January Blues …

Well here it is January 10th and I’m feeling a bit blue; always seems to happen this time of year. I don’t want to take the Christmas tree down or put any of the decorations away as they really make me feel good. I know I’m not alone on this as I’ve spoken with others who feel the same. I’ve got so much to get started on and can’t seem to get going or stay focused when I do start something. Oh well, time to get the guitar out and write a song. I was supposed to be going (or at least I thought I was) to the NAMM show in CA next week as I did the past several years. Then we would do a week of Martin events up the CA coast and it would end up being a two-week trip. But they dismantled the stage at the Martin booth so it wasn’t really necessary for me to be there and while I do like being home and catching up (at least trying) on things I do fill a bit disappointed. Oh well, trips start again in February and I guess that will help get me out of this fog … until then there’s plenty to do around here and I was able to fill some local gigs for Nyke and me. Not much for the full band right now.

Anyone out there reading this, feeling the same way?

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We lost another great one …

On December 7th, 2011, we lost another great blues guitarist; Hubert Sumlin. In case you don’t know, Hubert was the guitarist for the great Howlin’ Wolf. Hubert joined Wolf at a very young age, hence he was only 80 years young when he passed. Wolf passed away in Chicago back on January 8th, 1976 and many thought that was the end of Hubert’s career, but he showed us all, didn’t he?

Hubert was a teenager when he first met Wolf. He had been watching wolf play from outside a roadhouse as he was too young to enter. So he piled a bunch of coke crates on top of one-another and climbed on top so he could get a better view when the crates gave away and he suddenly fell–landing at the feet of his surprised idol. Wolf then had a chair brought to the stage so Hubert could sit there and enjoy the show, up close and personal. Then Wolf actually saw that Hubert got home safely. Hubert ended up playing for Wolf for over 20 years. Wolf was the one who told Hubert to throw away his guitar picks and use his fingers which created a unique tone that become HS’s trademark sound.

Fortunately I had the opportunity to catch Humbert perform several years ago. I don’t think there will be another quite like him. He survived heart attacks, the removal of a lung and several wives and played pretty much up to the end. Since I can remember I’ve been a fan of Wolf’s and therefore, a fan of Hubert’s. He was a big influence on all of us who play electric guitar with a sense of feel, soul and tone taking precedence over speed and showy licks.

To learn more more check out, “Moanin’ At Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf” by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman; and also Hubert’s biography entitled, “Incurable Blues; The Troubles and Triumphs of Blues Legend Hubert Sumlin” by Will Romano. There is also a great dvd which features Hubert prominently called, “The Howlin’ Wolf Story: the Secret Life of Rock and Roll.” RIP Hubert and thanks for all you gave us.

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Happy New Year!

Well, here it is, January 2012. There were times in my life when I thought I’d never be around this long but that’s another story. We had a fabulous NYE beginning with our first
ever duo concert (Nyke Van Wyk and myself) at the Sellersville Theatre in Sellersville, PA. It was very important to me personally as I wanted to see if the two of us could hold a large audience for 90+ minutes–and it worked really well. A concert situation like that is much different than playing in a bar or restaurant. I feel really confident about the duo and am looking forward to developing more original music in 2012.

After the first show Nyke and I headed to the Spinny–Spinnerstown Hotel where we met up with our drummer, Don and bassist, Wayde and played our standard NYE gig to a sold-out crowd. It was a lot of fun and I was so happy that my wife was able to be there. Also my good buddy Dick Boak came out and I think he really enjoyed being out with us though he did leave early so he could celebrate midnight with his family, and rightly so. We rocked out, all electric for that show (first show I played acoustic). Every now and then I feel I have to plug in the Les Paul or Strat (or 335) and just let it fly. Then I’m good to go for awhile. I’ve really been working on acoustic guitar for the last several years as I find it really challenging. Quite frankly, the things I do on electric guitar I could do in my sleep but the acoustic–for me–takes more thought and I like the challenge.

One of my NY resolutions is to write more in this blog and with all the travel dates coming up in 2012 I should have plenty to write about. So thanks and again, hope you all have a Happy, Healthy and Safe 2012.

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