Thursday, February 09, 2012

What do you do while your GPS is updating?

 Been a while since I blogged, so I got all coffee’d up this am (thank you Dunkin’ Donuts!) and decided to let it roll! Since the start of 2012, I have really been going through an artistic “re-evaluation” of where I am and “what’s next”, (Ok, I’ll try to quit using “quotations” for the rest of this blog anyway!). My musical background is obviously the Blues. The first music that really made sense to me on guitar was Blues. I know this part of the story has been told to death but Jimi Hendrix was my gateway drug into music. Specifically, hearing Hendrix made me pick up a guitar and learn how to play it. Once that ball was rolling, I had to feed the beast. My first guitar teacher told me that the music that I liked was Blues. He told me this after I brought him a Billy Idol song (Steve Stevens on guitar of course)that I wanted to learn, so I thank God that he didn’t tell me the kind of music I liked was post-industrial, neo-classical, bluegrass-punk!
 He hipped me to Stevie Ray Vaughan, who led me to Buddy Guy, Albert King, Guitar Slim, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. It’s a very erratic path that I took; Jimi to Stevie to Buddy to the Kings to Wolf & Muddy and on and on. But there were side roads too; I found Clapton, Beck and Page. Through Clapton I found Robert Johnson and that opened up the whole Delta-type acoustic page of the book to me. I found Skip James, Son House, Fred McDowell, all the “Blinds” (Willie McTell, Lemon Jefferson, Willie Johnson, etc). The more new music I found and the more new artists I was exposed to, the more I wanted to find and learn. Sometimes, it took more than one listen to allow my brain to get wrapped around some of the artists I heard. I remember hearing John Lee Hooker’s Mad Man Blues the first time and almost running out of the room! He later became a cornerstone influence for me and one of the favorite bluesmen I ever met. I spent a lot of time in record stores just flipping through the Blues section looking for people I hadn’t heard of. 
 Buddy taught me about Earl Hooker, Little Walter, T-Bone Walker and Sonny Boy Williamson II. I was already a fan of Elvis, George Jones and Prince but the musicians that I worked with in Buddy’s band taught me about P-Funk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Youssou N’Dour and Earth, Wind & Fire. It was like reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica of Music!
 Somehow, in the maelstrom of my musical engulfment, I also found; Otis Spann, Little Brother Montgomery, Sonny Sharrock, Sly Stone, James Brown, Mozart, Grant Green, Rachmaninov, Big Joe Turner, Eddie Van Halen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Nighthawk, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Joni Mitchell, Roy Buchanan, Motley Crue, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Ali Farke Toure, Koko Taylor, Elliott Smith and a literal cast of millions!
 This blog is just about my musical influences, so I’m not even mentioning my parents (my first influence), my wife and daughter (my most consistent influences), Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Eddie Murphy, John Wayne, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Portis, Bernard Lansky, John Ford, Steven Spielberg, Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. & Estle Ray Mann (Google them), Leo Fender, Les Paul, Ernie Ball, Jim Dunlop and Seymour Duncan just to name a few. 
 As an artist, you are like a musical and cultural sponge. You take on all of the sights, sounds and feels that cross your path and they all filter into your work somehow. As I start to mentally “build” my next record, I think it’s going to sound like a dusty old Fender amp and eau de club (stale beer, cigarette smoke and fried food). Of course, knowing me, it might start that way and end up smelling like a brand new spaceship, orbiting Saturn!...Stay Tuned

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