Stacy Mitchhart’s musical journey began in his native Cincinnati, Ohio, in a home where jazz guitar masters like Wes Montgomery and Johnny Smith were played on the stereo. Therefore it was natural that he gravitated to the six-string. As a child he saw the outrageous Little Richard on a TV show and was captivated by his showmanship. Little Richard looked and acted differently than anybody he had ever been exposed to. Today, Mitchhart has created his own brand of showmanship that brings audiences back again and again.
“I heard Springsteen, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but that stuff never moved me,” he recounts. “When I saw Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and B.B. King, I knew what I wanted to do. Since then, my playing’s just gotten more focused and aggressive with time.” Another serious inspiration was Cincinnati guitarist and singer Frank Hedges, a musical preacher whose sons were also in Mitchhart’s first band. “He played guitar in a strange, almost drum like style, which taught me to concentrate on the groove.”
Mitchhart has always been a bandleader. He developed his sound and stagecraft at the helm of four groups in Cincinnati — climbing the pinnacle of the city’s blues scene. He also began his recording career there, with 1993’s Blues Transfusion.Since then he’s made a dozen more albums, culminating until now in 2009’s critically heralded Grown Ass Man and 2010’s Live From B.B. King’s. By the early ’90s he was the top blues act in Cincinnati. But when he played his first gigs in Nashville 18 years ago, he knew he’d found his musical home.
“The very first time I came to Nashville I sold 24 CDs off the bandstand and the audience was amazing,” Mitchhart recalls. “They were alive!” In short order he was offered the house band slot at Printers Alley’s famed Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar. “Very quickly, because there are so many tourists in Nashville, I realized I was seeing different people in the audience from all over the world every single night, and because this is Music City, they were really coming to listen,” he continues. “The Stacy Mitchhart Band has become known as one of the top live acts in Nashville because our sound is different and we bring a lot of energy to the stage.”
Nearly two decades later, that hasn’t changed. Mitchhart’s name is still synonymous with “blues” in the most rapidly growing city along the Cumberland River and he’s still playing 200 of his annual dates without leaving home. Thanks to the international following he’s largely built in Nashville at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, Mitchhart has also performed in eight other countries. “I’ve played everything from 50,000 seat, sold-out arenas to 5,000-to-15,000 attendance blues festivals to 1,500-seat theaters to 250-seat clubs to a 40-seat grocery store to backyard barbecues and weddings to corporate parties,” he relates. “The bottom line is that every gig is important to the people that booked you and the audience always deserves your best.
“The truth is,” Mitchhart continues, “I’m more comfortable onstage entertaining than I am in my own living room. I've spent my whole life there. And I feel like the stripped down approach of this new album lets other people get inside my music almost as deep as I do every night when I’m on stage."
I am updating a lot of my merchandise in swag. New designs for T-shirts, Koozies, bandannas etc. We are also going to record a new live disc and include it in a remastered release of my Live from Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar from 1998. It will be a 20 year “live” retrospective of my time in Nashville.
2) What is your musical background and influences?
I started playing guitar at nine, did my first gig for money at 13, and this is all I have done for a living my whole life. I will be turning 60 in February. The very first concert I ever went to was Lou Rawls, and my friend's parents took me to see BB King and Bobby blue Bland in 1974. From that point I was hooked on blues! As far as Guitar is my influences our Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Carlos Santana, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, BB King and Wayne Bennett. My favorite artist of all time is Bobby “Blue” Bland.
3) What is the role of education in music?
Obviously education is important. The more a person knows about something the more they can be effective at it. I think it’s super important for our schools to include music education. It is been proven that kids who are in music programs do better in their other aspects of school work as well.
4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry?’
It’s like anything else, there are positives and negative’s. One of the biggest negative is that because of streaming and downloading, the artists and writers are not receiving the same levels of revenue that they have in the past from their works.
On the positive side, because of streaming and downloading in the Internet, people can be exposed and find a whole world of music that was on available to them in the past. This creates new fans and potentially bigger crowds at live music events. Also the current format gives an independent artist A lot better chance to “make it“ without having to be signed to a major label. I think it also helps artists like myself in niche music genres (Blues).
5) Why do you play Mooer pedals?
I was first drawn to the Mooer Pedals because of the size and price. I was impressed right away by the way they sounded. I’m an old-school guy, so I like analog pedals, and the Mooer Pedals effectively re-created all the sounds that I was used to. I am able to have the 7 Pedals that I use in a pedalboard that is half the size of a briefcase and weighs about the same as only 2 or 3 traditional effects pedals. They are perfect for fly dates, as well as when you are performing at a club in a major downtown area, where they provide backline and you are walking blocks from where you have to park, or from the train/subway/tube.