Barrelhouse Blues ("BB") recently spoke with Bobby about his new CD,
"Prayin' the Blues," his musical experiences and more. Read on...
BB: Tell us a bit about your musical history and experiences...
BM: When I think back, I've met and played with so many very talented
musical stars. I mean, as a teen I danced to "The Midnight Hour" and
played "Funky Broadway" in soul bands. Never did I expect
that I would end up, as was Steve Cropper, "The Wicked" Wilson
Pickett's lead guitar player. Sharing flights with Carlos Santana,
having KISS open for the act I was in at the time (Capital Records'
Kathi McDonald Tour) and sitting back stage plunkin' around on guitars
with Greg and Llowell George of LITTLE FEAT or Jeff Beck are all fond
memories. Even more humbling has been having some of these same people
acknowledge and even praise my music.
BB: Your latest CD, “Prayin’ the Blues,” clearly
draws on many influences...where does your inspiration come from to
write songs such as “Slinky” and “FT3.”
BM: I had an awakening while spending some time in a cage, and both
songs were born out of soul-felt experiences; bluesy, funky music,
Slinky is an account of my rough years touring and druggin'. It tells
how I'd only call on God when the heat was on. It goes on to describe
the source of my faith in terms of Harley Davidsons and other modern-day
likes of mine.
FT3 again, not that I'm "religious," is a "rappy" blues
number taking advantage of such terms as "G" in order to
parallel the "gangstah" lingo with the "G" for
God as I advocate peace. This is the third in the "FT" or "Family
Traditions" legacy which began on my first solo CD, "Another
Shade of Blue(s)."
BB: The CD demonstrates your ability to play many instruments. Was
this an effort to carefully produce a specific sound and feel on the
BM: I guess you could say so. I knew exactly what I wanted.
If I didn't have a friend who could give it to me quickly, I'd go
at it myself, knowing I'd learn something in the process. Some of
my love for certain feels came from listening to bands like Chaka
Khan's RUFUS, so when Bobby Watson (from RUFUS) said he's like to
play one I wrote one that he'd "make happen." Same idea
with the traditional blues feel of "My Heart to Give" and
the involvement of Bob Margolin and Nighthawk's Mark Wenner. "Henpecked" was
written with former Miles Davis guitarist Mike Stern, and current
bassman deluxe ( a la John Scofield's "Loud Jazz) Gary Grainger
in mind. These nuggets of golden performances throughout the record
really added to what I needed.
BB: Our interest in you and your music is based on a foundation seemingly
rooted in the Blues, but your music clearly stretches those boundaries.
Is this a conscious effort on your part, or do you just follow your
BM: Definitely the latter. This is my blues. Blues comes from the
heart. My tastes have never been confined to 3 chords and trying to
sing like there's gravel in my throat. I happen to love some of the
original voices and feeling in old blues. Any form of art, in my opinion,
left to only replicate or carry on, suffers the possible lack and
vitality of what innovation is all about.
BB: Is the process of writing songs an easy or difficult one for
BM: For whatever reason, (I look at any talent I may have as a gift)
I find both an ease and immense enjoyment in creating a song when
I know what I'm setting about creating in terms of feel, mood, and
genre. I really dig it. I dig the studio.
BB: Do you have a favorite tune from the CD? If so, which one and
BM: I'd say "Black and Blue" is one of my favorites. It
was originally going to be called "Trick or Treat," but
that would not have sat well with an otherwise, mostly spiritual CD.
I played everything. I like it's strength and simplicity.
BB: Who or what are your greatest influences as a songwriter and
BM: Up until now, I have totally castrated myself from "modern
music." I never listen to radio. Just as I know not what the
notes I'm playing are, I've had this thing about not wanting to be
influenced by anything other than what inspired me to play and enjoy
music so much growing up. I always liked the good singers (Aretha,
Kenny Loggins, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Reed) and always went for the
very few guitarists who had somewhat mastered what I believe to be
the absolute most difficult trait of a good blues guitarist. That
trait would be a creamy, slow, controlled vibrato. The reason why
you hear it so seldomly is because it's very difficult to do (good
examples are Eric Clapton, Lucky Peterson, Stevie Ray, and Jeff Beck).
BB: As an artist and performer, how do you manage to keep your performances
fresh and inspired?
BM: I make sure the dope is fresh. (Kidding; I don't drink or drug.)
Seriously, I'm real spontaneous when it comes to playing. The ideas
kinda' flow out of me after the groove and feel presents itself. I
would describe playing live as trance-like and draining (in a good
way). It's very much akin to some of other, well-known "best
feelings attainable on this planet."
BB: What are some of your most memorable experiences as a performer?
BM: I'd have to say, the sight of the thousands of people filling
New York's Central Park, after which I got my first write up in Rolling
Stone Magazine, calling me a "great guitarist," along with
Nils Lofgren and Rick Derringer. Later, multi-thousands more filling
San Francisco's Candlestick Park, was really something. I was with
(now E-Street Band's) Nils Lofgren. There was an ocean of people.
The bill, including us, also featured Santana, Journey, Jeff Beck,
Tower of Power, and others. I have been informed that a European
company has included this performance on an "All Time Best Concerts" DVD,
to be released soon.
BB: Who would you most like to perform with that you haven’t
BM: I'd like to, when I'm really feeling perky, trade licks
on stage with the best: Jeff Beck. I'd also really like to accompany
Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Bonnie Raitt. My shoes would
BB: What advice would you offer to other aspiring singers, guitarists
and songwriters hoping to make a living in the music business?
BM: The music business is, unfortunately, very different from the
one I started in. Despite that, from my heart, I'd say the ability
to "follow that dream" is essential and vital... to the
soul and the mission... win or lose.
BB: What’s next for Bobby Manriquez?
BM: "They" say, I'm real good. However, so far, It's made
me little money to speak of. I'm planning a live blues album that,
I believe, will set the record straight, and your pants on fire. Maybe
then I'll feel like I've left my mark.
BB: Lastly, what do you value most about making music?
BM: In all sincerity, it satisfies my soul and feeds my spirit.