Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rest In Peace Hubert Sumlin

The first time I heard Hubert Sumlin and Howlin' Wolf I almost had a heart attack. Honestly, it scared the shit out of me. I have only had music make me physically, mentally and emotionally afraid one other time and that was when my dad played me some classical music one sunny afternoon by a composer named Krzysztof Penderecki.  Hubert and Wolf literally set my life on a radically different course. (Again, many thanks to you Col. Bruce Hampton.) All these years later I realize that you can't really separate Wolf's voice from Hubert's in your head. Its the sound of a world we didn't know existed for sure. We suspected it was there cause we could feel it in our dreams and we read about it in children's books like Lord of the Rings, but we couldn't really be sure until we stepped into that world for real. As soon as you hear Hubert on "I'll Be Around" you'll realize that all the stuff of legend and lore has its roots in the truth. That's why it lives on so long. Magic is real.

Living proof. That's what Hubert was and is to me.

He was also a true gentle man. Loving kindness personified. If you knew him personally its hard to match his personality with the  lightning, fire, swords and destruction that came out of his guitar. Only it wasn't actually destruction that was taking place. It was cleansing. Intense heat to burn away the dross and leave the purest metal.

I guess that makes him a true Alchemist.

Thanks to you Mr.'s Richards and Jagger for paying for his funeral. You can say what you want to about those two but I'll always be on their side for that.

Do yourself a favor......... experience some real live magic.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Can you guess what illness these "meds" are supposed to cure?

I was watching a prerecorded program on my DVR and I heard this commercial for a new pill. Fortunately I was able to rewind and pause so I could copy all this down. I'll give you the "possible" side effects, then see if you can guess what its supposed to treat.

This is 100% literal as transcribed from the commercial.

Side effects may include:

High fever
Stiff muscles
Trouble swallowing
Thoughts of suicide
Decrease in white blood cells
Permanent uncontrollable muscle movements
Impaired judgement and motor skills
Extremely high blood sugar leading to coma or death.

You guessed it folks! This medicine is supposed to treat depression!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A look at the bigger picture of what my wife Jess is doing in Africa.

This is really worth 20 minutes of your life.

I knew that Jess was an adventurer and that she follows her heart. Well her heart and courage landed her in what I consider to be an epic spot. The story told in this video I have a feeling will be made into a movie. The story of the man who is telling this story, Emmanuel De Merode is also amazing. I'm quite sure you will want to learn more about him too after you see this.

The point is that I knew Jess had an amazing opportunity to work with her biggest heroes on this planet, that she was extremely passionate about apes, (she reads those books like I read theology), and that she was going to get HER FILL of adventure in Africa. As much as she tried to explain it to me, what I didn't really get was this bigger picture. What she and all these people are doing over there is not nearly just about the gorillas. Its about the people, the land itself, the politics, war...... They cannot be separated and when you see this video you will understand just how interconnected they are.

Emmanuel is such a gentle human. But his bravery and the bravery of the African men who gave him the courage and inspiration to do what he did brought me to tears. These people are as heroic as they come. And so is my wife! One of the trackers in the Congo was worried that Jess (being a mzungu or 'white person') couldn't handle this particular route they had to take. They asked Urbain (the Congolese man Jess was traveling with) if she could take it. He told them, "“Ah oui, Elle est tres forte. Elle est une femme bush vraiment.” It means Yes, she's very strong. She is a true bush woman. It is a severe understatement to say that it made Jess' day when he said that.

If you watch this video two things are gonna happen. 1. Your day/life is gonna be changed for the better. And 2. You're gonna understand what an extremely high compliment was paid to my wife by some of the most courageous, tenacious, and transformational people on the planet.

As tempted as I am to divulge snippets of information that I know would suck you in, I will refrain because these things can't be comprehended in sound bytes. That was the scope of my understanding before I saw this so I don't want to rob you of the impact of the "whole movie" with exciting "trailers".

But boy could I.

This is my wife flying over the Congo with Emmanuel. She doesn't look happy and fulfilled at all does she? If only you knew what she knows.........

This is really worth 20 minutes of your life folks.

PS. Seconds before I was about to post this, Jess called from Rwanda and I told her I watched De Merode's TED talk... she said that Shamavu, the baby gorilla pictured at the end of his talk, is sitting right behind her in that plane!!!

You might wanna check out HER blog........

OWS and Tea Party

According to the Washington Post:

"President Obama has called people who work on Wall St. 'fat-cat bankers,' and his reelection campaign has sought to harness public frustration with Wall St.. Financial executives retort that the President's pursuit of financial regulations is 'holding us back.' But both sides face an inconvenient fact: During Obama's tenure, Wall St. has roared back, even as the broader economy has struggled Wall St. firms - independant and the securities-trading arms of banks - are doing even better. The earned more in the first 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, industry data show."

I hope that somewhere between the OWS and the Tea Party we can agree that Wall St. can't be to blame without the help of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our government. Both sides need to occupy Congress, the Federal Reserves and the White House.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My wife's African Adventures.......

Check this out! I am one lucky guy.

My wife Jess is working in Rwanda with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International as a photojournalist. Here's her latest adventure!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joe Perman Bass Guitars

Ladies and gentlemen,
introducing the first Joe Perman Custom Fretless six String Bass. Joe has been making me basses at Modulus Guitars for almost 20 years. Here's the next stage in his evolution! I really want to help spread the word about his amazing artistry. I'll be using it on my new record too so you'll get to hear it soon too! Believe me, he sounds as good as he looks. He's so pretty in fact that I named him
"Pretty Boy Floyd"

Much love to you Joe!


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand

Its cool when two brothers can share some firsts together at 46 and 49. As many of you know I went ten years not playing with my brother on a regular basis. Somehow I've also managed in that same time to never play or see Paris, London, AMSTERDAM, Australia, New Zealand.............. Well I can check two of those off the list thanks to God and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. (On a side note, my brother told me that as far as he can tell we are the only two in in our extended family to have made careers together. Its almost like that special feeling twins must have.) Anyway, even though Kofi had been to Adelaide Australia with DTB he had never been to Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay, Tweed Heads Australia or Auckland New Zealand. So we shared all those firsts together in one whack!

Australian and New Zealanders are some of the friendliest I've ever met. So far I found the people of Italy to have the friendliest general attitude. But I think Sydney, Byron Bay and Auckland may have surpassed it! The Byron Bay festival might have been my favorite festival I've ever played. The line up was sick, (Our dressing room was next door to Mavis Staples' and I had a meal quite randomly right next to Elvis Costello.) The staff were over the top in kindness. Tweed Heads, where the hotel is, (not joking folks) is apparently the "tweed" capital of the country, and, thankfully, there was a lot of it to be found so far from home.

People are so appreciative of American music over there. It was truly amazing to see so many of my friends from America at the same hotel breakfast buffet in Sydney. We broke early morning bread with George Porter from The Funky Meters, members of Little Feat, Fishbone, Blind Boys of Alabama, and WARREN HAYNES BAND! All the way round the world and old friends meet up. New Friends were made too, and we saw some new talents that lifted and inspired. Check out Gurrumul! Wow!

And also with his brothers (or friends/cousins harmonizing with him.....

And just one more for the hell of it!

There's nothing I can say about this music except do yourself a favor..........

Other quick highlights:

My first time on a surfboard with Ryan Murphy and Falcon in Australia close to where World Champion surf competitions are held.

Hugging Mavis Staples in the hotel lobby in Auckland.

Seeing Kofi play a really long flute solo backed up by none other than his biggest hero on earth; Herbie Hancock. All who know me well know that it was real blurry from tears the whole time but I could hear it clear as a bell! Then Herbie came out front with his "key-tar synthesizer" and Kofi backed him on his grand piano.

On Chameleon.

I wish my mom and dad could have seen that. God's not kiddin' about that whole "cup runneth over" thing folks.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Tribute Time Again


Its tribute time again and I think before I go into my Bass guitar heroes any further that I have to take the time to pay homage to my first musical hero, my big brother, Kofi. He was the first musician that I saw play on a regular basis, my biggest influence, and my most important teacher. Fortunately I'm getting to play with him again on a regular basis.

They discovered my brother Kofi had perfect pitch when he was around seven years old. My parents were naturally elated and I'm quite sure my dad had him learning classical music and transcribing solos by all his favorite jazz musicians in no time. I think my dad's only religion was music. He is a disciple of musics of myriad styles. Growing up we heard Jazz, Classical European, Gospel, Classical Indian, Opera, Folk, Country, R&B, and other styles on a daily basis. I think music was the only thing on earth my dad trusted and felt was totally honest, besides my mother. Deeply hurt by the racism of the culture, politics and religion he grew up with in the 30's, 40's and 50's, he found his spiritual and emotional refuge in the commitment of his musical heroes to their craft. He actually played flute and wanted to be a professional musician himself but thought it too risky to raise a family with that career. He had one the the most interesting record collections I was ever exposed too. It wasn't until I saw some of my friends' parents' record collections that I realized what an expert my dad was and how deep his passion really was for it. I had taken it for granted as with so many other things.

Imagine my dad being told by Kofi's music teacher that his seven year old already has perfect pitch. I'm surprised it didn't make him reconsider his atheo-agnosticism. It still seems like magic to me and most other mere mortals. I have relative pitch which means I can distinguish the interval between any two pitches, but I can't tell you what the exact notes are, much less if they are in or out of tune! That's what people with perfect pitch can do. They are a rare occurrence in humans. Well by nine years old Kofi was sitting with major jazz musicians like Donald Byrd and Ron Carter. He went off to music school in North Carolina at fourteen years old. That seemed like another country to me. Kofi was in the newspapers and on television in Washington, D.C. and was always amazing teachers and peers alike for as long as I can remember. Naturally he was my hero and I always wanted to be like him but although I exhibited a talent for music my parents felt they were taking a huge risk with Kofi as it was and didn't want to gamble like that twice. Fortunately for me I didn't realize just how much better than most people Kofi was so when I was practicing that was the standard I was holding myself to.

I can still hear the sound of Kofi practicing his classical flute exercises in the my head. Its one of my earliest memories of childhood. He was equally at home in the classical or jazz world. His talent combined with being exposed to and absorbing such complex music at such a young age revealed a young composer as well. One of the songs we recorded for Jimmy Herring's first solo record was a song that Kofi wrote when he was in the tenth grade! I still want to record all of that old stuff that he wrote in high school and college. Its still really challenging music. I learned harmony and rhythm from learning Kofi's originals that he wrote as a teenager. Each song was like a semester of music school. Kofi had a secret though, he always wanted to be a keyboard player. Not just pianist, a keyboardist. Kofi was and still is a huge tech head. He was in love with synthesizers and computers from the first. Anyone that knows Kofi knows how into sci-fi he is. He was into the Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlen, and Arthur C Clarke books, Naturally he was totally into Star Trek and any kind of sci-fi on television. You can imagine what happened when he got his first laptop. This is a man that reads instruction manuals for fun!

Kofi loved jazz and classical but he also loved funk and rock. Keyboardists like George Duke, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, and Jan Hammer were some of Kofi's favorites because they were fearless about exploring the latest technology through electric and electronic keyboards. They withstood criticism from purists and pressed on into new territory inspiring young minds like Kofi and myself. How lucky for me to have a brother that not only had such knowledge of the history of music past but also a passion for all things new and cutting edge. When he got his first synthesizer he was consumed with creating new sounds that were opened up to him. Later when he got a keyboard that could sample sounds and do sequencing he would create entire songs all inside the keyboard. You should hear some of the Straight Ahead Jazz stuff he did all inside his keyboards. I cut one of those songs on my first record. Its called Inside Outside. Maybe one day he'll let me post the version that he did in his keyboard on the web so people can hear it. That's probably the hardest stuff to recreate electronically but his drums tracks are swinging as hard as ever.

Kofi was so patient with me, giving me the keys to unlock the harmonic mysteries when I was young. I was a drummer and understood rhythm well but harmony was a whole other ball game. He used the music of Stevie Wonder and Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire to teach me Jazz harmony because we all we're singing those songs with the radio. Learning Kofi's music taught me about odd time signatures, harmony, and composing among other things. Now that we are older and playing together on a regular basis again I'm hoping to record Kofi's music from the various stages of his life. He has a library of compositions ranging from Funk to Jazz, Fusion to outer space music. Hopefully we can also explore his other "secret" passion which is doing music for an animated sci-fi series or video game. He's never followed the path assigned to him. He's been on another road that we couldn't see and he's still following it. Its a beautiful street to walk, bike or drive down if you have the time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Zach Wahls Speaks About Family