Due largely to when and where I was born, I haven’t had too many flesh-and-blood musical teachers. My Grandpa certainly, from whom I received my Nationals. But that’s very nearly it. Certainly I’ve had friends, peers, fellow musicians that I’ve learned uncountable amounts from, but I like to think/hope those are give-and-take relationships.
By and large, my teachers have been recordings and books. Vinyl releases from Vanguard, Takoma, Arhoolie. Books by Samuel Charters, David Evans, Stefan Grossman. And of course, the music. This has been my true teacher. The music of Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes, Charley Patton, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Pete Williams, and so, so, so many more.
There is one exception to the above, however. There is one teacher, one flesh-and-blood teacher, at whose knee I have genuinely studied. His name is Big Bones.
I’ve told the tale too many times to merit repeating here, but suffice it to say Big Bones looms large in my life. I played with him for the first time on a street corner in Berkeley, some 25 years ago. We’ve gone years in silence since, intermingled with long, strange, beautiful and hard hours, days, weeks, months on the road together. We’ve driven to Arkansas, flown to Amsterdam, sailed to Ireland.
Here is he and I together, from The Kitchen Set:
What I have learned from Big Bones is immeasurable. What you will experience in the presence of he and his music is inexpressible. Big Bones. He is REASON EIGHT to attend The Golden Gate Blues Society’s International Blues Competition Solo/Duo Round.
Through the strange machinations of fate, I am not scheduled to play WITH Big Bones that night. Rather, I am scheduled to compete AGAINST him. This is of course ridiculous. I could sooner eat dinosaur marrow w/ mole sauce than compete with Bones.
The event is of course not a competition of any kind, really. It is a celebration of a raw, urgent, vital music. A music that lives fully within the boundaries of Big Bones.
I invite you to join me for this extraordinary event. It will be memorable.
Please CLICK HERE to attend.
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