B.B.

The Blues

Eddie Hazel turned me onto guitar. He and Ernie Isley shredded that raw dog angularity that got my 6 year old self to convince my mother to take me to loud venues decibels above her nerve’s endurance. By the time we returned to Los Angeles, Parliament was still in command but my love for Lucille and B.B.’s conjoined efforts stayed with me and propelled me forward. Bootsy, Drac, Hendrix, Fulson, Hooker, Hopkins, etc. had that swamp throb… a gait that pushed transcendence with loping menace. Riley’s guitar vamped you in and laid the entire history of the blues on your forehead. An entire bag of notes couldn’t match the one note King would play at the precise moment. He held it and stretched it out. He was the blues and the gateway to the blues. He led me to a deeper appreciation of music.

I remember buying his “Six Silver Strings” album and not liking it much. I remember disliking the hyper clean production and the saccharine arrangements. A lot of people through the years tried to dismiss him because he didn’t immediately seem to represent the cotton picking image that some other blues people emanated. It was like considering someone not having street knowledge because they weren’t banging.

He was fluid and sophisticated. He was the son of sharecroppers and born on a Mississippi plantation. Around the point of that album, being a young musician, I felt that he and his contemporaries were abandoning themselves by jumping on trends and modern practices. I still don’t like the album but I understand now. You have to change and try new things. Do you really want to do the same thing everyday until you die? Some people do. B.B. King changed his diet to vegetarian, opened clubs in his name and lived 89 years in a society hostile to his existence. In my first band’s gig, despite all the Hazel influence imbued in me, a dude in the audience yelled during the first few bars of my solo, “Go ahead, B.B.”! …I didn’t know but I’ll remember.

So behind…

I spent part of the day explaining to my son the old maxim and its variants “If the shot ain’t falling, change your shot.” Take it to the hole, etc. My rep for a long while was that I always finished my projects. For a variety of reasons, none of them good, that has slipped. I’m finding it difficult to finish anything.

I’d buy THAT for a dollar!

Concentrate on one thing turns to have many irons on the fire and back. Maybe eliminating the wall of cliché might help. 99% percent of my non-watch my boy grow up time is working to get work. Strangely enough it’s not a drag. It’s not always successful, frequently not, but the process has to somewhat invigorate you if the returns aren’t what you want. I mean, seriously, these are harrowing times for so many people. I’ve barely generated new work or sent it out. That is a drag. The production costs for my new ideas are presently beyond me.

Given that, I still have to produce. I frequently relay to my boy that I was raised by panthers. To a degree I really was but the joke is always that I’m talking big cats. Really, to my core, I was born in the blues and raised by funk. Blues is about taking twine and stringing it between a washtub and a broom stick because what you have in you has to come out. Funk is about taking the blues and dropping it on the one. Either way, it’s all getting it done and riding the groove.

Do I have to put my handcuffs on you, mama?

Trance, gnawa, javanese gamelan are turning, and rotating, revolving around a center. The centrifugal vibe generates energy and it emanates outward. The movement attracts. Attraction is opportunity. Knowing your craft and rocking from your core. Yeah, the end result in what I’m attempting to accomplish are frequently for commercial return but it is not that alone. I do this stuff as I always have. I want to do it. So, do it. Times are rough but I have to remember that funk is its own reward.