June 25, 2006

Two blogs in three days - it's a veritable rainshower of words! OK - just had to kid around since everyone's always on me about writing in the blog more. I have found undeniable reason to today, since 'coincidence' (which I believe is always just a convenient word used to describe something much more important) slapped me right between the eyes today as I was sitting and eating my lunch and reading 'Hammer of the Gods' for the third time.

Those of you who've read the book will understand the following story in greater depth, but for those of you who haven't read this book, if you're a Led Zeppelin fan, or a blues lover in general, you should read this book. It not only details the Zeppelin 'myth' (and some of their truths) in detail, but it outlines the birth and lifeline of blues and how it has influenced so many different styles of music from rockabilly to metal. Good read....

In any case, while digging into a tuna salad sandwich, I was just at the point in the book where they talk about the profound influence Robert Johnson has had on music, as the father of Delta blues. BOOM! First hit of 'coincidence' lands a right hook! Last night, we played at Knuckleheads in Kansas City on their outdoor stage. Following our set, which ended at 11:20, Honeyboy Edwards, the last living link to Robert Johnson, and in his early nineties, was to play a set on the indoor stage. It was legendary, and here I was reading about the 'school' he came from, and the very musicians he played with. Earlier in the night, the soundman, Pete, had said I might have to sit in and accompany Honeyboy with a little keyboard - he ended up bringing someone with him, but I came THIS close to playing with Honeyboy.

The other interesting moment of serendipity was that Van Morrison is only mentioned once in the book, and I was sitting in a restaurant that was playing an 'oldies' station. Right as my eyes scanned his name, a Van Morrison song started to play. I take these things seriously - so is this telling me I'm in the right place at the right time?

Whether it's by luck or design, we've found ourselves on a very cool blues circuit in the company of some of the best bands around. The Bel Airs played Knuckleheads the night before us, and we share a show with them and Dave Alvin next Wednesday in front of the Blue Note. In our own way, we're doing the kind of networking that these bands in the biographies I read were doing when they were struggling up through the ranks. I don't for a second intend to compare myself to the legends of music like Zeppelin and Clapton or anyone else for that matter - but it's interesting how there really is a pattern to the work and results you achieve in this business of music. You take the raw material and you mix it with stick-with-it-ness, luck, timing, and the constant small steps you are taking as you meet people who can help you with the next leap.

Jimmy Page hung out and played with Jeff Beck and Steve Winwood and the Stones and Eric Clapton before these people were known. They played colleges and dance halls and state fairs and sometimes crummy bars. They didn't always have energy, they got tired, they kicked their amps off the stage when they malfunctioned, dealt with problem crowds and crooked venue owners. Who was it who said music is such a noble art and such a sad profession?

By the way - last night everyone was calling for me to play more fiddle. The devil is commonly painted (whether visually or simply in lyrics to a blues song) as a fiddler. Does this mean my band is at the delta crossroads waiting for our guitars to be tuned by the devil? Is the soul-trade the only way to make it? :) OK - not so fast there! Read the book and you will know of what myth I speak - I've not yet been approached by a cloven-hooved man hoping to re-string my guitar, although there have been plenty of people with promises of fame and glory! I think it all boils down to old-fashioned hard work. I think it's paying off - I see exciting things happening in 2006, and in case I don't say it enough, if you're taking the time to read this blog, you've either played an important part in helping me, (so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) or you're lurking on the net and have too much time on your hands. :) (OK - if you are reading this by happenstance, I thank you too - now go buy a CD!)

June 22, 2006

Just spent a fascinating two hours driving around with my friend and harmonica-player, Griff. We were listening to the Volume 1 live cuts CD and after every few songs, as part of a 'mini pub crawl' we'd stop and grab a brew. Mostly it was fascinating conversation - I realize time and again how lucky I am to have the great guys I have in my band not only as fellow musicians, but as dear friends.

Michael and I were talking the other day about how, if we step back and really look at things objectively, the last two months have signaled a changing tide in this 'business of music.' All of a sudden things are exploding - and I'm holding on for the ride, grinning from ear to ear as the wind whips me around, a punch-drunk smile plastered on my face from the exhileration of yet another loop-de-loop.

Certainly a focus of my excitement is the upcoming Festival at Sandpoint (Friday August 4th) at which we will have the opportunity to open for Tanya Tucker. While we've opened for people whom I consider legends in their own right (Little Feat and Beth Orton among them) it seems to be now that everyone is oohing and aaahing! :)Our desire to break into the elusive and elite festival circuit seems to be coming to fruition. I have wanted to play in the Festival at Sandpoint, not only because it's a fabulous well-known festival, but because it takes place in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and my family and friends are nearby and will finally have the chance to see me play. (Many of them have not seen me in live concert since I moved so far away from the northwest).

Tonight is one of those nights where I sit back, and in full beer-soaked appreciation (I promise I am not drunk - but the beer was delicious) I realize that the dreams I've had, by day, by night, or in my secret heart, are coming true on a daily basis.

SEH - you are watching over me, Magellan. I know this all is because of you.