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A Conversation With Tony D

Tony D, (Tony Diteodoro) is well known as the guitarist with MonkeyJunk, a blues trio that has won a basketful of awards. With a vast and varied music career over many years, he brings a release as diverse as music can be. It’s unique in that it’s an album of scorching instrumentals that cements the notion his guitar is not bound by any particular genre.


Ken Wallis interviewed Tony D for his radio show, Blues Source Canada, which airs on Blues & Roots Radio and The Hawk FM.




Ken Wallis

There's a new album out it's called Speak No Evil - A Flurry Of Instrumentals. And if you ask me, it's not a flurry. It's almost a tidal wave. It's a great CD. It is Tony D. and Tony, thanks for joining us. Great talking with you.


Tony D

Thanks Ken, how are you today?


Ken Wallis

I'm doing fine and thoroughly enjoying your album. And I find it's such a unique album in that it's all instrumental. What sparked that?


Tony D

I've always personally loved instrumental music. As a kid I would listen to music and a song would come on the radio and somebody would be singing but what always got my attention was the way the instruments would play with one another. And being a kid, you don't understand that the drums are doing this , the bass is doing that, and then the guitar will come in and it'd be a solo, or a saxophone, whatever. And I just love the way it would sort of interweave with one another if that's a word. Then I became a big fan of people who played instrumental music, some of the great jazz players, and some of the great blues players. When Freddie King started out, one of his early hits was Hideaway and that was one of my first songs I ever learned how to play. So, I got into his sort of form of instrumentals. And then I got into people like Kenny Burrell and Miles Davis. And I went to record this instrumental with my band last year in 2019. And I thought, well, that's cool. We just sort of wrote it on the spot. And it's on the album. I use the big first pedal, and the song Big Muff is a first pedal, so I wanted to sort of emulate the sounds of Hendrix and Cream in the late 60s psychedelic rock. And I realized as I went home, how many instrumentals through the years I've recorded, and there were so many in so many different forms, and genres, and with different people as well, I thought, man, I just love to throw it all out there because some people don't know what I did. I do a lot of different music as well. So that was the whole reason for it. It was that one song kind of sparked the idea.


Ken Wallis

And there's a great music video for Big Muff as well.


Tony D

Yes, we have the dancing going on with the old vintage dancing. Absolutely. Yeah, that's my manager, Trish Walker, she puts together all that stuff. I thought, oh, I don't know about this video. She goes, well, you don't have to know. I like it. That's all you have to know. [laughing] So she puts it up there.


Ken Wallis

Is it more difficult putting together an instrumental rather than putting together a song that has lyrics to hang the instrument around? Is it tougher or is it easier for you?

Tony D

it's tougher in the sense that when you have somebody singing a song of the melody there, you have the interest of people listening to the lyrics, or the singer, which is what is most common, right? So in instrumental music, you'd have to have a melody that's catchy, you have to have a sophisticated rhythm behind it, you have to have a break somewhere in the middle of the song to go in a different direction, which we might call bridge, or the B section and then you got to basically get back out into the melody. So, the melody has to be strong instrumentally. Or the players have to be strong. And listen, when you listen to people like Jeff Beck who's such a monster player. It doesn't even matter what he does. It's just like me, I'm hypnotized, and most musicians will be but it's the same thing. Like if you listen to some of these flamenco players who I listened to a lot, their sense of melody and rhythm in a structured form, it's repetitive, and then they improvise within that structure form but within their genre, very romantic playing, and to me that that just mesmerizes me too. So, I think it is a little bit harder. It all depends, though, because writing really good lyrics is really hard to do. There's a lot of the same type of lyrics, which is over and over again, especially blues, where, you know, I woke up this morning, my baby left me again. So, I always try to look for blues songs that have a sort of a positive lyrical slant, and there's nothing wrong with any of that. But, if you look at the lyrics, or if you listen, to the lyrics of like Robert Johnson, for example, very colourful, you know, when he's singing, his Traveling Riverside Blues. When he's singing, "she's got a mortgage on my body and a lien on my soul". That's pretty poetic stuff. It really is. Or Good Morning Blues,"Who taught you to have that common good, but I've walked with the devil side by side" And all that stuff. And he paints an imagery that is kind of lacking in today's blues writing lyrics. It's that kind of imagery. A lot of it had to do with where he was from, the Delta and you can almost feel the heat when he's singing but the problem is, is that I'm not finding these type of lyrics In modern day blues, except for people like, Paul Reddick. I think Paul Reddick in Canada writes greatly, not only because I'm on his last record [LAUGH], because I really do think that when he has songs like a Photograph, which wasn't included in the last record or The Other Man, those songs conjure an image for me.


Ken Wallis

At times, I think he's as much a poet as he is a musician.


Tony D

Oh, absolutely. He's, he's a writer. You know, he's a musician, for sure. That's his vehicle to put out his poetry and his writing his music, but definitely a writer.


Ken Wallis

And you mentioned flamenco. And that's what I like about this album, there's a whole bunch of different twists and turns to what it includes. It's bluesy, no doubt about it. But there's a lot of different sides to blues, and I think you're exploring a lot of them.


Tony D

Well, thank you. I'm glad you noticed that. If anybody's wondering, some of the material that's on there, you'll hear the Spanish guitar flamenco inspired songs. There'll be other guitar players that are listed on the record, and who I was playing with at the time. When you get to the bluesy solos. That'll be me.


Ken Wallis

You've had a wonderful career, you and Monkeyjunk have certainly cleaned up a few awards over the years. I suspect that this album is going to be very popular with a lot of people out there because it's so diverse. And I think it's so different. So, I applaud you for that. I have to ask you one question. One of my favourites is Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I understand you opened for him once.


Tony D

In 1984. I found the date. It was August 16 1984 and I was playing in a band called Saints and Sinners at the time. We got asked by the promoter who came to see us play. Well, we didn't actually get asked, we were told we were going to open for Stevie Ray [LAUGH] And we went sure. 84 was like a year after he came out and the world, the blues world and just the guitar world exploded again. And that was really a catalyst to sort of bring back a lot of blues and it became the forefront because, here's a guy that was put on FM radio, with a three piece and bass drums and guitar and singing a straight shuffle. The song Pride And Joy right while everything else was so keyboard heavy and image conscious. Here was a bunch of guys showing up and plugging it in and playing and it's totally live. You can hear it, its sped up a bit. The passion is there. And I just thought that really was how we started getting back into a more organic kind of musical appreciation and an imagery which started to just sort of change in different ways. We played at the National Art Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. Big Ben Richardson was our bass player, He's the bass player in Big Sugar, Tortoise Blue played harmonica. And the drummer Lauren Kelly, who passed away, he was a drummer on that gig. So, I remember coming out of my dressing room. I was pretty nervous. I hadn't met Stevie yet. We were in the theatre in the afternoon waiting obviously for them to do a soundcheck. And then we would do ours. And I had restrung my guitar and I had my head down as I was walking out of the dressing room. And I actually bumped into somebody and I looked up and said Oh, sorry, man. And it was Stevie standing there watching me. And I didn't know what to do. So, I picked up my guitar and just handed it to him.


Ken Wallis

Oh, that's funny,


Tony D

He put it on and he started playing and says Oh, this is cool, come and see my guitars. So, we went out to the stage. He plugged my guitar, which was a hollow body at the time in his system. And of course, I don't think it's ever sounded as good since. He wanted me to play all his guitars. And so I started picking up a guitar but I wouldn't pick up his main one because I was 22 as a kid and this guy was one of my heroes. And he said, have you played that one? And I'm like, No, you know, he kept saying play that one and I was just being I guess kind of what I thought was polite. Finally, he just took the guitar, whatever guitar was playing, took his main one and stuck it in my hands. He was so proud of it. He wanted everybody to play it. He loved it. He would want you to play it, he would want me to play it, anybody to play it because he just loved that guitar.


Ken Wallis

Again your new release is called Speak No Evil - A Flurry of Instrumentals It's a great CD. Where can people purchase a copy?


Tony D

You can get a physical copy if you go onto my website which is www.tony guitarro.com or you can go on all digital platforms, you can stream it.


Ken Wallis

Thanks a lot Tony. It's been great chatting with you,


Tony D

Thanks Ken I appreciate your time here. I really do.



Website: www.tonyguitarro.com



 

 

 

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