BOBBY DIRNINGERLiz Mandeville How did you start your association with Zora Young? Bobby Dirninger Zora and I met almost 20 years ago in Switzerland. She was always great with me, always helped me. She was a great support all these years. I owe her so much, you cannot even imagine. I’ll always wonder why she did all that for me? Believe me, even though I got better these last years, I sure didn’t have the skills to back her 20 years ago!! I think she did it because she knew I was really broke at that time. I was 24, poor, didn’t have nothing but a guitar those days. L.M. : When did you come to Chicago and did you work with Zora in the States? B.D. : I moved to Chicago in ‘92, and stayed until ‘94. I didn’t want to bother her at that time, so I didn’t even call her. She found out that I used to live in Chicago when she came back to France in 1995. L.M. What was it like for you in Chicago? B.D. When I was living in Chicago, a woman called Mary Edsey helped me a lot; I stayed in her basement, drove her car, called on her telephone...and I played in several places in the city. I played several coffee houses, Phyllis’ Musical Inn, for sure, the Heartland, Quicksilver Dancing Noodles (don’t exist no more), some restaurants, 10 or 12 different places. Chicago is very different from the European cities. I used to play a lot in the streets of Europe at that time. The kind of streets with no cars (we call these streets «walking streets»- rues pietonnes where cars are not allowed). So, on my first day in Chicago, I went for a big walk downtown in search of these kinds of streets. I walked a long way....and finally found out this was not really possible. I really dug Chicago, and miss it often. Everything is possible, you could find a job easily, be invited for jams, meet and talk to people pretty easily (easier than here). Relationships are more simple, direct, and maybe even more respectful towards the «strangers» arriving from nowhere (That was my case) All that sounds normal to you, but Europe is not the same, I tell you! The problem is, when I’m in Chicago, I miss Europe and the beautiful old churches, the small cafes, the little streets and the cool, quiet atmosphere. Europeans know better how to do nothing... Sometimes, it gets boring too, though! I love Chicago. There is something about it Europe will never get. I guess it comes from your very special history. L.M. You play guitar, some amazing slide and equally fine piano on this disc. Which came first? Who were your influences? What is your axe of choice? B.D. Thanks for your comments on my slide playing. I never really worked on the slide techniques, though! I play both piano and guitar because I often perform alone in clubs. Playing these two instruments gives me a chance to present versatility to the audience. I play one set on the piano, and the second set on the guitar. I like to play both instruments the same. People seem to like me more on the guitar; but I practice the piano a lot more. It’s fun to play both of them. I learned the piano all by myself, although I have to say that I took a few piano lessons with Erwin Helfer in Chicago. I am a big fan of all the blues piano players (Roosevelt Sykes, Blind John Davis, Otis Spann, Pete Johnson, Curtis Jones, etc.). I did start the guitar first, aged 16. Folk music (Bob Dylan, Doc Watson), then blues (David Bromberg, who I met him later in Chicago, Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Lonnie Johnson, etc.) L.M. Since you left Chicago where is home now? B.D. I live now in a small city (200,000) in the middle of France called Limoges. It’s country here! Rents are pretty low (that’s why I live here!!), and for music, they have something special : a great radio station playing 24 hours of blues and jazz. This radio is unique in Europe, and the old man who owns it, Mr. Jean Marie Masse (90 years old!) used to book shows here. So Limoges had Big Bill Broonzy, Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters...all of the blues legends played here once. It is definitely a jazz and blues city (modest but genius) and well, this is my town now. L.M. What did you do before recording this disc with Zora? B.D. I’ve already cut three CDs. Only one is distributed in Western Europe. It’s called «In The End».
Chicago Music Guide january 2010 A conversation with Zora Young’s “The French Connection" producer and musician by Liz Mandeville