Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas Eve and all through the house, Olivia was in bed, I'm at the computer and Buff's asleep on the couch! The guitars are scattered all over the house and no one's stirring or creeping about! Jeff Beck's on my iTunes playing with care and I can't wait until St. Nick gets here!...oh hell, I could go on for ever with my poetic ramblings!...lost cousin of Dr. Seuss! This has been a weird Christmas for me. I'm usually the biggest kid in the room, but for some reason this year has been all about just getting through it...until tonight. I've decided, at the 11 hour, I know, to remember that this is a time for giving and gratitude...for family and friends. Buff, Olivia and I visited with our best friends tonight and then drove around looking at Christmas Lights. We came home and chilled out until everybody fell asleep and I put Olivia to bed and came in the office to write. If you read this, I'm praying for you tonight. I pray that God blesses you and protects you, that he fills your life with love and joy and that you are able to then express that love and joy in turn to others. Tomorrow's Christmas Eve. '07's only got a week or so left. Let's all be good to each other. Better than we have been. As good as our intentions are when we start the day. Love the people around you and then love the one's just outside that circle and try to keep going, one circle at a time. Forgive the person that cut you off on the road today, then forgive the person that flipped you off today when you did the same thing...and the next one that cuts you off, remember the person that you cut off before you respond!!! We don't have to be perfect, or even close, just better. Better than we were yesterday. Better to the people that we share this world with and better to ourselves. When ever I leave a place, somebody always says "take care", we should do just that; take care of each other and take care of ourselves. It sounds so simple and kind of "tree-huggy", but if we all did just that much, that simple thing, think about how different the world we live in would be. When I was in the first grade, I gave my favorite teacher, Mrs. May, a marble with the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) inscribed on it. I can't lie and say that I've always followed that philosophy, I'm real, real human! I've made the kinds of mistakes that they write movies about, but when I think of how simple that idea is and how hard it is for us to put it into practice, I realize that we're our own wall...our own roadblock. We decide whether we'll be better or worse. No one else gets to make that call for us. We make it for ourselves everyday. Sometimes, it's easier for me to lash out at someone who's wronged me than to forgive them and move on. For a split second, when that person cuts me off in traffic, I think I'll feel better if I get on their tail and give them the finger...every single time I've actually done it, I've haven't felt any better afterwards. In fact, I just feel like the universe was giving me a test and I failed again! Every time I write one of these "preachy" blogs, I feel like I should apologise! I don't mean to be heavy, I'm just feeling the season and the end of the year and a chance to, at least psychologically start fresh in '08 with a clean slate, and I, for one, am tired of war, strife, hunger, hatred, bigotry, disrespect, deceit, greed, terrorism and violence in the name of God ( my God, your God, their God). I'm tired of this politician telling me why I shouldn't vote for that politician, etc...If you know me personally, you know that I'm far from some kind of "holier-than-thou" type person, the sacred and the profane show up in me all too often in equal measures. I pray every night and read my bible everyday, then again, I also use the term M**********r as my symbol of supreme affection, but I also love God and pray to him every night for my family and all of you. Not just those of you that I know, but for the entire world. For the peace that most of us desire. For the love that all of us have within us. My bible tells me that we're all created in the image of God. So I take that mean all of us. Whether you believe in God or not. So if I insult you, I'm insulting the image of God. Now, before you get all hot, I know we live in excruciatingly politically correct times that generally preclude someone from invoking the name of any deity, lest you offend someone!...but then again, I'm not telling you to believe what I believe, all I'm saying is that I'm going to try and love you more and that I wish you would try to love others more. My philosophy is based on this simple principle; " I love you because I see you and I as fellow creations of God. If you don't agree with that, go f**k yourself, I love you anyway!" (see I told you, sacred and profane!)
This is the time of year when many religions have special times. The time when most of us have some sort of celebration that involves gift giving or reflection or something. I wish this time of year to be a time of peace and happiness for you and your love ones. My family says "Merry Christmas". If you're Jewish, just read it as Happy Hanukkah. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, read it as Happy Kwanzaa. Whatever you follow or believe, all I'm giving out is love...can you dig it?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Have A Blues Christmas - Episode III / Return of the Christmas Jedi

Well, the 3rd annual Christmas Benefit is in the books and the level of generosity displayed by everyone in the community and by the SHB friends-at-large never ceases to amaze me! First of all the event was a sellout. We had all 300 tickets sold by Thanksgiving and had the extremely unpleasant task of telling people who wanted to come, "no". As usual, my partner in crime, MF Mafia consigliere, Un-official mayor of Columbia and DJ emeritus of the SHB, Keith MF Throneberry had to say no more than me. He is the work horse of the event every year. He spends more time and energy working on, worrying about and just general doing more than anybody else involved. It's not enough for me to say that I couldn't do this without him, it's more like the event wouldn't exist without him. So much props to KMFT!! Every year, Natalie Stovall and her great band have donated their performance for free and this year was no exception. In this business you sometimes see musicians playing based on the "pay scale" in other words, if there's little or no money, they don't break a sweat. This is never the case with Natalie and her group. They bring it every year and it's an honor and a pleasure to share the stage with them. The Xtreme 4X4 club is the engine of the event. They not only donate their time and energy, but they bring a heavy dose of joy and good will into the room. They move every table, chair, (and person if necessary) and they do it in a flawlessly classy way that always amazes me. Describing them as "just" a 4X4 club sells them very short. They are an example of what we should all be; a group of friends who help each other and work together for a common good without any reservations. I'm lucky to know each and every one of them and can't thank them enough for the amazing job they do every year. This list of gratitude isn't in any order, but I have to shout about my boys, cause they flat brung it again this year! Richard and Tyler have been amazing all along and this night was no exception. They played with the same intensity and passion that they display every night and it's an honor and a privilege to be a member of their band. This year, however, we ramped it up some! The SHB was augmented by a mass of doppelgangers! We had 2 bassists, 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, 2 vocalists! It was the year of 2's!! I enlisted my dear friend Davis Mitchell, an extremely talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/entertainer, to play guitar in the SHB Big Banging Band. This was a real dream come true for me and something that we've needed to do for a long time but this was the right time. He played and sang great as always and gave his own individual energy and flair to the show. He is definitely someone who deserves more attention, and we will definitely be doing more stuff in the future. The next person was bassist/producer Keith Kenyon. Keith played bass for a number of years in the SHB and recorded Angels In Exile with me. After retiring from the road, (yeah riiiiight...), he has gone on to co-produce and engineer Revelator, From Lettsworth To Legend and our next record tentatively titled Sex & Violets! I've never been in a band with 2 bassists, but Keith's ability and style made it sound like the best freakin' idea in the world! He is a truly amazing musician and friend and I'm proud to know him. His beautiful and talented wife Janet lent her amazing voice to the proceedings as did Kellie Wolford. Having these 2 amazing women singing behind me for part of the show was daunting to say the least! Kind of like having Tiger Woods for your caddy! Until of course like Tiger, they both in turn stepped to the front of the stage and reminded me that I'm now and forever a singing guitar player, not a guitar playing singer! On percussion and drums was Derrick Wolford. Derrick has been involved in plenty of SHB shenanigans. In the studio, he played all drums and percussion on Revelator. Live, he's been the go to guy on several occasions early on when our drum chair was "revolving" to say the least! He's an amazing drummer as well as a kind and gracious person. I'm grateful to him for continuing to share his talent with me. Of course, what show would be complete without the madness of Bobby? His cowbell solos are now so legendary that people rarely ask what we're going to play, they just want to know if Bobby's coming (right Kempf??) No only did Bobby donate his cowbell expertise, he also donated 5!!! of his original paintings for our silent auction. Which brings me to the auction. Every year we try and add something new to the proceedings so that this years crowd gets something that they didn't get last year. This year we added a silent auction and once again the generosity flowed! Our MF Mafia Don, Chuck MF Lanza, went into his memorabilia vault and sent a care package of stuff to put in the auction. This included not one, but 2 signed guitars, various signed CDs, posters and handbills. He was still getting stuff signed by some of his legendary friends well into November!If you ever get to meet Chuck, you'll understand why when he says' "here man, sign this" you just do it. Just ask Mitch Mitchell!! We also had a jersey from Major League Baseball star Dan Uggla, and a winch that actually sold TWICE!! the same night!As I mentioned before, Bobby Inman is a very talented artist. His paintings of which I'm lucky enough to have 3! Sold for big money despite the fact that the artist was onstage banging a cowbell! Not only did people spend money at the event, but we had some of our longtime SHB friends send money from Canada (Thanks Denis & Lucy Burns!), Iowa (Thanks Duane and Audora Smith!!) and elsewhere! Because of all of you, this event as the best ever and all the encouragement we needed to begin planning next year's event. So the totals go like this; we had approximately 400 people, played music for 5 hours, served 6 kegs of beer, 700 chicken wings, enough ham and small hot dogs to make an entire village of pigs, and raised a total of $15,000.00 for the children of our community. Thanks to all of you.God bless you and I hope that your holidays are as warm as the one you've given me by your continued friendship and support. Peace,Scott