Spider Murphy is a New Orleans jazz musician; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in being a professional musician?
A: My mother absolutely hated the fashion and the message that was being touted to the media by popular musicians back in the very early sixties. If Mom hated it, as sure as the sun coming up in the morning , I was going to make it my mission in life.
Q: When did you have your first public performance?
A: My first public performance was also my first paid gig. It was in “64 for the Chicopee Massachusetts Girl Scouts Xmas Party.
Please ignore my answer to question #1.
Strapping on an electric guitar and all the girls suddenly digging on me at that 1st gig was what got me hooked.
My Mom hated that too.
Q: What do you like about the New Orleans’ music scene?
A: I like the number of people here in The Crescent City that know the difference between “BAD” music, and the kind of music that I perform.
Q: What kind of day jobs have you had and how do they influence your work?
A: I’ve worked delivering newspapers, in box factory, as a field hand in the tobacco fields, on shipping docks, as a telemarketer, a teacher, delivery driver, and I even worked for my Journeyman’s Papers, contractors license, and operated two of my own hardwood floor businesses in California and Colorado. I even worked for Goodwill here in Louisiana after Katrina for a while.
I used to use the tough and grueling physical aspects of all these day jobs to create the balance I needed for my artistic endeavors.
I have abandoned and eliminated my day job years ago. I have discovered that pampering myself usually gets a great performance out of me.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences and how can we see those influences in your music?
A: My four years at Berklee College in Boston had to be the most influential on me musically. During that period of time I got on the right path to developing my own unique style.
Some of those teachers there were Gary Burton, Quincy Jones, Alan Dawson, Wes Hensel, Oscar Peterson, Dr. William Leavitt, and my personal guitar teacher was Pat Methany. For the 10 years before college I studied at the Pizzatola Music School under the musical guidance of Giuseppe Pizzatola and Robert Ezold.
I don’t know about seeing any of my influences, but you can sure hear them in my playing. I personally hear my teacher Bob Ezolds’ licks popping out just about at every performance.
Q: How do you go about selecting a song set?
A: As soon as I step onstage I qualify my audience.
That determines what songs I choose and in what order.
Q: What is your weirdest work story?
A: Years ago New Orleans music legend Skip Easterling asked me to perform a duo with him at the Ponderosa Stomp at the House Of Blues. An hour before the performance Skip and I got in the shuttle bus at he hotel to take us to the gig. There was another couple sitting in the front seats sharing the ride. I was excitedly gushing to Skip about the possibility of meeting Scotty Moore, Elvis’s guitar player. Rumor had it that he was going to be at the Stomp. As I was bloviating about how Scotty Moore was one of my early guitar idols and when I was gigging at the Bahia Hotel in San Diego years before, Scotty Moore came up to the stage and complemented my guitar playing, the woman in the front seat of the shuttle bus turned around and said, ” excuse me, this gentleman whom I’m with is Mr. Scotty Moore. He and his wife were on the way to the Stomp too.
We talked and talked and talked and talked and he and his lovely wife were in the front row when Skip and I had to play that evening…………it was good weird.
Q: How did you select the members of your band?
A: My Dad played keyboards. He always said to me…….”Your problems son, will never be the music itself. Your problems will always be with the other guys you share the stage with.”
I select them with lots of care.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: I have been very fortunate to have received excellent music training starting when I was six years old. Ten years at the Pizzatola Music School for reading and sight reading and then four years at Berklee for an Arranging and Composition. Music theory tempers your musical chops like fire and repetitious hammer blows tempers a sword.
Q: What song tells the story of your life, and why?
A: The old Mississippi Fred McDowell song – You Gotta Move…….
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.