Few musicians can say they've performed with some of the world's most famous blues artists, and then went on to enjoy a long and successful solo career.
Walter Trout knows a thing or two about perseverance. His first instrument was the trumpet, but it was an album by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band that had him switching to electric guitar, honing his vocal skills and dreaming of a life as a professional blues musician, despite the odds.
"I knew that there would be difficult times and there would be bad gigs and there would be times where you could get discouraged," he said. "But I realized at an early age that if I just kind of stuck it out through all that and hung in there that I could have a long career.
Arriving in Los Angeles in the early-'70s, Walter Trout quickly became a respected sideman. He worked with blues giants John Lee Hooker, Joe Tex and Big Mama Thornton before joining Canned Heat, and later, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Once known only to European audiences, Trout is finally making a name for himself at home. He's been touring the U.S. for the past decade, and his critically acclaimed solo albums have contributed to an ever-widening fan base.
To mark his recent return to the studio, Trout invited some of his longtime musician friends and collaborators to play on his new album, Full Circle.
"I rented the studio for about five days, and just put out the call to all of my buddies and people I respected, and said, 'Look, I've got the studio in [Los Angeles], if you're home, come on in, let's see what we can do.' I was kind of amazed at the response at how many people showed up," he said.
Among the guests on Full Circle are noted guitarists Jeff Healy, Coco Montoya, Guitar Shorty and Junior Watson, as well as his former boss John Mayall, who Trout describes as a master of improvisation.
"John Mayall came walking in and he said, 'What do you want to do? There's the drummer and the bass player.' I said, 'O.K., John, how about this?' You sit down and play piano. There's the piano. Let's do a minor blues in C-minor. I'm going to take it around one time on the guitar. I'm going to sing a verse, you sing a verse, you play a verse of harp solo, I'll sing a verse, and then I'll play a guitar solo until we feel like ending it and then we'll end it," he said. "We all looked at each other and said 'Ready, count to four and here we go.'"
Water Trout wraps up his current European tour on November 25 in Denmark. After a well-earned break, he'll be back on tour with selected dates in the U.S. in early-2007.