The local musician shares his thoughts on his influences, his new album and playing the blues.
Anyone who enjoys quality local music should be familiar with one of Tulsa’s best blues guitarists and vocalists. If you’re not, take note. After all, Dustin Pittsley has been a consistent performer in the Tulsa music scene since he was 17. Now 25, he’s torn up historic Tulsa venues such as Cain’s Ballroom and the Brady Theater and can be found weekly at local hotspots throughout the area. Whether he’s riding solo, jamming with the Dustin Pittsley Band or collaborating with other like-minded individuals during Dustin and Jesse’s Higher Education, you can be sure of three things — stellar music, high energy and a devoted fan base. And his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s won numerous Tulsa World SPOT awards and his latest CD was awarded best self-produced CD of 2008 by the Blues Society of America. Pittsley says he’s recently re-embraced his blues roots and his fans can expect a live album later this year.
You’ve been playing music professionally in the Tulsa area since you were 17; how did you get your start? How have you matured as an artist since then? I started off playing in Oklahoma City and heard a lot of good things about the Tulsa music scene. I ended up playing the Tulsa Blues Festival and started gaining friends from that — it was one of my big breaks. And since then I’ve tried to dive into different types of music besides just blues. I was labeled the blues kid when I came into town and tried to get away from that for a long time, so I did rock, country and bluegrass. It allowed me to get better as a guitarist and singer. I’ve come back to blues since then.
You must have encountered many local musicians who influenced you. Who has been your biggest inspiration? Honestly, local guys are a bigger influence on me than a lot of the big names out there. Steve Pryor is at the top of the list and Brad James, as far as guitarists go. It’s unexplainable. He (Steve Pryor) is just amazing. I try to pick up as many licks from him as I can. I always strive to be as good as him. As far as songwriting, Tom Skinner and Don Morris just blow me away.
Your new album, “Staring Into the Sun,” features a mix of rock, blues, jam and folk — what motivated such a diverse sound? Playing with so many different people around Tulsa. The scene here is so cool; everyone is helping out and playing together a lot. I didn’t go into it saying I was going to make that kind of CD. I didn’t go into it thinking I was going to make a blues record or a rock record or anything like that. It just ended up being what it is — an eclectic mix of quite a few different things.
What’s the album about lyrically? There’s not really a theme to it at all. It comes from quite a few different experiences. Some of it was about me trying to get back to my roots as far as playing blues and thinking of music differently. I actually wrote some with other people, so it’s some of their experiences. I did a Randy Crouch song that when I first heard it I felt really strongly about, and that’s why I got it in there.
As a group (the Dustin Pittsley Band), how do you compose and combine the different styles of each band member? Everything we’ve done previously to this (the band’s current album), I wrote all of it. We don’t ever get together to practice; we try out the stuff live at our shows. This next CD, we’re all gonna lock ourselves in a studio, write it together and see how it works out. We’ve never really tried that before.
For readers who have never been to one of your shows, what can they expect? A lot of high energy, hopefully. We just hope to do good music and make people happy.
What’s in your CD player right now? Yonder Mountain String Band or the Derek Trucks Band.