Duke Robillard is a true legend from the New England blues scene - and the latest artist to get his own signature Eastwood guitar: the Airline Twin Tone 'The Duke' Signature.
Michael "Duke" Robillard is a respected blues guitarist and a real legend from the New England music scene, being one of the founding members of the Roomful Of Blues band, which has been active since 1967.
Described once as "the linchpin that holds the New England blues community together", there's no doubt that the Duke was the perfect artist to have a new Eastwood signature guitar: the Airline Twin Tone 'The Duke' Signature - if you thought the Twin Tone was already a great guitar, you really need to try this new model!
Eastwood had a quick chat with the Duke to mark the release of his signature Twin Tone, as well as to discuss his career.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN MUSIC / PLAYING GUITAR?
When I was about 6 I became interested in music and guitar because my brothers both had guitars. That was right around the time of the birth of Rock & Roll so between that and the country and western music I heard I was inspired to teach myself guitar.
NEVER MIND WHAT'S POPULAR IN THE CHARTS, IT SEEMS BLUES MUSIC STILL HOLDS A LOT OF APPEAL TO PEOPLE... PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENS?
Blues is simple and universal and there is a quality to the sound that stretches beyond things like language and ethnic boundaries.
HOW'S THE NEW ENGLAND BLUES SCENE LIKE? WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT? APPARENTLY, JIMMY VAUGHAN WAS IMPRESSED ENOUGH AND ASKED YOU SOMETHING LIKE: ‘You guys play like we do in Texas—how is that?’”
There have been a large number of really good blues musicians in New England since I can remember. The Newport Folk and Jazz festivals certainly turned a lot of people on the the real blues and jazz oriented blues. But there have always been great players in all genres in New England.
YOU'RE ALSO A PRODUCER. WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST TO WORK WITH AS A PRODUCER AND WHY?
That's a tough one because I've work with so many of my idols. Jay McShann, being one of the greatest players of Kansas City blues and jazz was an amazing experience. Jay would tell us stories about the road and Charlie Parker (whom he pretty much discovered). He had complete faith in me to produce him and be his guitarist. Jimmy Witherspoon, Billy Boy Arnold were great to Produce also.
WHAT ORIGINALLY ATTRACTED YOU TO THE AIRLINE TWIN TONE?
I think the Airline Twin Tone is one of the coolest guitars out there. Seeing a photo of Little Walter play it's identical counterpart, the Supro Dual Tone got me excited about it. It's a beautiful design and I've always love looking at the original ones in the Montgomery Ward catalog when I was a boy.
OUR NEW "THE DUKE" SIGNATURE TWIN TONE HAS A FEW DIFFERENCES TO THE STANDARD VERSION. CAN YOU TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT THIS MODEL AND ITS PHASE CONTROL SWITCH TOO?
The new Duke signature model is really cool. It has a flame maple top with a nice 3 color sunburnt that I love. The neck has a slight V shape which makes it comfortable to play. I love the sound of the pickups also. They have a nice tone and my signature model has a push/pull switch that makes the pickups out of phase in the up position for that T-Bone Walker unique sound, which will cut through any band! All in all it's a great little guitar with a real classy look and great tone and feel.