“If this doesn't clear the house...” Watch U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cover Muddy Waters on his Fender Strat – at a state dinner

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken performs onstage during the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative at the U.S. Department of State on September 27, 2023
(Image credit: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images/The Recording Academy)

By day, Antony Blinken serves – in his capacity as the United States Secretary of State – as America's top diplomat. He's also, however, an avid, proud guitarist, to the point where his Twitter bio reads “Husband, dad, (very) amateur guitarist, and the 71st Secretary of State.”

Earlier this week (September 27), Blinken hosted an evening event celebrating the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative, which aims to promote “cross-cultural exchanges” and “advancing peace and mutual understanding globally” through music.

Though the event's primary goal was to promote the initiative, and award music legend Quincy Jones with the first Peace Through Music Award, Blinken also took the opportunity of the music-themed event to show its attendees his own electric guitar skills.

Donning a black Stratocaster, Blinken announces his intention – in the video below – to take the evening in a bluesy direction, joking, “if this doesn't clear the house...” He then launches into what we assume is the first rendition of Hoochie Coochie Man to ever be played in the State Department Building.

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Though he, sadly, doesn't take any solos, one has to respect Blinken's commitment to bringing his passion for the guitar into his day job.

“I couldn’t pass up tonight’s opportunity to combine music and diplomacy,” Blinken commented on Twitter following the performance. “Was a pleasure to launch [the State Department’s] new Global Music Diplomacy Initiative.”

In his typical self-effacing manner, Blinken told attendees, “I’m really at a loss for words because I can tell you, that song [Hoochie Coochie Man] never sounded like that before – and never will again.”

What's even more remarkable is that this isn't even the first time Blinken has played Hoochie Coochie Man at a government event.

In 2016, he – armed with an ultra-cool lefty Danelectro DC59 model – played the song at a Coalition of the Willing government event, with a band that included Steely Dan/session guitar icon Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

Blinken has also recorded and released three original songs with his own group, Ablinken.

“For those who like wonk rock,” Blinken joked on Twitter in 2018, “check out and follow ABlinken on Spotify.”

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.