Dustin Hofsess is currently getting rave reviews for his 2013
CD entitled Short Stories. The 10 track CD features
Hofsess in a group setting with production handled by percussionist
Jim Brock. Dustin's band on Short Storiesincluding
Adam Snow (drums), Lovell Bradford (keyboards) and George
Porter Jr. (bass)is also first rate. Musically, the all
instrumental CD invents an innovative form of 21st century jazz-rock
fusion that spans and blends a wide range of guitar styles and studio
wizardry. Fans of musicians that Dustin has studied withincluding
Oz Noy, Jim Campilongo and Joel Harrison (all guitar veterans of the
NYC jazz scene)will find much to enjoy with Short Stories.
The CD will find an immediate home among fusion fans and rock
guitar enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy Dustins jazz-fusion
instro rave up of the Led Zeppelin classic Kashmir.
presents an interview with
Your new album hit from out the blue. Can you give some background
into how long youve been playing guitar and recording music
DUSTIN HOFSESS: I have been playing guitar for about 30 years
now. It has fascinated me since I was a third grader listening to
my parents' record collection. The Beatles, The Doobie Brothers, Peter
Frampton--that music seemed so exotic to me, electrified by the sound
of the guitar. The day I got my first guitar I learned a Rush song
by ear off the radio and I was hooked for life. I started playing
professionally in college and have worked as a professional musician
I performed in a number of local and regional bands but the one gig
that really honed my skills was as a studio musician for Sound Choice,
the largest producer of karaoke music. My job was to learn and replicate
the guitar parts on hundreds of songs in all styles. In one week I
might have to recreate tunes by Frank Sinatra, Stevie Ray Vaughn,
Madonna, and Ozzy Osbourne. This really sharpened my ear and taught
me a lot about getting good guitar tones.
The last several years I spent writing and playing bass in the band
Green Light, an instrumental band that has been described as Pink
Floyd meets Herbie Hancocks Headhunters. We toured the east
coast and released four CDs that I am still quite proud of.
mwe3: Where are you from originally and where do you live now
and what do you like best about it?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Being a fairly large city there is a music scene there with a wide
variety of styles and enough work to keep me very busy. I love all
styles of music when done well. The challenge of playing many different
styles with a deep roster of great musicians kept me in Charlotte
for most of my life.
wife and I recently moved to the town of Boone up in the NC mountains.
Boone is a college town and it is less than two hours to Charlotte
where I still teach, at Davidson College, perform and record regularly.
I am just starting to get plugged into the scene up here but I am
looking forward to having all sorts of new playing opportunities while
keeping some of my lifelong musical connections.
mwe3: What guitars are you using of the Short Stories CD?
In addition to your lap steel and bass work, theres some great
recorded sound effects that you use on the CD. Whats in your
sonic bag of goodies so to speak as far as effects, pedals, and amps
used on record in the studio and how about what your live concert
setup is like?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: On Short Stories I used every guitar
I owned. My main guitar is a Partscaster assembled by
my luthier Craig Landau. He is a true artist and has refretted and
customized every instrument that I own. The Partscaster is a 1963
Jazzmaster neck bolted to a reissue body. The neck is very well worn
and feels incredibly comfortable. Landau put in electronics by Barden
which are very versatile. That is usually the first guitar I grab
for any situation.
I also used a 1963 Gretsch Corvette, a cool little vintage student
model with a unique sound, on And The Children Danced.
My two G&L guitars that I bought new in 1993, a Legacy used on
One Million Breaths" and an ASAT classic used on Simple
and True were also employed.
basses I used my 1977 Fender Jazz Bass that was my main touring instrument
with Green Light. I also used a Jaco Pastorius signature jazz bass
and my old 1960s Kay upright.
All of the sound effects were recorded in the moment as opposed to
added later in the mixing stage of the process. I used my typical
live pedal and amplifier setup for the entire CD. The pedalboard starts
with a Boss compressor and then goes into a NOC3 Pure Drive. All of
the soundscape comes from a Line 6 M13 multi FX, an incredibly versatile
pedal. All of the echoes, backwards guitar, loops, etc. were created
on the fly with this pedal.
For amps I mainly used my live rig, two Oldfield Club Master prototypes
that I have been using for several years. I did borrow a fantastic
early 1970s Marshall and a 1963 Princeton but I dont remember
if I actually ended up using them on the record.
mwe3: What was it like working with producer Jim Brock on the
new CD? How did you meet Jim and what did he bring to the studio setting
and final release?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: I have known and looked up to Jim since I was
I was about 20. My friends and I used to go see his group, The Montuno
Jazz Orchestra, frequently. It was so inspiring to me to see such
high caliber music at the local clubs. Jims incredible focus
really had an impact on me. When it came time to do my first solo
recording project I knew I wanted Brock to produce it and put his
percussive genius all over it. He is one of the most musical people
I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His sense of time is
so good he can tell you if your watch is running slow.
His resume reflects the depth he has in many styles; Joe Walsh, John
Hyatt, Sonny Landreth, Victor Wooten, Kathy Mattea, Mel Lewis, Branford
Marsalis, Delbert McClinton, Sam Bush, Pinetop Perkins, Michael Hedges
and many others.
What I like the most about working with Jim is that, like me, he straddles
the line of being a "song" player and a "jazz"
player. He understands the power of a well crafted song, as well as
the magic that can happen in the interaction of sensitive improvising
musicians. He really got what I was going for and helped me to achieve
Can you tell us something about the musicians recording with you on
the Short Stories CD and what was the chemistry like between
the players during the sessions? So many musicians send files everywhere
these days, do you like making long distance albums or
a group under one studio roof, so to speak?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: Well besides Jim Brock I had a few other fantastic
musicians to help me realize my vision for the project.
My long time collaborator Adam Snow contributed his talents on the
drum kit. Adam and I played together in Green Light for ten years
or so. We traveled around the country in our old band van listening
to music and talking about musical concepts. Because of this closeness
Adam really gets what I am going for with little or no explanation.
Keyboardist Lovell Bradford is a newer friend of mine. He is such
a natural musician and great guy to be around. He contributed keyboard
tracks on the two live tunes, Shell Game and Short
I am very excited that I have one of my all time favorite musicians,
George Porter Jr., playing bass on my project. While I was in college
the rhythms of funk really changed my musical concept. Prince, Sly
& the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, their music made my musical
concept shift from the cerebral to the visceral. When I heard the
New Orleans band The Meters their music resonated in my bones. Anchored
by George Porter Jr, the master of time and space, The Meters have
been in constant listening rotation for me for all these years.
planning the session, the experience of playing live with George was
much more important than the actual recording. We were all in the
same room vibing together. Luckily it was captured and those two live
tracks, Shell Game and Short Stories, hold
a special place in my heart.
While I do respect how technology allows people to make long
distance records today, I like to be in the same room with everyone.
The experience is an important part of the process to me. I considered
getting a couple of other big names on the CD through remote recording,
but in the end that just didnt appeal to me.
The recording process was very different from tune to tune. While
some songs were recorded live with all the musicians in the same room,
others were crafted piece by piece, layering one instrument at a time.
To keep the spontaneous jazz-like feel on those tunes I limited myself
to one take on each track. I think the final result is that they feel
like composed songs but still have the exciting unpredictability that
comes with improvised music.
mwe3: In addition to your solo career, what other recording
and musical projects, live and/or studio, are you working on, including
the band Green Light, and how do you balance everything as well as
your teaching career? And youre also planning an instructional
book? What will that include? What else interests you... you also
had a soundtrack album too? Whats that like?
HOFSESS: My old band Green Light has been talking about booking
some shows and coming out of hiatus. I know how much all three of
us love the band but life has been getting in our way. Because we
played together so much the band has a unique power, a collective
consciousness that we can tap into when improvising. Id like
to see us perform and possibly record more in the next year.
As for other projects, for the last few years I have been doing a
house gig every Monday night at the legendary blues club, the Double
Door Inn in Charlotte. The band, which includes Jim Brock, has been
doing Monday nights there for 17 years. It is a great place for me
to work on new ideas with some fantastic musicians in front of a great
I would enjoy doing more soundtrack work. My experiences with that
have been fun challenges. Music that creates a mood really appeals
to me so I may start to pursue that avenue of expression even more
in the future.
Teaching music continues to be an important focus of my life. I am
working on a book, or more likely a series of books that are growing
out of my teaching practice. I enjoy teaching musicians of all levels,
from my advanced students at Davidson College to young beginners to
see everything I do through the lens of music. When you do anything
for most of your life you learn everything about life through that
craft. Music has helped me understand big concepts such as patience,
collaboration, and communication. Through music I have been able to
see myself more clearly. You play music like your personality. As
I improve myself as a person, my playing gets richer and deeper.
This same deepening could come from any lifelong pursuit; writing,
martial arts, pottery, gardening. For me it comes from music. I have
other hobbies but really music is my life and teaching music is my
way of giving back to the world all that music has given to me.
mwe3: What are you hoping fans will come away with after listening
to Short Stories and what other guitarists have been catching
your ears and eyes this year?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: I just hope anyone who listens to it, regardless
of their background, enjoys the project. I titled the CD Short
Stories because to me each tune is like its own short story rather
than like chapters in a book. They all have different moods and different
One of the most difficult things for me to do is to categorize my
music. Categories are great for marketing but they can limit creativity.
If music falls easily within one genre then it is probably not pushing
boundaries... unless it created that genre!
To me categories don't matter in music. What matters is if the musician
is really letting his or her personality and soul come out. The more
personal the music the better. In my mind Willie Nelson, Al Green,
Frank Zappa, Bob Marley and Thelonious Monk are all playing the same
lies somewhere in between. While I am influenced by the beautiful
and complex harmonies of jazz, I am just as fascinated by the textural
side of music. The mysterious sounds created by Jimi Hendrix and Pink
Floyd caught my ear at a young age and that fascination continues
today with artists like Bill Frisell and Medeski, Martin & Wood.
Combining all of that with the rhythms of Africa, the Middle East,
India, Central and South America is where my focus lies.
As far as listening goes, I have mainly been listening to my old favorite
guitar players; Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Hendrix, David Gilmour,
Wayne Krantz, Buddy Guy and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
My teaching practice has made me revisit some of the classic jazz
guitarists; especially Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, and Jim Hall
As for other music that has intrigued me recently...
Meshell Ndegeocello continues to inspire me. Her constantly twisting
musical path and the deepest of grooves appeals to me deep in my soul.
Playing with her would be my dream gig.
The Wood Brothers and Otis Taylor are where I think modern blues is
headed, broken out of the bar-room blues mold into new song forms.
Esbjörn Svensson Trio really bent my ear. Their modern take on
the classic acoustic piano trio was refreshing. It was such a loss
when Svensson was tragically killed in a diving accident.
Tony Allen, drummer for Fela Kuti has put out some fantastic music
over the past few years. I love his sense of rhythm.
Stevie Wonder, Wilco, Al Green, Edie Brickell, The Police, Jimmy McGriff,
John Coltrane, Kaki King, Willie Nelson and Prince are always in heavy
rotation for me.
mwe3: What are your plans for Short Stories this year,
marketing, concerts, show, etc... and how about new material and possible
new recordings and/or DVD releases you may have planed for 2014?
DUSTIN HOFSESS: My main focus right now is getting this music
out there. I am planning on more live shows and some radio appearances
to promote the project.
Im also working on a new batch of tunes for my next recording
project. Jim Brock and I are just starting to plan for that project.
I think it will be a duo project with just the two of us but who knows.
I did a few video projects for Short Stories including some
live footage that I plan on mixing and releasing soon. I really enjoyed
the challenge of working with video and I plan on doing a lot more
of that with the next project and I might even have the next project
be a DVD.
Thanks to Dustin Hofsess @ www.DustinHofsess.com