Making the blues his own

August 30, 2007|By Brad Schleicher | Brad Schleicher,Sun reporter

Not many musicians can claim to have shared the stage with their idols. But at the age of 27, blues guitarist Sean Costello has done exactly that. Costello, who began playing guitar at age 9 and touring at 14, has opened for and performed with the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bo Diddley. He has enjoyed a wealth of critical acclaim for his 2005 self-titled album. Although Costello enjoys a constant tour schedule, he will enter the studio again in the winter to record a new album. You can catch one of his performances Sunday at the annual Alonzo's Memorial Picnic in Rosedale.

On your most recent album, you feature a cover of Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate." Why did you cover that song?

I wanted to cover that song because it allowed me to broaden my horizons a bit. The majority of the album is based in traditional blues. The song "Simple Twist of Fate" is very strummy, but I heard a song inside of the song. I decided to do my own version of the song and give it a different arrangement.

You've been touring regularly for about 10 years. Do you like to spend a particular amount of time at home after a tour?

Actually, I like being out on the road. ... It's nice to come home every once in a while, but if I spend more than three or four weeks at home, I don't really know what to do with myself.

You've been called a blues purist, or even a "member of the blues police." Do you agree with these labels?

Not now. I admit that when I was a kid, I was kind of a "blues snob." I wanted blues to be played faithfully. There are a lot of musicians, both young and old, who play traditional blues. But there are also musicians who try to approach the blues at a different angle who actually push it out of the realm.

You were a leading member of Susan Tedeschi's band at 17, contributing to the gold-selling album Just Won't Burn. You left after two years with the band. Why did you leave and how did you get to where you are now?

I left Susan Tedeschi's band for a few reasons, but mostly because it was an unfair situation. I was frustrated with the music industry in general. I was hot-headed and ended up moving home to Atlanta and started working at Guitar Center. I was 19 or 20 at the time and didn't really know if I wanted to play music again. I was there about a week when one of my co-workers, who I was having lunch with, told me to, "get out," literally - so I did. I knew that music was what I should be doing. So I called around to a lot of the people I knew in the blues circuit. Pretty soon I started collaborating with other musicians, booking gigs and touring regularly.

How has the switching of your bassist and drummer changed your band?

The lineup change has definitely brought a whole new dynamic to the sound and personality of the band. Before, the drummer and bassist were older than me. The band sounded very traditional, like the Chicago blues from the '40s and '50s. Now that all of us in the band are around [age] 27, we're keeping our sound traditional but making it our own.

brad.schleicher@baltsun.com

Alonzo's Memorial Picnic starts at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Rosedale American Legion Hall, 1311 Seling Ave., Rosedale. Tickets are $30. Go to mojoworkin.com for more information. For more on Sean Costello, go to seancostello.com.

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