I should be packing but, instead of doing anything practical, I'm listening to Ray Charles records and feeling blue over his passing the other day. More than anyone else, Ray Charles tore down the superficial genre walls that some people use to separate America's music's. From blues and jazz to gospel and country to tin pan alley and Latin, he showed us that all these styles and forms are all connected to each other, not just in a musical way but also in our hearts and souls. I can't think of any other artist who recorded with Guitar Slim, George Jones, Milt Jackson, Willie Nelson, Percy Mayfield, Betty Carter, Aretha Franklin, Poncho Sanchez and Quincy Jones to name just a few. To call him a giant is an understatement.
A lot has changed since I last wrote a letter to the website. Some good things and, unfortunately, some very sad things.
Too many family members, close friends, musical partners and heroes have moved on. Words can't begin to describe how much I miss them.
The tragedy of September 11th and the loss of so many innocent lives on that day (and in the days since) in the name of political/religious/economic dogma.
The death of another innocent, a young girl named Tiara that I met at a clinic in Cambodia in 2001. Sometimes words are useless to explain the world.
The Blasters reunited for some amazing, rocking shows and released two live CDs and a DVD (I consider these to be our best performances ever captured on tape though I'm positive some will disagree). I can't explain how blown away I was by how much affection people have for the 5 guys from Downey and our music. It might sound stupid but I never realized that we meant that much to people. I can speak for all The Blasters when I say thanks to every one of you for your support, thoughts and, well, love through the years.
I won a Grammy for the Public Domain CD (That seemed about as likely as a Blaster reunion tour).
I was lucky to produce CDs for some artists I admire very much: Christy McWilson, Amy Farris, Katy Moffat, The Derailers, Jill Olsen and Red Meat.
I was privileged to get to record with heroes like Los Lobos, Little Milton, James Cotton, Billy Boy Arnold, Sonny Burgess, The Calvanes, The Medallions, Skip Heller and Jon Langford and also sit in with giants Bob Dylan and Tom Waits.
I reunited with my old pals, The Knitters (Exene, John Doe, D.J. Bonebrake and Johnny Ray Bartel) for some fun shows and we just recorded our second record after 20 years (Well, these things take time) and it should be released early in 2005.
I was honored to continue touring with The Guilty Men. I've never been prouder to play with any band than these guys. All of them (past and present); Bobby Lloyd Hicks, Joe Terry, Gregory Boaz, Chris Gaffney, Rick Shea, Brantley Kearns, Rick Solem and now Chris Miller, are amazing musicians who should be making much more than I can ever pay them. Thanks for the endless cross country drives, laughs and for putting up with me, but thanks, more than anything for the music, brothers.
But I guess the best thing for me is my new CD, Ashgrove. I know what I'm going to say sounds like talk show mumbo jumbo but I believe it's the best solo album I've ever recorded. Greg Leisz is not only a genius guitarist but also a genius producer. Greg not only added his always beautiful playing but he also got my best vocals and blues guitar playing out of me (Thank you, Greg). I hope if any of you buy the album that you enjoy it as much as I do.
Well, I guess I should be practical and go pack and try to get some sleep. Hopefully, I'll see you all down the road soon. Until then, keep rockin',
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Last Modified: 16Jun04
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