Don’t get caught off guard when blues-rocker Ryan McGarvey comes into town. The guy can wail, turning his guitar into an instrument of rolling thunder. His chops, established over countless gigs and two albums (2007’s “Forward in Reverse” and 2012’s “Redefined”), have earned him a slew of awards, including 2013’s Best New Talent in Guitar Player Magazine and several from The Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque, his hometown. He’s also built a fan base in Europe, where he will return on tour for the fifth time in the fall. Catch him Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the State Line Music Series. We talked to him about one very famous fan.
Q. So Eric Clapton digs your music? Your band won a contest he held and got a chance to play at his Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago.
We were actually hand-picked by Eric. It was something like 4,500-plus artists from around the world. We got flown out to Chicago and got to play at his festival. Definitely a huge springboard for the resume and career.
Q. Did you meet him?
I stood with him for about half-an-hour. When he came back, he came and stood right next to me. I was in a green room with everyone. There wasn’t one person in the room who wasn’t a major superstar. All I wanted to do was shake his hand, tell him “thank you” and reintroduce myself. I kind of backed off because I noticed in the moment “I’m hanging out with Eric Clapton,” and there’s guys like Buddy Guy, John Mayer and the Allman Brothers hanging around.
Q. What makes Europeans different from Americans when it comes to supporting bands, musicians they’ve never heard of?
Over there, someone looks at the poster and they read about me. They’ll actually go home, look me up on YouTube and on our website. By the next day, they know everything about me, they know the songs, they do their homework. Here, if someone sees the poster and they don’t really know who you are, it’s not too likely they’re going to go home to try to find out who you are. So yeah, (Europeans) just really get into it. It’s definitely a different mentality.
Q. Who have been your guitar heroes?
I grew up on classic hard rock. There’s Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, guys like that. And I kind of grew up on the ’90s mainstream, contemporary blues/rock guys like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ian Moore, Chris Duarte and guys like that. Even later on my friend, Joe Bonamassa was an influence too.
Q. When you’re brainstorming ideas for new music, is there somewhere you go or something you do to get in the zone?
I think it can go different ways. I totally remember I was in the van, kind of just writing everything out in my head and stuff. I was actually using my iPhone and notepad to write notes, lyrics and I was writing stuff next to lyrics, (thinking) like, “I think this chord might match to this.” It can go that way or it can completely come from mottling around at soundcheck – even something accidental coming about, and building up all the music and write the words around that. Every song is different. There’s songs I’ve worked a long time on, then there’s songs that took 10 minutes.
State Line Music Series
The State Line, 1222 Sunland Park Dr.
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m.
Bring a canned good to benefit El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.