TINA BEDNOFF AND THE COCKTAILERS
Jump, Sister, Jump,
(El Toro)

 

The country of Finland continues to amaze music fans worldwide with the 2016 CD release of Jump, Sister, Jump by Tina Bednoff And The Cocktailers. A colorful figure on the 21st century music scene, Tina is one of the hottest female blues-rock guitarists in Finland and in fact, all of Scandinavia. A bandleader, songwriter and lead singer, Tina sounds very influenced by blues giants like T-Bone Walker, Big Mama Thornton and Memphis Minnie. Filled with rockin’ R&B, slow blues, rhumba blues and couple haunting ballads, Jump, Sister, Jump features Tina with first class backing by her band mates—including Ville “Doc” Tolvanen (piano), Long John Rantapuro (bass), Honey Aaltonen (drums, vocals) and Jani Ahtiainen (percussion). Speaking about the recording process during the making of Jump, Sister, Jump, Tina tells mwe3.com, "We spent a few months writing and finishing the songs but the recording was done practically in a day. Everything was recorded live and mostly in one take. We did not aim at a "perfect" mistake-free thing but rather a good feel, like a nice small gig. Some vocal tracks, a guitar solo here and there were done over but that's all." There’s a few classic covers here, including “Aged And Mellow” by Johnny Otis—and a smokin' cover of blues great Jesse Mae Robinson’s “Gonna Catch Me A Rat”—but most of the music on Jump, Sister, Jump is original. With a timeless affinity for Americana music roots and a deep understanding of modern day rhythm & blues, Tina Bednoff And The Cocktailers get their rocks off on Jump, Sister, Jump. www.ElToroRecords.com



mwe3.com presents an interview with
TINA BEDNOFF


mwe3
: Can you tell the readers where you’re from originally and where you live now? Being from Finland, what do you like best about Finland and what are your favorite towns and cities to play and perform in Finland? Have you traveled to the USA or played live in other countries?

Tina Bednoff: I was born in Helsinki and live in Helsinki today. I lived in a smaller town when I was a child, then moved back here 25 years ago. I think the best things about Finland is that it's relatively safe and peaceful here, and we have pretty good social security, which the present government is working very hard to ruin and lots of empty space too! Our climate did not make it to my list!

The gigs in Helsinki are of course my favorite ones, no need to sit for hours in a car after you're done. The audiences are great everywhere, small town or a big city. We have done some gigs in Estonia, trying hard to get established in mid-Europe. I would love some gigs or a small tour in the USA!

mwe3: What were some of your original inspirations that made you want to be a performing artist and a musician? Did you start in the blues world or rock and pop and who have been some of your favorite recording artists over the years? How about 3 favorite blues or rock or pop albums that you still play today?

Tina Bednoff: My mom and dad played a lot of old jazz, dixieland, ragtime LP's so I grew up with jazz. In my teens I got struck by Little Richard, Chuck Berry and other 50's rock & rollers, from my twenties and on I got more and more into blues. Love the 1940's-50's black vocal groups too! And 60's girl groups! Some of my favorite artists are Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton, Little Richard, Louis Jordan, Roy Milton, Junior Parker, Hound Dog Taylor, Elmore James...of course the blues giants too, BB King, Muddy, Wolf, Little Walter. The list could really go on for a few pages.

Also my 3 favorite albums is a tough one, just so many of them. The first 3 all-time faves that come to mind are John Lee Hooker's House Of The Blues, Here's Little Richard and Amos Milburn's Chicken Shack Boogie.

mwe3: People are often surprised that Finland has so many fantastic musicians and composers. What is it about Finland that makes it such a unique place for musicians and music lovers? I know you mentioned Jim Pembroke, was a seminal figure in Finnish pop and rock. Funny enough, Jim’s first big band was called Blues Section! There’s the “blues” again!

Tina Bednoff: I'm not sure if we have any more talent here than anywhere else. Maybe it's just easier to be creative when you have lots of room to be by yourself. That doesn’t apply to Helsinki, of course. I do most of my writing at our summerhouse by the lake, preferably alone.

The big thing in Finland seems to be our own kind of rap-music, sort of. Don't really know much about the artists, not exactly my cup of tea. Old school rock & roll and blues are not that big, although we do have very vital scene here.

mwe3: How popular do you think is the blues in Finland and even throughout Europe? It seems like the American blues legends get more respect outside of the US.

Tina Bednoff: I think the blues is doing all right in the UK, Germany and France. Maybe it’s not so big in Italy or Spain but it’s growing. Actually, our album has been getting a lot airplay in Italy and Spain!

mwe3: Speaking about great musicians, how and when did you put your band together and what’s the chemistry like between the players, especially your co-writer Long John Rantapuro?

Tina Bednoff: Oh, thank you! Long John knew me somehow through some common friend and called me and asked if I had anything going on and if I wanted to try out something with him and our drummer Honey Aaltonen. This was in 2012, I think. So we started with some "cocktail-jazz" stuff and rhythm & blues. Soon the R&B took over, and here we are. In 2013 a pianist Jorma Niemi got on board but somehow things did not click with him. Then the good doctor Tolvanen joined us and that was it! I'd say the chemistry is superb between us. Of course, my name is first and I'm the front figure and all but really we are a democracy. I just have the veto right.

Most often Long John has a rhythmic / melodic idea of a song, maybe a rough idea of the lyrics too, he brings it to me and I start to write the story. Our cooperation works wonderfully well.

mwe3: What is the inside story behind the Jump, Sister, Jump album? How long did it take to write and record the album and what was it like working in the studio with Tomi Leino? Were the tracks recorded live or was there additional overdubbing in the final mix?

Tina Bednoff: We spent a few months writing and finishing the songs but the recording was done practically in a day. Everything was recorded live and mostly in one take. We did not aim at a "perfect" mistake-free thing but rather a good feel, like a nice small gig. Some vocal tracks, a guitar solo here and there were done over but that's all.

Working with Tomi was so easy and relaxed it felt like just us band members having a good time and recording it. Tomi really is a wonderful person and he knows his stuff in the studio. And the studio, it is unbelievable! Everything is analog stuff from the 1950's and 60's and the room itself sounds beautiful.

mwe3: From your choice of music on Jump, Sister, Jump is seems like you just touched the tip of the iceberg with just three covers? Have you recorded other classic covers from the blues greats of yesteryear? I particularly like your cover of Jesse Mae Robinson’s “Gonna Catch Me A Rat”. When did you start playing that track and when did you first hear it?

Tina Bednoff: I kinda think it's a good practice to play the songs you wrote or you wish you wrote. On our previous EP there is a cover of Irma Thomas' "You Can Have My Husband" and on an older promo EP is our version of Duke Ellington's "Solitude" and that's it. I heard Gene Vincent's recording of "Gonna Catch Me A Rat" in the mid-80's but I did not consider it a big deal. It was only years later after I heard Milt Trenier's version when I fell in love with the song. I think it's been in our set since the day one. Definitely a song I wish I wrote.

mwe3: How did you become involved with El Toro Records? There’s some great artists on that label. Is that the perfect label for your music?

Tina Bednoff: We just thought we'd ask several European companies if they were interested in us and El Toro was. Really too early to say if it is the perfect label but so far everything has worked smooth and nice with Mr. Diaz.

mwe3: Tell us about your guitars. What guitars did you record Jump, Sister, Jump with? Are certain guitars better for your sound than others? What do you look for in a guitar and what are your favorite amps, guitar strings and guitar picks?

Tina Bednoff: I used 1991 Japanese copy of a '62 Stratocaster in "Gonna Catch Me A Rat" and "Who's Loving You", a 1961 Silvertone 1329 in "China Blues" and an old prewar parlor guitar, maybe a Lyon & Healy or a Regal in "Dream Man Blues". The rest of the tracks were recorded with a 1954 Gretsch Streamliner or the Silvertone. The amp was a Kalamazoo Type 2 from mid-sixties.

I worked for years as a repair-luthier. I love vintage everything so it comes quite naturally that I use old instruments and amps. There just is something magical in the sound of old wood, DeArmond pickups and all-tube amps. I prefer fat, soft v-necks, shorter than 25" scale and narrow frets.

Currently on stage I use mostly a 1956 Harmony H65 and a 1961 Ampeg M15. I string my guitars with .012 Thomastik flatwounds. I love their mellow sound. I have always hated the squeaking of roundwounds, that is the main reason I guess. In my playing, I use a lot a combination of bare fingers and a flatpick. The brand does not matter as long as they're thick and smooth. Most of them seem to be Dunlop Ultex.

mwe3: Have you been thinking about the next musical project with Tina Bednoff & the Cocktailers as far as future writing and recording goes? What would be your dream album to make? How about touring plans for the Fall of 2016?

Tina Bednoff: I think the next recording project will come naturally when the time is right and there's enough new good material. I am writing all the time, whenever the inspiration hits. Sometimes they turn out fine, sometimes they remain only as raw material for years, maybe forever. I would love to record an album with a full horn section and some ballads with a vocal group, maybe the Velvet Candles... they are on El Toro, too.

We have a mini-tour in Estonia in the fall, and just regular one-nighters in Finland. Hopefully some more things will come up. If someone would want us to book a tour for us in the USA, I'm all ears.





 

 
   
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