Back in 1965, a band came out of England with a scorching blues style that not only conquered their homeland but also America. The band was called Savoy Brown. It is now 50 years later and the leader and founder of that band, Kim Simmonds, is preparing to release a 45th album, “The Devil To Pay,” on Ruf Records, in conjunction with the band’s 50th anniversary. He’s also taking the band – made up of Simmonds on guitar and vocals, Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums – on a celebratory tour that will bring them to the Time Out Pub in Rockland on Thursday, Sept. 17. He was also gracious enough to grant a telephone interview from his stateside home in Syracuse, where he chatted about his long career and a number of other topics. I began by congratulating him on his half-century achievement.

Simmonds: Thank you. It took me by surprise, really, I’ve been in some denial about myself lately, how I sound and everything; but about a year ago, when it became apparent that seeing I’d started a band in ’65, it was, “Oh dear, it’s true!”

Q: I’m facing that, too, on a smaller scale. If I can continue to write until 2019, that will be my 50th year in this part of the music business — but with print media changing all the time, I’m not too confident.

Simmonds: Well, that’s the same as how music changes, you know, like guitar styles. When the punks came in in the ’70s in England all of a sudden you’re a dinosaur, you know? It was really, really difficult, and it’s probably the same for you — all of a sudden now it’s a new ball game going on, and you have to find a way of not being a dinosaur. It’s very difficult.

Q: True, but I’ve got to ask: Over the years, from making vinyl albums to now being able to download music from the Internet, has the music for you changed that much?

Simmonds: Well, it’s that old adage that everything changes but nothing changes. I know that for me, at my age, it’s a fantastic period to be going through. We have to be careful, though, with technology that it doesn’t take over music or over our lives, because you can do without it. But technology has affected the music business, so you have to be careful.


Q: How do you deal with it?

Simmonds: Oh, I completely bypass it all together. I give it no attention whatsoever. My attention’s completely focused on walking on that stage and being an inspiration to people. It’s like, “Man, this guy is 67; how the hell does he do this?” So I’m going to do it as long as I can because that’s what playing live is. It’s an inspiration. It’s a thrill. That’s why we go to see people perform. So I concentrate on that. I could die tomorrow concerning myself about what’s going on in the surface of things. That’s not going to help one iota. It’s all about inspiration – has been all about inspiration from day one – and when you don’t concentrate on that, well, you’re not in my game.

Q: After 50 years of doing this, what motivates you? What gives you the edge for a live performance?

Simmonds: Angst motivates me. It’s extremely important I call it with me all the time. I’m very difficult to be around at shows because I’m using angst as my motivation. If you’re not careful, you can sleepwalk through a performance. You play too lightly on the guitar. Angst helps me make a powerful, emotional statement; and to really play the blues, something has had to have happened to you in life, you know, that you can draw from. I think it helps to have some angst in your life. Nowadays it’s probably not so commonplace, but back in the day when I was coming up, it was commonplace to live with angst and understand that that was an important part. Perhaps it’s still understood. Who knows?

Q: Do you tour a lot nowadays?

Simmonds: I would say I do 60 dates a year, but each one involves two travel days, so it puts me on the road quite a bit. That’s nothing compared to the past, though. I mean, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I was on the road all the time, often 30 times a month. Now I feel like I’m semi-retired, right?


Q: Do you get up to Maine a lot to perform?

Simmonds: Well, not really, no, we don’t. But as a family, actually, every year we used to go on vacation up in Vermont and Maine, so I know the area. But playingwise, no, so I’m kind of excited to be playing in Rockland. I think I played Portland, maybe, the last time I was up in that sort of area; but the closest I would get to you on an annual basis would be the Boston area. I rarely get up to Maine, so I’m actually looking forward to it. I love the area for vacationing.

Q: Seeing you don’t get up here all that often, is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Simmonds: Come to the show! There’s going to be some nostalgia attached to it. That’s always fun, because I’ll be doing songs from the ’60s and ’70s and so forth. There’ll be fine musicianship. I haven’t been doing this for 50 years and not have control of my instrument. And above all, there’s entertainment. I love entertaining and I love keeping it light, and playing on stage brings out a side of me which you’re perhaps not hearing now in this interview. I’m a serious guy, but when I get on stage, I’m able to have fun; and I think that’s one of the good things about being on stage. So you’ve got entertainment, you’ve got musicianship and you’ve got nostalgia – so somebody could enjoy the show on any one of those levels.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.