Monday, June 25, 2007

The First Time I Met The Blues

I first heard FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES on a Chess album called I Was Walking through the Woods. I thought that it sounded so cool. I was just starting to get into the blues and this track had a rough raw quality that I would forever associate with Buddy. Even though his tone on this track, and most all of the early stuff he did for Chess and Cobra, was thinner and had less sustain and distortion, his aggressive playing just sunk the hook deeper in me and made me want to play this music more than ever. Fred Below on drums (or maybe Al Duncan) and Jack Myers on bass, was the quintessential early Buddy Guy sound.
The only time I can remember playing this song on stage with Buddy, was once at Legend’s when David Bowie was in the audience and Buddy got him on stage. Bowie didn’t want to sing and said his voice was almost gone, so he asked Buddy to play an A and he sang the first verse and walked off. We probably jammed the song for a few minutes after that until Bowie asked Buddy to call up his guitar player Adrian Belew. I had only been with Buddy for a short time and only owned 2 guitars. When Belew came up, he took my backup guitar, an ESP strat-type guitar, and rammed it off the mic-stand and said “I can’t play the blues, I’m Adrian Belew!” He then started bending the neck and just generally banging my guitar around like it was a piece of junk. For a guy with no money to replace the guitar that he was molesting, all I could do was stand there and think to myself, “What a complete D**K!” If Adrian Belew reads this, I hope remembers that when he comes on someone else’s stage, they might not be making rock star money to pay for crap if you break it…jackass.
Anyway, this was one of the first songs we did on the session and we just counted it off and went for it. I think this is the first take and we never even thought about taking it again. As with all of the songs on this record, I didn’t try to imitate Buddy’s licks, just the energy and excitement in his music. When I hear Buddy, there a sound of joy and complete abandon to the music that is something I’ll probably strive for forever.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Mind goes boom, boom, boom

The new Amy Winehouse record is great. I’m a Tennessee Titans fan, but Pacman Jones should be fired. If you pay me millions and millions of dollars and say all you have to do is stay out of strip clubs, I’d say…okay. Contracts are always scary. 90 Minutes in Heaven is a fantastically powerful book. Global Warming exists. The world is not a static place. Youth has energy, age has wisdom, we should work to combine to two and use that energy to guide our path. Paris Hilton is famous for nothing…and
Yet…we…can’t…look…away! Why are men in our culture always portrayed as idiots? Every sit-com has a husband who’s basically a moron…and that’s the joke! Every commercial is some guy who can’t function on his own being guided by his wife who looks after him like he’s a simple child. I think everything should be open 24 hours a day. If it’s good enough for Wal-Mart and Waffle House, it’s good enough for Starbucks and Barnes & Noble! Do you think our cell phones are already being used by the government to track our movements?
Right now, from where I’m writing this, here’s what I can see; B.B. King, My grandfather and my cousins, my daughter, a monkey holding a skull, most of my CDs, 5 different statues of Elvis, some of my books, a bible, my daughter and her horse, guitars, more guitars, and still more guitars, a Merle Haggard album cover that my uncle Carlton gave me, me and James Burton, more magazines than a doctor’s office, 2 phones, a Jimi Hendrix statue, a cobra skin guitar strap, candles, art from my friend Bobby, some of my DVDs, Scott Holt stickers, Aquafina bottles, 2 porcelain figurines from my grandparents house, a monkey pulling a cart, my dad, water from the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee, more phone numbers written down than I know who they go to!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Legend's (last time?)

Just got back from playing at Buddy Guy’s in Chicago. Since the club is supposed to move this year, it might be the last time we get a chance to play there. I’ve had a lot of great times at that place, (I actually slept there on a couple of nights!) met a lot of cool people, got to play with some amazing musicians and spent a lot of time learning. It was great to be surrounded by our friends and play loud! Our best friends from back home Keith & Jen were there, Randy Z (official gourmet chef of the SHB) was there, Tim O’Brien came in from Minneapolis to jam, even Superfan Mike was there in the front row, (thanks Mike!). If Buffy had been there, it would have been perfect. Chicago is one of our favorite cities, and I can’t wait to get back there soon and see our friends. Thanks to Harvey, Rich and everybody at the club for making it so special to be there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Band

I have a great band. I’m not saying that lightly, or trying to create truth out of nothing. I have a great band. Richard and Tom are truly two of the finest musicians I have ever played with. Being in a great band, however, doesn’t stop at talent. While they are great, creative, fluid musicians, who have devoted much of their lives to their craft, they are amazing human beings. They love their wives, they are loyal, and they genuinely care for others. They are truly good people. We’re not very different from any other band. We work hard. Sometimes we drive hundreds or thousands of miles to play to empty houses, people that don’t know us and don’t care, we play with all kinds of variables that should distract us and at times make us throw in the towel, but the mark of committed professional musicians doesn’t allow for giving up. To quote one of my favorite songs, “the show must go on”. We’re never too sick; the equipment is never too broken, there are never too few people or too little money. I see these things for what they are. I live under the philosophy that ‘that which does not kill us, make us stronger.’ and we are strong! But I’m just one guy. Just the guitar player. By myself, it isn’t much of a show. Tom and Richard are my brothers. They go through everything I go through. They make every mile of every drive. They eat all the same food, sleep (or don’t sleep) in the same motels, deal with the same problems and they do it all with the same positive, never say die attitude that I have. More so than me, they put their faith in me. They trust me. They protect me and look out for me. They hold me up. They take the music that I try to make and they create a beautiful foundation to put it on. I stand in front of them and I feel like we are the best band in the world. I stand in front of them night after night and I’m continually amazed and surprised at their endless talent, their endless enthusiasm, their constant ability to rise to the occasion, to never give in, show weakness or appear less than what I know them to be, which is to say they carry themselves as the excellent human beings that they are.
So why am I saying all of this now, in this forum? Many reasons. We’ve been rolling hard for the last 8 weeks. In that time, we’ve dealt with equipment issues that threatened to derail the entire show, personnel issues that threatened our sanity, business issues that threatened our livelihood, and through it all, I see Richard and Tom right there, not giving in, not collapsing under the strain, not allowing whatever clouds are around us to get in the way of what we have to do. I see them not only surviving, but getting stronger, and it makes me stronger. We have a new record coming out and it’s the first record that we’ve ever done, that will be toured and supported by the musicians that played on it. It’s right because these are the guys that are supposed to be here. I’m blessed. As a Christian, I believe that God guides and has a plan for my life. Music is ingrained in my life and these are the people that I feel closest to when I am creating that gift that God has given me. I’m also a part of their gift, because as God has seen fit to put me here, now, he’s placed me in their lives as well, and I am honored beyond description. In the van, it’s the 3 of us. Sometimes, we have others in the circle, but at the end of the day, I consider myself blessed and honored to be part of this trio and a member of what I truly believe to be the absolute greatest band in the world. Thank you Richard, my friend, for allowing me to share the stage and the studio with you. Thank you Tom, my friend, for allowing me to share the stage and the studio with you. I am better for knowing both of you. I am better for what I’ve learned from each of you. The world is better for every person who comes in contact with either of you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'm gonna try to post some blogs that deal with the specific songs on the new record. As many of you know, when we're on the road, we don't always get Internet and we stay pretty busy, so this little project might take longer than the actual record, but I think it's a worthy thing to do.
The first song on the new record is simply called "Intro". It's just a small piece of music, but it's very significant in my history of studying the work of Buddy Guy. I first heard this on a record called Folk Festival Of The Blues. it was released on Chess and is a sort of half live/half studio thing with canned audience noise added to make it seem like a real live recording. First of all, find that record and listen to the whole thing! Buddy and his band (Fred Below & Jack Meyers) back up Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf & Sonny Boy Williamson. The MC, Big Bill Hill, a Chicago DJ, refers to Little Walter being there too. Anyway, at a couple of points on the record, sort of as a set up between artists, Buddy and the band play this little riff. Both times, it's so cool because it's so out of context. The song following it is always in a different key! It just sounds raw and cool. Pure Buddy Guy. I next heard the riff on a Jeff Beck record. I then read somewhere that he had copied it from the same record. Good enough for Buddy Guy & Jeff Beck, good enough for me!

The Science of Abstract Theory Conception as it applies to earth and other planets

Listening to John Coltrane is like eavesdropping on someones prayers. Old people deserve more respect than we give them. Better to be poor and happy than rich and sad. Of course it's probably better to be rich and happy, I'll let you know if I find out! Politicians are not supposed to solve the world's problems, citizens are. Besides many politicians are really old and out of shape, so what the hell could they do for us anyway? It is never okay to hate. It is, however, okay to wish a severe skin rash on someone who has wronged you or disagreed with you in the hope that they will realize that the skin rash is a direct result of their inconsiderate behavior and change their ways. Hot sauce should be on every table. Everything should be open 24 hours a day. Kids are smarter than you think! In the 60's, music unified people and stopped a war, what does music do today except sell cars and electronic toys? If Mozart were alive today, he'd be really, really, really old! I'd still go see him though, if he gigged somewhere close by. I read a book recently about Henry VIII and they had this thing called the "sweating sickness" that historians have yet to be able to definitely identify! That had to suck! You start sweating and if you went to sleep within the first 24 hours, you die! No thanks! Elvis was really cool and that's just a fact, so if you disagree, look out for a skin rash! Guns don't kill people, it's the bullets in them that actually kill you. Aren't "energy bars" really just crappy tasting candy bars? Beverly Hills Cop is a great movie! Good workout music: Motorhead, Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Van Halen, Living Colour, Bad Brains, Billy Idol, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Bad workout music: Mozart, Buck Owens, Annie Lennox, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, The Beatles (sorry Richard). My motto is Don't Try. Music contains the secret to human existence and the molecules that are constantly being rearranged by the movement of various notes cast into the air is the forward motion of time and the expansion of energy and light. Good Loud is good, remember it was a Big Bang not a barely audible sigh. What's Good Loud you ask? Guitars, joyful screaming, Rock and Roll, any good music, fast cars, etc. Bad Loud? hand grenades, angry screaming, bad music of any kind, land mines, Kenny Chesney. How come we have smart people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking and various scientists and business moguls and we can't stop global warming, our addiction to oil, stop genocide, feed the hungry, cure the sick or come up with a suitable answer to how to keep both sides of the pillow cool all night? I'm just asking...