It’s clear that his time with 13 and Lester Butler has had an impact on guitarist Alex Schultz.
When talking with Schultz at the Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Festival last year, he was open, engaging and honest. His experiences differ from some other musicians who worked with Butler over the years, as he fondly recalled the charismatic harp player and singer. And he was more than willing to talk about fleshing out the songs that would become “13 featuring Lester Butler,” his impressions of “Lester’s Legendary Last Gig” and his memories of someone who grew to be a close friend.
On that May day in 2011, Schultz had just gotten off stage where he performed several Butler songs with Pieter “Big Pete” van der Pluijm, Willie J. Campbell and Johnny Morgan. Schultz takes responsibility to be true to those songs and Butler’s memory.
“(The songs) were so unique, and they were so unique to this guy,” Schultz said. “The songs were Lester Butler, and he was such a unique person, unique character. So the songs and the music was kind of singular. They weren’t the type of tunes you would just say, ‘oh, let’s do a cover of that tune’.”
“We got very close as friends. And his approach to the music also was very, like, all-inclusive. You had to be like 110 percent into the music. That’s how he was … To play those songs was like very emotional. Imagine standing next to Lester Butler on stage every night. Some nights it was so incredible and he was so into the music and it was so real, and so I got drawn into it as well, and I played it that way.”
“So it became like an emotional experience to play that stuff. It’s not something you would casually do, and say, ‘oh yeah, let’s do ‘So Low Down.” If we’re going to do that, we’ve got to really feel it and go there.”
Listen to the Schultz interview here, edited for clarity and content:
0:00-12:14: Playing songs from 13; the uniqueness of the music; working with Big Pete; contrasting Butler with William Clarke and Rod Piazza.
12:14-20:15: Writing the songs; demo sessions; “Plague of Madness”
20:15-26:01: How fans remember Butler; Schultz’s friendship with Butler; recovery; memories of Moulin 1998
All photos by Tina Hanagan except the one with Schultz, Perry and Hanagan.