“It’s “Everything I’ve Ever Wanted,” All the Way Down Deep in My Soul:
The Energetic & Rockin’ Hamilton Loomis
THE DATES: It’s a TWO-day workshop — PART 1 Sat Feb 8, & continues with PART 2 Sun Feb 9.
THE TIMES: 1pm – 4pm BOTH DAYS
THE LOCATION: BARGE 295 (formerly Turtle Club), 2613 E Nasa Pkwy, Seabrook TX 77586. 281-549-7603.
THE COST: Only $60 per person (includes BOTH days!)
INCLUDES: A 10-hole harmonica, practice CD, & informative handouts/materials. Just bring yourselves!!
Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, Loomis is the son of musician parents who has listened to blues, rock, and soul his whole life. Music ran in his veins and, with instruments readily available around the house, he picked up drums, piano, guitar, and harmonica early on, honing his multi-instrumental talent in addition to performing regularly as part of his family’s doo-wop group.
“My parents had a fantastic record collection, and, when I started writing, I gravitated towards what I’d been listening to all my life. I have a huge reverence for the blues and all it encompasses, but I’ve always been fond of R&B and funky music.”
A protégé of Bo Diddley, Loomis met the icon backstage at the age of 16 at Houston’s famed venue Rockefeller’s. Before the night was over, Loomis was onstage playing guitar with the legend. Diddley quickly became friend, mentor, collaborator, and supporter, appearing on two of Loomis’ albums and presenting a cherished red guitar that he still plays. And as they say, the rest is history.
We recently went to see a concert of Loomis’ and found the quote, “Loomis’ energetic, get-in-with-the-crowd antics are infectious” very accurate. We sat down with Loomis to ask a few questions.
Island Guide: Where are you from?
Loomis: I was born and raised on the island. I am a BOI.
Island Guide: How long have you been playing music?
Loomis: Pretty much all my life. My parents are musicians, so there was always music and instruments in our home.
Island Guide: Describe your style of music, your sound, for someone who has never heard you.
Loomis: My music is a mixture of all my favorite music I listened to growing up: blues, funk, soul, rock, & pop. Being comfortable on stage is something that comes entirely natural for me. I feel joy when I play music, and it moves me. It moves my body. I learned long ago that whenever music is coming from you, from deep inside your soul and from the right place, people will feel that on a deeper level and might not even know what’s going on inside of themselves. I enjoy playing, engaging the crowd, and feel a show should be an interactive experience.”
Island Guide: What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Loomis: This is a tough question because I’m multi-genre. I think I’ve developed a hangup about people wanting to categorize music or stick it into one genre. As soon as you label an artist with one style, you prevent a lot of potential fans from listening to your music. However, at least that’s one good thing about certain streaming services: they cross genres and give subscribers suggestions that may not be exactly what they would go for – too bad those streaming services only pay pennies to artists – but it’s the way of the future, and you do gain new fans.
Island Guide: Your music is described by Blues Blast Magazine as “a non-stop turbo of power, one minute moving from side to side of the stage, and then taking on the horn player in a head-cutting contest on the apron of the stage the next minute.” What does that mean to you personally?
Loomis: Ha! Well, honestly it’s just describing some of the stuff my band and I like to do onstage. I like to engage the audience a lot. I like to go out and play in the crowd to make people feel closer to the artist. I like to put quotes from other famous songs into my own, to keep people trying to figure out what we’re going to do next. When I do a long guitar solo, it’s totally directed by the audience’s reactions and facial expressions. I guess it’s another way of making the audience feel like they’re a part of what’s going on onstage.
Island Guide: How old were you when you fell in love with music? How did you get started in music? And who were your influences? In other words, what got you started.
Loomis: My parent’s record collection definitely got me exposed to a lot of great music at an early age, plus the fact that they were musicians was a plus too. It was a great environment as a youngster to learn how to play instruments.
Also, that one night, when I met Bo Diddley, it began my education, and I spent a lot of time with Bo over the years listening to him tell so many stories. He was so generous, and most people don’t know that he was really philanthropic. He played free concerts around his hometown for homeless shelters, schools and anyone that just needed help. He was always giving! That’s another thing that planted the GIVE IT BACK seed in my mind. It’s all coming full circle now for me.
Island Guide: Was there a point in your life where you decided that playing music was going to be your career? Tell us the story of how that decision came about.
Loomis: I remember when I was about 12 years old, I sold my dirt bike so I could have the money to buy a multitrack recorder. I think that was the big turning point.
Island Guide: Do you play covers and originals?
Loomis: I do a few covers in my show, but mostly it’s my originals from my CDs.
Island Guide: Tell us how your songwriting process happens.
Loomis: That’s another tough one. I don’t think I have one process for songwriting. Some songs begin with a great line, some begin with a great groove, and others start with a topic that I want to write about or needs to be written about. For me, I guess every song is different, and it’s just a matter of coming up with music that fits the lyrics, or lyrics that fit the vibe of the music. It’s different for every song.
Island Guide: What is your favorite song to perform and why?
Loomis: I think my favorite one to perform on stage is “Bow Wow,” which is a tribute to Houston’s own Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. It’s the one song that I do an extended guitar solo out in the crowd on, and it is directed and influenced by the audience’s reactions. I never know what’s going to happen on that song, but it’s such a treat when the audience is a part of what you’re doing.
Island Guide: What advice would you offer people who are just starting, either individually, or as a band? Everyone has a “first day.”
Loomis: Be dedicated, be professional, be the best at what you do. Don’t skimp on the recordings you put out there. If you have to spend money on a great studio or a great producer, it’s worth the investment because once you put something out there, it’s there forever.
Island Guide: Our questions that we ask everyone: if you could pick one band to see live, living or dead, who would it be?
Loomis: I’m fortunate because I got to see Prince and Stevie Wonder live, two of my favorite artists of all time. It would have been great to see Hendrix in his heyday.
Island Guide: What was the first album you remember purchasing?
Loomis: I think the first album I ever bought was Stevie Ray Vaughan “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” on vinyl!
Island Guide: What was the first concert you went to?
Loomis: My first concert was the Beastie Boys on their “Licensed to Ill” tour. I was 11, and they were beyond vulgar…my dad, who took me, was absolutely livid!
Island Guide: What is the one piece of musical equipment you cannot live without?
Loomis: I have this Shop-Vac nozzle for my harmonica, and it gives me that great big fat harmonica tone. It’s one of a kind, and they don’t make them in that size anymore, so if I ever lost it I would be screwed!
Island Guide: Any big announcements for 2019-2020, big gigs, new music, new CD’s, etc.?
Loomis: I just released my very first Christmas CD, “This Season,” which is available on my website at hamiltonloomis.com. It’s got five new original Christmas songs that I’ve written along with five holiday classics that I put my spin on.