If you made a Venn Diagram that had rings with Blues, Rock, Soul, Funk, Pop and Jazz on it, there would be precious little room in the middle – but one of very few names that could occupy the space would be Hamilton Loomis. Loomis, who hails from Galveston, Texas, somehow manages to shoehorn all these genres into his music. When asked to describe his sound he even struggles himself, referring to it as a “gumbo” of styles, settling finally on: “Modern Texas soul music; definitely rooted in the blues, but more modern”. That explains it then.
Loomis has known music all his life. Born into a musical family (both his parents were musicians whose own tastes influenced his), Hamilton played drums, piano and harmonica from a young age and had his first paying gig ($20) playing drums at the age of twelve. By sixteen he was jamming with Bo Diddley and became a protégé of the Chicago blues legend. He was even gifted one of Diddley’s distinctive rectangular guitars. Loomis also played with other Texas blues greats, Joe ‘Guitar’ Hughes and Johnny ‘Clyde’ Copeland and he was taught a lot by these venerable players.
Having learned from a previous generation, Loomis believes in passing on his own experience to the next and he teaches workshops to High Schools back home and these altruistic tendencies are reflected in the title of his latest album release Give It Back.
Hamilton Loomis is currently in the UK promoting that album and he has brought his full band of: Armando Aussenac on Drums, Fabian Hernandez on Sax and Keys, and Dante Ware on Bass; people whom Loomis describes as “ridiculously talented musicians”, and if anyone should know, Hamilton Loomis should. We caught up with Hamilton between shows and had a few minutes to fire some questions his way.
How is the current tour going and what is the schedule like for you and the band?
OK! We’re here for three weeks this time, and the shows have been really great and well attended. UK audiences seem to have a little deeper appreciation for American roots music and blues, so the reception we get is great here. People here in the UK are so supportive, and they are the reason we can keep coming back here.
How does life on the road compare between the countries and what do you do on downtime?
Gigs in the UK are shorter than shows in the States, and the drives are much shorter, so it makes the tour schedule a little less exhausting than we’re used to. On our downtime we usually just catch up on sleep and do laundry… The glamour of being on the road!
How is the band adapting to playing in UK Venues?
When we play some of the smaller venues, it’s really a lot of fun because the audience is in your face and it’s very personal… I love the vibe of smaller venues.
You have told us about some of your influences including Bo Diddley are there any current English musicians you admire?
There’s a lot of great talent coming out in the UK right now, and I especially keep my eye on Alex McKown… He’s doing great and he’s so talented. And he was nice enough to ask me to guest on his recording!
The remaining dates on Hamilton Loomis’ UK tour can be found on his website: www.hamiltonloomis.com. The tour culminates with a show at the prestigious 100 Club in London on 30 June.
Interview with Hamilton Loomis by Simon Reed & Simon Jay on 24th June 2015.