Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time Off!


After a very busy year, during which I've played all but two weekends since March, I'm taking some time off during the holiday season to rest, write and do a few other odds and ends.

I'm really excited about the launch of our new website, which should happen in a week or so. It'll be much nicer, easy to navigate and will allow for direct downloads of our music, by the album, or by the song.

I'll also be working on booking for 2011! We've already got several exciting shows lined up, including a return to The Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I LOVE playing in the Delta! There's a certain rhythm to life there in that magical place for The Blues!

I've also pledged to work on some new songs. I've got a number of ideas and bits and pieces which need refinement and focus. I really hope we can record a new CD, and SOON!

In between, I'll be firing up the smoker and watching plenty of football! Go Blue Raiders, Titans, Tigers, Vols, Wildcats, Skyhawks, Racers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Typical Weekend!

Like a lot of other people these days, I work 2 jobs, or is it three? Typical weekend!

Friday:
4:30 AM- up to work on forecast for News Talk Radio
7:45 AM- at work for on-air hits

8 AM-5PM-marketing consultations
6 PM- load into club for show
9 PM- 1 AM (Saturday)-Play the blues!

Saturday:
1-2AM-load out
3:15 AM- stop at Wal Mart for Dog food
3:30 AM- home!

5AM- After working & being up for over 24 hours.... SLEEP!!!
10AM- Up to work on guitars to repair the damage I did the night before
11AM-3 PM- watch football!
3:30PM-6PM- drive to festival for show

6:30 PM- load in
7-10:20 PM- Play the Blues! Meet & greet!
10:45-1AM (Sunday)-drive home!

Sunday:
2 AM- Sleep! Got home early tonight!
*Then recuperate and get ready to do it again!

Ahhh showbiz! Funny thing is, I'm not that tired! I must love it!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to the Bars: A Summer-Full of Gigs...

This has probably been my busiest summer ever, with lots of shows at festivals and bars alike. Many months ago, when I had an inkling I would be laid off from my "day job." , I began booking as much as I could for my band, 61 South and the end result is playing virtually every weekend from April though November. It's been great because I've gotten deeper into a groove and got to visit with so many friends, while making new ones, too! With that in mind, I have a few observations...

We always try to play as many requests as we can, especially when playing in a club. Unfortunately, we can't play ALL of them, especially when it just doesn't come remotely close to what we do and what we are. We get some weird requests from time to time. In the past, "Walk Like an Egyptian" and Psychedelic Furs. Not bad, but we're just not that animal! So far, the most off beat request this summer we've recieved is Styx, "Renegade." (We didn't play it) Stay tuned though, there's plenty of time left!

Many times we receive requests from audience members to "jam" with us or sing with us. I WOULD like to say, if we KNOW you and we KNOW you're talented, we'll INVITE you to join us onstage. The unwritten band etiquette rule is it's EXTREMELY RUDE to INVITE YOURSELF to play or sing with the band. The exception to the rule is if the club owner has a bartender or waitress who can sing or play and asks if they can join us for a song. Number one: They are our employer for the night so we're going to do everything we can to give them the show they want. Most times, they are right in knowing who can pull it off and who can't. They don't want to offend their clientele, so we trust the club owners to know what's right for their business!

For others, please don't ask or invite yourself. You may be a great singer or player, but we don't know that and can't just take your word for it. If we get to hear you later and discover you really are good, we'll invite you up! As a rule of thumb though: Many times, those who tell you over and over how great they are.....are usually NOT! Most of the REALLY GREAT ones are also really humble.

Only once, years ago, did I hand my guitar to an unknown and be blown away. I found out later, he had auditioned for & been offered a job as guitarist for Fleetwood Mac years earlier. He's been a great friend since!

At a festival, this rule is especially true because so many fans have heard us on XM or Sirius or bought our CDs and they want to hear US, not you. No offense, but we want to make sure the customer is satisfied! If you are great, you'll be heard and discovered without our help, anyway! Inviting yourself to play with the band is akin to inviting yourself to Sunday dinner at the home of someone you don't even know. Would you want someone to do this to you?

Also when playing festivals, we try to concentrate on OUR music instead of the covers. Please understand that many of the people who come to see us at blues festivals and other festivals are more interested in hearing our original material because they bought our CDs or heard us on the radio. There are plenty of bands who will appear at many of these festivals who will play your favorite cover songs, such as "Mustang Sally" or "Voodoo Chile" and do great jobs with those songs!

Please don't buy me drinks when I'm playing! I hope you don't think I'm being rude to YOU, but I'm there to play as best I can and I do it better when I'm sharp! I REALLY appreciate the offer, but I want to do the best show I possibly can for you! I tried it the other way years ago.....take my word for it! Buy drinks for your friends or that hot girl or guy! That will be a much better investment for you! As I told Glen at Fat Moe's once, "I'm not here to get drunk or get women! I'm here to to play the BLUES and do a JOB for YOU & YOUR customers, so they'll have a good time!!"

I love the festival shows and I love the clubs. The clubs are where we hone our act, learn new things, find out what works and what doesn't. Sometimes some of the coolest, weirdest and most interesting things happen in the clubs. At the festivals, it can be more intense at times, although at both, it's all about getting locked in the groove and channeling the energy of the music, the Blues!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How I Got The Idea To Form 61 South

When did I get the idea to form 61 South??? I Didn't!!! Many people are surprised when I tell them I didn't form the band and I was NOT an original member!

61 South was the brainchild of "Fast Layne" Hendrickson and the original members were Layne, JD Wilkes, Erik Eicholtz, Jonas, Jeff Statler. This was the early 1990s. Fascinated by blues' beginnings, Fast Layne played in all open tunings and JD was a talented young harmonica player. Erik had switched to drums from guitar and was playing up a storm.



The band began gigging and developed a local following. Later, they added Moody Burke on guitar. Moody was a fantastic guitar player and "old school Blues" disciple. When Moody decided to leave the band, Layne recruited me as a guitar player. I admit, I found this odd as I was and am a horrible guitar player, but I love the Blues and always wanted to be in a blues band!

In 1995, Layne decided to split for New Orleans. That meant the band didn't have a singer and front man. Even though I was an even worse singer than guitar player, I was drafted and did the best I could with what little talent God blessed me with. We just wanted to keep playing the music we loved. The 15 years since have been a wild ride at times and a fun time always. We never use a set list. We play what we want to when we or you want to. Sometimes if someone wants to hear a song we've never practiced....we try to play it. It's total ad lib and spontaneity. That means sometimes it's beautiful, and sometimes, it's a train wreck, but it's ALWAYS from the HEART and it's always fun.

We've been through a lot of members over the years but the current lineup has been in place for about 10 years with the exception of Danny Bell, who we were thrilled to bring in a few years ago. Erik is the only original member left, although any and all former members are STILL considered to be part of 61 South and have returned on occasion for a gig or two and some fun. Although JD left the band years ago to form the Legendary Shack Shakers, he still returns occasionally when his schedule allows and we LOVE playing with him. Layne's come back to play with us too . What a fun time. Erik's still the last man standing.
I'm so glad Layne thought of, and formed 61 South years ago. It's helped me through so many rough times in the years since. I don't know how long I can do it, but I know I need to for as long as I can. In so many ways, it keeps me alive and growing, especially spiritually, in the Blues.

Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day

On Veterans Day & Memorial Day, I always think about the sacrifice of our men and women in the service. I also think about my dad, who served state-side, and knocked a general over while rounding a corner. "What's the matter with you soldier! Are you BLIND?" "Yes sir, in this eye, I am"

My dad was shortly discharged. My dad lost an eye years earlier in an auto accident, and after being drafted twice earlier and discarded, on the third time, they took him anyway. One of his duties was guarding Eisenhower, as he played golf. Not the most intriguing or dangerous duty, but even though my dad had only one eye, he did everything he could for his country and everything his country asked. He may not be an official war hero, but he's still a hero to me.

How many people who are blind in one eye would gladly go today? I can count so many politicians today who used much less of an excuse, to dodge service in any way, shape or form.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Maisy & Me

Today I said goodbye to one of the best friends I ever had, my dog Maisy. For the 13 years she was on this earth, she was hard-working, fiercely protective & loyal, quick with a smile and a good listener when I needed to vent.

Bridget and I got Maisy, and her sister, Bessie not long after we moved to Fulton. She was a playful pup who chewed up hundreds of dollars worth of golf bags, pool covers and basically anything left unprotected, but that's what puppies do. Before long though, we realized how smart she was and how much she loved and watched out for us. After Bessie was killed several years ago, it almost seemed like she got even more protective of our (her) house and her loved ones.

A veterinarian friend once told me that while most Labs were good watch dogs, not many were good guard dogs. He added though, if a Lab ever decides he wants to be a guard dog, he'll be the best guard dog you could ever have. Maisy decided she wanted to be a guard dog. I remember once my father visited to help me fix something in the house and he looked at sweet Maisy and said "that dog won't bite anybody!" As he turned and walked away, Maisy charged and got him right on the behind! After that, He always made sure I was home and to bring a bag of dog biscuits whenever he visited. All the way, from his truck to the door, he would constantly be giving Maisy dog biscuits, until Maisy finally accepted him. Anytime anyone came into the yard, they quickly learned they had to get past Maisy first, and that could not be accomplished until one of us put her in the house, or in her pen.

Maisy not only protected us though. She also protected her kitties! When we got kittens, she doted over them, made sure they were always "bathed" and protected them from other animals, including the other dogs. They were her babies and she wouldn't let anything or anyone near them which she felt could harm them.



Maisy didn't ask for anything in return, but she loved to ride in my truck with me. Sometimes I would let her ride shotgun when I went to town to run errands and she loved it. Of course, she would growl if anyone got too close (she LOVED to growl), but most of the time her eyes were lit up with excitment as she watched the passing terrain. She loved riding with me more than anything else. When she was younger, she used to ride in the bed of my truck, but as she got older, she preferred riding up front with me. She was my driving partner and my buddy. Did I mention, she LOVED to growl at other dogs and people she didn't know?

video

A few years ago, her eyes started fading and she began having trouble getting up and down stairs. We started giving her an aspirin every day to ease the pain. Eventually though, the years caught up with her and it was "her time" to go. Earlier this year, she lost her appetite, but perked up after some medicine. About a week ago, she went downhill again. This time we found out she had cancer. She still remained a fighter though. When she was put to sleep this morning, she didn't have a last breath or gasp. Her last sound was one last, fierce GROWL! Even though her body failed her, her personality and her loyalty remained unchanged until the end. It's so hard to say, but Good Bye girl. You've been a good girl. You were not only the best dog I ever had, you were also one of the best friends I ever had!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I've Souled Out

Some of my favorite Soul Classics....but not all, by any means:

Delany and Bonnie first called it the "Groupie Song" But "Superstar" turned into a big hit. My favorite version is by Luther Vandross.





Another of my favorites, "Voyage To Atlantis" by the Isley Brothers. One of the best shows I ever saw was Ronald and Ernie together. They'll be together again as soon as Ronald is free and I can't wait to see them again.




Until then, Ernie is still the closest thing I've seen to Hendrix



I love The Sylistics. Betcha By Golly Wow....what a great song




Not to mention "Rock n Roll Baby"




I also love Jerry Butler.





Of course, I have to have my Al Green fix. He can take me to Soul School anytime!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let's Have Some Mac n Cheese

Here's MY recipe for Mac n Cheese! I highly recommend it....unless you're on a diet!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar/jack cheese (I buy mine already mixed in the bag. 2 bags of 2 cups each)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 cups cubed Velveeta
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the oil and the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender; drain well and return to cooking pot.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter; stir into the macaroni.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cheese; mix well.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  5. Add the half and half, 3 cups of cheese mixture, 2.5 cups Velveeta, mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased deep 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges; serve.