Many musicians learn songs by listening to old records or CDs of artists, but Sol Roots has been lucky enough to learn many tunes directly from the source. Even though his vocal and guitar talent stretches from fiery rock to laid back jazz, from funky innovative grooves to soulful ballads, Sol draws on a deep background in raw down-home blues. His father, John Creech, performed with Piedmont blues legend Guitar Gabriel and Tim Duffy (founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation) as part of the Brothers in the Kitchen.
“During my summer breaks from school I would travel around the Deep South helping to do field recordings with Tim Duffy.”
Duffy was on a mission to meet folk and blues artists throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
“We followed the cold trails of folk life fieldworkers that had located artists 25 years earlier,” Duffy explains on his website. “We were surprised both at how many we found, and saddened by how many had passed on. Everywhere we went we heard the same requests: they needed gigs, their own CDs, instruments and any assistance to reduce the strain of their poverty.”
Sol first started working with Music Maker as a recording engineer, then a mastering engineer, and also as a session musician. After they began to hear his musicianship, they pulled him in for shows with the artists and now he is dedicated to spreading the gospel of blues and roots music.
‘Working with them has been a great experience,” he says. “I’ve been able to travel around the world, and to work with many deep, spiritually rewarding artists. Music Maker is a great organization that I’m proud to work with. I’ve learned how the root of most American music styles stem from the blues and this is something that I respect.”
Now Sol, who lives in the Washington, DC area, makes his living playing music. As a full-time musician he has learned to be flexible in his performance’s and loves branching out into jazz, rock, reggae, Latin, soul, and all styles in between.
Jambase, the web’s largest live music database, has described Sol as “a fierce guitarist and soulful singer.” He admits that having a strong foundation in the blues and being open to all styles has helped him live up to that.
“As one of my mentors Guitar Gabriel taught me – I try to view music as a spirit and focus on the emotion and delivery of the songs, and the connection with the audience is of primary importance.”
And to many, it this connection with the audience that is as inspiring as his playing ability.
“Making a living at music, I have to cater to each venue and each audience differently. Some shows I perform all jazz, some all acoustic, some all rock, etc. I do try to put my heart and soul into every show and make it the highest quality possible, and to work with musicians who understand and respect the groove.”
When he performed in Wilmington last year at 128 South, Sol had audience members dancing. Local promoter and musician Susan Savia explains his shows this way, “If you attend a Sol Roots concert, prepare to be transported to a groovy place. You will grin, sway and toe-tap through the whole journey.”
To Sol, this is what music is all about –it is supposed to connect people.
Sol’s next visit to Wilmington will be March 9th at 128 south as a part of the Stone Soup Concert Series. This show promises to be a powerful blend of rock, jazz, blues and soul. Performing with him will be saxophonist and vocalist Tim Smith.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming Wilmington event,” he says. “Tim Smith and I have worked on several albums together and have a electric musical connection.”
Smith has been hailed as one of the best saxophonist and vocalist in the country. He has toured nationally with Squirrel Nut Zippers, Countdown Quartet, and the Jumpstarts.
Sol Roots playing (sol-roots.com) has been described as “musical glue”, holding together many grooves and personalities. He has backed up legendary artists like Taj Mahal and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, opened for BB King, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks, and has played with more obscure artists who have had unique perspectives and sounds. Though it all, he has learned many valuable lessons, dealt with a broad range of personalities and egos, and is still able to hold on to the one thing that ties us all spiritually to one another – music.
Humble, appreciative and talented, Sol lives by a simple rule these days.
“I believe in celebrating life through music,” he explains. “Each show is unique and individual.”
And on March 9th, we all have the opportunity to celebrate along with him.
The Beat Magazine- March- interview by Jeff Reid