Mike Eldred is one third of Americana roots music band The Mike Eldred Trio. He was formerly a member of Stray Cat Lee Rocker’s Big Blue. The band is completed with John Bazz (Bass) and Jerry Angel (Drums), both from The Blasters.
They have just recently released their new album Baptist Town, which was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, the birthplace of Rock N’ Roll, where Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded early hits. The album features guest appearances by John Mayer, Robert Cray and David Hidalgo.
Baptist Town is a real place, a small deprived neighbourhood outside Greenwood Mississippi in the USA, where legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson was murdered in 1938. The album Baptist Town tells the story of this area’s past struggles between poverty and affluence, love and hate, sin and salvation and racism, some of which still exist in America’s Deep South today.
1. What has been the greatest influence on your musical career?
The blues most definitely. Robert Johnson especially, but so much including all of the Alan Lomax recordings. There is so much soul and vibe in it. Hendrix too. I used to go to midnight showings of his movies, and that changed me forever. Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. That’s song writing. My dad was a truck driver in California, so I was fed a steady diet of country music as a kid!
2. What songs are you most proud of and why?
“Black Annie,” probably. It’s not about a girl. It’s about a long black strap that the prison guards at the Mississippi State Penitentiary used to beat the prisoners with. So sad that would go on.
3. Your new album Baptist Town has just been released worldwide. What highlights and challenges did you experience whilst making it?
Getting gear to Memphis and not being able to record at Sun Studio until the tours during the day were over. Makes for a long night!
4. Where do you find inspiration for your song writing?
Everywhere! Talking to people, reading about history, travelling. I’ve already got half the next record written and it has a lot to do with trying to get this one out!
5. What piece of advice can you give to aspiring country music artists?
Write songs every day. Just keep writing and be honest in your writing. Write from your heart. That’s what makes people listen.
And just for fun…
6. Who are your favourite music artists (dead or alive)?
Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Scotty Moore. I’m getting on a plane today to go see Scotty! He’s my illegitimate father!
7. If you could wake up in the body of another person (just for one day) who would it be and why?
Scarlett Johansson. 🙂
8. You have the chance to time travel to any gig or concert that has ever taken place – which one would it be?
Frank Sinatra and The Count Basie Orchestra at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1966. I have that record and it’s beautiful.
9. What are your favourite lyrics?
Right now, it’s from our song, “Hunder Dollar Bill,” and the line that says, “Found some pills in the glove box with some cash, thought I’d buy some flares and a little bit of gas” – that’s just a bad thing waiting to happen!
10. Tell us something that will surprise us?
It’s taken one and a half years to find somebody interested in helping us put this record out.
Watch Mike Eldred talk about Baptist Town.