Legendary bluesman Kim Simmonds might be gone, but his overarching legacy over blues and rock music remains towering.
To that end, it’s fitting that what might be his final album of newly recorded music, the aptly titled Blues All Around, is being unleashed unto the masses not long after his recent passing. And though he will never be replaced, Simmonds’s bandmates, in what amounted to the final incarnation of Savoy Brown, Garnet Grimm (drums), and Pat DeSalvo (bass), are carrying the torch in his honor.
Indeed, Blues All Around features more of what Savoy Brown has always been known for: legendary blues bends, grooving bass, and heavy drums, en route to an affair that any self-respecting fan of Simmonds catalog would love. And if you’re the sort that perhaps overlooked Savoy Brown’s latter-day exploits, indeed, the time is now to play catchup.
Veteran Savoy Brown bassist Pat DeSalvo recently dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to recount his origins with the bass, meeting Kim Simmonds, the recording of Blues All Around, and a whole lot more.
What first inspired you to pick up the bass? Can you recall your first bass?
My cousin, Rick Cua, became the bass player for the Outlaws. I always looked up to him. My first instrument was a Coral bass I bought at Stagnitta Music in Syracuse, where I was taking bass lessons. My cousin, Buz Cua (Rick Cua’s Dad), was the teacher, and I drove him crazy with my attention deficit disorder. ADD was not a thing that was understood at that time [Laughs]. Unfortunately, that guitar is long gone.
Who most influenced your sound, and how is that best illustrated in your style?
Tim Bogart, Jack Bruce, Geezer Butler, and later Wille Dixon, Duck Dunn, James Jameson, and Ron Carter. I took a little piece from each of them.
How did you first meet Kim Simmonds leading up to joining Savoy Brown?
He came to a show I was playing at, and I approached him and asked if he was Kim Simmonds. We then started a conversation and a lifelong friendship.
Tell me about the latest Savoy Brown record, Blues All Around. How did this one come together?
These songs were demos Kim had. We would normally get the demos, listen to them, and get together and practice – that was one way. With Witchy Feeling and Ain’t Done Yet, we learned them at sound check at gigs when we were on the road. Kim kept himself and us on our toes, so to speak. There was always a twist – sometimes, he would have songs we would learn in the studio.
Personally, I thought he was great at getting the most out of you. If Garnet [Grim] or I had an idea, he would go with it if it made sense. He would never stifle us and always encouraged our contributions. On almost anything we did, he wanted input on how to make it better. In saying that, he had a vision for the record, and he was normally on point. He was the best storyteller throughout the songs.
At the time of this recording, Subcat Studios suggested we work with the demos Kim had – Garnet and I went in and did our part, as well, as Kim added to what he had already done. When I first started recording with Kim on the acoustic projects, I asked how I should prepare. He told me to listen to Muddy Waters, Folk Singer. Again, completely on point.
Which songs are your favorite and why? How do you view this record in terms of being Kim’s final slate of new music?
I would say “Blues All Around,” “Going Down South,” and “California Days Gone By” are some of my favorite songs because of the great stories they tell. With the new record, Kim is still doing what he does best – writing and recording the best stories and music.
Any meaningful moments which stand out the most, be they personal or musical?
Being on stage with Kim and Garnet was incredible. Now you could say I am biased, but I always knew the audience thought the same. We got to travel the world, and I always had the best seat.
What songs and recordings that you’ve done so far mean the most to you, and why?
“Wearing Thin” and “Walking on Hot Stones” from City Night, VooDoo Moon’s title track. And then there’s “All Gone Wrong” and “Devil’s Highway” from Ain’t Done Yet… I could go on and on. A song on Struck by Lighting called “Ain’t No Free” and “Standing in the Doorway” from Witchy Feeling. Those stories will always be with me.
What guitars, gear, pedals, amps, and effects are you using, and why? How did those choices alter the sound of this record?
I use Dean Zelinsky Mule basses and Harke bass amps. I just plug in and play. I work with the engineer on my sound. They use no effects and usually do nothing to my sound. So they say. I play on top of the fretboard, and it gives me a more rubbery, round sound like an upright bass. When I play on top of the pickups, it produces a punchier sound. If I play on the bridge, I get a very tight sound out of my instrument. All these approaches allow me to get a different tonality which allows me to forgo using pedals.
From your perspective, how will Kim Simmonds be remembered?
I knew Kim for over 35 years, and the man I knew was very humble. He was definitely more interested in music than fame or money. He was an integral part of the British Blues movement. His first record came out in 1967 when he was 20 years old. You can definitely hear his influence on so many musicians by listening to his peers. He taught me a lot, not only musically but how to be humble through his actions. Kim’s legacy is that he left a fantastic catalog of music. He was a prolific songwriter and wanted to be remembered as a blues guitar player. I think he’s done that.
Savoy Brown featured many lineups over the years; what made the final one special? How do you feel you stacked up against the original?
Several key members in the band’s timeline from Raw Sienna to Hellhound Train for me would be Chris Youlden, Dave Peverett, Roger Earl, Tony Stevens, Dave Bidwell, Dave Walker, Jackie Lyton, Andy Silvester, and on. But Kim, Garnet, and I had our moment. I was able to be myself and play the song. We had not only a very strong friendship but also a deep respect for each other. We were definitely a team.
What does the future of Savoy Brown hold with Kim gone? Will you carry on?
Who knows what the future will bring? Savoy Brown has always been Kim Simmonds, but who knows? That aside, Garnet and I are currently playing with Sean Chambers, also on Quarto Valley Records.
The new Savoy Brown Album Blues All Around will be released on February 15, 2023.
Pat DeSalvo of Savoy Brown: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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My friend and bandmate Martin Stone was in Savoy Brown in 67 and he’s on the album “Shakedown” playing second guitar along with Kim,he got “Let go “ by Kim and Harry for playing to much psychedelic guitar.he went on the play with the Action,then formed Mighty Baby.