11 Questions: Hambone Wilson
by BRENT COLE
When you think of Bellingham’s music scene, “the blues” isn’t necessarily the first genre that pops into your head. But that doesn’t matter to Hambone Wilson, a local blues guitarist and songwriter who’s been kicking around town for years and years. With his new album, Hambone has taken the next step, bringing in notable musicians to record and playing to bigger and bigger crowds all over the US. On top of that, the dude makes KILLER hot sauce. The magazine hasn’t given Hambone the credit he’s due, but that ends this month. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, Hambone Wilson.
Who are you and where did you come from (tell us a bit about yourself)?
I am Thayer Hambone Wilson, I grew up in Mclean, Virginia, outside Washington D.C. grew up in a family of three boys me being the youngest. My mom and dad did work for the government, social and public sector stuff. I am the only musician in my family. Started playing guitar when I was 10 years old or so. Had my first band in 5th grade. Washington D.C. had an amazing music scene while I was growing up and still does to this present day. From Punk to Blue Grass it’s all there.
What initially drew you to the blues? Do you remember the first time you heard it?
My first experience with the blues was going to see piedmont picker John Jackson in second grade, a class field trip to Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA. He left a lasting impression upon me, plus other bands in the DC. area like The Nighthawks etc. Danny Gatton, Root Boy Slim, and countless others, all wild characters.
You’ve recently released a new record that has opened some doors nationally for you. Tell us about the process of recording the album.
The Ppocess involved recording between Vancouver, B.C. and Los Angeles, California, mostly L.A. It was a great experience working with so many talented people, from the international musicians who can really lay it down musically, to the tech/sound engineers, I had to go to LA to get the quality of production I was looking for, longing for.
As a long time resident of Whatcom County, what is your favorite thing to do in the county?
I love to whitewater kayak, been kayaking 25 years around North America, and have a couple of first descents here in Whatcom county, Racehorse Creek being one of them. Plus I’d have to say snowboarding is a close second. Farming/Gardening a third choice. I love to garden and grow things. My garden is one of the largest on Mount Baker Highway.
You’ve been touring in different parts of the US this year, where has been your favorite place to play?
I’d have to say, the East coast, the people there seem to really love music. Just did a tour of West VA,VA, Maryland, Wash D.C. and Baltimore. Baltimore treated us like they gave us the golden keys to the city. A really great city. I never would have expected it a week after the horrible riots that had occurred there.
As an avid maker of hot sauce, what is the key to making it delicious?
I’d have to say Brent, finding the right blend of peppers to use, and a lot of trial and error. I learned to make hot sauce from a good friend of mine in California who has his own hot sauce company. And again, it all comes down to flavor versus the heat. If it’s not flavorful and all hot, try, try, try, again.
If you weren’t playing music, what would you be doing with your life?
If I wasn’t playing music? I’d most likely be selling kayaks, or farming. Nothing like the feeling of dirt in your hands.
What is your all time favorite movie and why?
My favorite movie, well that’s a hard one. I’dd have to go with The Blues Brothers, why because it makes me laugh every time I watch it. And plus it deals with some serious social and race issues as well.
What is your favorite non blues record?
My Favorite non blues record would be Electric Lady Land by Jimi Hendrix, his sounds are still timeless to this day, and always will be. How come we don’t have a holiday in Washington state for him yet?
What is on the docket for this summer’s touring schedule?
This summer has been a gearing up time. Mostly shows locally and in Canada. Hawaii. Back to the East coast in the fall. I’m working on a promo video right now to market to worldwide festivals/national booking agencies/tv shows, etc.
What sets your new record apart from your older material?
The new record is not any type of genre, and everything but the blues. So you might say I’m more of a rocker but will always have a blues upbringing and undertone.
Any last thoughts?
Well, I’m already four songs into the next project, and it’s a real rocker. May shock a lot of people. I’ve always been an outsider, so what the hell. Go for it. Could just be the one I need.
Hambone Wilson performs July 3 at the Main Street Bar & Grill in Ferndale, July 4-5 at the Birch Bay Water Slides, and July 17 at the Little Roadside Tavern in Nugents Corner. For more information, see www.hambonewilson.com
Published in the July 2015 issue of What’s Up!