Volume 94, Issue 44

Thursday, November 16, 2000


A conversation with... Sue Johanson

Same old Sandler

Play wimpers softly

Chowns knows his blues

Chowns knows his blues

By Stephen Libin
Gazette Staff

"Blues? It's just something that comes from the heart," says London native Chris Chown.

Chown, who has been playing blues since he was 14-years-old, has actually been at the guitar for much longer. After learning the basics, he stumbled upon his mother's record collection and became consumed by music.

"I kind of got obsessed with it," Chown explains. "I used to practice six hours a day. On the weekend, I used to practice for 12 to 15 hours. I got a little carried away to the point where I stopped going out or hanging out with my buddies. But it was worth it in the end."

After listening to Chown perform, it becomes clear his time spent alone with the music was not wasted. With his incredible talents, this impressive up-and-coming blues star is currently promoting his second album, The Chris Chown Band. The album differs from his previous recording in that most of the music was written by Chown himself.

As for his inspiration, Chown clarifies, "Some people might say, 'He's from Canada' or 'He's from suburbia and how can he play blues guitar like those people who picked cotton?' But you never know what someone has been through personally. I think that everyone has the blues. Your dog dies, you got the blues."

However, to Chown, the blues aren't only about the parts of life that get you down; they're also about the way you can recover from problems.

"I started playing bars and drinking all the time, met a girl and stopped doing all the bad stuff and started paying more attention to music. The very first song on the CD was inspired by meeting someone special."

Unlike other genres of music, it's easier to classify a type of blues, which Chown is quick to do. "[My style is] definitely Texas blues, but it is hard to put a label on something when an artist does their own thing," he says. This response isn't surprising, since one of Chown's biggest inspirations was Stevie Ray Vaughan. While still in high school, Chown had the opportunity to learn and experience Texas blues in San Antonio, the live music capital of the world.

"The owner of Anton's bar on Sixth Street told me, 'So you want to play the blues? Then you'll stay here and we'll take care of you.' My parents didn't let me because they wanted me to get a high school diploma. If I had stayed, who knows where I'd be. I could be sleeping on a pool table."

When faced with the prospect of devoting his life to music, Chown is excited. "I wasn't good at school, just music. It's the only thing I know. Well, that and women."

Check out Chris Chown live at the Spoke tonight and on Nov. 30

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2000