Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

  This year will mark the 7th annual Have A Blues Christmas benefit. It’s a concert/auction/feast that Xtreme 4X4, Natalie Stovall and I have put on for 7 years in a row. It was originally conceived as an “end of the year” concert in my hometown, basically, just a reason to play at home. I wanted to have an event at home to end our touring year and play for my family and friends. My brother, Keith Throneberry and I cooked it up over a BUNCH of Dos Equis one night with our wives (they had margaritas). As we brain stormed we decided that just having a concert wasn’t enough, we both wanted to do something for the community. To try and give back. 
 I moved a lot as a child. We lived in Texas, Mississippi, and all over Tennessee before settling in Columbia. My mother tells the story that I asked her, after kindergarten, where I’d be going to school next year and she decided then and there that we would be staying right here. 
 I grew up here. I made my life long friends here. I found my wife here. I spent some VERY formative years just south of here on my Uncle Carlton’s farm. I learned to drive a tractor, shoot a gun, drive a car, swim and play a guitar here. I learned about work and responsibility here. I learned to shoot a gun, found Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Buddy Guy here. My daughter was born here. My family’s here. This is my home. 
 On Christmas Day, my daughter will awake to a tree full of presents. Santa Claus will deliver on schedule! I’m blessed. Blessed because for one, I’ve got a home for my daughter to wake up in, a lot of folks don’t. A lot of folks don’t have a tree or stockings or presents. I’m sure some of you more “sociopolitical” brothers and sisters will say that it’s ‘their own fault’ or some other crap. Some can say; “it’s not really my problem” or “I’m sure they’ll be okay”. The thing is, I’m not preaching. I won’t be serving in a food line this Christmas, I won’t be offering a homeless person my home as a place to sleep. I’m not Mother Teresa. I’m not saying that if you just take care of yours you’re wrong or less or whatever. I told you to begin with, I started this as a selfish reason to play a gig for my family. What I can do, is one day a year, help put on an event and raise money for the kids in my area that might not otherwise have a Christmas and in the spirit of that, try and shame others into giving!
 This benefit provides vouchers for toys. Nothings else. ALL of the money goes to toy vouchers that can’t be used for anything else, so that kids can have something under the tree. Every kid deserves to have a visit from Santa. Santa is all of US! Every person that works at this event is working for free. Everything involved in the event is donated. Nothing is paid for so that all monies go to the kids. 
 We live in a very cynical world. We’re always braced for the next con. I got an email today saying that someone wants to transfer $94,000.00 into my bank account. Seems like everybody’s got a scam. But Christmas is my favorite time of the year. To me it’s a pure, invincible time. It’s owned by Santa Claus and he calls the shots. It’s about dreams and, as Abraham Lincoln once said; “the better angels of our nature”. I love this time of year. I believe that there’s a little Clark Griswold in all of us. Just because it won’t be perfect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect it to be perfect. (We’ve all got a “Cousin Eddie” I’m sure.) I can do without the commercialization, the debate about “holiday trees” versus “Christmas trees” (my take is I could NOT care less). But the spirit of Christmas; being the better version of ourselves that we can always be. Wishing people a merry Christmas, sending cards to people that we haven’t sent a letter to in 364 days, just keeping an extra smile in our pockets for emergencies. It’s a really cool time of year. 
 We’re putting on an amazing concert. Natalie Stovall http://www.nataliestovall.com is one of the most talented people you’ll ever see. Her music is phenomenal and her band is second to none, (well maybe second to mine:) JOKE!) My guys will play they’re butts off like they do every night. The donated items will sell for big $$$ and the BBQ and drinks will flow. The T-shirts will be the fashion item of the year. If you can be there, DO! If you can’t, at least consider donating to our pay-pal page http://www.xtreme4x4.net/donate  It’s secure and you can donate a dollar and tell others you donated $1000.00! I promise your secret is safe with us! 
 Wether you participate in our event in any way or not, I wish you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season. I pray that you’ll find a warmth and happiness in your heart and that you’ll allow yourself to express it to others. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Be Better...

I haven’t written in a while. A lot’s happened. Life’s like that, a lot always seems to happen. I’ve lost and I’ve gained. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference but I keep trying. If you keep up with my Facebook (or the Facebook of hundreds of my friends) you know that we lost a great human being; Chris Kent. Chris was a dear friend and an amazing example of what I’d love to be. He was a positive, beautiful spirit, who faced unimaginable challenges with a complete faith in God and and he never gave up. If I could be so bold and with no blasphemy intended; he could’ve given Job a lesson in faith. 
 Chris and I were in a band together. He’s one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever known and I never could understand why he’d want to play with me. He brought such an elegance to the music that at times I was almost ashamed to play as though my notes might “mess up” what he and Drew Wiseman and Derek Wiseman were playing. Of course, before you think I have no ego at all, I did manage to turn up louder and play anyway!:) They always forgave me. Chris and I rarely saw each other after he left the band. Not out of animosity, but probably out of the same reason that you might not talk to someone that you were close to in high school. Life’s rivers just drift you apart. We stayed in touch, my wife is another amazing spirit and those folks tend to drift into each other’s orbits more often, so Chris and I would keep up on the internet through Buff and his correspondence. He would come out and jam when we played in Nashville and I was always thrilled. I miss him. I miss knowing that he’s here. That’s a selfish thought but it’s true. I feel the same way about everyone I’ve lost. I wish they were here. I think I’d be different, more proactive about getting together and catching up. I know that I wouldn’t but I know that I would love the chance to do it over. 
 Sometimes I think that’s the worst thing about life; continually forgetting what we’re here for. Focusing on the “stuff” and forgetting the ones we love until it’s too late. We get so caught up in the day-to-day and forget that what’s most important is flying by faster than we realize. 
 The younger you are, as you read this, the less sense it will make, but you look in the mirror one day and you see a few more lines. There’s some grey in your hair. Maybe when you got out of bed some muscle ached that never hurt before. If you’re like me, you just ignore it and roll on but it’s there. Tapping your shoulder, nudging your ribs as though to say; “Better hurry up, I ain’t got all day!” 
 So what’s the point of this blog? I have no idea!!:) All I know is Chris passed away and the accolades came pouring in about what a positive influence he was, how many lives he touched and how many people he affected. He was an amazing musician but that rarely came up in his tributes. People talked about his strength, his positivity, his faith in God, his warmth. Having personally known Chris, I can say that no amount of praise could be considered “too much”. He was that good of a person. I practice my guitar playing everyday. Chris’ lesson to me is  to practice being a better human being. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hank Williams Jr. is a little goofy...

 The strange thing about a perfect day is that you don’t really realize it’s perfect until it’s over. Today I spent the entire day with my girls. We went to the gym, the AT&T store, the dump, soccer practice and even hauled a little hay. Tonight, they’re both asleep and I’m realizing how perfect today was. When I’m on the road, I have to access my “mental pictures” to keep sane. I remember dinners, watching TV shows, moments. I’m not any different from any other working parent/husband. We do what we do because it provides for our family. If you work at a plant or you drive a truck, you’re doing what you have to do to keep the lights on. I drive for a living. I spend days and weeks away from home for a living. Selfishly, I make music for fun. I always say, “I get paid for driving and being away from my family, I make music for fun and for the love of it.” I love what I do for a living. I hate that it keeps me away from my family. It definitely makes me appreciate the moments we have together. Just like you, I’ve got a lot of “stuff” going on in my life. A lot of challenges that make it hard to just let the days flow. I’m not sure I’ve ever even met anyone who can just let the days “flow” but thats the myth we’re all led to believe. Cynics say, “Life is hard and then you die.” (If I find out Socrates said that I’ll be humiliated!) Life doesn’t “flow”, it’s bumpy and full of curves. No one is just “gliding” through this, don’t be fooled for a second. Life is gritty and sometimes crazy. You can’t truly feel the high’s without the lows. I think that you have to find the perfection where it is; not in the big moments but in the little ones. Tell someone you love them, eat a very GOOD piece of chocolate, listen to some amazing music (Jimi Hendrix is good...), spend a moment really feeling the moment. You might just realize that a perfect day was happening while you weren’t looking.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video: Ray Charles and Dolly Parton Indian Leg Wrestle!

Grateful. That’s what I am today. I try and remain grateful all the time. Sometimes it’s hard because life can throw more curve balls than Sandy Koufax. I got to watch my daughter’s play tonight (Willie Wonka Jr., she plays the role of Charlie!!) and was blown away. Yes, I am her father and I’ll always think she’s an amazing genius, but she IS! She obviously got more of her mother’s genes than mine! She’s beautiful inside and out just like her mother. 
 All day I’ve been watching the Conrad Murray trial on HLN. Propofol. AEG. Millions of dollars and at the end of the day, just a sad end to a tremendously talented, under-appreciated artist. My thoughts keep going to Michael Jackson’s children. My daughter is roughly the same age and she can see and hear CNN so I’m sure they do too. Hearing the graphic, gruesome details of your father’s passing is horrible. They’re in my prayers. 
 I’m grateful for my wife. My best friend, my most trusted confidant, my “Yoko of the South”! No one gets me more than she does. I’m grateful for my friends. They listen to me vent, worry, fret, revel, howl, brag, joke, cajole, and often just make a jackass out of myself. I’m grateful for my family. My mom, my brother, my in-laws, my adopted-laws, my MF brothers, my friends who don’t even realize we’re friends.
 I’m grateful for not so spiritual stuff too, of course. I’m grateful for my Jimi Hendrix collection. I’m grateful for Jimi Hendrix! I’m grateful for my guitar collection (humble by guitar player standards but still pretty goofy). I’m grateful for my truck that defies all mechanical logic and continues to operate perfectly. I am especially grateful for a certain guitar that allows me to “cheat” on her periodically and simply reminds me of her perfection every time I pick her up. 
 Sometimes it’s hard to be positive. Sometimes, it’s hard to be grateful. It’s easy to wallow in the mire of your own personal misery and feel like you invented woe and trouble. I’m ashamed to say that I am guilty of that sometimes. There’s a saying in the South; “I’ve got more than I can say grace over.” It usually means; “I have more responsibilities than I can deal with.” For some reason, I always hear it the other way; “I’m being blessed so much, I can’t thank for all of it!” I always think of that phrase when I get pissy. I can’t thank for everything, because I can’t THINK of everything. I’ve got more than I can say grace over. When I go to bed tonight, I’ll pray like every night. I’ll pray for my wife and daughter, my family and friends, my soul, the sick and hurting, and YOU. I can’t think of it all, so I just remember what I can. I’m grateful for you. I am GRATEFUL!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both name Scott Holt their favorite guitar player!

Driving home from the gym today, I took a route that I don’t usually drive on. It got me to thinking about the fact that when you live in a town (wether it’s all your life or just for a couple of years) you tend to “learn your way around”. You learn the fastest routes, the best routes for red lights or traffic and even the route that allows you to do all of your errands in order!
 As a traveling musician, there’s a similar thing that happens from being on the road. The more you travel on certain roads, the more you learn about the area. Whenever we get a new person in the bus with us, they comment on how we seem to know where every Starbucks on the interstate. We also are pretty good at remembering where we left the Red Robins, Chipotles, Five Guys and every bbq joint we’ve ever been too. 
 Lately, we’ve been running the same route through St. Louis, just about every week. It goes like this; Nashville to Paducah, KY on I-24. Then through Metropolis, IL., Mount Vernon, IL., East St. Louis and then St. Louis. From there we might go north or west. Funny how we always manage to hit St. Louis at lunch time and Zia’s is always “on the way”!
 Between Nashville and Paducah, there are only two Starbucks. Both in Paducah; one’s at Lourdes Hospital (always fun to stop at the hospital with a new guy and tell him we’re going in for a quick blood transfusion!) and one’s in the mall. Depends on what time we’re blowing through town and just how fast we’re rolling as to which one we stop at. Coming out of Nashville on I-24 there’s a big hill that you have to drive over and it has two big cell towers on the south side of the interstate. If you’re rolling before daybreak and especially if it’s foggy, the flashing lights on top of the cell towers look just like police blue lights. Always a great way to get the heart rate up for driving! Passing through Clarksville I always think of Jimi Hendrix and his time there with the 101’st Airborne and gigging there and later in Nashville with Billy Cox. Metropolis; I look for the water tank with Superman on it. There’s also a Exxon gas station on I-24 that sells BBQ’ed fried baloney sandwiches! I’m pretty sure there not that good for you. Mostly because they taste soooo good! Carbondale is the next place for Starbucks and they also have a Steak and Shake right across the street. Good place to re-fuel at the Flying J too. On I-64, especially coming home, I see the signs for Nashville, IL and it always feels like a cruel joke knowing that we’ve still got some miles to go. Crossing those rivers; the Tennessee, the Ohio and especially the Mississippi still excites me. I never get used to the magnitude of those big rivers. 
 Then of course there’s the soundtrack. When you’re driving, it’s important that you’ve got good music to listen to. Also, it’s important that you have the right music to listen to. Usually, we leave Nashville and it’s been a couple of days since we’ve seen each other. It’s usually about a half-hour to an hour of what’s been going on at home and general chit-chat before everyone settles into “long-drive” mode. Some sleep (I’ve been in too many wrecks for that ever really work for me), some read and everyone pops the little white ear plugs that Apple kindly gave us (for a nominal fee of course) and for the next 5-6 hours it’s dead silence. Somebody will get a phone call or maybe need to stop for something but for the most part an entire CD can play through before you stop. You need music that keeps you engaged and alert, not soothing stuff, no matter how much you enjoy it. Depending on my mood and what I’m into at the time anything can go either way. Lately “good” driving music has been; Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, BB King, Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle. “Not good” music is usually instrumental music. Bach can get you killed if you’re not careful! If the ‘drowseys’ start to set in, just wake somebody up and get them talking. Sometimes that’s as good as a cup of coffee for getting you back on point. As I read back through this ramble, I realize that the person writing it could very well be a truck driver or a traveling salesman. The only thing that makes what we do different is the gig at the end of the trip. Thank God for the gig!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scott Holt Road Diaries / Dispatches From The Sonic Front: Going to the Chapel and we're gonna get marrarrarr...

Scott Holt Road Diaries / Dispatches From The Sonic Front: Going to the Chapel and we're gonna get marrarrarr...: Twenty years ago, I knew everything. Smart! I was fresh out of school, fresh off the farm and playing guitar for a living and a legend. Wis...

Going to the Chapel and we're gonna get marrarrarried...

 Twenty years ago, I knew everything. Smart! I was fresh out of school, fresh off the farm and playing guitar for a living and a legend. Wise! I was rubbing elbows with Clapton and Santana, I was playing the same stage with the Rolling Stones and traveling the globe. Worldly! I had really, really great hair and no tattoos. Twenty years ago, in the midst of all my “smartness”, I did the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I walked into a church, in my hometown and in front of God and everybody, I promised Buffy “‘til death do us part”. 
 I was late. The wedding was supposed to start at 6:00 and I think I showed up at 5:50. Technically on time, but by all other standards...late. Cold feet? Not even cool feet! As a matter of fact, I had hot feet! I’ve been hot footing it after Buffy since I first saw her! One of my best friends and groomsmen, Joe Frye and I went shooting. .45 automatics at helpless cans and bottles (I should write a coffee table book; “Death Of A Budwieser Bottle”). Being born and raised in Tennessee, popping away in a corn field is a good way to keep nerves at bay. If I’d had any...nerves that is. I’ve been sure, completely sure, of only a few things in my life but marrying my wife was one of them. I have loved her since the first day I laid eyes on her, (that’s not an exaggeration). The second time I laid eyes on her I knew we would be married someday. These days, every time I lay eyes on her I know it was one of the smartest things I ever did. 
 Shooting with Joe wasn’t actually what made me late. Technically, I wasn’t late. Twenty years ago I thought that being ‘technically’ right was all that mattered. I went home, showered, wrote letters to my parents, put on my fancy tuxedo and rolled over to the church at 5:50, right on time! Twenty years ago being ‘technically’ on time was being “on time”. 
 I stood at the front of the church with the preacher and my best men; my dad and my brother. Candles were lit, family and friends were all seated, one of my favorite musicians was playing songs I had chosen on piano, (yes I had Hendrix, Clapton and Albert King played at my wedding). The doors opened and all the breath went out of me. (I don’t know everything) I had just seen her the day before. I had looked at her practically everyday since we’d met. I knew she was beautiful. I knew she was amazing. As she walked down the aisle, I realized that I had no idea how beautiful she was. I realized that I had never really seen her. I realized that I had never, ever had my breath truly taken away. (I don’t know anything). She had to help me light the unity candle because my hand was shaking so bad, cutting the cake and taking pictures went by in a blur, we left in my Jeep with the top down (the confetti was still in there 6 months later). I went into the church being the smartest guy in the world. I walked out knowing nothing. 
 Twenty years later, I’m used to her shaking her pretty little head at me when I do something that I think is smart. I’m used to hands on the hips and rolled eyes. I’m used to being the fourth smartest person in our house (I’m just behind Henry, our Labrador). I’ve learned that “technically” is never to be used as a defense...ever! I did one very smart thing, twenty years ago and if I never do another one, I’ll be just fine with that. Happy anniversary Mrs. Buffy Holt, you are the absolute love of my life...‘technically’ I wasn’t late...:)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Sword Of Damocles

My office is a wreck. That’s not a complaint or even an admission of guilt, it’s just an observation. Kind of like; “the sky is blue.” When I’m on the road, Buffy cleans up my office and puts everything neatly away. Then I come blowing in with 15 guitars and bags and CDs and magazines and small crumpled bits of paper with song lyrics on them and receipts and turn a once neat room into a cluttered catastrophe, once again. Thank you to my beautiful wife for taking care of me for the last 20 years!
 As I sit writing this blog, listening to an excellent Jeff Buckley bootleg (02/02/95, Skala Espacio - Fukuoka, Japan), I can feel the teetering stacks of CDs behind me. I turn around and choose one stack at random (there are currently 6 stacks total, behind me) and here’s what’s in the pile;
Steve Earle - I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
Jesse Johnson - Verbal Penetration
Johnny Cash - Personal File, Bootleg Vol.1
Hank Williams Jr - Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound
Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson
Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
Elton John - Madman Across The Water
Willie Nelson - Honeysuckle Rose Soundtrack
Townes Van Zandt - Live At The Old Quarter, Houston TX
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia
Keith Richards And The X-pensive Winos - Live At The Hollywood Palladium
Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday
Jeff Beck - Rock And Roll Party
Rush - Moving Pictures
Whitesnake - Greatest Hits
Beady Eye - Different Gear Still Speeding
Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape
R.E.M - Collapse Into Now
John Lennon - Walls And Bridges
John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon - Rock And Roll
John Lennon - Sometime In New York City

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Have a little faith...

 I am a man of faith. I Believe. I believe that my wife loves me. I believe that I’ll be able to buy all of the land contiguous to my land some day (it’s not a lot, I mean it’s a lot but not like the Louisiana Purchase ‘a lot’). I believe that every time my whammy bar comes back up, my guitar will be in tune. (Okay, that one’s just a pipe dream!) I believe in God and I believe that He is in control of my life, that the path that I am on is by His design, that He’s given me the talents and desires that I have and that as long as I stay true to Him, everything in my little world will be just fine...then I doubt. I worry. I get scared. I get scared and the little voices in my head start chattering away; “you’re not that good.”, “you’ve played that same lick a million times and now everyone’s going to realize you’re a fraud.”, “you don’t have a good singing voice.”, “you’re too fat/tall/skinny/bald...”...you get the idea. Sometimes it seems like the closer you get to some really great thing; (a vacation with my family, a big gig, a stable career...) something comes along and undermines it. An unexpected bill, an unexpected crisis, an illness (although I do not get SICK, TIRED or HUNGRY. Just ask my wife!) Something comes along and shakes my faith. 
 When I was growing up, I was taught that God (or as it sounded from the preachers and teachers; GOD) was my father. Now, you have to understand, my earthly father, Jess Holt,  is/was a gentle, loving, full of life and humor, supportive, understanding man.  He loved golf, books, backgammon, his sons, his wife, life, photography and most of all his family, (yes that means I put us in that list twice, on purpose). I could go to him in the middle of the night (which I did every time I saw the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds on late-night TV) and he would say, “it’s okay, son.” “every thing's fine.” “you just had a bad dream.” “I’m right here and I won’t let anything happen to you.” I would then go to bed and sleep like the baby that I was. 
 GOD, on the other hand, was a white haired, white bearded man who was angry at me. He had lightning in his hand that he was ready to throw at me. Nothing I could say or do would gain me the comfort that the church hymns said I was supposed to be feeling. In fact, every day that I was alive just drove me further from his love and grace.
 Lot of conflict growing up. Which I am still doing. Growing up, that is. I’m going through some tumult now, like I’m sure you are too. Mine’s minor, minor; business related so it might be small potatoes to what you’re going through. I was visiting a family member in the hospital recently and was reminded that there are worse things in life than being cutoff in traffic, (but I digress). My point, (and yes Virginia, I do have one) is about faith. Faith, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said; “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Faith is belief. Belief that you are not alone. Belief that something is working beyond your power, knowledge and ability. That there is more to this than...THIS. What stops you from robbing banks or kicking canes out from under old ladies. My worries and issues these days are small. My worries are just little nuts and bolts issues. My family is healthy and strong and loving and focused. My dad faced death with grace and strength that I can only pray that I will have. I have family members that are dealing today with catastrophic issues. Things Buff and I have never had to face, (thank God). I have a very dear friend that is battling a life and death issue and I have watched, silently for the most part, while he deals with it in a fairly public forum (facebook). He posts his thoughts, his fears, his frustrations and I have been continually amazed and uplifted by his strength. “Here is a man of true faith!”’ I says to myself... A while back, he had some bad news. Then, he had some good news. Now, he’s had some sketchy news that rattles him. You can hear it in his writing. But, his faith remains. His ability to see through the doubt and fear is his biggest strength. I have always admired him for that. Tonight, however. Reading his latest post, I was struck by another realization; God is working on all levels. He’s caring for CK (my friend) and he’s also using his experience and his ability to articulate and communicate a bigger, more universal message. Basically the way I hear it, is like what my dad would say to me and certainly what I say to my daughter now; “ I got ya!” No matter what, no matter how bad it gets; “I got ya!” You might not believe me, you might not agree with the outcome, but “I got ya.” 
 I’m told that we’re all going to grow old and then die. I’m told that. I don’t believe it for me personally and if you ever happen to come to my funeral (which I promise you will be an affair you will want to attend...if you can get tickets for one of the performances!) and look down into my casket, you will see one very surprised MF!:) I am told that though. I have faith. I have faith that there is a plan. I have faith that there is someone, smarter than all of us, driving this train. That love will prove to be the prevailing force in our universe. There has to be a reason why children and old people suffer. There has to be a reason why good people leave here and not so good folks seem to thrive and carry on. Faith. Faith is believing in something. Have faith. Have faith in each other. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your loved ones. Whatever your faith is (and even if you’re an atheist you have faith!:)), pray for my friend tonight. And, while you’re at it, pray for one another, pray for your enemies, pray for YOUR friends, pray for a stranger, pray for ‘your fellow man’, pray for our country, pray for your country, pray for CK, pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Pray and have faith that your prayers will be answered. What have you got to lose?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I'm giving her all I got captain..."

 I really can’t say enough about the great band of guys I am surrounded with. This weekend was a great example of the talent, focus and determination that these guys are putting forth daily. We’ve been having some kind of mechanical issues with our touring vehicle and thought we’d fixed it by staying in Moscow, ID for 4 extra days a couple of weeks ago. No luck! After an uneventful ride home the problems came back about 250 miles into a weekend run that had us going just north of Chicago and then to Quincy, IL., before getting back home in time for Easter. 
 After an incredibly useless stop at a mechanic on Saturday, we limped through the weekend and made it home in time to celebrate Easter with our families. I couldn’t have done that with any other group of guys! Dan, Marshal, Pappy & Shelton; Thank you all so much for your dedication, energy, talent and belief!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who is John Galt?

What a great start to the year 2011 for the SHB! KUDZU, our best record yet, was released in January and we’re getting a lot of radio play including satellite radio now on XM! We had a great time playing on the Mando Blues Show in Nashville earlier this year (www.radiofreenashville.org), what a blast! Great leg of touring just finished with two nights in Moscow ID. John’s Alley is becoming a favorite place to play, thanks to Dave and the staff there as well as the great fans that come out and see us. Great shows in Minneapolis, Fort Dodge, IA., Sioux Falls, Billings and our first ever show in Vancouver! Just an awesome leg of our never ending tour. Buff and I heard That Girl on XM radio over the weekend and it was a big thrill for me to hear our music played on the radio, (that will never get old). It was really important that Buff and I heard it together for the first time. Check out XM channel 74/B.B. King’s Bluesville and request our music!
 Last Saturday was National Record Store Day. Hope you supported your local record stores! Jack White, a Nashville resident and newly named musical ambassador for Nashville, hosted a concert by Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m grateful to artists like Jack who use their influence to protect the best parts of our industry. Thanks Jack!
 I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing more of ya’ll this spring/summer. We’ve got some cool festivals in the lineup and some interesting gigs. I’ll be in NYC in May as part of a tribute to the late Rory Gallagher. We’re doing the Windsor International Blues Fest this year as well as a bunch of other gigs that we’re looking forward to like Stoogefest in Jackson MO for our Jackson friends. We’ve been in the studio working on some new music and hopefully we’ll get some of that out in the next few months, stay tuned!

P.S. If you wondered about the title of this blog, yes I am reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Amazing Book!

Monday, March 21, 2011

If I Had A Radio Station...

I am not a fan of talk radio. I like music. I LOVE music, actually (not like I love my wife but very much like I love Mexican food, actually MORE than Mexican food! But much, much LESS than my wife!!). I like for my radio to play music. I expect it to play music. That’s it’s job as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s not your radio’s job and that’s fine. Maybe you like talk radio and that’s fine too (If you love it so much why don’t you marry it?!...sorry I’ve been watching a lot of Pee Wee Herman lately!). I’m just talking about MY radio and what I like to hear. When my radio stops playing music, I put in a CD, turn on my iPod, sit down at the piano or pick up a guitar because I want to hear music. Talk radio is very popular these days. There are stations that talk about sports, news, conservative issues, liberal issues, science, comedy, cooking, etc. there might even be a station that talks about music! I’ll have to check. I have many friends, musicians and music fans among them, who listen to more talk radio than music. I am not one of them. If I had a radio station it would play music 24/7. According to the current paradigm, it wouldn’t be very successful to most people I know. My friends would listen to it because I asked them to, (at least they would claim to be listening to it, probably while listening to talk radio). I would limit advertisers (you have to have the ads to pay for the airtime, or maybe I could be like XM and just sell subscriptions!) to 5 second commercials; “Buy Ford Trucks!”. The news would only come on if something major happened and then wouldn’t repeat until a really new development actually happened. There would be no hours and hours of commentary about the implications of this major event on the rest of the world, blah, blah, blah, unless there was an implication for the rest of the world to be concerned about, and then the implication would be explained and we would move on.  The news would come on with that sound that they used to use on TV when news would break; click, click, click... We don’t use that sound anymore because news is ALWAYS breaking! Turn on any news program and while they’re talking about news, a scroll is running underneath telling more news. Sometimes it’s important; Japan’s earthquake and nuclear disaster, but sometimes it’s not important; the warlock Charlie Sheen. That’s not news. It’s strange and interesting like a car wreck is interesting, but it’s not news like Libya and yet it’s on the same scroll as news about the economy or the health care debate. Sometimes, they break in to the news with more news! It’s like; “That’s interesting news Bob but we’ve just heard this even more interesting news!” 
 My station would be unlimited when it comes to genre. I don’t recognize them in the world so why would I recognize them on my radio station? Blues would be next to Rock, which would be next to Country, which would be next to Jazz, which would be next to Pop, etc. I think other than making it easier to find CDs in the record store (if you can find a record store and even know what a CD is...) Genres are kind of useless anyway. It gets very hard to categorize some artists and figure out which section they should even be in; (is Johnny Cash in the Country section or the Folk section?) For that matter, if “Pop” is short for “popular” (it is) wouldn’t all artists who’s records are selling well be considered “pop”? Currently, according to Billboard magazine’s chart of the top 200 songs, R.E.M, Sara Evans, Bruno Mars and Jason Aldean would all be considered ‘pop’. Hmmmm. On my radio station, they would all get played anyway, so I guess the categories wouldn’t matter.
 On that thought, genres are kind of like us humans. We’re always looking for the differences in ourselves that separate us from each other and yet there’s way more stuff that make us the same. Just like music! Race, sex, religion, social class, nationality, eye color, weight, skin color; all that stuff that we use to differentiate ourselves, separate, put apart. Categories are great for a simple explanation but they rarely tell you anything about a song, a movie, a painting, an artist or a person for that matter. I’m not sure why we feel the need to do that. I have a young daughter that I’m trying to teach about life and the world and trying to teach her that all people are the same is a very important part of that. I try and explain to her that we don’t judge people. We get to know them. That tells more about someone than the color of their skin or their height. Music is like that too. Don’t dislike something out of hand, listen and judge it based on if it moves you or not. 
  My playlist of artists would look something like this:
  • B.B. King
  • Ms. Aretha Franklin
  • Motorhead
  • Justin Bieber (just wanted to put his name right next to Motorhead!)
  • Roy Hamilton
  • Buck Owens
  • Rhianna
  • The Statler Brothers
  • Albert Collins
  • The Police
  • Elvis Presley
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Jeff Beck
  • Jeff Bridges (I could just do a day of ‘Jeffs’)
  • George Jones
  • Salif Keita
  • Buddy Guy
  • Eric Clapton
  • The Monkees
  • Hound Dog Taylor
  • Material
  • Sonny Sharrock
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • AC/DC
  • Steve Earle
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Merle Haggard
  • The Beatles
  • Van Halen
  • Tammy Wynette
  • Spinal Tap
  • Ali Farke Toure
  • Robert Johnson
  • Prince
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • The Sex Pistols
  • Hank Williams
  • Scott Holt (well, it IS my radio station!)
  • John Coltrane
  • Sam Cooke
  • T.V on the Radio
  • P-Funk
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Billy Idol
  • Sly & The Family Stone
  • Wes Montgomery
  • Miles Davis
  • Santana
  • Skip James
  • Faron Young
  • Mozart
  • Bob Dylan
  • the cast of Glee (seeing if you’d actually read the whole list down!)
  • etc. (by that I mean, I could go on and on. Etc. is not to indicate a band called etc. although I’d probably play them too)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Defense Of The Tangible

 I love technology. I love my iPhone, my Mac, my Kindle, my iPod, etc. I believe that technology is our friend. I’m all “big screen TV’s and wireless guitars!” That being said, this blog is in defense of the “old school”. I recently read an interview with Jon Bon Jovi, in which he was lamenting the seeming replacement of the physical album or CD with MP3’s or Wav's. He blamed Steve Jobs personally, which I don’t really agree with, but much of the interview felt right to me. I reposted the article on my facebook and got some interesting responses. It made me think about my own feelings concerning this topic, which in my line of work is kind of important!
 When I was growing up, (in olden times) music was on albums (33 1/3 baby!!), then we got 8-track tapes (horrible) and then cassettes (ehh), then the glorious CD! Yes, an indestructible, last forever format; except it’s not. They scratch, have a shelf life, and you can break them. Still it was the last physical format to come along before the age of 1’s and 0’s. When MP3’s became the thing, it wasn’t the sound quality that bothered me as much as the physical “not being able to hold something” feeling. My high-school years (my truly formative music listening years) were spent listening to most of my music while driving in my truck, cruising up and down the streets of my hometown, on a really crappy car stereo with a graphic equalizer that did little more than add too much treble, bass and volume. In other words, sound quality was not really a major issue for me at the time. Even now, as I write this, I’m listening to music (Lucinda Williams / Blessed) on desktop computer speakers...sounds fine to me:). A lot of my favorite stuff isn't really “audio-phile” type stuff anyway, I’ve been listening recently to Robert Johnson, not exactly pristine recordings (some things even technology can’t do yet!)!
 When I first heard Jimi Hendrix, it was important that I saw a picture of him. It was important to read the liner notes and see where the music was recorded, who else played on it, when was it recorded, etc. I learned as much about music from reading my CD’s as from listening to them. I learned about Guitar Slim in the liner notes of a Stevie Ray Vaughan, CD. I found out about Earl Hooker from Buddy Guy, but I learned more about his discography from liner notes on Muddy Waters records, etc. I can’t overstate the importance of that source of information and knowledge when learning about music. There IS a reason why there’s a Grammy category for liner notes! 
 When I first started exploring iTunes I was excited about the “compactness” of it; I can carry my entire record collection with me everywhere on a device roughly the size of a deck of cards. That’s awesome! When I started touring, I carried a little CD player and 3 BIG albums of CDs! Very cumbersome!! Once the newness of iTunes wore off and it became a regular part of my day, the limitations started to reveal themselves. Especially after my first hard drive crash that lost my entire iTunes library! 4,450 albums...GONE! That’s a great, (albeit painful) wake up call! I’ve had a couple of crashes and ‘losses’ since then and it sent me scurrying back to my local record store (Grimey’s in Nashville) and made me appreciate, again, the feeling of tearing the plastic off of a new resource and a new friend. 
 I believe in the ability of humans to assimilate new technology and refine it over time. I think that’s what will happen to recorded music; it’s great to have MP3’s, it’s great to have iTunes and be able to buy a song while driving down the interstate at 3:00am (yes, I have done that for some of the most random songs you can imagine!) but I don’t believe 1’s and 0’s will ever fully replace the physical recorded work any more than I believe that texting will ever fully do away with face to face conversation (although it is very handy!!) Buddy used to tell me; “just because something is new doesn’t make it better.” I agree with that.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Finding it pt.2

The meandering stream of life. Can you remember how you came to have the list of ‘favorites’ that you currently have? If today you like eating lobster, did you start with fish sticks? If today your favorite book is Water For Elephants was it once Green Eggs and Ham? If today you are jamming to Born This Way by Lady Gaga, was there a time in your past when it was Fallin’ by Alicia Keys? (Did you know that was 10 years ago?!) Sometimes I wonder why I like certain songs. In my line of work it’s an important thing to try and study. If I could figure it out, I’d be writing this from my private island fortress, while sitting on a stack of gold bars. How did I go from listening to my parents live Sha Na Na record to listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins? How do I draw the line from my love for Hank Williams Jr to my love for Funkadelic? I loved Elvis long before I began to raid his record collection for guidance. I got my appreciation for B.B. King from Buddy Guy. I found out about Guitar Slim from Stevie Ray Vaughan. I learned my gospel music from church but I learned my love of George Jones from my mom listening to WSIX in Nashville. There’s a place in the Bible where Jesus says to become like “little children”. I won’t go into the spiritual aspects of the passage but I will say that a lot of aspects of the creative life (and maybe just life in general) are made better by following that ideal. In my last blog, I spoke about how I discovered music. I discovered it in a random, sort of meandering way that wouldn’t make sense if you were trying find the straight line of discovery. I still find music like a child plays; any toy is fair game, size and proportion doesn’t matter. A 2” tall doll can be friends with an 18” doll and they can live in a house that is in now way proportionate for either of them. When I play dolls with my daughter, I’m the ‘boy dolls’ which tend to be a little less ‘together’ than the girl dolls. My favorite is the one we call business man; he has a tie and suspenders but no jacket and no shoes. She may be a Cinderella or a small girl in a riding outfit but it makes no difference. The rule is; there are no rules. It’s just playing. Imagination.
Music is like that (thank God!). In my iTunes, Donny hathaway is right next to The Doors (alphabetized by first names I guess) I found Robert Johnson like this; Jimi Hendrix - Stevie Ray Vaughan - Buddy Guy - Billy Idol - John Lee Hooker - Robin Trower - Eric Clapton - The Time - Robert Johnson. There was no straight line, no path of logic, just a sort of “Hey, I wonder what this sounds like?” I remember sometimes I would find someone that I wasn’t really ready for and it would be a while before I could come back to them and it make sense to me. John Lee Hooker was like that for me. I had heard Buddy, Stevie, B.B., Muddy and I had heard John Lee’s name enough to know he was “important” but when I bought my first record, Mad Man Blues, it made no sense at all. It sounded out of tune, unorganized and nothing like what I was used to. It was NOT love at first sight. As time went on, I developed a broader sensability, found more music, varied sounds and when I came back to John Lee, it WAS love. I put him high on my list of favorites and consider him one of the greatest bluesmen ever. I heard the Sex Pistols looooong before I loved them. For a long time I liked Adam & The Ants better than the Clash! (What do you want, I was a Prince fan!)
(My List of Greatest Blues Men, order subject to change daily or hourly)
Muddy Waters
B.B. King
Robert Johnson
Howlin’ Wolf
John Lee Hooker
T-bone Walker
Buddy Guy
Albert Collins
Freddie King
Hank Williams

*I add this caveat; Stevie Ray Vaughan was the LAST real authentic blues man. I’ve yet to see anyone access that channel since. Also, I know that I left off; Little Walter, Son House, Sonny Boy Williamson, Albert King, Junior Wells, Elmore James, Little Milton, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Charlie Patton, etc...

My daughter, who has become one of my best teachers, shows me every day how to ‘learn like a child’. She discovered the song You Really Got Me not from Van Halen like I did, not from The Kinks but from Alvin & The Chipmunks. Not trying to be cool or hip, she just found the version that to her ear sounds ‘good’. She learned Hank William’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry from a film version of Beverly Hillbillies. I learned the same way; my first Clapton record wasn’t Derek & The Dominoes or Cream, it was Behind The Sun. Good record but not the record responsible for his “godhood”. Not the ‘cool’ record you want to say was your first. My first Buddy Guy record was a Vanguard compilation. Then I accidentally came across Stone Crazy on Alligator, (still my favorite and I would argue his best). I heard Elton John for years and saw his videos through the 80’s and early 90’s but couldn’t be bothered to even own an Elton John record. Then one day it just clicked into place and a casual purchase of his greatest hits (because I am determined to own every record ever made) led to me deciding that he is one of the greatest pop music geniuses of the 20th century. (Yes I am prepared to argue that point with anyone!) I liked the Monkees before I liked the Beatles. I liked the Beatles before I liked The Rolling Stones. I liked 70’s jumpsuit era Elvis better than 50’s era (I still do sometimes) because that’s the one I was exposed to first. I like Merle Haggard doing Lefty Frizzell better than the originals. I like to discuss music. I will debate (not argue) with you about my choices if challenged, but in the end it’s about what you like as an individual. There are 31 flavors of ice cream for a reason (except in Libya where there is just the one flavor; Kaddafi Krunch! Bahahahahahaha!! WINNING!)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Finding it pt.1

I’m always fascinated by how “new” music finds me. I’ve been on this planet for several years now and not only do I find new recent music all the time (still in love with F**k You by Cee Lo Green) but I also find stuff that I’m amazed I haven’t come across before. Some of you who came out to the shows last year on ‘The Big Nasty’s Traveling Freak Show’ tour know that I was in the throes of discovering Elton John for real, finally. The temptation to play Bennie And The Jets was often irresistible (sorry for that!)! These days I’m finding amazing artists like Townes Van Zandt. I’m a music fiend, so I’ve heard his name for years, but actually tracking down some of his work and listening to it is different from just being aware that we share oxygen.
I’m not sure how other people do go through this type stuff (or if they even think about it at all) but being a musician, I’m always working on my craft from every angle and that includes my “diet”. I believe that an artist is not only the combination of elements and desires that God gives but also a result of the influences that come to you and at what stage they arrive. I started with Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan in very short order so discovering the guitar gave me an entry to my medium. If my first influences had been Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean-Michel Basquiat or Charles Portis, I would be a very different type of artist!
After spending a bunch of time immersing myself in the blues (I actually wrote Muddy Waters but just couldn’t bring myself to let the pun go!), I was introduced, by Buddy and others, to P-Funk, Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince, Bobby Womack etc. I also looked around my hometown area and started finding the people that I had grown up hearing; George Jones, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr. My list of favorites has grown over time to be quite an eclectic list; Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Miles Davis, Donny Hathaway, Annie Lennox, Jeff Beck, Aretha Franklin, Jason and The Scorchers, Sly & The Family Stone, The Sex Pistols, Mozart, B.B. King, John Coltrane, Funkadelic, Wes Montgomery, Elton John, Steve Earle, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Eric Clapton, George Jones, The Beatles, Dwight Yoakum,... I could literally go on and on!
The point (if in fact there is a point) is that I am so grateful that God has given me such an adoration for what I do and allows me to continue to discover new music and have it feel like it did when I first started. I’ve told the story of “finding” Jimi for the first time. I can still access that feeling in my memory. I can still see the place I was, the way the sounds hit me and assaulted my senses and left me knowing that this was my path. I remember going to see Elvis with my parents, I can still feel the air from that night. I remember exploring Prince’s 1999 album (yes kids, on vinyl!). Hearing Buddy Guy for the first time, on a cassette, late at night. The impact on me was huge! I LOVE MUSIC! can you tell?

Recommended Playlist (if you’re interested)
Buddy Guy / One Room Country Shack
Hank Williams / Rambling Man
John Coltrane / Naima
Duke Ellington / Lotus Blossom
George Jones / He Stopped Loving Her Today
Jason & The Scorchers / White Lies
Townes Van Zandt / Pancho & Lefty
Funkadelic / Maggot Brain
The Rolling Stones / Rocks Off
B.B. King / You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
Prince / She’s Always In My Hair
John Prine / In Spite Of Ourselves
Earth, Wind & Fire / September
Donny Hathaway / A Song For You

Friday, February 25, 2011

...when she's dreaming

Just got back from the latest recording sessions in Minneapolis. (Snuck out in 18” of snow before another 12” fell!) We are in the process of recording a new project. Tentatively titled; ...when she’s dreaming. We’re calling it an acoustic record, but hopefully it will be more than that. We did make a rule that the only “electric” instrument would be Truth’s B3, so we’ll see if we’re able to keep it like that! In the process of recording, we actually put down a couple of songs that will be on a later, somewhat larger project, more about that later. I’m really happy with the reception that Kudzu is getting. We’re getting a great response to all the songs every night and it’s really great to see our fans really “getting it” so to speak. Being able to create music is my favorite thing to do (second favorite thing actually...) and suddenly it feels like we have no limits in what kind of music we can make and that feels great! If you haven’t checked out Kudzu yet, what’re ya waiting for?!? Go to iTunes or Amazon and download it right now!...I’ll wait...:)
Buff and Olivia give the new stuff their thumbs up so hopefully we’re on the right track! Look for the new stuff later this year and until then BUY KUDZU!!!

Monday, February 07, 2011


Just my Monday morning thoughts; Congratulations Packers! Christina Aguilera should be forgiven for messing up the National Anthem, it’s a lot of pressure to perform solo in front of the entire world. I don’t think that it should put your patriotism into question if you can’t remember the words. The Black Eyed Peas were actually pretty good for a Super Bowl Half Time show. Not sure what you’re supposed to expect from something like that but I thought they performed well, actually sang live and made it interesting. The commercials this year were probably the most unimaginative and dull of any year I can remember. I think the Bill O’Reily interview with President Obama was strange. I thought the president handled himself well but I’d rather see John Madden interviewing. Doesn’t anyone else remember that Bill O’Reily was the host of A Current Affair?
Buffy gave me a Kindle for Christmas (thanks again Beautiful!) and I have read more in the last two months than I have in the last two years! Best books so far; The Kennedy Detail, Hellhounds On His Trail, A Terrible Glory, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

All Hail The King!

“Before Elvis, there was nothing.” - John Lennon

Elvis’ birthday is today. He would have been 76 years old. I, like many people, called him the King of Rock and Roll today on Facebook and was challenged to explain how he could merit that title. So here goes;
It’s hard to imagine how different the world was 60 years ago. Nowhere was our cultural differences more broadly expressed than in music. Pop music was divided into ‘black’ music and ‘white’ music. The names for the categories were much more genteel; white music was either ‘pop’ (short for popular music) or country & western (yes, both kinds!) black music was first called ‘race records’ and then was changed to ‘r&b’. Of course all of these distinctions were only invented by the recording industry to sell records. In the real world, ‘white’ people would listen to ‘black’ music and vice-versa.
When Elvis walked into Sun records in Memphis, TN in 1954, he stood in front of the mic and let loose a new kind of music. An uptempo, countryfied version of an old rhythm and blues song by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup called That’s Alright Mama. This was the birth of Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll transcended boundaries of culture, race, gender or nationality. The music was embraced by kids all over the nation and soon the world. Elvis started the avalanche of artists that followed; Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, etc. He influenced everyone from Buddy Holly to Led Zeppelin. Keith Richards, in his recent autobiography, had this to say concerning Elvis’ imprint on his own career; “Heartbreak Hotel...was the stunner...when I woke the next morning, I was a different guy.”
No other single artist or group influenced more artists or a more diverse group of artists than Elvis. In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland there are a collection of drawings made by a young Jimi Hendrix in grade school, the subject of one drawing; Elvis Presley. Bob Dylan referred to listening to Elvis like, “busting out of jail”. Little Richard called Elvis “an integrator”. Rod Stewart said; “Elvis was the king. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps.” Elton John said; “If it hadn’t been for Elvis, I don’t know where popular music would be.” In a career that only lasted 20 years, including 9 years in Hollywood making movies instead of rock and roll records, it would be easier to make a list of 20th century artists who weren’t influenced by Elvis...it would be a very short list.