01 Apr Interview to YATES MCKENDREE
INTERVIEW TO YATES MCKENDREE BY MONTE ADKISON, “THE BLUES STALKER”
MONTE ADKISON’S BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
MONTE ADKISON’S BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
Monte Adkison, aka “the Blues Stalker,” has been listening to the blues since her teenager days . Along with many other young perople who grew up in the southern United States in the early 60’s, she listened to powerful Nashville, Tennessee WLAC radio deejay “John R’s” popular blues radio show after midnight every night.
As a high school social science teacher in Florida during thirty years, Monte was the recipient of a scholarship in 1995 from the Florida Humanities Council to study blues music at the University of Tampa where she met the late Tampa Bay harmonica, Rock Bottom, and the late “Diamond Teeth” Mary McClain. Amazed that “Diamond Teeth” Mary had been written up in European blues magazines but not in American, she vowed to change that.
Taking a summer pilgrimage to the Delta to study at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, she spent time researching Mary in the Blues Archives and met David Nelson, then editor of Living Blues which is based there on the Ole Miss campus. She asked David if he knew Mary and he said he had seen her perform at the W.C. Handy Awards in Memphis in ’92. When asked if indeed his magazine was true “Living Blues”, if she wrote about Mary performing on her 95th birthday, would he publish it? The answer was yes and Living Blues did and then went on to write an article on Monte’s Blues in the Schools program in a ’97 issue.
Monte began writing a regular column for the Suncoast Blues Society newsletter, the Twelve Bar Rag under the moniker “The Blues Stalker.” She is still writing about talented blues artists who are under appreciated and often ignored by the mainstream press. She also covers other aspects of the blues music industry besides the musicians themselves. Her photographs can be viewed on the Suncoast Blues Society website as well as photographs of the popular annual Tampa Bay Blues Festival.
Monte’s commitment to keeping the blues alive is evident in her articles and photos, and was present in her classroom in Ocala, Florida where every inch of her walls were covered with snapshots and autographed posters of blues musicians that she has met. As she puts it, “It’s my way of sneaking the heritage in -when you’re bored with the lessons and look up on the walls and see Kenny Neal, Eddie Kirkland, or Sista Monica- you might just give a listen later in live and fall in love with the music just like I have. It is another small way of keeping the blues alive”. You can visit her personal website site too.
I am really satisfied and proud to have at “La Hora del Blues” staff, directly from USA, the valuable support, help and collaboration of this great blues expert and lover, known as “The Blues Stalker”. I am sure you will enjoy this page with all her interesting and juicy interviews and photographs, so I can only encourage you to visit it regularly.
Welcome aboard! Monte….
by Monte Adkison aka the “Blues Stalker”
For blues fans around the Nashville area and past cruisers on Delbert McClinton’s blues cruises, the talent of young Yates McKendree is certainly no surprise. Now, with the release of his first solo album, “Buchanan Lane”, the rest of the world can finally be exposed to his exceptional talent.
Born in Nashville and raised in his Dad’s (pianist Kevin McKendree) Rock House Recording Studio in Franklin, Tennessee, from early childhood he was self taught on piano, bass, drums, and guitar. In addition to being an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, he is also an exceptional songwriter as well as producer and engineer. Now, at 21 years old, since the age of 10 he has played in Nashville at such notable venues as the Bluebird Café, the Ryman Auditorium, toured Europe and North America and appeared on national television and was recording engineer for Delbert McClinton and John Hiatt as well as playing guitar on their albums. At the age of 19, he won a Grammy for his role as engineer and musician on Delbert’s “Tall, Dark and Handsome” in the category “Best Traditional Blues Album” at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.
Yates’ debut disc, “Buchanan Lane” on the Indie label Qualified Records was released in October, contains 13 songs, 2 originals and 2 co-written with Nashville Songwriting Hall of Famer, Gary Nicholson, and covers of B.B. King, Tampa Red, Dr. John, and T-Bone Walker and his other blues heroes. You have to be very talented to cover these guys and make them your own and Yates indeed succeeds in doing that in his own tasty versions.
Having played on Delbert’s cruises since childhood, he again sets sail in January, 2023 on the Sandy Beaches Cruise -this time with a charting debut album to entertain cruisers with-. Don’t be surprised if another Grammy nomination is in store for his own disc this coming year!
Blues Stalker: You are accomplished in piano as well as guitar. Which instrument do you feel most expressive with?
Yates McKendree: That’s a tough one to answer because I feel as expressive on piano and organ as I do on guitar, but in different ways.
B.S.: The title of your solo disc, is “Buchanan Lane” the street that you grew up on? Care to share some fond memories of that experience
Y.M.: It’s where I lived my whole life, where I learned to play, where I made this album. There was and still is music being made there almost every day. Lots of great memories, but at the top of the list would be having Little Richard come record with us when I was 9
B.S.: Your Dad, Kevin, who was Delbert McClinton’s former bandleader, contributed piano on your disc. Do you guys ever write songs together?
Y.M.: My Dad and I have written a bunch of instrumentals together…maybe we’ll release some of them at some point.
B.S.: There seems to be a solid crop of talented musicians your age currently carrying on the torch of keeping the blues genre’ alive. Living in a town with so much musical talent of all ages, do you see a trend among your peers for interest in putting their own spin on the genre?
Y.M.: I do see a growing interest among people my age in roots music. I would like to assist in that resurgence, if I can. I think people are rediscovering that music made by people playing instruments together in a room has much more emotional impact than music made on a computer.
B.S.: Just out of curiosity, what is currently in your player or on your playlist? What are you listening to?
Y.M.: Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz (mostly on vinyl): Grant Green, Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt…There’s so much great music out there!
B.S.: I see that you are booked for the blockbuster of blues, the Big Bender in Las Vegas. Are you excited about that?
Y.M.: Yes, I was blown away when they asked us to play.
B.S.: Any future tour plans to promote “Buchanan Lane”? How can fans obtain this debut disc? Do you have a website and social media accounts?
Y.M.: We have just started working with Scott Boyer at North Shore Artists and are aiming to play anywhere they’ll let us! My site: www.yatesmckendree.com I am on Instagram, FB, etc.
B.S.: It takes skill and/or courage to cover such greats as B.B. King, Tampa Red, Dr. John and T-Bone Walker yet you make these songs your own in a unique way. How do you decide which artists and songs to cover? Is it just your favorite artists or are you looking for a certain beat or groove to add your own spin to?
Y.M.: Well, with the covers, I just found songs I love. I also wanted to cover a certain amount of ground. There is a lot of music I love and I wanted it to be represented.
B.S.: With pandemics and rapidly changing technology and venues and delivery methods constantly in flux- do you have any thoughts on survival in the industry?
Y.M.: Honestly, I try not to think about the state of the music business. I try and focus on making good music. I’m banking on that being my key to survival.
B.S.: At 21 years of age and already a Grammy recipient, do you have any future goals that you can share with us?
Y.M.: My goal is to continue to grow as a musician and also to do my best to help revitalize American music. It’s our greatest export.