I have had the good fortune of playing with some of the best musicians in the world. Since relocating to California, I have had many musical adventures and met incredible people. Here are just some of the cool experiences I have had over the years.
In the late eighties, I was living in the Laguna Beach area, and the music community down in that area great influenced me as a musician and as a human. The people that I met during this period are folks that I still know and consider friends. One of these people is Will Brady, who played bass with Honk for many years, Willy and I performed as a duo for many years. We played at a variety of clubs and even opened big shows for a few people. One of the most memorable shows we played was when we opened for the great Albert King at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, California. My longtime pal, Freebo, played bass with us for this show and it was a career highlight for us all. Following our opening slot, Albert King took the stage and proceeded to slay the audience in his usual way. He played a few songs as I hurried from the upstairs backstage area down to the main floor to see his show. Before too long, Albert was asking where I was, saying how much he loved my guitar playing. He then asked me to join him onstage to play with him and after picking my jaw up from the floor, I ran upstairs, grabbed my 1959 Gibson L5 guitar (with duct tape covering the f holes to stop the feedback), and ran down to play with him. I had quite a few friends from Tower Records and Orange County in the audience and they screamed and yelled; they were as excited as I was!! My friend Lisa Wohl managed to snap the only picture I have of the moment! Thank you Lisa! I can’t recall the song exactly, but I think we played “The Sky Is Crying.” He played it in Ab, and I learned later that he tuned his guitar down to get that cool sound he always had. After the show, we had a great visit and talked quite a bit about getting together again for shows. He even talked about us playing a show in San Francisco; I couldn’t find transportation to that show, so it didn’t happen. He gave me his phone number and I called him from time to time and he was incredibly encouraging to me, saying that I should be more famous that I was. He used to always call me Little Devil after a song that I had written called “She’s A Little Devil.,” that he really liked. His phone was one of the earliest portable phones I had seen (there were not that many back in those days), and he kept it in a suitcase. Sadly, he died less than a year after that show. I was heartbroken. And while I have heard stories from some of my other friends who have said less then favorable things about him (backstage stories), I cannot relate to those. He was always respectful and kind to me, and I treasured his friendship and even consider him a mentor. Miss you Albert!
I have been a huge fan of Maria Muldaur’s for many years. I probably learned how to sing listening to her. I dig her choice of tunes and her blues, folk and jazz influences. Having said that, it was a real honor for me when she recorded “So Many Rivers To Cross,” a tune that I wrote with my good friend and fantastic songwriter Daniel Moore (he wrote “My Maria,” and “Shambala”). Years ago I used to drive up from Laguna Beach to Malibu where Daniel was living at the time, nearly every weekend and write and record songs. It was a bit of turning point to me professionally when I got the chance to write songs with Daniel, and we cranked them out. One of the songs was “So Many Rivers To Cross.” He called to say he was gonna send it to Maria, and I was thrilled. Not long after she called me on the phone when I was living in Dana Point, California. I pretty much fell over and was flabbergasted and speechless; and that rarely happens! She also recorded another tune that I wrote with Danny Timms, called “If I Were You.” Anyway, she has always been more than encouraging and I’ve kept in touch with her over the years and also consider her to be a friend who is always shouting my praise to folks. Thanks Maria!!
For those who don’t know Sam Lay, he is probably most famous for when he played with the Paul Butterfield Band. He wrote the book on blues drumming and being a Chicago native, it is interesting that we should meet long after I had moved from Chicago. I went back to Chicago, after we had become friends and he invited me to sit in many times when I was in town. He also invited me and my friend Will Brady to his home when we were on tour and came to Chicago. We went to his house and he then gave us a mini-tour of his neighborhood and took us to eat fried fish. Best fried fish I’ve had since! Anyway back at his house, he played us reels and reels of super 8 films he had taken of all the great blues masters like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters among others. These were home movies of these guys that nobody had yet seen except us! Willy and I couldn’t believe our eyes. These films were treasures. When I reconnected with Sam a couple years ago, he told me that these films were leased and put into a few big documentarys about the blues. Sam has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Paul Butterfield Band. He is still playing, God bless him, with Corky Siegel. A true legend!