I think it was John Lee Hooker himself who called his blues "the deepest blues." I wholeheartedly agree. This week's Down and Dirty is going to focus on the man who is quite possibly the most emotionally powerful and original bluesman, John Lee Hooker.
As I write this piece on my man -- the late, great Mississippi Fred McDowell -- I'm flying on a plane to New Orleans and will be headed to Mississippi once I hit the ground. How fitting. Play the blues.
The name of this blog is Down and Dirty, and what’s more dirty than the Delta Blues? I was thinking about dedicating the next few blogs to some of the legends of the Blues. When it comes to being down and dirty, I can think of no bluesman who's more down and more dirty than Lightnin' Hopkins. We talked about Delta blues a lot over the past month but when we talk about Lightnin', we are talking about the Texas blues.
When you hit the big time -- and you're going to hit the big time man -- you're gonna go all around this beautiful world, guitar in hand, and you're gonna make it everywhere, even Japan. As I write this I'm sitting in the plane, on the runway at Narita getting ready to fly back to Boston from Tokyo. This was my 35th trip to the land of the rising sun. We just wrapped a 3 show mini tour playing Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo and I have to say these were some of my best shows in Japan.
A couple years back I was on tour in Japan. I'm always on tour in Japan it seems. The particular tour I'm talking about was particularly wild as we were travelling with our good friend and musical cohort, DJ Scott Melker. After the shows Scott and I were going out a bunch, probably too much and too hard, and as any good manager would and should do, my manager J called us out.
After being berated as grown men for over-partying, we were of course absolutely defensive and found many ways/excuses to continue our belligerency. Scott said brilliantly," I look at it like this, if I stay home I know exactly what's going to happen, when you go out anything could happen". Spoken like a true networker and connector I wholeheartedly agreed. When you're out on the town, out on the gig, anything can happen. You could fall down drunk on your face or you could meet someone with an opportunity that could change your life or career.
The last two blogs have been dedicated to some of the great slide guitar players past and present who have influenced me ore the years. This week I thought it could be helpful to show y'all some of the tunings that these players use. Open tunings present a myriad of possibilities to achieve unique and original sounds. Try the ones in my video, create your own or Google open tunings. There are endless possibilities here. Remember, be original, that's the key to success as a player and a performer.
Legends of the blues and masters of their craft, musicians like Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, Bukka White and others who defined a genre which is the heart of rock and roll and all popular music. I've been blessed to travel the world with my guitar in hand, and besides performing, there's nothing I like more than being inspired and getting a musical ass whooping by my fellow musicians.
My favorite slide guitar players are the players who are from and/or play in that Mississippi Delta style. When I first heard the legendary John Hammond perform live, I was blown away by his slide work. John typically uses an old National resophonic guitar for his slide numbers. If you've been reading my blogs or have ever seen me perform, you know by now that Hammond has had major influence on my playing. Through his records I was introduced to a world of blues.
Let's face it, friends: Being in a band is like being part of a very, very, very dysfunctional family. Like any marriages, businesses or things you love, it takes love, work, vision, direction and effort to keep it going. There are always exceptions to the rule; however, I find that bands work best when they are lead by one. And before you start in on me and my ego, please think back to the time you were in the van with the fellas trying to decide if it was Micky D’s or Burger King en route to the gig in Topeka.