Monday, August 27, 2007

Dispatch: Deja Voodoo Chile (slight return)

Van Halen’s getting back together. That’s pretty cool. I wish it was the original four, but one thing I’ve learned is you can never go back. Time is a river that only flows one way, and even if you’re treading water, you’re still being carried down stream. My friend Tim (one of the angels I spoke of in an earlier blog) loaned me his personal amp while mine gets tuned up. There’s a chance that Warren Haynes might play it in a couple of days! That would be too cool. I hope he leaves some notes in it for me to steal!
We had a great time playing in Florida last week, it was great to see all of our friends and make some new ones. I had a chance to visit with some friends from the Koko Taylor band that I haven’t seen in some years. Good to see Vino. A fantastic guitarist and a good spirit. Also got to visit with Damon Fowler and his band. Great bunch of guys. We share the same agent, so we are rarely in the same place.
2007’s been a great year, but it sure has taken some funny turns…to quote Mr. Buddy Miles, “Well my mind is going through them changes…”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dispatch: Scott's day off and I Spy

Some days, you’re on the road and have nothing to do. So how do you fill your time? Well some musicians do drugs or rob banks or race motorcycles. Some date supermodels, form peace rallies or invent new forms of punctuation. We go to malls. Not just any mall, but we look for the largest most diverse monuments to consumerism that we can find. Malls with more than one Starbucks, a Best Buy, a Victoria’s Secret, etc. Today is such a day at the Coconut Point Mall in Fort Myers, FL. After an evening watching The Bourne Ultimatum (great freaking’ movie! He dies at the end!, not really…or does he?...I wouldn’t spoil the movie for you…he dies…just kidding…no really…) We returned here today for lunch at Johnny Rockets (first restaurant opened on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles CA on June 6 1986) another tour around Barnes & Noble, and now were posted up at Panera Bread for the free internet, great atmosphere and friendly people…but mostly for the free internet. A strange bald guy was staring at us earlier, but he’s gone now. He had large glasses that reminded me of those “x-ray specs” that they used to advertise in the back of comic books. I think the couple at table in front of me is having an affair…shame on them! Tom seems to be shopping for yard tools online and Richard is expanding his ever growing legion of Myspace friends. His ultimate plan is to gather as many Myspace friends as possible and then mobilize them into an elite fighting force that will aid him in his quest for control of the free world, all to the dulcet tones of the Beatles…but don’t tell anyone! I am the patient observer, neither judging nor condemning, simply noting the comings and goings of the humans. An older couple to my left appear to be in disguise. You know large hats, dark glasses, etc. They’ve also not spoken a word to each other since they sat down. They may be blind. Maybe they’re not aware that the other person is sitting at the same table. The man looks like he might have killed someone at one point, while his companion looks like she might have commanded him to do it as a test of loyalty…or maybe they’re just old people eating lunch. As I said, I neither judge nor condemn. A woman to my immediate right just took an incredibly large bite of something. I think she should eat smaller bites and chew her food more. She’s looking at me now. I think she knows I’m writing about her…oh wait…no it’s okay; I think she has a lazy eye. 2 guys in front of me are chowing down. They seem to have spent more time on their hair than I do changing the oil in the van. I see a woman drinking beer. I didn’t know they served beer at Panera Bread…at 10:00am…on Sunday…lazy eye’s looking at me again…I think she knows the “hair brothers”…another woman is eating with a spoon, but she’s holding the spoon upside down and just licking the back of it over and over…Geez!...the hit man and his boss are reading the paper…probably about his last hit and how the police can’t solve the crime! Diabolical geniuses! Now a guy in front of me is online and looking up travel websites. Maybe he’s planning that surprise getaway for his wife…or girlfriend…or maybe he’s just planning to escape…into the night…with the money that he embezzled from his job at the Apple Store! Lazy eye’s coming this way…I’d better go.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dispatch: Florida and the role of Quantum Physics as it pertains to socio-economic stability and global warming

Today we’re in Matlacha Fl., a beautiful little spot on the Gulf Coast of Florida, with a population of 735. Richard’s gone kayaking and Tom’s practicing his tai-chi. I’m working on developing my own language consisting of hand signals and lyrics from various songs that can convey the secrets to the universe that pertain to the colors of the rainbow. As I write this, CNN is on and Kenny Chesney is apparently going to play for the New Orleans Saints football team. I hope they make him an offensive lineman…because he’s offensive…and I like the song Wichita Lineman.
We played here yesterday, and it was great. Normally, we play at 9 or 10 at night. Occasionally, we’ll play at 7 or 8. So we got here at 1:15 pm and discovered that we were playing at 2:00 pm!!! My fault, I just didn’t look at the contract close enough, but my guys pulled it off. We loaded in, set up and were playing by 2:00! That included setting up the PA and I think Richard even got to smoke a cigarette first!
We play here again tonight and then we have a question mark for the next 2 days as we try to sort out what’s going on with the gigs in Port Charlotte. They were on, and then off and now we just don’t know. We just keep our heads down and keep steaming forward. It’s what we do. Well…we do other things to…like chess, or repairing the van or eating Chinese food.
Today we’ll be filming new installments for the YouTube channel. Richard will be beginning a series of bass lessons for beginners. It should be an entertaining yet challenging bit of film.
Listen to the album Dope Dogs by the P-Funk All Stars. Dog Star (Fly On) is a sonic orgasm. Required listening for all guitar players as well as other travelers down the aural stream of consciousness.
Morning rain snaps out the cadence that heralds the coming of the new dawn. Earth’s children await the call of “all clear” that proclaims the surface safe for the harvest once again. As the horizon glows with pregnant pause, the day to come whispers its promise into the dreams of the sleeping ones. Stars cast across the sky like a fistful of diamonds hurled from God’s own hand upon a robe of the blackest velvet, bid the night a glowing and peaceful farewell. A democracy of souls, a tribe of saints to be. Empty your cup.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's all about your Angels

Sometimes, I have to stop and thank God for the amazing friends that I/we have. There are people in my life that uplift and inspire me every day. They support me/us in amazing ways that rarely get mentioned. People like our friend Kempf Poole. Kempf comes out and travels with us sometimes and after his last trip with us, he sent us a GPS for the van (I guess he got tired of us getting lost!) but it was a huge, profound act of generosity that, as always, leaves me speechless. People like Keith MF Throneberry, who gives us support on a daily basis, but recently fixed our taillights in the parking lot of the gig. Keith does too many things for me to type them all, but that’s the latest one. People like Chuck MF Lanza who’s been a friend for ever and gives support every time it’s needed. People like Randy Z who feeds us and has been a tremendously generous benefactor to our music from the beginning. People like Dino Corvino who devotes a tremendous amount of time and attention and energy to help us climb this mountain called music. As I type this, I worry that I’m going to forget someone, so let me say that this is by no means a complete list. These are just some of the people lately that have been there in the trenches with us. Uncle Wayne, Mark, Tim, Keith, all the Extreme 4X4 people, Gary, Arnie, Michael, NAPA auto parts, Gateway Tire, GHS, Eminence, Mike, Tommy, Tyler, Bobby, Ryan, the list could literally go on and on. People like Chip and Sara from South Carolina, Cody and Chris from Alabama, all the people that jam with us and share their talent and art with us. We are fed, both spiritually and sometimes literally by these angels that surround us. I thank God for all of you.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Like Peaches, Chinese Food, Elvis & Bruce Lee

The peach is the greatest of all fruits. It’s sweet. It’s a little fuzzy, but when you peel it, it’s very juicy. In fact, it’s such a great fruit, that they don’t even call the juice "juice". They call it nectar! As in “the nectar of the gods”! Peach cobbler or fried peach pies are 2 of my favorite desserts. They are the kind of desserts that I’m sure they serve in Heaven. The peach tree is native to China, dating back to the 10th century BC. The modern belief is that the Chinese introduced peaches to the rest of the world, starting in the Middle East. I like Chinese food a lot too. My favorite is General Tso’s Chicken. This is, of course, named after Zuǒ Zōngtáng, a gifted Chinese military leader born in Wenjialong, north of Changsha in Hunan province, during the waning of the Qing Dynasty. He served with brilliant distinction during China's most important (and the worlds largest) civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, in which at least 30 million people lost their lives. The Tso in General Tso is sometimes misspelled "Cho" in English, probably due to influence from Cantonese. The correct pronunciation of the name in Mandarin is [tsuɔ tsʊŋtʰɑŋ]. There aren’t any really good Chinese restaurants in Nashville. P.F. Chang’s is not a good Chinese restaurant. It’s a good restaurant, but it has as much to do with Chinese food as McDonald’s McRib sandwich has to do with BBQ. I wish there were, because I would eat at them a lot! I think that Chinese food may be one of my favorite types of food. China is hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. They should give every athlete who competes in the Olympics a small box of peaches so that they will remember that the Chinese introduced the peach to the world. I don’t think the Chinese are so insecure that they feel the need to keep reminding us of their contributions, just like George Washington Carver didn’t go around bragging about his contributions to agricultural extension education, or his work with the peanut, for that matter. Peanuts are another amazing food. I really like them when they’re made into peanut butter. Much like you would find on a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches, especially when they are fried! What an amazing taste experience! They aren’t very good for you, but they taste good. Elvis Presley also loved fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I don’t know if he actually ate them all the time, because there’s been so much speculation about Elvis’ private life that I’m sure many stories are now blown up to legendary proportions. There is photographic evidence that Elvis struggled with is weight at times. This could be a result of unhealthy food like fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches or it could be poor exercise habits, or even some sort of medical condition that caused unusual weight gain. He sure could sing though! He’s one of my favorites. He also knew Karate, which of course is a martial art that developed from a synthesis of indigenous Ryukyuan fighting methods, Chinese kempo and concepts from classical Japanese martial arts. "Karate" originally meant Chinese hand, but was later changed to a homonym meaning "empty hand" in Japanese. It is known primarily as a striking art, featuring punching, kicking, knee/elbow strikes and open handed techniques. However, grappling, joint manipulations, locks, restraints/traps, throws and vital point striking also appear in karate. This is not to be confused with Jeet Kune Do (Chinese: 截拳道 Cantonese: Jitkyùndou Pinyin: Jiéquándào, lit. "Way of the Intercepting Fist"), also Jeet Kun Do or JKD, is a martial arts system developed by martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. I like Bruce Lee a lot. My favorite movie of his is ENTER THE DRAGON from 1973. Elvis was 38 in 1973. Peaches would be about 11,973 years old at that point.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Damn Right I've Got The Blues

I wanted to post some more thoughts about the new record and talk about the song Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues. This song has special memories for me, because it’s one of the first ones that we were playing with Buddy when his first record for the Silvertone label came out. The intro, I think, Buddy copped from Cream’s Strange Brew, which was actually a lick that Eric Clapton borrowed from Albert King. Anyway, let’s just say that the song’s got some deep roots!
When I started trying to decide which songs of Buddy’s to put on the record, Damn Right was kind of a no-brainer. It’s so strongly identified with Buddy that it would almost seem weird not to at least attempt it. I really didn’t know what to do with it, so we just took the intro and then transformed the groove into a minor key and let it rip. I also listened to the lyrics, to make sure that the message of what’s being said can be accompanied and reinforced by the music and not detracted from it. We’ve all heard cover versions of songs that sounded like they just took some music that they had lying around and wrapped other words to it. Luckily, I think we came up with a nice little slant on Buddy’s version. I’ve said it a million times, but my goal in this project was to pay tribute to Buddy and try and reinterpret his work, not make a slavish copy of what he’s already done.
Playing this song live with Buddy, always used to excite me. This was a song that we knew the crowd would go wild on and Buddy always attacked this song full throttle which made you want to really dig in and get it. Looking back, I’m sure there were times when I probably hit it too hard, but fortunately for me Buddy always managed to forgive my excitement! Thanks again Buddy!
For you tech heads, this song (as well as every other song on this record) was recorded using my trusty Obrien 100 watt head through the Marshall 4X12 cabinet that I used when I was with Buddy. That thing’s got some vibe, let me tell you. It’s also heard Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues as many times as I have! If you listen close on the very first part of the intro, you can hear entire room vibrating! That’s how loud we were going on this record!