Western Kentucky has a rich history of unique and groundbreaking music that has contributed greatly to our nation's musical heritage over the years. This diverse collection of work has directly or indirectly influenced generations of highly skilled musicians to create their own path in music history. Today, Boscoe France of Madisonville, Kentucky keeps the tradition alive and well with an unreal level of talent and a connection with the guitar that’s almost indescribable. This Kentucky firebrand stands barefoot on stage, playing with the skill and talent of a master musician fused with the intensity of a bare-knuckled brawler. Boscoe France's unique musical style is an awe-inspiring alchemy of blues, rock, country, and a little bit of soul into powerfully original approach.
A truly unique talent, this Kentucky firebrand began learning the guitar at the age of three from his Uncle Duke and began playing with their family band. By age eleven, the guitarist was playing all over the western Kentucky and southern Indiana. After high school, Boscoe moved to Nashville where he toured with many successful national acts. In 2006 the western Kentucky native returned to Madisonville to take a break from touring and focus on his own band. In 2009 The Boscoe France Band was born. The band was an opportunity for the guitarist to do all the vocals. What resulted was a power-trio. In 2012 Boscoe took top prize in the National Guitar Center King of the Blues Challenge. Later that same year he recorded an E.P. with Grammy award-winning producer Pete Anderson. 2013 would provide the thrill of a lifetime when Boscoe received The King’s approval when he was asked to open for and later be called out on the stage by Mr. B.B. King himself. 2013 was also the first year The Boscoe France band were semi-finalist in The International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. An accomplishment they would repeat in 2014. 2015 was the year Boscoe went nationwide on Television. Shoeless Blues: The Journey of Boscoe France was featured nationally on PBS.
PRS: This year you'll be playing live at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. Have you been to the show before, what are you excited about this year?
BF: I've been to NAMM a few times and enjoyed it each time. My absolute favorite part is seeing a lot of friends in one close area for four days. After the doors close and you go to hang out at the lobby or go and pick in the room with friends you don't get to see often. All the awesome gear is just a super bonus to an already fun time.
PRS: You make slide playing look easy, how did you develop your skills and what do you think is the greatest tip for playing slide?
BF: That's really a nice compliment and I thank you for it. Slide is pretty precise thing. You are either on the note or you're not. A great exercise is to let your low E string ring and play the G Major scale on the high E string. The lower string will give you a note of reference so as you go up the scale you can tell if you're playing in-tune up the neck. This is a great exercise. After you get that one down, play the other modes this way to get familiar with the fretboard.
PRS: What's your current signal chain?
BF: Signal chain changes a bit from time-to-time and also depending on venue. Always, PRS guitar > pedal board > amp. I'm using my trusty green CE and my McCarty 594 into a simple old school Boss pedal board that currently has my Boss tuner > Dophix David Drive > Keeley Katana > Fulltone Fulldrive2 > Keeley Caverns > Volition Audio Fuzzdrive. This board changes depending on what the gig is, but with my band this is usually the pedal situation. Amps I'm using are Paul's 50 watt and 50 watt custom/Sewell built for Paul. Don't tell Paul I have it! I also have an amp that Paul affectionately calls the toaster that I built and love. These amps go into Eminence Cannabis Rex 12-inch speakers. Pretty simple.
PRS: What was the most challenging part of your musical career?
BF: The most difficult part of my career is balance.
PRS: At what age did you first pick up the guitar?
BF: I got my first real guitar around the age of 3. My family had a little band and I was able to sit in about the age of 7.
PRS: Tell us about some of your biggest musical influences
BF: My Uncle Duke is and was my biggest influence musically. He was the most solid rhythm player and a phenomenal singer. He turned me onto outlaw country and all the chicken picking stuff. Then the Blues Brothers and Crossroads movies really got me into blues. I love Duane Allman, Elmore James, Freddie King and BB King. I got to do a show with BB once, and he has the kindest man ever.
PRS: If you had to name one song (or album) that changed your life, what would it be?
BF: That's a difficult question for me, as I have several albums that are very significant to me for different reasons. When I heard Elmore James” It Hurts Me Too” I was mesmerized. Just as one single piece of music it's got all my favorite elements. Amazing vocals, burning slide guitar and rhythm like a freight train. The album that I can't live without is “Live at the Fillmore” by the Allman Brothers Band. It's some beautiful guitar improve by two masters. I can't stress what an amazing group of performances this is.
PRS: When you aren’t playing guitar or gigging, what do you like to do during your free time?
BF: When I'm not playing I’m with my family. I have three children and an amazing wife. We just bought an old house and we're working on it all the time. I'm just a very everyday knucklehead with a lawn I need to mow.
PRS: You have a few PRS guitars in your arsenal; do you have a favorite, or a “go-to”?
BF: I'm very blessed to have some great PRS guitars but hands down my first is my favorite. I bought when I was 18 or 19 I believe. It's a CE22, and it went with me everywhere. I got in a jam between tours and regretfully I pawned with every intention of getting it back. Things didn't work out as planned and I was on the West coast when it came out of hock and I lost it. In November of 2012, I got a call from a former tour mate; Buzzy Green (the name fit) - He asked if I ever scratched his number into a guitar. I replied yes immediately. For reasons I won't go into I needed his number and at the time had no paper so I took my instrument cable and scratched it into the back of the guitar. I was reunited with my green PRS days later.
PRS: Is it true that you build your own guitar amplifiers?
BF: Yeah, I build my own amps. I use others too, but being a working musician I never had large amounts of cash. I figured I could build what I wanted cheaper. It's really fun thing to do but you can get way into the building instead of playing. I have a few friends who are successful amp builders that I talk shop with from time to time just to hear different sounds and perspectives.
PRS: You won the Guitar Center ‘Battle of the Blues” contest a few years ago… can you tell us a little about that?
BF: The Guitar Center King of the Blues was a cool experience. I was fortunate enough to win it in 2012 and it really helped me get out there and let people know I existed. I went to the final rounds with a good frame of mind. I felt so wildly blessed to get a free trip from Kentucky to California and win some gear and meet folks. When I won I was fortunate because I've always played and sang and had a band, so it really gave me a push. I got a bunch of free gear, hung with Joe Bonamassa, Dr. John and Leo Nonchilleti, it was pretty unbelievable. Oh, and $25,000, so I immediately took my children to Disney World because I'm predictable like that.
PRS: You could be playing any guitar out there…. Why PRS?
BF: I've been playing a long time, and when I was a kid I felt like I wanted my own thing. SRV was amazing but his imitators didn't do it for me. It was all Strats and hats and that looked like it was for posers and pretenders. Around the same time Slash exploded. The Les Paul and half stack was the other end of the spectrum, and I knew I didn't want some pointy chicken killer guitar like the metal dudes. I saw the video for Angel by Aerosmith and was immediately in love with the PRS. There was no Internet then so it took a minute to figure out what it was. I have never seen a sexier line than the original double cut PRS. When I got mine I instantly had my own voice. I own a lot of guitars now, but it wasn't always that way. I had my PRS and that was it. I could do every gig with that one guitar. The PRS was freedom. I will be playing PRS guitars forever. I just don't think there is a better guitar.