In late July, blues band Levee Town released its first recording in five years. Guitarist and vocalist Brandon Hudspeth has been with Levee Town since the beginning.
A transplant from Oklahoma, Hudspeth moved to the Kansas City area when he was 19. He played in bands, such as The MO City Jumpers, before co-founding The Cobalt Project — and some of the members of that group went on to create Levee Town.
Though he's known for his blues playing, Hudspeth also has jazz chops.
HUDSPETH: "I love jazz. I love all kinds of music, but definitely jazz is a mainstay. I studied at UMKC and learned a lot there."
HADDIX: "Also, your career path followed that of many other great artists who came out of Oklahoma. You hail from Muskogee. Jay McShann, Claude Fiddler Willliams, so many great artists, came to Kansas City."
HUDSPETH: "I know, ironic. We all came to the same spot."
HADDIX: "How did you first pick up the guitar?"
HUDSEPTH: "Really I was influenced at a very early age by Johnny Cash, believe it or not. He was on Sesame Street. For some reason, I was watching Sesame Street, I was a child, and he caught my eye big time. I told my mom about it, and she bought me a guitar. Here I am today."
HADDIX: "How did this CD (More Takin' & Given') come about?"
HUDSPETH: "It's been a while since our last one....We [Jacque Garoutte and Hudspeth] pretty much just have written the songs in the last year, I'd say, the last year and a half. They're all kind of light-hearted songs, and we just decided it was about time to start recording again ... We called some friends of ours to come join us ... just a bunch of friends, getting together and having a good time, and playing some original musical basically."
HADDIX: "Well, it really comes through on this one. How did you find your voice as a songwriter?"
HUDSPETH: "Oh, man. You know, I love Chuck Berry, I like simple songs. I like old rock-n-roll and old blues that have, you know, simple meanings. Kept it simple, and tried to come up with a hook, basically, was my main goal."
Chuck Haddix's extended interview with Brandon Hudspeth and more of Levee Town's music is archived in the first hour of the July 22, 2016 episode of the Fish Fry.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.