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The Bills - I think there will always be an interest in live music so it will live on in some form or another

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The Bills - I think there will always be an interest in live music so it will live on in some form or another

Bill Troiani AKA Billy T and Bill Booth form the duo The Bills. Despite their parallel careers - they played both in duo form and in bands with each other - they only met in Norway to release a record as a duo. 'Till the Blues have gone' was released on January 15. We had a nice conversation with the duo a few weeks ago about expectations, why it has taken so long. But also where the adoration for Blues and folk comes from and of course these corona times we still live in.

Who are The Bills and how did you find each other?
Bill Booth: The Bills are two musicians named Bill! One Bill Troiani AKA Billy T, from New York and Bill Booth from the State of Maine. Although we were performing at the same time in the same music circuit in New York, we only met after arriving in Oslo.
Billy T.: I met Bill Booth here, in Norway. I believe we met in the late ‘90s when we both joined “The Swinging Doors”; country-honky tonk band. I was running the house band at Muddy Waters in Oslo, and Bill had his own band. He asked me if I would like to play bass in his band and I said yes. At that time I was playing in quite a few bands. Mostly Blues.

You have been in the music business for many years. Apart from digitization, what is the biggest change over the years?
Billy Booth: Digitization is of course the biggest change and has affected most every aspect of the music business from fewer radio stations, live shows and broadcast royalties for artists and song writers.
Billy T: I got older.

Originally you are Americans, but moved to Norway I have read. Why the turnaround?
Billy Booth: Two slightly different stories but both of us came to Norway on tour with different bands. Bill Booth met some Norwegian musicians while touring and landed a gig with one of the biggest Norwegian Rock acts in the country at the time as well as sparking interest as a solo artist and studio musician.  I'll let Billy T answer his own story…
Billy T: I first came to Norway with The Tom Russell Band in 1983, I believe. Every year we did 2 months at The Gamle Christiania in Oslo. 7 days a week, 4 sets a night, for 2 months. It was during one of those trips I met a Norwegian girl and we eventually got married. She moved to NYC and after 10 years we had twin girls. She became unhappy with life in the USA, came back to Norway with our daughters, and asked for a divorce. I moved here in1997 to be Poppa

Despite the fact that you have been playing together for many years in various projects, the debut 'Till the blues have gone' is only now coming out, why did it take so long?
Billy Booth: We both have extensive solo careers and timing was never right until now.
Billy T: Well, we both have our own bands. I have 4 albums out with “The Billy T Band”, and Bill Booth has at least that many with his band. That kept us busy, but we thought a smaller unit might be something we could offer to smaller venues. We started mainly as a duo, driving and playing all over Norway. It was sounding good. After a while we got tired of our repertoire and decided to write songs together and record them for a CD. Bill Booth has his own recording studio and he’s producing his own CDs for years.

I think it is a typical Blues record, warm and compelling as Blues should be. How have the reactions so far been? The record has yet to come out, but maybe you've already picked up bits and pieces?
Billy Booth: We have been getting good radio play and reviews, especially in the UK and Ireland as well as Norway.
Billy T:We’ve been getting some wonderful reviews and airplay. The last issue of BluesNews here in Norway, Has a 4 page spread about The Bills as well as a 5 “dice” review of the album.

It's also a very accessible record, you sing those songs right away... is that a conscious choice? or am I wrong?
Billy T: Of course we had that in mind. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where does the fondness for Blues come from?
Billy Booth: I, Bill Booth, grew up far from the typical blues areas in the US but Portland, Maine also had frequent visits from touring Blues greats like Muddy Waters and BB King, both of whom I saw in concert locally. . One of my first records was a live recording of Lightning Hopkins who had become popular playing on the US folk music circuit during the 1960's folk revival. All this is in addition to the so called British invasion with many rock bands from England playing blues such as Clapton, The Stones and Led Zeppelin and many more.
Billy T: I grew up in NYC. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s there were still independent radio stations, with their own DJs playing what they wanted, or so I believe. Ruth Brown, The Moonglows, Johnny Ace, Bo Diddley, Little Willie John; the list goes on and on. R&B back then was still heavy on the blues, so it was ingrained in me.  My first band was the “Post War Baby Boom Blues Band”. I sang tunes from Lloyd Price, The Paul Butterfield Band, etc..

Besides blues there are also folk and country influences in your music, where do those influences come from?
Billy Booth: Folk music and country are one of the most popular genres in New England whether imported from Nashville or locally grown like Dick Curless and David Mallett. Fiddle festivals, contests and dances became very popular also during the folk music revival  of this time
Billy T: Folk music was everywhere, from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan. I didn’t understand country right away, but now I love it. The Carter Family, (”My Dixie Darling”), Wynn Stewart, Jean Shepard, Webb Pierce, etc. etc.. if you asked me, I’d say Hank Williams was a blues singer.

Who are your great examples?
Billy Booth: Beside the afore mentioned blues, rock and folk artists would be Cajun music with the Balfa Brothers who I heard on folk radio as well as Doug Kershaw who I first saw on television during the Ed Sullivan show in the 1960's.

What are your personal expectations about this release?
Billy Booth: We hope for respectable reviews and radio play with a chance at further touring and live shows.
Billy T: I hope people like it.

You can't get past it this year, corona. Have you made plans that couldn't go ahead?
Billy Booth: In March all of the live shows we had booked were canceled. We have done a few live shows this autumn for limited audience but people are a little reluctant to attend gatherings and the increase in infections has closed most live venues now.
Billy T: Oh yeah.. we didn’t get the chance to go out and promote our new CD.

How did you as a musician (and human being) deal with this crisis?
Billy Booth: Personally I began going daily live streams in the morning featuring a song a day; The Morning Song as it was called. I did a show every day for three months with well over 100 of my songs reaching one to two thousand people daily and generated some income as well through donations.
Billy T: As carefully as possibly. Aside from gigs, I don’t go out very much anyway, so it’s been boring but tolerably. At 71 I’m in that “High Risk” category!

How do you think culture and music will survive this crisis?
Billy Booth: I think there will always be an interest in live music so it will live on in some form or another
Billy T: Yes, of course. It always does.

What is your opinion about things like Spotify and social media?
Billy Booth: Spotify is great for the audience but terrible for songwriters and artists. A fair system needs to be developed for paying artists and writers. Social media is great for promoting music despite the loss of income.
Billy T: I don’t use Spotify because the regular musicians don’t get paid. I use social media all the time, no problem.

What are the further plans for the new year 2021?
Billy Booth: Live Shows if possible
Billy T: Survive until the gigs come back!

To go further. What are the ambitions after all these years?
Billy Booth: Continue writing, recording and performing as long as possible
Billy T: I’ve been writing songs by myself and with others, like Bill Booth. I really enjoy that. I think I’m getting good at it!

Absolutely. Thanks for this nice interview, I hope we can speak each other soon when you go on tour in my country ?  Thank You!

Aanvullende informatie

  • Band Name: The Bills
  • Date: 2021-01-14 23:00:00
  • Rating: 8
Gelezen: 160 keer
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