos during his sets, maybe one each set, and I was wanting to express myself more. I wanted to play more lead I wanted to play different material. I was more of a traditionalist and Son was playing this super intense hard driving great blues but stylistically it wasn’t where I was coming from.

I was listening to Magic Sam and T. Bone Walker and Muddy and Wolf and early Buddy Guy, so I wanted to play more of that style of music so I decided that maybe I would try and start my own band and be the only guitar player. So I did it and in 1989 and I started looking for a singer and I met Barkin’ Bill playing with Sam Lay and he wasn’t doing much, just doing the occasional club gig, and I asked him if he wanted to do some work and maybe start a band together and he agreed to do that. So we started working around Chicago and I started hiring bass players like Bob Stroger and drummers like Robert Covington and even Willie Smith sometimes, because these guys just wanted to play and if you offered them a gig and paid them something respectable they would work it. So I started feeling around for a good rhythm section and I ended up hiring a younger rhythm section and we started working pretty steady around Chicago.

dave specter photo 3Somehow I found out about a contest like one of these national blues talent searches and the winner got to play at the Long Beach Blues Festival, which was one of the big blues festivals in California in the 80’s and 90’s and we won that contest and got to go the Long Beach Festival and Jimmy Witherspoon and Jay McShann and John Lee Hooker and B.B. King and Lowell Fulson were all on it, so that was amazing.

Here in Chicago, we used to play weekly at Wise Fools and that was one of the first gigs I got, playing maybe Tuesdays or Wednesdays and we played at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted and Shaw’s Crab House that was one of the first steady gigs we had and I think we were the first blues band that played at Shaw’s and I ended up playing there for like twenty five years.

Shortly after forming the band I approached Delmark and I invited Bob Koester to come hear us play and I think he came out to hear us at Blues Island at the Tip On Inn where we used to play regularly, which is a south suburb of Chicago. Delmark was inactive for a while in the 80’s and then they started getting active again and they signed us and we recorded our first album in 1990 and it came out in 1991 and it was called Bluebird Blues. My first album and we had Ronnie Earl as a special guest on there and I was twenty six when I recorded that and of course it had Barkin’ Bill on vocals.

I met Ronnie when I was touring with Son Seals and we became good friends and I remember we did a co bill with Ronnie at the Lone Star in New York and I remember hanging out with him in Chicago and he became like an older brother to me. I told him I was going to record for Delmark and he was full of praise for me for that and asked me if I realized what that meant and he was very excited for me and he asked me if I would like him to play on the album and I told him I would love that, so that is how it happened.

That was the only record I did with Barkin’ Bill and working with him was challenging as he had some demons and I took things very seriously, probably too seriously, and we split up and Bob at Delmark was a big fan of a singer named Jesse Fortune and he basically said that if I wanted to put together a band behind Jesse he would be a great artist to record with, as he liked him and I could produce it, so that was my next album and that’s how the ‘Fortune Tellin’ Man’ album came about. That was my first time of producing.

I have been working on my twelfth album for Delmark either as a leader or co leader. I did one record called Spectified, it’s an all instrumental record that I did in 2010 and David Hidalgo from Los Lobos played on there and that was recorded for a label in Chicago called Fret 12, which is mostly known in the rock guitar world and they wanted to branch out into other styles of music, so I signed a one record contract with them.

Other than that all my other recordings as a leader or co leader have been on Delmark. I’ve helped produce Lurrie Bell and I produced two records by Steve Freund, both on Delmark. I recently produced a record that I’m really proud of on an artist that isn’t terribly well known named Billy Seward, he is a really strong soul/blues artist who lives in Florida. He did a record South Shore and came to Chicago and hired me to produce it and wanted to use my band and Willie Henderson did the horns and Jimmy Johnson is a guest and it’s a really good record.

A couple of years ago I produced a record by a band that is mostly based in France and I just played the Bay Car Blues Festival with them as a guest and they are Lil’ Red And The Rooster and it’s an American singer from Ohio who married a French guitarist who is great, and they work a lot around France and they play the US. I’ve produced nearly all of my own stuff. I almost exclusively use the Delmark studio. I’ve produced a couple of records by Al Miller and Delmark put them out and Al has just passed away.

I got into production because I’m kinda hard headed and know what I want to do and don’t like listening to other people. It’s kinda similar to being a band leader but just being a band leader in the studio, kind of a musical director. I’m not an engineer, I work with other engineers so I’m not the type who is a producer and also the engineering. I wish I was, but I’m not. I really love producing and sometimes I like producing stuff that I don’t play on. It’s nice to be able to help an artist develop towards the right tools and sounds and helping them with personnel and helping them with material, helping them with arrangements. It’s an important role in making a record and I really like doing it.

So I worked with Jesse Fortune for awhile and then I had heard Tad Robinson sing in Chicago and he was living here at the time. He is originally from New York and I thought he would be a great singer to team up with and to have in my band and co lead the band and Tad and I decided to start working together and we recorded Blueplicity for Delmark and we went to Europe and recorded a live album there and on that same blues festival in Bremen there was a live Jimmy Rogers album recorded there on Crosscut Records. Detlev Hoegen at Crosscut asked Tad and I to do a record on his label so that record was first a Crosscut project and then Delmark decided they wanted to release it in the States. Detlev helped book us on this festival at Bremen and he wanted me to do it with Tad and he also wanted me to play another set and maybe I could recommend a special guest to sing with my band in addition to Tad and I thought immediately of Floyd McDaniel. So Floyd came to Germany with us and we played a set with Floyd and they recorded it and we didn’t know it was going to be a record, but that also came out as a live recording and it’s called West Side Baby and I think it is still available on Delmark and also Crosscut. So in one night, in three hours, we played two sets and had two live albums come out and I’m pretty proud of both of them. This was the early to mid nineties and after that I think we did the Left Turn On Blue album.

Tad decided to raise a family and move out of Chicago and he moved to a small town near Indianapolis so I needed to find another singer and I had heard of a singer in California named Lynwood Slim and we talked and hit it off and I asked him to move to Chicago. He was living in Minneapolis at the time and he did move to Chicago and we started working together and we did a record for Delmark in I think 1995 called Left Turn On Blue.

dave specter photo 4While Slim was living in Minneapolis he became friends with Jack McDuff and my style was influenced in a lot of ways by the jazz and blues of Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Smith and Charles Brown and T. Bone and I thought that getting Jack McDuff as a guest on a record would be great and Delmark flew Jack into Chicago to record on that album and we did a few gigs together like playing at Buddy Guy’s. One of the things about Delmark is they have always been a jazz label in addition to a blues label. They didn’t separate the two like some of the people in the music world do and over the years on my records I have had a number of jazz musicians guest on my albums.

I did a live show in Chicago about ten years ago called Dave Specter’s Blues/ Jazz Summit. In the late nineties I was doing a lot of producing, like the two Steve Freund records. Steve had left Chicago and moved to San Francisco and started working with Boz Scaggs, who was doing some straight blues gigs, and Boz agreed to be a guest on Steve’s record and we flew out to Boz’s studio in San Francisco and got to work with him in his studio on the first Steve Freund record and that was really cool; Boz is a cool guy and a super guitar player. Kim Wilson was also on that record called C For Chicago and I also helped produce Lurrie Bell on his Kiss Of Sweet Blues record and I was also the producer on his 700 Blues album.

I love Lurrie. We have played together and toured together but during that time he was basically homeless and in really bad shape and using drugs and not taking the right medication and it was super challenging to work with him in the studio. I think on 700 Blues what happened is, it became so exhausting and difficult, and I didn’t even put my name on it as the producer as I thought it was crazy and thought I couldn’t take it any more. As I said, I took myself a little too seriously, so that might have had something to do with it as well.

Me and Lynwood Slim worked together for a while and he decided to move back to California and then I found Lenny Lynn who is here in Chicago and more of a jazz singer, kinda like Joe Williams and similar to Barkin’ Bill although a little more uptown and sophisticated, and we worked together for a couple of years and did the record called Blues Spoken Here and I think that came out in 1999 and we toured Europe together and played Israel.

After that I decided to take a stab at doing an all instrumental record because I was always featuring instrumentals on my records, usually three or four numbers. I was writing original music a lot and not focusing on lyrics too much so I did an all instrumental record in 2000 for Delmark called Speculatin and that was pretty well received and had a lot of originals on there. I am fairly self critical and one of the hardest things is listening to my own music sometimes, after it’s been recorded. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it for a long time. I remember being in a restaurant once and they were playing blues and I thought it sounded cool and then I realized it was me and I didn’t even know it. I usually listen to my recordings a lot when they first come out because you are so immersed in it and you want to make sure it’s right and then it comes out, then after that I get completely sick of it and try not to listen to it for something like two years. Sometimes it’s nice to revisit it and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t.

I was never a huge touring act I always toured a little and never took the plunge into full time touring, maybe I will some day. I have been on an Aaron Burton record Good Blues To You, which was on Delmark. So after Speculatin I did the Al Miller recordings and produced Steve Freund’s second record I’ll Be Your Mule for Delmark and then I did a co bill with Steve Freund in 2004 and it was called Is What It Is and then after that, in 2008, I did the live recording with Tad and I decided that it had to be another live recording so we recorded in Chicago. Delmark was doing DVDs at the time so I came up with the title Live In Chicago and it came out on CD and DVD and it was recorded at Buddy Guy’s and at Rosa’s and it had Tad, Jimmy Johnson and Sharon Lewis all as special guests, in addition to a few instrumentals.

Shortly after that Delmark did a fifty fifth anniversary CD and DVD called It Ain’t Over and I’m on that with Jimmy Johnson. That won DVD of the year, that I found out about two years later, and that was 2010 and that was the same year I did the Spectfied all instrumental record for Fret 12.

I think my next recording as a leader was in 2014, called Message In Blue, and the highlight of that was working with Otis Clay. Working with him in the studio was incredible and we had become good friends and there is a really good interview on YouTube where we met at one of his favorite restaurants on the west side and they filmed it. Fret 12 is also into video and they had me doing a lot of interviews with artists. We started a series called Dave Specter’s Blues And Beyond and I interviewed Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Coleman, Warren Haynes, John Hammond, Hubert Sumlin and they are all on YouTube I think. It was great to sit down for lunch with Otis and they brought their video cameras in and then I asked him to be on that record with me and he agreed and that was one of the most powerful experiences I have had in the recording studio. I have recorded with some really good people but Otis was so great and I don’t think people realize that. I honestly think he was one of the greatest soul and r&b singers without question ever and in the same league as Al Green and Wilson Picket and I don’t think he ever got his due. He had the big hit in the early seventies with ‘Trying To Live My Life Without You’ and he did ok and when I see some of these older soul singers playing big theaters and auditoriums with young bands, like some of the artists that are on Daptone, I just wish he could have had that exposure.

So presently I have been working on a new album for Delmark, which is titled Blues From The Inside Out. I have Jorma Kaukonen from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna playing on two tracks. For the last eleven years I have been part owner of this club in Evanston just north of Chicago, called Space at 1245 Chicago Avenue, and we book artists in here and we have a recording studio here that I recorded the record ‘Spectified’ in. I also recorded a tribute to Otis Clay that was only available as a download. After Otis died I wanted to do something for him, so I produced a tribute single and we did ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ and like twenty two musicians are on it, including Otis’ horn section and background singers, and we did that here at Space. In this club we have had a lot of legendary blues artists perform; we also book rock and roll. Nick Lowe has played here, Richard Thomson, Jimmie Vaughan and Jorma started playing here, doing his solo acoustic act, and he also played here with Hot Tuna and we became friends.

I managed the club here for many years so I would always meet the artists and pay them and take their dinner orders and such. I had given Jorma one of my records and he liked it. I play Fender Jazz Masters a lot, which is kinda rare in the blues, and Jorma started asking me what guitars do I use and I told him and he went out and bought a couple because he liked it so much and then he came here one time and said he had written a blues tune and he didn’t know what to do with it. He asked me to take it and do something with it and it was great and the lyrics were really good. Then I started making plans for the new album and I called him and asked him if it would be ok if I recorded his number and he said yes and then I asked him if he would consider playing on it and coming to Chicago and playing on a couple of tunes and he said he would be honored to.

So he came here and played on two tracks, including the one he wrote, and the album is twelve originals and I am going to be singing on it for the first time. I’m trying to be a singer now but I’ve always worked with great singers. I never saw myself as singer and was content in being a guitar player and that is my instrument, my voice wasn’t. Folks told me I should sing but my quick answer is that it’s just not me, but I’m starting to change that way of thinking and I actually feel I can do it and I like the way my voice sounds more than I used to, so I’m singing three songs on this new record. I have a writing partner, his name is Bill Brichta, we wrote ‘Chicago Style‘ on Message In Blue and we wrote quite a few of these songs together. Four new instrumentals that I wrote and John Katke who has been my main keyboard player and vocalist for many years, he sings four songs on the new album. Sarah Marie Young, a great r&b and jazz singer who is married to Guy King, is singing one tune, so three different singers on the new record and I’m happy with it and excited to have all this new music to share, as it’s been about five years since I put anything out.

I do a podcast thing, which stemmed from that video series I was doing. I was sitting with some friends one night and they were saying that I had done these interviews with artists and I have a great rapport artist to artist, so why don’t I start a podcast. I started doing some research and I didn’t see too many blues or guitar podcasts out there and I have access to this beautiful studio and I have access at this club to so many great musicians coming in, so I thought it would be pretty easy to set up interviews with people and plus all the Chicago musicians I know, so why not start doing a podcast? So in December in 2018 I launched a podcast and it’s called ‘Dave Specter’s Blues From The Inside Out’ and you can check it out on: www.bluesfromtheinsideout.com. It’s also on ITunes and Spotify. At this time I have nine podcasts up now and my tenth will be with Jimmy Johnson. My first podcast was with Kermit Ruffins, the great New Orleans trumpet player. I’ve had Albert Lee, Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch and did a great joint podcast with Sam Lay and Corky Siegal and we played together. Some of the podcasts will have impromptu jam sessions or occasionally I will ask the artist to just play. So that’s been fun and I do that from here at Space and its studio. It’s done in a professional studio and I have a good producer and engineer so they sound really good.

I got asked to be on a public TV show in Chicago called Check Please where they invite three guests, just the general public, to pick a restaurant and review it and each of the three guys goes to the others restaurants and you compare notes and talk about them on TV. So I was a participant in that.

My guitar influences are Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Kenny Burrell, T. Bone Walker, Muddy Waters. I play a little slide and when I think of slide guitar I think of Earl Hooker and Elmore James, but my favorite blues slide guitar player is Muddy. Other influences are Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Freund, who basically taught me how to play, and Albert Collins. I spent a chunk of time in the nineties listening to a lot of jazz and listened to a lot of Blue Note jazz and organ jazz and most featured Grant Green or Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell and Dexter Gordan, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey.

I love all of these and their music and I think it affected my musical sensibilities to some degree and it helped me realize that a sense of melody, a sense of swing are really crucial to whatever music you play. I love playing with organ players. I worked a lot in an organ trio setting with different organ players over the years. I’m not a jazz player but I do have a jazz feel sometimes, but do not have the musical sophistication or the discipline to play jazz. I do a lot of instrumental gigs as a trio and sometimes I will call it a blues/ jazz trio and one of the things I love doing in that setting is playing all instrumentals. I used to be Dave Specter And The Blue Birds for many years. I love doing an all instrumental show but sometimes the audience doesn’t always get it. I was influenced a lot by players like Duke Robillard, Anson Funderburgh and Ronnie Earl as well. With guys like Anson and Ronnie it was inspiring when I first started as a band leader to realize you can be a band leader and you don’t have to sing, you can back up other singers or you can play instrumentals.

In the future I would love to collaborate with Mavis Staples and I love her band and Rick Holstrom her guitar player and I actually wrote a song on the new album with Mavis in mind, called ‘March Through The Darkness’. She has a song she does frequently on her live set called ‘Freedom Highway’, written during the civil rights era and I find that song and Mavis so inspiring and it moves me. I love her combination of gospel and r&b and soul and even blues. It’s what I love, so it would be a dream to collaborate with her. I love Buddy Guy, especially his early records and his singing.

Visit Dave Specter’s website at: www.davespecter.com.

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