10 questions for Danny Bryant

The UK bluesman on his '74 Strat and advice to his younger self

10 questions for Danny Bryant
(Image: © Kevin Nixon / Future Publishing/REX/Shutterstock)

He's one of the brightest stars on the UK blues scene, so we put Danny Bryant's mojo to the test with the 10 questions we ask everyone...

What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

"My first guitar was an Encore S-style guitar. We had a small local music shop here in Royston where I live and I managed to persuade my mum to take me down there and buy me this black guitar that they had in the window. I had fallen in love with it; I was 14 years old at the time and I can still remember the excitement of leaving the shop with my first guitar."

If the building was burning down, what one guitar from your collection would you save?

"I have an early Gibson BB King Lucille, which is in mint condition. BB was a huge influence on me and that guitar has a really sweet tone that I haven't found on some of the other examples that I've played. I don't take it out on the road, but I used it on the latest record and it really sings."

What's the oldest guitar that you own?

"I have a Strat from 1974. I know a lot of people really dislike those CBS-era Fenders, but you can find some gems among them. This guitar is a really nice example. I have never had any trouble with the dreaded 'three-bolt neck' and I have never had any tuning issues with it. I bought the guitar about 15 years ago and it was in mint condition. It has since become quite wornlooking, but it still plays and sounds great."

What plectrums do you use?

"I use celluloid extra heavy picks. I have used the same style of plectrums for years. I like the extra heavy ones because they give you a lot of attack, you can really dig into the note with them. I also find they cut a little bit of the high end from your tone, as opposed to a lighter more flexible plectrum."

When was the last time you changed your own strings?

"About a week ago. When I'm home I love being a geek and getting one of my guitars out of my collection, cleaning it up and re-stringing it, etc. I have quite a lot of guitars and some don't get used as much as they should, they just sit in their cases, so it's nice to get them out once in a while and give them some TLC. It's like visiting an old friend!"

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU4O9E3IRkk

When was the last time you practised and what was it that you played?

"I try and practise every day. It's not always a conscious decision, I usually have a guitar next to me when I'm at home and I can't resist picking it up and having a bit of a noodle. I'm trying to nail down all of those great early Freddie King instrumentals at the moment, which is a lot of fun. I tend to practise less when I'm out on the road, because we play a lot of shows and I need to rest my fingers a little in preparation for the gig that evening."

What are you doing five minutes before you go on stage and fi ve minutes after?

"I usually have a quick warm-up before I go on. With a little warm-up, I tend to hit the stage ready and firing on all cylinders. Five minutes after, I'm usually ready to grab a drink and relax before going out and saying 'hi' to people at the merchandise stand. I really enjoy doing that at the end of a show."

What's the worst thing that has happened to you on stage?

"I split my trousers wide open on the first song of a gig in Holland – that was quite embarrassing. My suitcase with all of my spare clothes was back at the hotel, so I had to cover up by putting my coat on and doing the whole gig like that. Ever since I always bring some spare trousers to the gig."

What aspect of playing guitar would you like to be better at?

"I'd like to be able to play slide guitar. I listen to guys like Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks and it amazes me what they can do. I can play a little bit, but nothing near to the point where I would want to do it in a live setting. I promise myself about once a year that I'm going to crack on and make a real effort with my slide playing."

What advice would you give your younger self about the guitar if you had the chance?

"I can't read a note of music, which is something I wish I had learned when I was younger. I live to play blues music and wouldn't change that for the world, but I think I would tell the younger me to absorb more thoroughly some completely different genres of guitar playing and then come back and incorporate that into my music. Of course, it's never too late for anything, I just think you learn things much quicker when you're a kid."

Danny Bryant's latest album, Blood Money, featuring Walter Trout and Bernie Marsden, is out now on Jazzhaus Records.

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