Experienced in the Blues

Selwood Birchwood, the energetic face of his namesake band, is out with another blues album. It’s called Pick Your Poison, the mesmerizing follow-up to Birchwood’s acclaimed record Don’t Call No Ambulance in 2013. Birchwood has carved out a significant niche for himself and his music in the past six years, mostly owing to his growling vocals, fearless guitar, tireless touring, and singular energy. Birchwood agreed to answer a few questions for Jupiter Index despite his ongoing tour commitments.

Kevin LaTorre: How did you decide you needed to play blues?
Selwyn Birchwood: I saw Buddy Guy when I was 17 years old. It was when his acoustic album had just come out and he did several songs with just him and a guitar. That was the first experience of hearing someone sing with that much soul and feeling. I was hooked! I said “whatever this is, that’s what I’m gonna do!” Back then, did you imagine you might end up where you are now?
I always dreamed of doing what I am doing now, with traveling and performing, writing music and playing to the type of crowds that we have over the years. I always thought I was dreaming too big! I am very blessed and grateful to do what I’ve done, am doing, and hopefully continue to do.

What’s it like to perform blues every night for enthusiastic crowds?
It is an amazing feeling to have the reception that we have had with our music. It is a great feeling to see people be so responsive and even singing along to music that you’ve written and I’m ecstatic that people have picked up on what we’re doing.

Is there anything specific try to achieve when you play live?
I just want to share the love I have for the music and have them feel it too. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in front of any given crowd on any given night enjoying sounds together. That’s what it is for! People can save all of the competitive, egotistical B.S. and take it somewhere else... I’m not about it!

What was your process for writing Pick Your Poison?
Pick Your Poison is a culmination of what I’ve been trying to do all along, and will continue to do.. which is to find my own voice and my own sound. I’m not one to stand on stage and try to tell someone else’s story, covering someone else’s songs.. It feels fraudulent. It also feels like cheating.. I don’t think it takes much to play a cover song and essentially get someone to LIKE something that they ALREADY LIKE..

What do its musical choices mean for you as a musician?
I am a blues music lover, but I am also a lover of all kinds of music| Blues, Jazz, Soul, Country, R&B, Funk, Rock, you name it.. I try to mix it all up in the pot and see what turns up.

What can we expect from you in the near future?
We are just finishing writing the next record. It will be my 5th record of all original bmaterial/songs we have written! Looking forward to sharing the new sounds with everybody!

by Kevin LaTorre