Celebrating the 1-Year Anniversary of ‘An Evening At The Kennett Flash (Live Album)’ with Jeffrey Attakorah

Interview by Danielle Johnson

Photo by Moonloop Photography (@moonloopphoto)

What’s your name, and where are you from?

Hey, I am Jeffrey Attakorah, or Jeff, as my friends would say. I was born and raised in Kumasi, Ghana in West Africa, but I have been in the US for a little over 11 years now.

What is your current city and what are your pronouns?

I am currently living in New Castle, Delaware. My pronouns are He/Him.

What’s your sign?

I am an Aries, that is about all I know. I often come across the occasional social media posts about what Aries’ do and how they behave, but I don’t read much into it.

Delaware’s music scene can sometimes lack diversity. The blues music scene is no exception. What are some things you would love to see change in the blues world on a local and global scale?

We might need a whole book just for me to answer the question, but I’ll keep it short with these points. In my humble opinion, there are three things I always preach that the Blues scene, locally and globally, is in dire need of. Namely: representation, accreditation, and evolution. In terms of accreditation, I believe African Americans contributed way too much to the Blues for them names to be only whispered in the annual award videos. Stories need to be told, movies need to be made, legends need to be spoken, in hopes that the young Black kids know that Blues music is part of their history and identity. In terms of representation, I hope the gatekeepers, from the blues foundation to music cooperation, to music writers, seek out, find, talk about, and help groom young Black folks still carrying the torch of Blues Music. No matter how their voice may be different from what is deemed at traditional styles of the genre, offer them a seat at the table and educate them. In terms of evolution, I believe the music is more than just three chords and a style of musicking from a certain period that can be deemed as real blues, leaving out everything else that doesn’t fit that definition. We must be forward-thinking while keeping true to that tradition. To do so, we must be allowed the fusion and diversity in the way we musick the Blues. We must also leave room for other forms of the Blues. An example would be giving a Blues Rock bands the opener set at a night of traditional Blues. We must be open-minded. Otherwise, the genre will truly be left behind and white-washed like some already say it is.

Jeffrey Attakorah with Heather Gillis (@heathergillis_)

What about this performance compelled you to release it as a live album?

Compelled would be a very strong word actually, lol. Funny thing is, we didn’t even know the album was being recorded. We opened for Heather Gillis at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA back in July 2019. When the night was over, the sound guy for the night, Mike Tate, asked for our email and that he would send us some files. He sent us a rough mix and the rest of the recordings from the night. While we thought that sounded good, the boys and I figured we’d just keep it and mess around with it later without a real pressure or guarantee that it will be released. I started messing around with it to get another good mix but again, nothing serious.

Fast forward to early last year when things were shutting down and we were losing gigs, we weren’t sure when we would gig again. Also, many artists were starting to get into streaming performances and doing online events. We figured instead of risking it by getting together, we dig up the recordings, find someone to mix and master it and release it as a ‘show’ till the boys and I can get out gigging again. After looking, Scott Bloodsworth of Scooter Studios offered to help us out, and the rest is history.

Fun fact: I love live recordings. Some of my favorite records of all time are live recordings so I always wanted to put one out. I get lost listening to them because that is the closest you can get to see an artist play live or a recorded video. Depending on how formal the recording is, you get to see a different side of the musicians and artists while their character sings through without it being filtered by the tedious in-studio and overdubbing process.

Listening back, how do you feel about the album?

I used to say to the guys that if I knew the recordings were eventually going to be released as an album, I would have taken fewer and short solos, kept the songs short, and paid more attention to my singing. While I am very critical about my playing, music, and work overall, I have to look at the album in a very different light. And when I do, it is pretty good. Good, because to us, it was just another TBRP (The Blues Reincarnation Project) show that happened to be recorded, pure, raw, and unfiltered, capturing the essence of what it means to come to a TBRP show. While we might be blinded by the feelings of nostalgia by the events that took place that night, I am still proud of the way we played and what was recorded.

What’s your favorite track on the album?

Maan I have to pick one as my favorite? That’s very hard, actually… because each song is very different and I can pinpoint different parts from each song I love soo much… but, if I truly had to pick one, personally it would be ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,” not because of what we did on the record, but it is one of my favorite songs to play. It’s just something about that song, I can connect, let loose and just vibe out on that song, hence why it is the longest track on there, but man, love that tune.

 

 

You’re a big gear head. If you could only bring 3 pedals from now until the day you die, which three would you pick and why?

Wow, that’s a hard question. I love my gear, I don’t think I can just pick three, and even if I do I know I am probably going to upgrade but I can tell you three that I like right now:

  •         The first would be my Boss DD 500, a whole lot of delay in that box, already thinking about getting that DD 200, but yeah, love that pedal and love me a good tape-style delay. I have had it for ages and I still only know the surface.
  •         The second would be my Xotic RC Booster v1, yeah, the white one. I love the tones I can get from that and it is soo useful. While it is a pretty simple pedal, the bass and treble knobs being able to cut and add if you need to, allows you to shape any guitar or amp you use it with. I love it.

·         The last one, and I am not proud of this one but is it the Fulltone OCD v1.4, the only version I like, from tube screamer style tones to almost fuzzy overdrive, that has been my main overdrive for a long time. I say I am not proud of it because the owner has said some outrageous things and while he has apologized, I am still wary of why he said what he did in the first place. But yeah, the OCD is a staple on my board, blacked out though, in case you’re looking for it.

Photo by Brianna and Ryan Photography (@brianna_and_ryan_photography)

How have you been keeping busy as an artist while live performances have slowed down?

I have been keeping busy while doing my best to stay safe. I did some Livestream and recordings with local artists and bands like Hoochi Coochi as well as church concerts and performances. I also have been doing some tracking sessions recording guitars for clients and projects for my friends. Got some awesome tracks to be released soon, actually.

The interesting thing is I haven’t been playing guitar as much. I have been trying to learn to play drums, bass and learning more about the engineering side of music. I started doing small church setups where I help a few churches with their sound mixes and get them started with a small livestream setup. While I am new at this, I think in the grand scheme of things it will open my ears and more doors into even more ways to get involved in the music. It is fun, and I can’t wait to learn and explore more.

You’ve played on stage with some pretty big acts. On your YouTube channel, you always seem so calm and ready. What was the most nervous you’ve ever been on stage?

Well, first of all, thank you! While this may be a simple question, the answer is much deeper. The calm and readiness many see while I am on stage or playing is just me staying present in the moment, enjoying the music, and being at peace.

Many might not know, but I am an overthinker, and during my college career, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. All that being said, I am one huge nervous wreck, hence why I barely speak to people in person and don’t go out much, because I am always worrying about something. To cope, I overprepare, ask questions, and do my best to stay present without slipping into overthinking. But again, my mind seems to be able to take a break when I play good music with good people. Hence why music is so sacred to me. I try not to take on any stressful music opportunities, but even sometimes when things are bad, my excitement can come off as nervousness, too.

With that being said, the short answer would have been when I played with StoneBwoy. He is a Ghanaian AfroBeats artist. I got the call to come to VA, I didn’t have a setlist or no previous preparations or anything. I show up and the band rehearsed that evening, and the show was the next day. I stayed up all night going over the tubes, yet I still was so unprepared and didn’t know the songs as well as I thought. Not to mention, the crowd was unruly and we had so many sound issues because it was outdoorsh, and it rained. Just a lot, and all cultivated to my most nervous I’ve ever been on stage.

Photo by Stiehl Photography (@stiehlphoto)

What do you hope people get from listening to the album?

Honestly, I just hope they enjoy the tunes. These are tough times, and we get it. We can only hope that once you press play on the first tune, we can keep your attention till the last note, helping you escape for a bit if you can.

When all this is over or calms down, I would hope that those that have never seen the boys and I live can come out and support us. That would be highly appreciated.

 

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

 I am hoping to start working on YouTube content as well as write more. There is so much I want to explore creatively. I also hope to work with more artists and musicians of all genres, hopefully, more live shows and collaborating on more music as I expand my playing and knowledge about music.In terms of the trio and I, we do have original material and I want to write some more to release some singles and maybe an EP. In a perfect world, I would love for us to release a studio record in about two years. The record will have lots of our local friends on it and even on a small distribution label. Who knows, we might be able to make it happen, but for now, maybe a single or two in the next few years.

    For all you need to know about Jeffrey’s band,

The Blues Reincarnation Project,

Check out their website 

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