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Travis "Moonchild" Haddix Interview

Haddix has quietly become one of the most lauded electric bluesmen of our modern era. Without the push of a major label he has nevertheless built up a loyal following the hard way- with terrific music and live shows. He's back with a great new live CD called "Mud Cakes" on his own Wann-Sonn publishing and is about to head to Switzerland for a tour.

Blues guitarist Travis Haddix was born on November 26, 1938 and began playing the piano at the age of seven in his home town of Walnut, Mississippi, located thirty miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. His father Chalmus was a Delta blues artist similar to Robert Johnson in style. The Haddix family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Travis continued to refine his craft by singing and playing throughout the North. The turning point came when he was eight. His brother Hal took him to see the legendary B.B. King, who came to Memphis and began playing daily at the studios of WDIA. Travis was inspired by King's guitar virtuosity and he hung around the radio station every day to learn all he could. Soon, Travis' piano playing fell by the wayside and was replaced by the guitar, which he plays on stage and in the studio.

In 1959, after serving time in the army, Travis moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he joined the D.L. Rocco Band and achieved regional notoriety that led to a prominent spot with the Little Johnny Taylor group. In the mid-60s he put out a few singles on the Cleveland-based Del Nita label. Later Haddix fronted his own band called the Now Sound followed by the Travis Haddix Band. One of the acts they opened for was Mr. Clarence Carter, who helped get Travis signed to Atlanta's Ichiban Records, which was also Dr. C.C.'s label home. Haddix went on to record five discs for the label before going the independent route. Travis also contributed material to five albums by Artie "Bluesboy" White, who was concurrently on Ichiban. Since starting his own publishing company, Haddix Publishing, and label, Wann Sonn Records, Haddix has been putting out the best music of his career.

The Interview

BC = Blues Critic

TH = Travis "Moonchild" Haddix

BC: So you just got back from a tour?

TH: I was on tour in Europe with Theodis Ealey, Vernon Garrett, Kip Anderson, Charles Wilson, Chicago Bob, Trudy Lynn and Timothea. These Guys and Gals are all very good friends of mine and I talk to Charles almost every week. I have talked to Theodis a few times too and I play his music on my radio program.

(Editor's note. Travis hosts a radio program on WCSB, 89.3 FM called "Blue Monday)

BC: You have a new CD out called "Mud Cakes". The title cut has a delightful story about making mud pies and getting hit with them. What can you tell us about the new CD?

TH"Mud Cakes" was recorded live in Osnabruck, Germany and the project was finished at the Savannah Bar & Grill in West Lake, Ohio. Recording the CD was as much fun as a kid playing in the mud making mudcakes & pies. Thus the title was born.

BC: You're a highly esteemed songwriter. Your songs have been covered by Charles Wilson, Michael Burks and many more. Artie "Blues Boy" White always includes some of your songs on his albums and they are usually the highlights. How did this partnership begin?

TH: Artie performed a show at a very popular place called SMITTY"s Lounge in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 80's The owner Mr. Smith (SMITTY) ask if he could put a local band on stage to open the show. The show went very well. So, Artie invited my band and me to play at his club in Chicago called BOOTY"S and from that a long time friendship begin.

BC: I understand you had a recording session with Artie earlier this year. When will get to hear that material?

TH: A studio CD will follow in 2006 which will include the work that Artie and I performed in the studio in April 2005 in Chicago. I did not come up with a title yet. However, the CD will be loaded with slow, funky blues and will also include one of my risqué' tunes called "Dick For Dinner". Everyone gets the wrong idea when my woman invites a guy name "Richard" over for dinner! Its a fun tune???

BC: I read somewhere that your father was a bluesman. When did you get the blues bug?

TH: My Father played several instruments very well such as the guitar,drums, piano and some home made instruments like the pan pipe and the hand saw ETC ETC... So, I got the blues bug at a very early age back in Hatcha bottom Mississippi.

BC: You first played piano?

TH: My Sister was taking piano lessions and I used to go with her to her classes and after the class they would let me bang around on the piano.

BC: When did you first record?

TH: My first recording was on the Del-nita label in 1965 a tune called "Stop Cheating Woman".

BC: How did you get involved with Ichiban Records?

TH: I opened a show for Clarence Carter at the Plush entertainment center when he was with the Ichiban label and he or one of his band members spoke to Gary BB Coleman who was also on the label and after that I received a contract with the label and I was with them for about ten years.

BC: Right from your first album "Wrong Side Out" you show a penchant for self-deprecating humour like on "Caught In The Middle" and "Old Cliché". Then there's side-splitting songs like "No, No, No" & "Better Than Nothing" on further albums. In fact, all your records have a healthy mix of serious blues and comical wit. Is that the plan?

TH: Yes, that is my plan. I like to tell a story and add a bit of humor to the story so that people can enjoy the music and have some fun at the same time. My songs get a bit risqué sometimes but that's meant to give people a laugh so that they can have fun with it.

BC: I noticed on the live version "Two Heads Are Better Than One" from "Dance To The Blues" you cautioned the audience about the subject matter. What songs would you consider your biggest hits?

TH: When I do a live show I like to let people know in advance what I am going to do. For example, when I turn my guitar volume up I simply say "This may be a bit loud so watch your ears". When I'm going to talk a little risqué trash I simply say all the women and children should close their (eyes) while I say this. It is just a part of my show to get a laugh and this has become a big part of my show and it works very well. When you are an entertainer you must do more than just show up and play some music. My biggest hits came from the CD (Company is Coming) I received some awards and also the CD sold more copies.

BC: In addition to blues n' funk you have a knack for writing smooth R & B ballads. Have you thought of sending "Through With Love", "Winners Never Quit" or "Penny For Your Thoughts" to some hot R & B singer to record. I know if Luther Vandross was alive he could do a "Luther Sings Travis" project!

TH: Barry White and Luther Vandross were two of my favorite singers and I regret that they didn't get a chance to do a Travis Haddix ballad. However, I do plan to send some of my material to Freddie Jackson in the future.J ackson has a great voice and I know that he could do a fantastic job with some of my ballads

BC: Considering your lyrics are some of the best out there when it comes to songwriting do you come up with lyrical ideas before you lay down a groove?

TH: Sometimes I write the lyrics and then find a groove and at other times the groove is there before I write the lyrics. However, most of the time I write the lyrics first.

BC: How much of your music is autobiographical?

TH: I write about things that I see and hear and about something that someone says. In fact very little of what I write is about me or my life style. For example, I played with Kenny Neal at a place called the Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis IN. When Kenny said to one of his band members which is his brothers. "You can't do wrong right" Well, I thought that was funny because everyone was laughing. So, I went back to my hotel and wrote the tune (Do Wrong Right) It is on the CD "Milk & Bread"

BC: How do you feel about the blues business today? What are the obstacles?

TH: The blues is alive and well. The blues never gets too high when things are going well and never too low when things are not going so well. However, there are still many obstacles such as not getting enough air play and not being introduced to larger venues and certainly the artists that sing and play the blues are almost always put on the back burner of the industry.

BC: Who would you list as your biggest influence on your brand of blues?

TH: My Father was my biggest influence and I also listen to Robert Lockwood Jr. a lot. However, my Dad played a different kind of blues and the same can be said about Robert Lockwood Jr. The kinds of blues that I play today while trying to create my own identity in the industry would be from Lowell Fulson, Little Milton, Albert King and B.B. King.

BC: Considering the stereotype of blues singers being womanizing road warriors, what is your secret or advice since you've been happily married to the same woman for 43 years?

TH: My wife travels with me a lot. In fact, she is my number one fan. When things are not going well and I am not sounding my best I can still hear her clapping and cheering me on. A married couple can always find a reason to break up. The secret is to find a better reason to stay together.


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(C) 2018. All written material found on this website is the property of Blues Critic and may only be used with permission and full accreditation (either "Blues Critic" or "Dylann DeAnna of Blues Critic") and link to this website.