Carlos Santana listed American raw-dawg blues-rock guitarist ERIC GALES as one of his favourite guitar players, whilst on Twitter Joe Bonamassa called Eric “One of the best if not the best guitarists in the world today…”
Gales has recorded over ten albums for major record labels and has done valuable session and tribute work as well as contributing vocals to Memphis rap groups including Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia under the name Lil E.
A prodigious guitarist since the age four — older siblings, Eugene and Emmanuel (Little Jimmy King) taught Eric licks when he was young — in the style of Jimi Hendrix.
In 1985 Eric began playing blues contests with brother Eugene supporting him on bass. Although Eric plays a guitar with his right hand “upside down” (with the bass string at the bottom) he is not naturally left-handed; He was taught that way by his brother, who is.
In 2004, Eric Gales contributed a cover of “May This Be Love” to the album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix. In 2008, In 2008, he and other guitarists participated in the tribute to Jimi Hendrix — Experience Hendrix.
Following the release of his incredible album “Middle of the Road” the Tennessee-born musician announced a number of dates in the UK and Europe.
We met with the whirlwind guitarist when he visited the Ramblin ‘Man Fair this summer as part of the Supersonic Blues Machine experience.
RAW RAMP: How much did British music, such as Cream, influence your musical education?
“Well, they’re definitely part of the ingredients . I listened to Cream, Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Robin Trower… those are the ones that stick out… For sure, there are definitely some spices of them. They contributed to who I am and you can tell through the music.”
RAW RAMP: You are looking after yourself well right now — how do you do that when you’re on the road for extended tours and a long, long way from home?
“Yeah, I just have a mindset that, er, I got this new route that I’m on right now and its very, very difficult to take me off the path. In fact it’s impossible to get me off the path I am on right now. Life, right now, is really, really great. I’m just pushing forwards…”
RAW RAMP: How much is music a part of that mindset?
Oh yeah, it’s a hugely [therapeutic] part of it. Every night I go out there and I play, sending out emotion and tears and all that. It’s evident through the playing that it’s cathartic.”
RAW RAMP: Do you enjoy writing music?
“I love the writing process. It’s like a puzzle, you know, that you put together. And once you see the finished piece it’s very gratifying.”
RAW RAMP: Do you enjoy working with others on and off stage; The collaborative process?
“I do. It fuses together some ideas that you would not, by yourself, try or even arrive at — unless you had someone else to bounce them off at. I’m a big fan of that…”
RAW RAMP: You have worked collaboratively with hip-hop musicians in the past. Have you done that recently?
“No, not recently but I’m open to it. I’m open to everything. I think the horizons that I have open in my mind, and I am gonna accomplish, they are gonna blow peoples minds!”
RAW RAMP: So, what you working on at the moment?
“I’m just about to get started on a new record. I can’t really say anything at this stage… but I’ll say this, if you liked “Middle of the Road” then this one’s gonna blow your mind…”
RAW RAMP: Do you right your songs from a sense of a time in the past or from the here and now?
“Both. I’ve been writing on things I’ve been thinking about. You know, living in the day. Because tomorrow will take care of itself, you know. And although I try not to live in yesterday, I do think about it sometimes. But on the whole I try to stay in the moment.”
RAW RAMP: How do you find the British audiences compare with those in the States?
“Man, you know, y’all get a lil more excited over here [Laughs.] But I like ’em both, man… When you get a great reception from any crowd , no matter where it is, I think it’s a wonderful thing. Fortunately, I’ve not had a bad reception from anywhere I’ve played.”
RAW RAMP: You’ve been in the business for a while, ever since you were a child, what’s your best advice to a young musician who, perhaps, is just starting out on a new career in music?
“Just be careful, man. Be careful and stay the course. And don’t lose inspiration. Trust your gut. And trust the people you have working for you. As best as you can, anyway. And don’t always take people’s word for stuff, do a little research yourself. So you know that if somebody is telling you some crap you can take them to task for it. Basically your gut is a very powerful tool and you should always trust it.”
RAW RAMP: It’s wonderful to see you here in the UK and we wish you lots of success on your tour and with your new album…
“You too, man.”
Eric Gales was talking to Neil Mach.
Sep 09 Big Blues Bender Las Vegas, NV
Sep 10 Big Blues Bender Las Vegas, NV
Sep 16 Charleston Pour House Charleston, SC
Sep 23 Music Farm Columbia Columbia, SC
Sep 26 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI
Sep 27 C2G Music Hall Fort Wayne, IN
Sep 28 Goodyear Theatre at East End Akron, OH
Sep 30 Taft Theatre Cincinnati, OH
Oct 01 Egyptian Room Indianapolis, IN
Oct 07 US National Whitewater Center Charlotte, NC
Oct 13 Flying Guitars Festival Varazdin, Croatia
Oct 14 Katowice Music Colours Katowice, Poland
Oct 15 Texel Blues Festival Wieringen, Netherlands
Oct 17 De Helling Utrecht, Netherlands
Oct 18 Burgerweeshuis Deventer, Netherlands
Oct 24 Whelans Dublin, Ireland
Oct 27 The Picturedrome West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Oct 29 Mr Kyps Poole, United Kingdom
Nov 04 Blues Haven Festival Frederikshavn, Denmark