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WILD AND FREE

Omar Kent Dykes calls on his friends to make I'm Gone

Omar Kent Dykes.jpg

When Omar Kent Dykes refers to himself as "a little archaic," the veteran Texas blues rocker does so with a gruff laugh and, more importantly, not a trace of regret.

Dykes still likes to buy vinyl records at stores -- just like he did as a teenager, plunking down his cash for 45s at a Mississippi appliance shop. And when it comes to recording his music, Dykes follows the same old-school approach in the studio that's served him well for more than 40 years.

"I'll have engineers tell me, 'You all can't set up in the same room. What about bleed-through?' And I'll say, 'What about it?' " Dykes says. "I've got 10,000 vinyl albums, and half of ’em were all recorded [with the musicians] in the same room. … We can deal with that.

"You can manufacture music that, to be honest with you, sounds great," he adds. "A lot of the techno stuff -- that's what they're doing. And I like some of it, but when I’m recording blues and country and shuffles, stuff like that, I want it to be real. I just don't want to put it together like a puzzle at the end; I want it to be like a band playing."

Dykes and his supporting cast keep it real on I'm Gone, the latest Omar and the Howlers album, which was recorded over two days in Austin, Texas, and released last month on Dykes' own Big Guitar Music label.

"I had two different sets of my friends get in the studio with me, and we just cut loose and had a good time," he says. "A lot of that stuff is one take. Afterward we went and listened to it -- 'Let's see if we need to do it again.' And after everybody listened to it, we realized, 'Well, what else are we going to do to it? It sounds fine to me.' "

Sticking close to home also sounds find to Dykes; he doesn't have any plans to hit the road behind I'm Gone.

"I'm 62 years old. I have toured the world over and over and over again," he says. "I'm trying to connect dots I've already got. I have a lot of people who’ve kept up with me over the years."

What Dykes does have planned is more recording.

"I think I’m going to do a Howlin' Wolf tribute," he says. "I'm going to do an album of what I call country. I'm still in the George Jones/Hank Williams phase. I have another Jimmy Reed collection comin' out called Too Much Is Not Enough. I'm sure people will be surprised I'm putting out more Jimmy Reed, but at my age, I just do what I like to do."

-- By Chris M. Junior

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