The beginning“As long as I can remember” This is usually his answer if Willem is asked:"How long do you play guitar?" Willem began his musical interests with playing the trumpet, when he was 8 years old. He played mainly in a local fanfare but also on birthday parties of his family. Other instrument he played when he was a young boy are organ , flute and harmonica. WD: ”Basically anything where I could make noise on I liked” But when he experienced the magic of the guitar, Willem was convinced that he would be a guitarist! WD: ”I remember it very well that it was the uncle of a cousin who I heard/saw play. He was playing a Spanish guitar( edit: nylon strings). That day I discovered the poetic power of the guitar. (edit: Willem is a huge fan of Spanish and flamenco guitar. LINK). And the enormous possibilities to show your personality. There is no instrument for me that has as much expression possibilities as the guitar”. WD: “My first guitar was an acoustic steel guitar. I do not know what kind of brand, but it was a black one and it was a ‘dreadnought’ that I know for sure”. Willem started playing in a band when he was 12 years old. WD: “We played songs of Ike and Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Deep Purple and Santana and so on and so on. We played it all very bad of course”. (Laughs)
The BluesThe first experience of Willem with hearing the real great bluesmen, was through listening to albums of the great blues pioneers. WD: “I ordered all my blues albums at a shop in Amsterdam. Because I could not buy the albums that I wanted here in my place. When my first orders arrived at my home and after I had listened to the albums I was totally blown away. I played the albums through a guitar amp! (edit: Fender Twin!) and close my eyes and did just pretend I was sitting between these musicians and play with them! That was the way I have learned my first steps. It was so amazing to listen to all these artists: Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Lightning Hopkins, John lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Jimmie Reed and the great guitar slinger men like: BB King, Freddie King, Albert King. Albert Collins and Buddy Guy! There are too many to mention. Ooh I almost forgot Elmore James! Elmore James is definitely one of my favorites. All these artists had a huge impact on my musical as on my spiritual live”.
The dreamOf course then came the dream of Willem to hear and see these artists “live alive”! WD: “I was 18 years old when I could admire/experience BB King in 1979 on the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague The Netherlands. I sat on the first row a few meters for BB King. Wow "This man could play!" It was a great experience and although I have seen BB King several times again. That first time was never the less special for me. In the same period I also saw Buddy Guy in a kind of cellar in the Hague( edit: North Sea Jazz!) Buddy Guy… what an expression! This man is not afraid to go far and deep! Buddy was not playing blues. For me he was the blues! Still is of course. It's just not fair!
Play the bluesIn the early 1980's, when there was a sort of blues revival, Willem started thinking to become a blues musician. WD: “When I heard guitarists as Stevie ray Vaughan and Robert Cray play their blues, then I started to see that there was a way to bring together all the influences to a personal style. A good example of this approach is Johnny Winter( edit: In early 1990's Willem played in Paradiso Amsterdam as support for Johnny Winter). "Johnny Winter is one of my favorite bluesman”. Willem began his public ( blues) appearances usually always in a 3 piece band. Drums, bass guitar and guitar. Played in various line ups. WD: ”I always liked the 3 piece option, because you got a lot of possibilities to improvise”. Examples of this period you can find on this site. Both video and audio edit : There is also a nice acoustic solo performance of 'Long Way From Home' on the Acoustic guitar page. Willem plays a lot in the 1990's and after 2000 with his trio in various line ups! Plays on several blues festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Plays a lot in blues clubs, cafes and other events!
WD: “Sitting with an acoustic guitar and play/sing blues and playing slide is for me so enjoyable, it's so much fun and even some times transcendental” Studying and practicing again the use of the slide has also been an eye opener for me. Years ago when I start playing, I always threw away that F*C***G slide! Because I did not understand it's ways. But now I can swim with the slide under water, on my back and the most important, sliding while holding my breath”.
Quotes: Willem Dyck
Edit/ Interviewer : Jasper Blom