Harlis Sweetwater has received high praise from fellow artists and critics alike, but the Huntington Beach, California-based singer/guitarist still hasn’t taken his live show to a number of major markets. That’s about to change as Sweetwater embarks on a coast-to-coast tour that finds him performing in Birmingham for the first time. On Feb. 8 and 9, The Harlis Sweetwater Band will headline shows at The Nick. Currently, the band is touring in support of its latest release, Put It In Dirt. Recently, Sweetwater spoke about his run of upcoming shows by phone from his California home.
Weld: Your latest album, Put It In Dirt, has received great reviews and has placed you on a national stage. What’s the background of some of the album’s songs?
Harlis Sweetwater: Some of the songs are 20 to 25 years old [laughs]. A couple of them, “Can You Feel It Too” and “Evil Spirit,” were songs I played in my old band, Barrelhouse, back in the ‘90s. But a lot of the stuff is new stuff, too.
Weld: How would you describe your recording process?
HS: I like to keep it like the old-school style — the way they did it back in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Just lay it down and choose a couple of takes. Each song may be different each time I do it, even though it’s the same song.
Weld: How would you describe the current blues climate in the U.S.?
HS: I think blues music is really healthy and is enjoying a resurgence. There’s a lot of great players out there and young kids getting into the blues. I’m glad to be a part of that in any way, shape or form.
Weld: What about the broader current musical climate in the age of social media, satellite radio and Spotify?
HS: It’s a blessing and a curse, no two ways about it in my opinion. I’m a little bit older of a cat, so I came from the ‘70s and ‘80s and I’m kind of backing off the social media thing. It’s so saturated with people and players. It’s a great tool if you use it correctly and wisely, but I’d like to see it go back to the days of Led Zeppelin. There was a mystery and an excitement about them coming around. They weren’t so accessible and when you wanted to hear the record you had to go buy it. I liked that and I think it’s kind of cool. The Internet and social media have made it difficult for people to come out and see live music. That’s the challenge — you can get people to hear you, but to come see you is quite another thing.
The Harlis Sweetwater Band will perform at The Nick on Monday, February 8 and Tuesday, February 9. Both shows begin at 10 p.m. For more information, visit thenickrocks.com.