Geno’s not blue about the blues

Geno Washington

Geno Washington

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SIXTIES music legend Geno Washington is bringing his brand of energetic blues to Doncaster this weekend.

The soul-singing star is playing at Doncaster’s The Leopard tomorrow night for a set he says is guaranteed to get the house rocking.

US-born but London-based Geno told the Free Press about his mission to changes peoples’ mind about the blues, which he says doesn’t have to put you to sleep.

He said: “When most people play blues, it’s boring. They’re just going through the motions. When we play with our style, we go down a storm.

“I like to mix it up. I’ve got no shame at all and I just throw all kinds of music in with it.”

Brought up in Indiana, Geno was used to music and meeting people from an early age with one of his earliest memories serving hamburgers to gamblers and musicians at his parents’ popular boot-legging joint.

“It was cool growing up in that kind of atmosphere. There would be all these people, then upstairs my grandmother used to give people psychic readings.”

Moving over to the UK in the 1960s where he was based in Norfolk with the US airforce, Geno made a name for himself on the London circurit with a relentless schedule of gigs. He went on to have two of the biggest selling UK albums of the decade with the Ram Jam Band - with both Hand Clappin’ Foot Stompin’ and Funky Butt Live’in the UK charts for an incredible 48 out of 52 weeks in 1966.

Geno’s time in showbusiness has had its ups and downs, with a two-and-a-half year stint in Spain as he tried to get his head together, followed by training as hypnotherapist in Los Angeles.

“Rock n roll has its downfalls. People change with fame and money. I wanted to get my head straight. Hypnosis taught me one of the best things I’ve ever learned, which is the power of the mind.”

He may be pushing on 70 but there is no slowing larger-than-life Geno down - in fact, he says that going on tour is much easier than it was years ago - though service station food isn’t what it used to be.

“There are a lot more motorways nowadays so it’s a lot easier to travel across the country then it used to be. Though if I’d know I’d still be alive at this age, I’d have looked after my body better! I was always saying that I’m never going to do that again but still doing it!”

Having played the blues in his early career, Geno has released three blues albums in recent years - Loose Lips, Change Your Thoughts You Change Your Life and What’s In The Pot?

Asked why Doncaster folk should head to his gig, he said: “We are totally different and that’s way people like us. We love playing live and where we are is where the party’s at!”

Geno Washington and his new band the Yo Yo Blues is playing at The Leopard in West Street, Doncaster, tomorrow at 8pm. Tickets £8. For tickets, visit www.ents24.com.