The News & The Blues

There’s something about listening to the blues in the workshop, two raw crafts coming together. I listen to different music depending on mood but also task – what works for artsy detail work might not be the best soundtrack once the big chisels or plunge router come out. Blues? Blues works for everything in here. The sound of a hammer tapping on a handle or materials from the earth being shaped into something go really well with it.

First a couple of news tidbits – the BIRDSONGS page has been revised a little, including the addition of the Thin The Herd Guitars “Tbass” (Designed by Birdsong) and a link where to order that or get more info on it. We don’t make them, I designed – into a more traditional looking shape to fit their product line – a HUGE sounding short scale bass. No big surprise there, it’s what we do, and we’ll be working on more with them for their bass line.

Also, Veterans Day is here and we would like to thank all of you who served in any way. We don’t have a formal sale going on, but if you are a veteran and want something we do, you’ll most definitely be given a deal this weekend! Again – THANK YOU for your service.

So… blues. There are a few kinds, but whatever your seasoning of choice blues is the antidote – it doesn’t make you sad, it’s the hair of the dog that brings you back to life. A little dose that’s good for the soul. When I was young I was into – along with everything else I listened to – what I call “Gunslinger blues”, where it’s a few lines of lyrics and then the big guitar solo. I was a big SRV fan. But I dug down through his layers through the Chicago bluesmen who started that, back into the good earth right on through to the Mississippi Delta. That’s a different story altogether, dark and trancelike, with its own raw groove from minimal tools – years old strings and working man’s hands, and voices still in the fields. The real thing. The strong stuff. They tell me I was born in New York, and I remember growing up around Boston, but I don’t know where this whole journey started and I’ll never know the path I came. The Delta does something to my marrow.

Here are some things for you.

That last one is from Red’s, a juke joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi. And I’m talking “Over the railroad tracks to the other side” Clarksdale. I’ve been there. I didn’t see this guy, but I heard & felt some blues there. Full of great people and fantastic blues, it was – I don’t know where this crowd shown came from. The night I was there, I was very different, and was very aware of it. But not because anybody MADE me feel that… you just know when you’re the green M&M in the bowl. You just be cool and show respect. I wanted to drink from the source, to cleanse myself at the crossroads, to taste it unrefined, undiluted, un-“Sanitized for your protection.” So I STFU and joined the party, bought a beer or two, shook some hands, and had a great time. Here's MY picture of Red's - please note I violated one of my own rules of the road, the one about never going into a place with no windows... sometimes you just follow your gut and leave the rest to fate:

At the same time younger I was listening to Yngwie Malmsteen and all through the days of Guns ‘n Roses covers (Hey – follow that back through mid-late ‘70s Aerosmith. Late ‘60s-early ‘70s Stones, back into Muddy Waters… you get it) and country bands and singer-songwriter gigs and everything else, blues has been in me. Deep blues. Hard blues. Way down deep beneath the music man is the little white kid who didn’t know what the hell just happened when he put on that John Lee Hooker album he found in that box in the  basement. Music was attractive; riffs were fascinating; movement was beautiful; sounds of its layers were fun. But John Lee MOVED me. He moved the soul in me. And that kid’s still in there… not in that basement, not in that place or time, but deep deep down in the soil of my soul where all seeds were planted and some of them took. You see the bloom but it was a long winter my friends, and all the way I was kept fed and moving by music, that John Lee Hooker record never far from my side. 

Listening to: John Lee Hooker with Canned Heat Hooker ‘n Heat (this is THE album); Danilo Perez Central Avenue; Deep Purple Stormbringer; Pat Metheney Group Quartet; Aerosmith Rocks; Grateful Dead Workingman’s Dead.