On September 14 and 15th, the Eastside Kings Festival will celebrate it's seventh year in Austin. Musicians who will appear include Lucky Peterson, Miss Lavelle White, Jewel Brown; as well as guitarist Tutu Jones and Mac McIntosh. In our latest interview, we spoke to Eddie Stout, the Founder about his love for blues music and his plans to grow the festival.
Tell us a bit about how and when you were originally exposed to blues music and how it became a turning point for you.
I grew up in Austin and was a teenager at the beginning of the blues explosion of the ‘70’s and 80’s that was happening here. I made friends with an older guy, Billy Etheridge who lived on my street in, (I fixed his motorcycle). Billy played keyboards in The Night crawlers blues band with Marc Benno, Doyle Bramhall Sr., Bruce Miller and this young guitar player, Stevie Vaughan. They were every bit the word c o o l . Me and my best friend David Murray would jump on my little red Suzuki 50 motorcycle and go downtown to see Billy and the band play at the Armadillo, Flight 505 club on Neches street, the One Knite on Red River (where Stubbs is now) and other dive bars downtown and in east Austin. Billy and harmonica player Drew Pennington snuck us into the clubs under their coats (we were under age). We sat inconspicuously as possible in the back corner with the band members girlfriends… were completely blown away by the feeling from the blues music that washed over us. We didn't know at the time (we had nothing to compare it to as we never seen a real blues band before), but this was some of the most spirited blues music in the world. It changed my direction in life. The blues came easy…if you can hear it, feel it, you can play it. All I wanted was to be in a blues band.
Who were your mentors for working with musicians in the studio, on the road and organizing your festivals?
For producing studio albums, my Sensei was Old Man Bob Sullivan. Bob had a good ear and he knew exactly where to set up microphones to record the cats. He had a laid back attitude and always let the musicians figure out solutions to their own problems when they got stumped in a song before he jumped in with suggestions - Bob was a great mentor and friend.
On the road touring in the USA – my mentor was Anson Funderburg, the man knew how to book a tour. And again, it was his attitude that kept him ahead of the game. Anson is an easy and laid back country boy. I’m happy to report he is still at it today.
For booking Europe/Japan – I had nobody to learn from, I had to jump into that blind with both feet. At this date I have booked over 200 tours in Europe.
Jaap Hindriks was my mentor for producing festivals. I have played enough festivals to see how they are organized. I took a little of each one and put it into the Eastside Kings Festival, little of SXSW and a little of the Chicago Blues Festival.
Who are some notable musicians playing the festival this September?
WOW-one of the biggest names in bass players the world knows-Chuck Rainey will be playing this year. Also, Lucky Peterson (one of the smartest blues cats on the circuit today), Barbara Lynn (You’ll Lose a Good Thing) recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship, Jewel Brown (she performed with Louis Armstrong in the 50’s-60’s), Bloodest Saxophone flying in from Japan just for this Festival, Tribute to the Texas Juke Joints – Silver Slipper – RL Blues Palace and the Skylark Lounge.
What are your dreams for growing ESK festival?
My dream is one thing and how the festival grows itself is another. This festival was initially set up just to get cats together who haven’t seen or played together in a very long time. I would like someday to have all the eastside activated as one festival, over two weekends with street closures, or parking lot parties each day. And during the weeknights in between, have cool bands playing at all the night spots on the eastside.
The East Side Kings festival first started when drummer Jason Moeller (now board member) called me, he said “Eddie, I just saw Duck Jennings (trumpet player) and he’s not looking so good”. Jason asked me to put together one of those show I always do with the eastside guys, like when we perform or record an album. Jason was concerned we were starting to lose all the great blues cats. Jason said, “I would like to play with these guys one more time before they pass”.
I didn't want to just put together a show at a club again…sometimes nobody comes and they cost a lot of money. So, instead of a one off club show, I activated E. 12th St. East 12th is rich with Austin blues history, and it was a place that had several venues in a city block. What we made a day of for the first show has turned in to the Eastside Kings Festival.