Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Vince Agwada, a guitarist of the highest caliber, has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene for over 25 years. As a teen he played in numerous local bands, playing an assortment of styles ranging from James Brown to Led Zeppelin to Frank Zappa. He states: "We didn't discriminate, whatever was hot at the time was fair game. The band that I did my first gig with had a set list that included songs by the Isley Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, James Brown, Buddy Miles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway!"
Reflecting on his early childhood years he goes on to state: "My Dad was from Nigeria and was deep into traditional African and Classical music. My Mom is from here and loves R&B, Jazz, and Gospel music, so I grew up hearing a lot of different kinds of music from a very young age. I never thought about it until now but I guess that my parents had a lot to do with my eclecticism with regard to music or art in general for that matter. "
He got his start in the Blues hanging out at Theresa's, a world renown blues haven, and at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge, and received his blues education jamming with and backing journeymen players such as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, Otis Rush, John Primer, Syl Johnson, Sammy Lawhorn, Louis Meyers, Johnny Littlejohn and the late Lefty Dizz, who was the first to let the teen sit in on his legendary "Blue Monday" jam sessions.
Vince reminiscing on those times: "That was a magical period in my life, I had come from a fairly straight laced family and didn't grow up hearing a lot of blues. It was through records that I discovered that a lot of these great Blues artists whom many of my idols at the time cited as influences were right here in Chicago. Although I came around a little too late to meet cats like Muddy, Little Walter and Howlin Wolf, on any given night you might still have Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Louis Myers, Dave Myers, Sammy Lawhorn, Lefty Dizz, Johnny Dollar, Queen Sylvia Embry, Son Seals, Otis Rush, Artie White, and just a slew of other greats all in the same room; it was an incredible time for me and I learned an awful lot more from all of these greats than any college could ever have taught me."
Throughout the 1980s and 90s Vince toured the United States, Canada and Europe with many of Chicago's premiere acts including Bernie Mac, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Zora Young, Jimmy Johnson, Son Seals, Junior Wells, Valerie Wellington, The Dells, Sugar Blue, Larry McCray, and Magic Slim as well as his own outfits, One Eyed Jax, and the Vince Agwada Band. In 1996 he was voted one of the top 40 Blues artists under 40 in the country by Living Blues Magazine (issue 120).
As the 90s came to a close, Vince decided to take some time off from touring to complete the engineering degree he had abandoned back in 1981 when he opted to stay in Chicago and play the Blues rather than return to college after a summer break spent gigging in local clubs. He states: "I kept promising myself that I was going back to school next fall for 16 years straight, my folks are very big on education you see and no matter what you do in life, if you don't finish a degree, well you've fallen a little short in their eyes. Things had slowed down drastically for me during this period and to be frank, I had grown a little road-weary. The idea was to finish my degree, get a better understanding of electronics which I've been fascinated with since boyhood, and eventually start an amplifier company which I'd still very much like to do someday."
Although not traveling as much during this period he remained active during these times focusing his energies on songwriting (much of his debut CD "Eyes of the City" was composed during this period) and performing as a sideman with Sugar Blue, Larry McCray, The Morris Ellis Orchestra, The Dells, Chideco Zydeco, and an occasional gig under his own name. It was also during this period that he received a fateful call that would change his life forever "Out of the blue, I got a call one day from Jeff Schroeder asking if I'd be interested in working as a tech at Chicago Trax, a now defunct major recording studio where he headed the tech staff. God has a way of putting you where you're supposed to be and that was the perfect situation for me at the time. I was able to not only hone my audio electronics skills while there but also hung out daily with top flight engineers picking up valuable insight into the recording process." He goes on to state "We had major artists, engineers and producers in all the time. folks like Billy Corgin, Soul Asylum, Mickey Hart, Eddie Money, Kasey Chambers, Rick Rubin, Joe Chiccarelli, R. Kelly, Destiny's Child, Sean Combs, Ministry, and a host of others. I would go home at night and try out the things I'd learned there in my home studio. The three engineers that worked on my CD: Abel Garibaldi, Dylan Ely, and Chris Steinmetz, are all people I met and worked with while at Trax. Looking back, that whole experience was essential in my growth not only as an artist but as a human being as well; funny how God works!"
With the release of his self-produced debut CD "Eyes of the City", Vince has managed to bring all of his influences both musical and technical into play and deliver an extremely powerful work that shines not only in its artistic but in its production values as well. He states: "I'm extremely proud of this record for a variety of reasons. This collection of tunes, says a lot about who I am as an artist and composer showing many but not all facets of my artistic trip. I also got to show off my engineering chops; all of the vocals, keys, horns, and most of the guitars I recorded myself in my home studio and at Studio 660 which I partly owned at the time; I also mixed 2 of the songs. This was also my first time producing a full CD. I've produced other artists in the past, sometimes without realizing it (laughs) and often without credit but this time I was in full control from beginning to end. "
Now a well seasoned pro and armed with his powerful new CD,Vince has earned his place in the spotlight. With his trademark stinging guitar lines, husky voice, clever arrangements and compositions that combine elements of Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Rhythm and Blues, Vince stands poised to become a major player in the continued evolution of the Blues.