Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

So Thanksgiving…I love the holiday. Not my favorite, that would be Christmas! It’s my wife’s favorite holiday and that would be enough for me, but I truly do love the concept. A day that is designated to give thanks. No gifts, no cards, no forced salutations, just thanks. I have so much to be thankful for. First the obvious; my wife of 17 years, she’s the most beautiful, sexy, desirable, intelligent, artistic, inspiring person I’ve ever known and I’m blessed to be in her presence. 17 years! My God! That’s a long time!! With her, it seems like a day. My daughter, (my daughter!!!!!) an amazing entity of such incredible light and soul, she is an endless well of knowledge and eternal learning for me. My friends; Keith, Kempf, Chuck, Richard, Jeff, Will, Phil, Cody, Tim, Dino, Marshal, Tyler, Mark…the list goes on for an embarrassingly long time. I’m rich with friends. My band, our fans, and an entire constellation of people that have no idea how important they are to our very being… to my very being.
We spent the last 2 days in one of my favorite cities; Minneapolis. Why do I love Minneapolis? Sub-zero temperatures? NO! 1,000 miles away from Tennessee? NO! Second greatest record store on the planet? Maybe... but, I truly love Minneapolis because they’ve adopted me. They’ve adopted us. They’ve adopted the SHB. We have so many great friends there and every time I see a Minneapolis gig on the books, I’m excited. My friend/amp builder Tim O’Brien lives there. I say “friend/amp builder” only because I want the world to know about O’Brien amps!!! It’s always a blast to hang out with him. I get to see and jam with my friend Jellybean Johnson. Here’s a little inside scoop, I’m a big fan of Jellybean’s. I grew up knowing who he was as the drummer for the Time, one of my favorite bands. I saw Purple Rain in the theatre like 4 times! You should see it at least twice. He produced Black Cat for Janet Jackson. That’s one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. To think that I would ever reach a point in my life where someone I admired actually knew who I was is amazing…oh wait, I’m friends with Buddy Guy! Another amazing blessing! This trip was our second visit to a new friend’s Nick & Eddie. What a place! Amazing food, an amazing environment, an amazing jukebox, an amazing proprietor, what more could you ask for? Doug is a great guy with a passion for and knowledge of music. We have a ball at his establishment and I know that any band would be fortunate to play there. To make it even better, my dear friend Dino made the drive from Wausau and hung with us for the show. Wise one that he is, he left before Marshal and I tested Tim’s rock & roll legs by keeping him out until 5:00 am. Thanks to Joe and Heather’s lovely hospitality, we were eating spaghetti and s'mores at 4:00am! That’s rock and roll!! In the moment, you’re rarely aware. I find this true in almost every situation. It takes being on the road for me to appreciate how immaculately important my time with my girls is. It takes time off to realize how imperative and intrinsic making music is to me. I am grateful for every second that God see’s fit to keep me here. I try every day to remind myself not to take a second for granted. That is hard! We’re all the same, we get irritated, or petulant, but it’s all so small. The person that ‘cut you off’ isn’t of the devil, the one that takes up your space or encroaches on your territory isn’t the evil one, and they’re just us at another point. This Thanksgiving I will visit with family that I don’t see nearly enough. The food will be amazing, the conversation will, at points, be “interesting”, and yet I’ll find it hard to say, in the moment, “I truly love all of you and I love this moment”. What a shame that I can know that short-coming in advance. My friends and family are my most treasured blessings. I truly love them all and value each moment that I’m with them. Thanksgiving…thank you God for all of your blessings…even the ones I’m too embarrassed to say out loud!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mitch Mitchell

Wednesday night is date night. It’s a sacred night between me and Buffy that never gets disturbed. Tonight, I got a voicemail from my dear friend Chuck. It said, simply, “I’m sure you’ve heard, give me a call tomorrow“. That is a signal that something major has happened. I hit the MSN homepage and discover the Mitch Mitchell has passed. Time seemed to stop. Mitch is an intrinsic part of me and my career. The music that made want to play guitar was a song by Jimi Hendrix. Mitch played on that song, and on most of the songs I heard after that. The song was Purple Haze from the soundtrack to the documentary , “Jimi Hendrix”, it was from the1969 Royal Albert Hall concert and Mitch was the drummer. From that point on he had an indelible effect on my life. Flash-forward to 1998, I’m offered the chance to record with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell with Eddie Kramer producing. I leap at it and we record Dark Of The Night. We were scheduled to rehearse at SIR in Nashville and I was warned not mention Hendrix around Mitch. “He’ll go crazy and probably refuse to play!” was the description I got. We met for the first time and started to play a very, very mundane, bland, blues groove that had as much soul as a jar of mayonnaise. We played for a few minutes and in my mind I was wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just give up on this idea! We stopped and as I was tuning my guitar, Mitch played the drum intro to Spanish Castle Magic. I fell in at the appropriate spot and Billy was right there. 8 bars later, I’m horrified! I’ve screwed up! Mitch will storm off the set now! I turned to the drum riser, and there’s Mitch, peeking from behind his glasses, “ I was testing you!” From that point on we were mates. I knew that he knew that I loved the music. After that period, Mitch stayed in Nashville for a time and when I would play in town, he’d peak around the door of the dressing room, periodically “Hello Scott! How are you mate?” For me, that’s the price of admission right there!
Mitch and I lost track of each other for a few years. I kept up with him in the news, but we just didn’t cross paths musically.
This last month, Keith MF Throneberry and I went to Louisville KY to see the Experience Hendrix tour. We spent the whole afternoon trying to find a bottle of Knob Creek for Mitch! (Now ya know Mitch!)I was looking forward to seeing Buddy, but our MF friend Chuck had been hanging out with Mitch and had told me that he was looking forward to seeing me, so it gave me an extra amount of excitement to think that my old friend might remember me! Mitch was amazing. I’ve shaved my head and lost 40 pounds since we last saw each other, and the first encounter, he had no idea who I was, but when I said, “ Mitch, it’s me Scott.” his eyes lit up and he hugged me and made me feel so awesome! He turned and whispered something to Eric Gales. Eric’s eyes grew wide and he said, “ He just paid you a very high compliment!“ I have no idea what Mitch said, (probably something about how cool my scarf looked!), but it was enough to know that Mitch thought of me at all! That night, he made the whole show about his joy and I felt it. He danced and shimmied across the stage and I know from reports that that had been a common theme for the whole tour, so maybe in some way, that was his farewell tour. I don’t know, I wish he was still here! He was the rock and roll Elvin Jones (look it up kids, it’ll do ya good!!) What a guy! I miss him so much already! I never met his family, but my prayers go out to them and for what it’s worth, their fathers art and soul will live in me and my playing. If you’re a drummer and you don’t know Mitch Mitchell, you don’t know shit.