_Wasser-Prawda on January 19, 2012. by Nathan Nörgel
_Johnny Childs is a very active person. He published his truly remarkable album "Groove" in 2011. In 2010 he had finished the film "The
Junkman's Son" after nine years of hard working on it. This movie tells
the most amusing story of a bluesman, who tries to find his way into
the music business. The strip accompanies him through the six months
before his 30th Birthday. Until that day, so he has made??, he wants to
get a decent record deal. And then after that comes the Blues Music
Award for "Best New Artist". Or so the story of the film.
this is not reality. It's not easy for a blues musician to make his
living with his music. But Johnny Childs is a fighter. A fighter for his
music and for the blues as an truly american art. He started a group on
facebook to establish an International Blues Music Day. "Wasser-Prawda"
asked him about this project, but also about the Blues Music Awards and
what they mean to the musicians. And we asked him about Tommy Castro
- Why does the world need an International Blues Music Day?
For your first question I'll refer you to our group description:
To celebrate, promote, and preserve the rich legacy, tradition, and
future of the great American art form and international language known
as blues music.
Having said that this celebration has a
collective meaning and an individual meaning and I think it has a great
potential to mean a lot of things to a lot of people in their own way.
And the potential butterfly effect of something involving this many
people can range from a miniscule effect on one person to potentially
worldwide effects for many people. For me as a musician, I know at the
very least, having an International Blues Music Day means I can walk
down the street with my head up high for at least one day a year and be
able to proudly proclaim, I am a blues musician! Not that I'm not always
proud but that's just an example of a small effect on one individual.
The potential to have dozens or hundreds of events worldwide on a single
day to celebrate the blues is the other spectrum of the potential
_- Where did the idea for it come from?
idea largely came back in 2003 when the U.S. Congress declared it "Year
of the Blues". I realized back then that while that's a nice idea,
having an annual celebration could potentially live on forever and so
now with the internet it was a no-brainer to take it international. The
community of players and fans have reached international proportions and
so this celebration should reflect that. We will certainly try to do
our part to reinforce and promote the basic knowledge about the origins,
pioneers and legends of the blues in the U.S. who's work and influence
has reached all corners of the earth for some time now.
- When I
looke in the facebook-group, there are a lot of fans and musicians new
every day. What will you do, if we get the number of 10,000 members in
The first thing we'll do is have some keyl
consultations with folks in the blues music industry, as well as other
professionals and institutions to try to determine the best possible
date to land on for this annual celebration of the blues. Next we'll
have a final vote in the FB group on the proposed date. As soon the
final date is decided on we'll start immediately preparing, organizing,
associating, promoting and supporting events and programs for the
inaugural International Blues Music Day. And hopefully we'll be
looking at dozens or even hundreds of planned events in as many places
and countries around the world as possible. But we'll know a lot more about the tasks at hand as soon the date is finalized.
- How did organizations like The Blues Foundation answer your idea?
Have you got partners in Europe and especially in Germany? I could not
find any media in Germany yet, who covered this Blues Music Day.
We've been fortunate to have blues radio shows around the world
spinning our Radio PSA for an International Blues Music Day. We've had
other press in the U.S and Europe, I've done several radio interviews as
well. But we're really waiting to hit 10,000 members to kick things in
to high gear. This is a grass roots effort and we're working from the
ground up. Starting with the musicians, fans and supporters and working
together. We hope word of mouth will continue to play a big role in
getting the word out and bringing in support for this initiative. The
8,000 folks already in our FB group includes a critical mass of blues
supporters and a lot of the industry is already in there and waiting to
help us mobilize when we're ready. Our group members already include 3/4
of the board members and thousands of supporting members of The Blues
Foundation. So I think we can assume they support this idea at least in
spirit. As far as how we can ultimately work together I'll have to
update you after I reach out directly to them in the near future. I
don't want to approach any major institutions in any official way until
our group has reached 10,000 international supporters and the good news
is we're 80% there.
- And how are the reactions of the music industry?
From everything I've seen from the music industry so far --this
initiative is widely supported and generating a lot of excitement.
Everybody knows the importance and influence of the blues. And that
includes much of the rock world as well. This really has no downside.
There's nothing to be against. I don't see how anyone can not be for
this unless they literally hate blues music. And usually that just means
they haven't heard the right blues yet so even they can come around.
I've got another question for the interview - not about the IBMD but about the Blues Music Awards:
Q: In a video you have Tommy Castro challenged to a guitar duel. These
duel I'd really like to see. And I do not know if Castro would look
too good there... It's about his four nominations for the Blues Music
Awards. You submitted your album "Groove" and the DVD "The Junkman's Son"
as well. But you did not receive any nominations. What do these prizes
or nominations mean for a blues musician? And who decides the
_This is not a simple answer. I wasn't really
going to talk about this today. But I'll try to explain that a bit since
I haven't responded to anyone about this since I issued that challenge.
I'll give you an exclusive on this one. What I don't want to do is
get into a conversation about how the BMA nominating process can be
tweeked to be a much fairer process - although I can easily articulate
that if I chose to. Because I don't want to distract from the bigger
picture there which is that I know The Blues Foundation does so much
good work and so much for the blues. More perhaps than any other single
organization on the planet. And I genuinely admire and support them. I
also don't want to come across as bitter because I'm not. That's not the
sentiment. I'm just a bit frustrated based on my own experience with
two project submissions for 2012 and I expressed that in an artistic way
in my REACTION video where I also challenged Tommy Castro to a guitar
As far as what it means to win a BMA, basically, a lot of
people that are already blues celebrities and legends are nominated or
win BMAs and for them I imagine it's mostly just a great honor and
achievement to win this prestigious Award. On the other spectrum of
that, for blues artists that are not as established, A BMA nomination
literally makes careers. It can lead to distribution for your current or
next CD, a great booking agent, record label support, managers,
festival bookings and much much more. It can put you on the map.
My frustration was not over just another blues CD being submitted by another artist on another year. That would be one thing.
I spent 9 yrs producing and meticulously editng a feature length film
"The Junkman's Son -- A very contemporary music documentary about blues.
Nothing like it has ever been done. And I completed it literally
against all odds. All the DVDs that got nominated were live shows of
bands. Some good some not as good. I submitted a feature length
critically acclaimed music documentary film. So that was just weird.
I also submitted my CD "Groove" which has been critically acclaimed by
dozens of reviewers (including your fine magazine) and the Nominees that
won in the CD category --that I submitted in -- were almost all female
singers, some don't even play an instrument. So that was weird too.
you have Tommy Castro who submitted a CD and swept with 4 BMA
Nominations overall. To truly understand my REACTION video and
challenge, you would have had to see my film. And to understand why I
singled out Tommy Castro you would have to know even more back-story on
this subject. He not only received 4 nominations for 2012, he also won 6
Blues Music Awards in 2010, and that to me, makes Tommy Castro the
industries Golden Boy. And not unlike a prize fighter going for the
championship belt I'm calling out the golden boy of the blues and saying
look, I got screwed here and as far as I'm concerned who ever plays
better should be the golden boy. Period. It's more of a statement and
artistic expression of how I feel about being overlooked.
_I would add
this for the record. I respect Tommy Castro's talents and achievements.
And I was there in Memphis in 2010 and couldn't have been happier for
Tommy sweeping those 6 BMA Awards. I was very proud of him and wanted to
hoist him on my shoulders along with everyone else and dance him around
the convention center. He made us all proud. But I also know this. When
it comes to blues, Tommy's great, brings excitement and awareness to
the genre and is adored by many but I also know I'm a better talent. So I
felt maybe between my film release and CD release they could have
thrown me just one nomination? I felt the 100 anonymous voters for the
BMA Nominations should have taken notice. I felt that was their
responsibility and they let me down. So my reaction video was more of an
expression of that disappointment than to say Tommy Castro doesn't
deserve his success. He earned it, but my message is that I'm here to
stay and I won't be ignored. I've worked too hard, too long and got too
damn good to be ignored by the industry. Having said that I hope Tommy
Castro excepts my friendly challenge but regardless I'll never quit
bangin down the industries doors until I'm on tour playing 200 dates a
year just like Tommy Castro and as far as the BMAs I still love them and
support them and now that it's over I'm o.k. just knowing that there's
always next year And I will gladly try again.