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Singer/songwriter/guitarist Chip Wilson started his career in New England, and moved to New Orleans on January 2, 1994.   After working with The Rockin’ Jake Band, Rabadash Records, Tony Green & Gypsy Jazz, The Irene Sage Band, performing or recording with Grammy Winners Michael Ray (Kool & The Gang, Sun Ra Arkestra), Leroy Preston (Asleep At The Wheel), and Charles Neville (Neville Brothers), and New Orleans icons George Porter, Jr., Tommy Ridgely, Eddie Bo and Oliver “Who Shot The LaLa” Morgan, and Mem Shannon, Chip began concentrating on his solo career.

His first CD release, A Jumpin’ Somethin’, received an 2000 Offbeat Magazine “Best Of The Beat” Award nomination, along with Kermit Ruffins and Wynton Marsalis in the “Best Traditional Jazz” category.  After his first of eight Umbria Jazz Festival appearances, Chip began to primarily perform solo.

Evacuating from New Orleans in August 2005 just hours before Katrina hit, Chip spent several months in New England, performing and recording with percussionist Jeff Haynes (Cassandra Wilson, Pat Metheny, Al Jarreau) and guitarist Sean Harkness (Windham Hill, H2).  He also engaged in extensive fundraising efforts, raising over $100,000 in solo and collaborative benefit shows.  Returning to New Orleans in early 2006, Chip picked up where he left off, playing back in the French Quarter.  

After releasing seven solo CDs, Chip linked up with his Musicians Village neighbor Jesse Moore and producer Anders Osborne for a Threadhead Records release, Side By Side, named by Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera as a “Top 9 CD of 2010”.

With Musicians Village residents Helen Gillet and James Westfall, Chip has recorded his 2012 release Fond Regards for trombonist/producer Mark McGrain’s Immersion Records.  Including several interpretations of classic songs like “St. James Infirmary” and “Lakes of Pontchartrain”, Chip’s newest CD also features original story songs about life in the neighborhoods surrounding his Upper Ninth Ward home.

Chip Wilson continues to perform solo, and he is developing a new band to play originals and favorite music from inspirations including Mose Allison, Sonny Landreth and Hoagie Carmichael.  After retiring from a longtime career as a guitar maker, Chip also writes for publications including Vintage Guitar Magazine.  

Chip Wilson (in three flavors)…

Chip Wilson is an natural entertainer.  Decades of performance experience in New Orleans, the US, Europe and South America, and Chip's own musical curiosity have led him to develop an extensive repertoire in several styles.  Although Chip most often plays as a soloist, he is always happy to add some of his musical friends to the mix for an expanded sound.  Past musical partners have included John Rankin (guitar), Frank Fairbanks (guitar), Mark McGrain (trombone), Mem Shannon (guitar) and Al "Z" Zansler (trumpet).  Duos and trios available for all situations.

Chip Wilson Jazz Flavor

Solo jazz guitar with vocal and instrumental performances.  Listen as Chip plays the songs of Louis Armstrong, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and others: "I Got The World On A String", "Over The Rainbow", and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", for instance.  Chip's first solo CD, "A Jumpin' Somethin'", was nominated for an Offbeat Magazine "Best Of The Beat Award" for Best Traditional Jazz Recording.

Chip Wilson Pop Flavor

Well known popular songs, sung and played by an experienced master.  Motown, Beatles, '50's and '60's on up to the present time, Chip has countless offerings such as "Here Comes The Sun", "Dock Of The Bay", "Like A Rolling Stone", "Time After Time" and "Unchained Melody".  A satisfying variety act for all ages.

Chip Wilson Roots Flavor

Drawing on 19th and 20th Century classic American blues, folk, country R & B and more, Chip will play funky slide guitar and fingerstyle arrangements with soulful vocals.  Old New Orleans tunes like "I'm Walkin'" from Fats Domino, "Back 'O Town Blues" by Louis Armstrong and "Winin' Boy Blues" from Jelly Roll Morton join Robert Johnson songs, Hank Williams country standards, gospel offerings and much more for a heartfelt presentation of Americana.

Performance Review/Umbria Jazz 2009

Original Music     

Chip Wilson's original music ranges from the jazz oriented tunes of "A Jumpin' Somethin'" to "mysterious blues" (Dan Forte, Vintage Guitar Magazine review of "Last Love Song") to the "honest and pure" (Craig Cortello, Where Y'At) folk-derived songs of "Constantinople".  Guests on Chip's albums have included Charles Neville (Neville Brothers), Michael Ray (Sun Ra Arkestra, Kool & The Gang), Mark McGrain (Plunge), Johnny Vidacovich (Astral Project), Jeff Haynes (Cassandra Wilson, Al Jarreau, Harry Belafonte, Pat Metheny), Erving Charles, Jr. (Fats Domino Band), Peter Williams (Jon Hendricks, Style A's), Grant Curry (Pleasure Club, producer of "Constantinople" and "Last Love Song"), Mem Shannon (Mem Shannon and the Membership, and Tony Green and Tim Paco (Tony Green & Gypsy Jazz.)  With seven CDs issued over a twelve year period, Chip's creativity keeps flowing with 2010's "Side By Side", a Threadhead Records release with singer/songwriter Jesse Moore, with production by Anders Osborne.

Chip's most recent solo CDs are the 2008 release "Last Love Song" and the 2009 followup "Constantinople".

"Last Love Song", with cover art by Valerie Rosenberg and photography by Christer, is Chip's latest tribute to the blues.  The pre-Katrina release "Mostly Blue", currently out of print, had both band and stripped down arrangements, but "Last Love Song" is largely solo guitar and voice, recorded live in the studio of producer Grant Curry (Music For Chameleons).  Of special note are the two interpretations of "Walkin' Away", a concert favorite, and the instrumental "Happy Jack's Rag", named for Chip's cat Jack.

"Constantinople", again recorded and produced by the dynamic and talented Grant Curry, continues the solo framework for much of the album, now in a folk vein.  This time, though, three non-original songs are included, all dating from the 1800s: interpretations of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times", the fiddle tune "Fiddler A Dram" and an old Mississippi River levee town song, "Bully Of The Town".  Chip said, "I started out playing folk music, and more than forty years later, I realize that is what I do best."  So, in the tradition of early Dylan and other '60s folk singer/songwriters, Chip sat down in front of a couple of great microphones with some good guitars, and simply played and sang new originals and beloved old standards that hearkened back to his roots.  Cover photography by Chip and John Courtney, with additional photos and photo treatments by Christer.

2012 will bring a third solo CD, designed to compliment "Last Love Song" and "Constantinople".  "I always thought of these first two albums as part of a trilogy, so my new CD, "Fond Regards", brings things full circle", said Chip.  Coming out on Immersion Records, which also hosted Plunge's jazz-charting "Tin Fish Tango", "Fond Regards" is produced and engineered by Mark McGrain.  Chip and trombonist McGrain have worked together for at least a decade, an ongoing relationship that has generated some wonderful improvisatory music over jazz, blues, and originals.  Mark McGrain has also written horn arrangements for two of the songs, with sousaphonist John Gross and trumpeter Al "Z" Zansler adding to his trombone.  Cellist Helen Gillet, vibraphonist James Westfall, both New Orleans Musicians Village neighbors of Chip, and nylon string guitarist Vincent Marini also add their stamp to "Fond Regards".

"Several of the public domain songs on the new CD have been in my repertoire since I was a teenager," said Chip.  A driving version of one of New Orleans' most popular standards, "St. James Infirmary Blues" is played with the influence of the Reverend Gary Davis.  Most of the material on "Fond Regards" are story songs about life in New Orleans, with tales of punk celebrity and convenience store murder sung over acoustic guitars, banjo, and mandolin.

Constaninople Review 12/2009

Last Updated on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:17