Life of cars?

  Cat not thinking about songwriting

Nobody would be interested in a song about the life of cars


While playing my newest song for my band late at night at the Southwick Inn during break time, I got hit with this familiar question: “Is that song autobiographical?”.....WELL...I couldn't help firing back the old joke shown above.....but, the fact is...they're ALL autobiographical! Or maybe that's an overstatement, but the whole idea of creating art is processing the experiences of our life in a simplified way that makes us (and the listener or viewer) able to understand them. It, in effect, gives us CONTROL over those experiences, whether beautiful or harsh.

Ask yourselves: Why do we play games ? Why do we encourage children to play sports? One answer is: Those games are like extremely simplified life lessons (that don't really hurt, despite our tendency to describe them in life or death terms...yes, Red Sox fans, the whole idea is: we don't REALLY die). Well art is like that, and songwriting, since it involves words...and those words are fit into an evocative musical framework that makes the emotional experience even more striking, is one of the forms most likely for that process to be at least somewhat transparent to an outside observer.

While my pal Devin's question prompted this blog, it might have been kicking around in my subconscious (waiting to be processed into an understanable form) since I saw old friend Al Fuller a couple of weeks ago, since I seem to remember Al being one of the MANY songwriters I know who have been hit during a relationship break with the dreaded barb “This oughta give ya a couple more song ideas, AL!”. I'm pretty sure one of Taylor Swift's boyfriends fired off some variation of this old favorite. And a number of my songwriting friends have had significant others ask/beg/order that they NOT write about the relationship. Well, bad news, significants! The songwriter may make that promise, but they will almost always break it....they HAVE to process life experiences in this way! It's like the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, who wrote:

Jeremiah 20:9 |

Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. …..didn't think I'd be quoting the Old Testament, did ya?

All that being said, these constructions are ART, they're not reality. When I was teaching the band the chords to “All I Want For Xmas is a Divorce”, and wife Amy burst into the room, shouting, “Did you write that?”....WELL....I HOPED she remembered that. I WAS a little concerned when she said, “That's the best song you EVER wrote”,...and she must have remembered about the art stuff...several Christmases have passed...and I've written several more HORRIBLE songs (wait 'til she hears “Everything I Do and Everything I Say”)...thick skin can be a virtue when dealing with songwriters. I think it was Woody Allen who said, “We try so hard to make things come out perfect in art, 'cause they usually don't come out that way in life”.....just had to get that off my chest.....but that's the whole point, isn't it?

Own your own Music

 “Have you ever played anything other than your own music?”


Playing in New York is always equal parts exciting and grueling, but sometimes my favorite part is actually the ride down, where I get some uninterrupted time with my bandmates to listen to and talk about music, in a way we'd never have time for in a club/ And when that means uninterrupted time with the lovely Emily Duff, all the better. Thing is, I'm sooooo opinionated and verbal (and loud), and Em is so soft spoken and gentle, it almost takes all that time before I can draw her out enough for her to get some words in edgewise! She is, after all, a grad student in Jazz arranging (not for dummies!) and I've seen how quickly she picks up things in a studio situation, so I was thrilled when she started to tell me some things about her band The Raft (only kid band I love)...and we discussed some things in the area where music and marketing meet (When a business person asks you to describe your music, you HAVE to have an answer ready....for me The Raft starts with polyrhythms, but it's about what THEY think it's about.....would it be better if they had a “signature song”?....well, yes, but if you try to force that it always comes out hokey, I said):

Her seemingly innocuous question at the top of the page actually gave me pause....I started to say “Of course I've played other music”....but then I thought about it.....when much younger, I played in a band where we covered “Heart of Gold” and “Drift Away” (try to picture me gritting my teeth through those, not to mention the “Proud Mary” requests)....but even then, I was basically hanging around, waiting for us to get to an Albert King song that I had foisted on the group....I wouldn't have had many of my own compositions then, but I'm pretty sure I already had a DIRECTION. And while I've certainly played a lot of covers in my life, it's always been some song from the blues tradition that I think an audience needs to hear...or needs to hear what I do to it!

Now, any one of my contemporaries undoubtedly has spent a lot of time thinking about the conflict between “playing what the people want to hear” and “following your own special muse”, and I'm sure I'll get a few comments based on their experiences..which I welcome...but I'm mostly going in another direction today....just a couple of thoughts on that minefield subject:

There was a time that Hollywood did “market research” about films by having someone walk up to theater patrons leaving a movie, and asking them what they'd like to see next... They stopped doing that when they realized that folks coming out of an Erroll Flynn pirate movie tended to answer “Uh, I don't know....maybe a pirate movie” other words, IF EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE WERE A CREATIVE GENIUS, THEY'D ALREADY BE MAKING THEIR OWN MOVIES!!!!! Which is not to say the opposite fallacy: Make your own music, it doesn't matter what the audience wants---is correct----the truth, as I see it, is more complex.....let's cut to the chase....


The answer, for me, goes like this: A musician is a COMMUNICATOR....the act of making music is, in itself, pleasurable, but music as a PERFORMANCE ART, involves telling somebody something! If you're spending hours on social media, and thousands on advertising, and driving the proverbial 500 miles in the $500 car for the $50 gig, desperately trying to get people's attention, ask yourself: IF YOU GET THEIR ATTENTION......What was it that you wanted to tell them? It doesn't have to be profound, or even verbal, but YOU need to know the answer....otherwise, you're like a dog chasing cars....if you catch one, what are you going to do with it? If your message is “It's fun to dance” or “Look how fast I can play this guitar”, that is NOT, in my opinion, any less of a message than “We need to end war” or “ Women in Africa are oppressed” might be less cosmic, but what I'm stressing here is that the message needs to be CLEAR, it must be communicated to the listener clearly, so they feel something!!!!!!!!!!! Whether the message is IMPORTANT isn't the point...the point is, if you think you're a great musician, but absolutely NOBODY is getting might be kidding yourself....this might be one of those “My music is better than it sounds” things. In this worldview, while the audience doesn't LEAD the creative process, they are CRITICALLY important; they will tell you....listening, brother musicians?....what's getting through... and what's not.

Now, this might sound like it's leading up to that old saw, the 100% rule. For those not familiar, that rule of performing states that, if something in your act works 70% of the time, and flops 30%, you need to gradually replace that with something that works 80%, eventually honing an all 100% lineup......surprise, surprise, surprise, Sgt. Carter....I hate this rule! Honor this turkey, and your act will get more, and more, and more, and more predictable, stale and formulaic. HOWEVER.....ignore this rule completely at your peril....that audience is not your enemy....just as you are sending out your “message in a bottle”, they're trying to send one back! They're trying to tell you how to get better!!!! That is the true meaning of “critic”, after all.

So how does this answer Emily's simple little question? Well, answer is: No one REALLY plays anything other than their own music. Some people have burning messages inside that they simply MUST communicate...and others haven't thought clearly or found out yet what they want to say, so it comes out “Please like me, I could play something you liked that someone else said....maybe Proud Mary?” But either way, if you want that to be your message, that's up to you.  

So you wanna open Blues shows, kid?



     Actually, no one's goal in life is to be an opening act....except maybe me in 1973, when touring Blues Legends like Muddy Waters would start show with some rock band out front, and I'd say:  “Wait, how about somebody who actually FITS on this bill!  I can do the job better...and cheaper”.   I was cheaper all right!   One time early on, James Cotton came up to me with a handful of hot dogs, straight from the club's steamer (they can't yell at HIM for dipping into those, he figured)  “Hey, I saw your check when I got mine, and I figured you might need a little help... might as well get SOMETHING out of this gig” he said.

    Speaking of the legendary Mr. Cotton, he was the second blues star I ever opened for.  John Lee Hooker was the first, and, while was, after all “THE HOOK”, his pickup band was not that over-awesome.   Cotton was another matter...I rehearsed my bandmates ruthlessly (current sidemen should have seen how driven I was then!)....I threw every arranging trick up-to-and-including the kitchen sink, I chewed the scenery, I stood on my head, I played slide with a shot glass......and it took about a minute for me to realize I was gonna get DESTROYED!!!!  Afterwards, after watching the legendary band leader referee a minor dispute between bassist Charles Calmese and Kenny Johnson (do gods have minor disputes , I wondered?), I asked Kenny how much rehearsal it took to perfect all the special hits, and tricks of “Cotton Boogie” .  “What rehearsal?” he replied.  “When we left Chicago a year ago, that was a simple we got bored we added stuff, 'til it became the way you heard it now”.   At first I was positive he was playing “put on the white boy”, like the time he told me professional musicians don't drink at all....and was interrupted by Calmese complaining “They want us to start, and we're not even DRUNK yet!”, and I'm still not sure...but now, after 40 years, I could see how it COULD have been true....interplay between high level blues musicians is kinda like that game  that used to advertise “Minutes to learn....a lifetime to  master”.   Anyhow, the power, interlock, and immediacy of the music made me slink home, vowing to do better next time...or the time after that....or the time after that.

     I recently sent a Youtube video of that band (actually just before that tour) playing “The Creeper” to someone passionately interested in blues, but relatively new to it...and she asked me if that performance was a special “magic moment” for the Cotton Band.  I think she thought I was playing “put on the white girl” when I told her that I'd seen them play that song 100 times (former road manager Muggsy used to let me into a lot of shows because I once loaned Matt Murphy a Twin Reverb in an emergency) and it was always that good ..usually Calmese was driving the bass boogie and re-arranging his “Big Apple” cap while the whole thing was going crazy...........but, several hundred words later, I digress.

     Point is, Don't Even Be Thinking: “ I'm gonna cut the headliner” ain't  a competition, it's an exhibition.......also the audience paid for tickets with THEIR name on the top, they LOVE the headliner....also you're likely to be more of an annoyance than a help to the show, thinking that way........................and NUMBER ONE:  IT AIN”T GONNA HAPPEN!!”    About 15 years ago, I opened for an up-and-coming Rock (but Blues-based....yes, I hate that term too) Band, just endorsed by Rolling Stone Magazine.   At the end of my set, 4-5 guys approached.   “WOW!” , they said. “That was incredible!   We've seen the headliner half a dozen times, and they can't TOUCH that set you just did.”  Yeah, Right.....45 minutes later, as I was lugging the Supro thunderbolt (I remember now that the rock band's harp player wanted to buy it!) to the car, I paused to say good night to these guys.....who were now PRESSED up against the very front of the stage....mesmerized....their faces flashed no sign of recognition whatsoever....had they met me somewhere?  Faces seemed to say they didn't remember.....can I get a “Poor Poor Wildcat” here?

   So, why do we do shows, I mean?   Well, let me count the ways:

  1. We get to see an idol for free....and name drop... “he used my guitar” afterwards
  2.  We get to see exactly HOW the legend gets over/destroys us...usually you'll note that whatever the star does best, he finds a way to make a particular feature at key moment of show.
  3. We may get some name recognition...even pick up a few fans... (although, when they show up at our next gig at Joe's Dive, they may be underwhelmed!)
  4. We can compare gear.  Blues people like OLD!   One time, I showed Debbie Davies a part guitar I was building (she had admired my battered Tele, which is a '65)   and, out of habit she asked me what year it was.   “If I finish it soon, it'll be a 2000” I answered.
  5. It is an important fact of local band life that, when there's publicity about a show, a LOT more people will see the publicity than will see the show.  “You just played with Bo Diddley, didn't you?” they'll say....sometimes a year later!
  6. There's always the chance they'll say “ Start late, and run over”....or “can you loan me an amp?”
  7.  Or maybe, just maybe….someday you WILL cut the headliner…..if they look like someone hit them in the head with a shovel, aren’t very friendly, and the crowd still remembers who you are at the end….to quote Scotty, “It JUST MIGHT WORK, Captain”

If you thought the last one was too technical.....

While reading this week's Valley Advocate insert about the Institute for Musical Arts in Goshen, most people probably thought "Isn't that nice that they're teaching girls to rock!"  or maybe " It's about time Women banded together to teach girls to rock!"...or maybe "Look at the little girls in the pictures rocking...isn't that cute?" being me, the reaction was totally different.  Was I the only one thinking "Are those solid-state guitar amps they gave those girls?"  "How they gonna 'Rock like the guys' with solid state guitar amps!!!!!   What are they teaching those poor misguided girls?"....But I it digressing if it's right at the start?....oh, never mind.

Back to the Serious Business of Scales to the serious business of scales!!


No stupid stories about John Lee Hooker thinking I'm a Mormon, or Bo Diddley tuning his weird square guitar (he had stomp boxes built inside it,BTW), no, no, today we're back to the serious business of scales. You may remember our trip through the so-called “minor pentatonic” (Bill Russell's quote- “If I wanted to avoid everything in America that I considered racist, I'd lead a hermit's life” comes to mind, but I digress already)....anyhow, we're on to the so-called “major pentatonic” know, the country scale.....non-musicians, think of the song “Yakity Sax”....or, oddly, the start of “My Girl”. In the key of A (psst, non-musicians....that means song probably starts, and definitely ends with an A chord accompanying whatever else is going on) that scale would be : A, B, C#, E, F#...and again, there would frequently be passing tones, especially C, used as we climb from B to C#....and, remember what this looks like on the guitar (with no black keys, guitar reminds us that some of our conventions like no black key between B-C and E-F are, guitar world, it's always: do we go up one fret (½ step) or 2 frets (whole step)....all keys work the same, visually as well as audio-wise)....oh, yeah, we were remembering: up 2 frets from A to B, up 2 frets from B to C#, next string same fret as B gets us E, 2 frets up gets us F# (and if we want octave A, it's next string, same fret as E). Now, here's where it gets really interesting....the blues scale for F# would be:

F#, A, B, C#,E (F# octave).....ain't them the same notes???? Starting on F#, with an F# chord in the background, they sure sound different!!! But guitarists have now found the ultimate 2 for 1 sale!! Because the fingering for the blues scale near the standard “first position” A chord, will conveniently also get us the F# country scale....right near the “third position” F# chord....and vice versa (see accompanying video for clarification). If keyboard players are now lost (never mind non-players), let's look at key of C: Blues scale would be C, Eb, F, G, Bb.....same as Eb country: Eb, F, G, Bb, C.


Advanced players may have spent hours learning other “modes” in order to solo over more complex chord changes....especially Dorian/ Mixolydian against II-V changes beloved by jazz guys. Note that, in Key of C, Dorian would be D,E,F,G,A,B,C....but C country would be: C,D,E, G,A, which approximates Dorian.....and Mixolydian woud be

G,A,B,C,D,E,F...which it also approximates, especially if we drift back into blues scale and pick up that F...F to G whole step helps us cover those changes with our 2 fingering patterns! We're not working harder, we're working.....dumber!!


Where this applies directly to blues is, it gives us a lot of interesting color in our soloing, and adds subtlety to our stock phrases...if you've always thought, for example, that B.B. King is playing the same solo or intro every time, try playing'll find that he's a master of drifting from one scale to the other to create something that seems both familiar and yet interesting and new. B.B. has studied those jazz modes as well, and actually goes there from time to time (but not enough to hurt his playing, blues-wise!). Confused? Remember rule number one: If you land on a real klunker while fret either way will be a good note....and if you land on the klunker so strong that you can't slide over, repeat the phrase with the klunker and then slide over one fret...people will think you did it on purpose!.....oh, and the other rule #1: always trust your Cat!!

Katie Strikes Back!!

so ANYWAY.... being a non-commercial, partiallyuniversity-supported station, our mandate includes education, and the systematic degredation of African-American additions to our culture creepily echoes the inherent bedrock racism that this country was built on, and still stands.  Kids need to know who Leadbelly was, and they deserve to find themselves tapping their foot to Joe Hill Louis, even though they don't know who he was, and even when he was alive, he wouldn't have made the pages of People Magazine.   Those of us who are not making money off our tiny sub-industry probably have a slightly different view than the folks who actually WORK in this tiny sub-industry, even "in your spare time".   But people on both sides of that equation can see that the blues is a Gift from the african-american culture to our wider American culture, and to refuse that gift or degrade it, would be rude.  I think educating people about the past of this music, and moving it forward by innovation, are both good.  So where's my blog?  I dont' know if any of that would warrant an edit or not - and the JLH story is still funny, so it's all good!

I know Robert Johnson better blues player than me....but he dead

I know Robert Johnson Better Blues Player Than Me....but He Dead!”----John Lee Hooker, dressing room at Four Leaf Clover, New Salem, Ma....1975


Of course John has now passed as well, which brings us to today's topic: the tendency of blues media (and blues people) to focus on the obituary page.

Let's face it: there aren't many areas of American life that are more focused on the past than the blues...unless we count the southern evangelists, whose motto is : “If it's true, it ain't new...and if it's new, it ain't true”. Problem is, sometimes that's the motto of the blues as well. In what other music form does a new release compete with a “new” bootleg of a dead performer, (possibly with dogs barking on his porch)? ….don't tell me hip-hop, their dead performer would be twenty and was shot during the bootleg....last week! And European blues magazines are full of pictures of young performers in pork pie hats (we have white bands here that do that....what year did bluesmen dress like that?...I've only been following since 1968, and James Cotton was more likely to be in jeans and a t-shirt ...Junior Wells might feature a “Huggie Bear” Australian bush hat....and Albert Collins was the king of polyester....nary a pork pie hat to be found, but what the hell!) And there used to be a regular ad in Living Blues that proclaimed “If a guitar ain't been in no pawn shop, it can't play no blues”. OK ALREADY! I GET IT! We like problem there....that used to be a quality that Country Music valued...if you were gonna sing that you were a coal miner's daughter, you'd damn well

better BE a coal miner's daughter! And maybe the rappers still need street cred. But my problems with our “looking backward at the plow” are two: First, to our young emerging audience, it's all just MUSIC. They don't know or care whether you've been in a coal mine or have worked as a male model “MerMAN!!”...and they feel excluded... “do I have to pass a test to listen to this music? I thought that was Jazz!”

And secondly, (I pause before speaking this heresy) in a music that's constantly evolving through continual improvisation, this thing called “progress” occurs, and songwriting or performances that would once have been “state of the art”....are now....wait for it....sometimes not that good. Yeah I said one time, blues might be a series of unrelated one-liners, time and measures might wander (the aforementioned Hook was famous for this!) And while it is extremely rewarding to check out the building blocks of what came after, and while the true classics are so brilliant that they still jump off the disc today, if we make blues programming into a history class, no wonder the young people think we're boring! Wouldn't we have been better served to give the artist some air time while they were at their most productive, rather than 9 tracks in a row on the day they died, starting with their last performance at age 96!

If you've been a blues fan in my area (western Massachusetts), you've no doubt heard Katie Wright's show on WMUA (UMASS Amherst, Thurs 2:30-4:30, 91.1FM)....heck you've probably heard me hawking some show on there! I've always thought Kate had great taste in blues, and have been continually flattered to find that she might play my stuff, but a couple of years ago, I phoned in my first was, to be precise, Jan 26th, 2012. “What's with all the ancient acoustic stuff”, I asked, “Muddy Waters done invented electricity, ya know.” “Well, it's Leadbelly's birthday”, she answered, “Or at least it MIGHT be Leadbelly's Birthday...we're not exactly sure about the date.” “It MIGHT BE Leadbelly's Birthday?” “ IT MIGHT BE LEADBELLY”S BIRTHDAY?????”.....I'm fired up now “For THAT we're putting UMASS to sleep?” Katie calmly deflected my inquiries, but I think she's mostly avoided the museum approach since (maybe alarmed by crazy people calling in!). But this Jan. 26th, I was headed down to NYC for a gig, with bass player Dave Kenderian in the car. After we'd played all my CD's til they skipped, we tried radio....and...lo and behold: A BLUES SHOW!! But a blues show playing really old, scratchy records (believe it was WKCR...Columbia?). Thinking I'll impress Dave, I whip out my phone and call in (as we now know, calling on cell while driving in NY is a no-no, but I digress). The DJ calmly tells me she can't play any Wildcat today, it' guessed it....Leadbelly's birthday!....couldn't help saying “You mean it MIGHT be Leadbelly's birthday!”

A couple of John Lee Hooker notes: One, if you loaned him your guitar (he was reluctant to bring his on planes), when you got it back, you might find the strings in BETWEEN the bridge saddles...5 out of 6 for me....John struck the guitar rather firmly, you might say. Two, when I first met John, he had a pickup band from Boston and would play three song forms: shuffle, drone, boogie....shuffle, drone, boogie...shuffle drone, boogie....but later (after Blues Brothers movie?) he brought a terrific band out from West Coast with Deacon Jones, who would shadow his every move (14 bar blues, then 18, then 11 and a half....didn't matter what he did, they were right with him). After another year or two, some new guys joined and you might catch Deacon cue-ing them...then eventually it was back to pickup band, which led John to say the sweetest words an opening act could ever hear...he said to me “ I need you to start late....and play overtime”....not exactly what openers are usually told! Oh, and three, once when I wanted to take a photo with him, and my wife Amy had wandered off, I had Katie Wright (then a Smith undergrad) fill in as photographer, letting the Hook think she was my better half....high comedy ensued later when John Lee asked Amy if she wanted to come back to the hotel with him and she replied that we were married ...I can still picture the Hook looking from Amy to Katie.....finally he asked me if I was a Mormon.

Blues Books....Threat..or Menace?


Blog 2---Blues Books—Threat or Menace?


Last week, on the same day my first blues article came out, I was scrolling through Facebook posts and came across one from a FB friend that I don't really know saying that Facebook was nothing but a bunch of white people trotting out theories on things they knew nothing about.....hoped it wasn't a direct reference to my blog! But “White People Trotting Out Theories On Stuff They Know Nothing About” might be a good title for this week's blog, which has no scales this week, but is instead about Blues books...specifically, about why they are doomed to failure.

While I admit that I haven't read them all (and I don't want to), I do have some favorites....Deep Blues by Robert Palmer (not the Addicted To Love dude, the Rolling Stone writer) has a lot of great stories, and the concept of “deep” blues, which comes from a conversation he has with the late Muddy Waters, might be in the category of really important concept....Urban Blues by Charles Keil walks us step-by-step through B.B. King and Bobby Bland performances, attempting to analyze how and why they create their magical effects.....Blues for Dummies (comes w/CD!), Blues Highway, Rhythm and the Blues, and our own local Steve Tracy/ Jack Coughlin book, all have things to recommend them.....but the whole genre has something in common with the Reggie Bar: they're good to throw!

Now, I've already referred to the Paul Oliver books, which, in their day, at least gave us ONE BOOK IN THE LIBRARY ABOUT BLUES! While fatally flawed (my favorite was when he went to Africa --of course he's 100 years too late-- hangs around for a couple weeks, and concludes----nope, no blues here, it must be an American art form! ), there are some great parts, like the slave songs that are half in English (quite tame) and half in an African dialect (decidedly less Christian in outlook!). His main crime is that he sets the template for virtually all the blues books to follow: Some things are “THE REAL BLUES” and others are cheap commercial imitation crap.....which is not to say that there isn't cheap imitation crap out there!!...problem is, people writing books will usually be far enough behind the cutting edge that they'll look foolish in retrospect, excoriating developing artists who actually advance the form but who they haven't yet understood. Charles Keil, when updating his Urban Blues book, in which he rips what he calls “moldy fig” reviewers who only like “old school” blues, realizes, to his embarrassment, that he's made the exact same mistake.....he's decreed B.B. King “ the real thing” (for Palmer, it's Muddy Waters) and dismissed James Brown.

Trying to figure out the exact origin has left many a writer looking foolish....Palmer has Blues being invented on the Stovall Plantation in 1911 (he leaves out the time of day) by Charley Patton....listening to Charley's Pony Blues, followed by little girlfriend Louise Johnson, I can't help wondering about the speed at which the student jumped ahead of the “inventor”, at least in stylistic complexity...Oliver rules out Africa, as previously noted (that scale we talked about last week, where ya figure THAT came from!) Palmer also has Tommy Johnson “inventing” the falsetto (See Cool Drink Of Water Blues)....seems unlikely, especially since Oliver reports that the pygmies use falsetto when singing about departed ancestors (dead answer in falsetto).

If we really want to make a case for an American origin for the blues, a better piece of evidence might be the fact that South American and Central American black music evolved differently (in an atmosphere where direct contact with whites was MUCH less frequent....overseer there was usually another slave). My own quack theory is that those pesky Irish contributed something (They LOVE line, line, Rhyming Line form, have a pentatonic scale....not the same one....and they have distilling skills...'nuf said about that for now). But I'm not a big enough fool to try to pin down chronology of a music rooted in constantly sharpening IMPROVISATIONAL skillsThat's where all the books tend to crash and burn.

To digress...and sum up at same time. One of my former bandmates used to get angry at our tendency to throw “everything including the kitchen sink” into songs (and blues cliches out!). “Blues Bands do certain things...we don't do those things!” became his mantra “ I'm not even sure we are a Blues Band”.....this was my answer:

“You once told me a story where new band members (in your previous gig) were given a copy of James Cotton's “Live and On The Move”, and told that, if they liked the record, they should learn every trick on it...and if they didn't, they shouldn't come back.....thing is, James Cotton was once quoted as saying that, while he was proud of that record, it was kind of a “dance record for the kids”....maybe not a “REAL” Blues record.........Dude, the moral is, the line keeps moving, it has to move....too fast for any BOOK....what part of IMPROVISATIONAL MUSIC didn't you understand?310105_1940577404661_1549212564_31717308_1502893_n.jpg

Wildcat explains (or at least rants about) the Blues Scale



  “Cheer up, BB! You'll beat those blues eventually!” Remember that Wendy's commercial, with the late Dave Thomas misguidedly attempting to advise a rather perplexed B.B. King? Well, while that commercial was SUPPOSED to be funny, it exposes one of the most pervasive (and, yes, racist) misunderstandings about America's greatest, yet most under-appreciated cultural product....of, course I mean the Blues. If you follow along with me, I think I can help crack the code...whether you're an advanced player, or casual listener...and if you want to understand a little more about the music that birthed Rock and roll, this understanding is vitally important. So let's start right here as our jumping off place....IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SADNESS, LOSS, DEPRESSION, OPPRESSION,HARDSHIP, LONELINESS OR ANY OF THAT!!

Sky TV Video

Here's the Sky TV UK video about my collaboration with award-winning British Bluesman Trevor Sewell:

2019 coolest video

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Feb 29, 2020
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Mar 21, 2020
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Haydenville Massachusetts

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Upcoming shows

Feb 15, 2020
'Luthier's Co-op
Easthampton Ma
Feb 22, 2020
Fort Hill Brewery
Feb 29, 2020
Millenium Music Conference
Enola PA
Mar 13, 2020
Springfield MA
Mar 21, 2020
Beaver Brook Country Club
Haydenville Massachusetts

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