Pat Loiselle and Martin Hury first met in 2012 in Quebec City. Four years later, the two bluesmen competed as a duo in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Pat and Martin upon their return. Their thoughts and experiences are recounted here.
BD: What was your first impression of Memphis?
MH: It was like a blues explosion! Too much blues all in one place! It was like a dream.
PL: I visited Memphis in 1991 and at that time there were fewer blues venues on Beale Street. There has been a lot of development in tourism and clubs now; that’s what struck me.
BD: What did you enjoy about the IBC?
PL: It was a good experience. There is a high calibre of bands and we got to jam with people from all over the world.
MH: I started playing the blues in 1992 in Argentina. I never imagined I would be in the Gibson Guitar factory during an impromptu jam in Memphis!
PL: It was good for networking. I got to jam with a well-known manufacturer of harmonica amps. It was a challenge and not a competition. We just breathed it all in, the Mississippi River, the music, etc.
MH: We also participated in the off-circuit local scene. The people are very welcoming. Sometimes, I worry that the blues is going underground universally. I have a reverence for the blues and really like the old-school modern blues like Duke Robillard.
BD: This was your first tour together. How did it go?
PL: I think Martin Hury is an amazing rhythm guitarist for harmonica. He can back harmonica the way I like it. We’re like Kim Wilson and Jimmy Vaughan!
MH: I am the front-man in my own trio. This was my first experience backing a harp player as a duo. It felt natural.
BD: Who are among your musical influences?
PL: My biggest influences are Hendrix, Clapton, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Jeff Healey. I tried to emulate Little Walter, too.
MH: I like the Stevie Ray Vaughan approach, the real thing. I was influenced by Anson Funderburg, Keith Ramos, Ronnie Earl, Freddie King and Matt Scofield.
BD: Why is the blues still so appealing?
PL: I care about the music and I can put my own voice in it. I am happy in the tradition of the blues and I respect it. It’s important to work within the format. I started playing guitar at 15 and taught myself harmonica when I was 20. At that time, I didn’t feel the blues the same way as I do now; I’ve lived since then.
MH: I love to play blues guitar. When I play, it’s a magical feeling and mysterious like mojo. I also want to learn more from Pat; he’s a walking encyclopedia of blues!
BD: If given the chance, would you return to the IBC in Memphis?
PL & MH: ANYTIME!!!