FAIRFIELD — Volker Strifler was a teenager living in Germany when his friends decided they should form a band.
So he sold his motorcycle and purchased a guitar with the money.
“To this day, I really don’t know what drove me to that decision,” he said. “I saw the guitar and wanted it. Sometimes I wish I still had the bike.”
A few years later he met the love of his life in Germany, who just happened to be from Santa Rosa. About 27 years ago, he came to America with her.
The self-taught guitarist is a regular in many Bay Area clubs. He will perform Wednesday at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo. Blues are on the set list as that is Strifler’s specialty and the evening’s theme is Hot House Blues.
It’s hard to pin down a reason the blues are so enduring, Strifler said. The music is universal.
“Done right, the blues speak to the very basic emotions,” he said. “That is what makes it so popular across the ages. It’s more of a lifestyle music.”
The guitar is a natural fit for the genre, Strifler said. Blues guitar focuses more on the interpretation of the music versus the technical aspect.
“When someone plays the blues well on their instrument, it has a vocal quality to it,” he said.
He draws his inspiration from artists such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton and the late Peter Green. Today, there are even more talented blues guitarists, he said.
And he’s most impressed by the fact that King, 87, continues to perform.
“He’s still spectacular,” Strifler said of King.
He’ll be reunited Wednesday with former bandmate Don Bassey.
“Once in awhile, we play together,” Strifler said. Rather than have a steady band, Strifler said he hires musicians for his shows.
In November, Strifler did a live DVD recording in Italy.
“It’s being worked on now,” he said. “I haven’t seen it. I’m hoping it’s going to be good.”
He’s also written some new songs but has no firm plans to record. In 1996, Strifler recorded “Full Moon.” Since then, he’s recorded two more CDs.
Strifler said his music is more than blues. It has pop, jazz influences and some Americana, he said.
He’s best known as the “other” guitarist in Robben Ford’s Band. Strifler also sings.
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Hot House Blues with Volker Strifler