03/25/2005 @ 02:49 PM: Recently I've been playing with Dr. D & the Z-man, an acoustic blues duo featuring one of my former U of M political science instructors, Dean Alger, and his musical comrade, Zack. It's been fun to play some low-volume gigs with the guys and employ the use of my Wolfgang guitars in a public setting while AT/DT and my solo project are on live hiatus. There's a few more Dr. D & the Z-man gigs coming up, and when the dates are available I'll of course post the pertinent information here and send out an ATML newsletter as well (signup is in the top right-hand corner).
Dean has been doing research for a book he's writing on the great blues musician Lonnie Johnson. Lesser known than say Robert Johnson (no relation), Lonnie J. has inspired some of the greats in blues music past and present. And Dean has now had the opportunity to interview some of those in the present, including Buddy Guy and BB King. The latter occurred on BB's tour bus during his recent concert here at Orchestra Hall. I was originally supposed to accompany Dean for the interview and act as his video cameraman and note-taker, but BB's tour manager put the "no-go" stamp on that one at the last minute. Apparently, however, there was some misunderstanding; Dean informed me, during his update to me of the interview, that one of the first things the tour manager asked when he got on the bus was: "Where's your cameraman?"
Opportunities to meet legends such as BB King are becoming less and less with each passing day. Not that I have all that much to say to the man (except "thanks for all the inspiration," of course), but this is a guy who nearly traces back to the source of blues music--the very foundation of most of our popular music today. The result of an encounter not unlike something galactic, that combines so many elements of human nature, social and political culture, and a cross-breeding of art that arose out of some of the most horrific occurrences in human history (slavery and oppression) and accidentally gave birth to something that truly is all-American: Blues. African and European music combined, beats and microtones along with chord progressions and structure, and it has evolved into so many of the genres of music we know today. BB was around for some of the earlier stages of that evolution.
It appears there will be another opportunity to meet BB in the coming months, as he will be back for a show at the State Fair and offered to do another interview. You can bet I'll be going along for that one.
A few weeks back, Dean and I recorded a demo of his tribute song to Lonnie Johnson, titled "The Legendary Lonnie J." Dean played acoustic guitar and sang, and I played the leads on electric. Mr. Buddy Guy was sent a copy of the song, and Mr. BB King got to hear it with Dean on his tour bus. I'm mostly pleased with how I played on it, but the very thought of those guys listening to me play a blues solo scares the living shit out of me. I'm counting on that fear to make me a better player.