I love my job. I really do. LOVE IT! I believe in God (I’m a Christian) and I believe that being a musician is what He put me here to do; to be loud, cause a fuss, make music and to entertain. Somehow, the cosmic forces of life always seem to counteract the blessings we receive. (Oh Lord don’t they love to “monkey up the works”! Maybe just to give us balance. Yin & Yang.) I titled this post “Sacrifice” (not because it’s an Elton John song, although I love me some Elton John songs don’t I?) Tonight, after a harsh three days, I’m thinking of the sacrifice. Not my sacrifice; being on the road, away from my family, no sleep, bad food, miles of driving, car trouble, logistics, $$$!!! but more importantly the sacrifice of others.
We broke down on the way to our first gig of the weekend in Washington, MO at Driftwood Distillery. The owners couldn’t have been kinder. They came out to pick us up and get us to the gig (Thank you Elijah and Joe), they loaned us a car to get to a hotel for the night after the gig, they fed the band the next day, they offered to let us hang out at their venue as long as we needed. They sacrificed so that we could do what we do.
The next day we spent the morning at Reichers Tire & Auto, hoping against hope that they could fix the Beast with some simple mechanic magic but it was not to be. They were awesomely kind and considerate and we appreciated their efforts to get us on the road.
Out of the blue, with no real plan in place, I received a call from a man named Dale who had heard of our distress and offered to drive us (towing our trailer) to the next gig in Jackson, MO. Dale was just getting off work when he called us and came and got us and drove us 2 1/2 hours to Jackson in time for our next gig, asking for nothing but gas money. (By the way, at one point the trailer popped of the hitch and ran under the truck and we had to stop and fix it, I really started wondering if we were cursed!!)
So we’re in Jackson, make the gig, which was a guest appearance with Eddie Turner & The Trouble Twins, and no idea how to get to Nashville! Our friend Phil Penzel offers us his REALLY nice truck to drive home in. (Phil we may need to keep this truck, it’s REAL nice!!;)
We were supposed to have a gig in Memphis but confusion and miscommunication caused us to miss it. Our friend and ally in the Blues Mr. Jay Sheffield canceled a band so that we could play but thanks to technology I found out after I’d been back home in Nashville for a couple of hours. (Thank you so much Jay for always being honorable!)
So, Sacrifice:
The Driftwood Distillery sacrificed by rescuing us from the side of the interstate, ferrying us all over town, loaning us a vehicle, giving us food, offering us shelter.
Reichers Tire & Auto worked on the Beast all morning and when they couldn’t fix it, they charged us nothing and allowed us to leave it in their parking lot until we could arrange to bring it home.
Dale drove us 2 1/2 hours to Jackson for nothing but his own kindness.
Phil loaned his REALLY nice truck…seriously, this thing is awesome!
My band…musicians are a special breed. I’m blessed to have met and known so many and they are all incredible. Ray Gonzales, Sam Persons and Braden Cameron stuck with me, never complained, didn’t gripe, pitched in and supported every decision I made to get us through this weekend.
My brother Keith Throneberry and my cousin Mark Holt are sacrificers after the fact. They are helping me clean up the mess that was this weekend!
If I write a post about “Sacrifice” My intention was to thank and give a shout out to all the folks that helped us get through but I read the word “Sacrifice” and it keeps reminding me of the person in my life who is and has been continually making the sacrifice; my wife Buffy Holt.
A musician’s life is a hard, stressful existence (no kids, it’s not all sex and velvet…wait yes it is…but it’s still hard sometimes…no wait, that doesn’t read well…I mean it’s difficult…seriously, it’s hard to be married to a musician). It’s feast or famine, all the time. It’s being successful if you’re away from home and being broke when you are home. It’s that double-edged sword; work is good but work makes you absent which is bad. My wife has been a soldier for the cause for almost 25 years now, actually she’s been with me since we started this so throw in the Buddy Guy years and we’re closer to 30! She is an amazing wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, confidant and coconspirator! If you look up “Sacrifice” in the dictionary, it should have a photo of Buffy (which, oddly enough my dictionary does! Of course they’re naked photos and I love research!! I’M JOKING!! She’s gonna kill me! No my dictionary is not filled with naked photos of my wife…but if it was I wouldn’t be sad…no I’m kidding they’re in my thesaurus…BAHAHAHAHHAHA!!! I’m so dead and this heartfelt missive is in jeopardy of being dismissed because of my frivolity. See, Buffy is the supreme sacrificer!!) . Thank you my beautiful, wonderful, amazing, Buff for sacrificing for me.
Thank you to all the people that sacrificed for us this weekend, thank you to all the ones that sacrifice on our behalf constantly, and while I’m at it, thank you to all the service men and women that sacrifice on our behalf everyday so that you and I have the freedom to gripe and moan about how hard our day was. (That last sentence was, of course, for our American friends. Our friends around the world can ignore it, strike it or, better yet, apply it to whatever your situation is in your country. I pray for God to bless you all.)


This post is meant to be an addendum to the last post.
When you think about the sacrifice that others are making on your behalf, you also have to realize that these are blessings. I drove home tonight thanking God for his blessings.
Sure, I could have focused on the negative and griped about the breakdown, the transportation, the loss of gigs, etc, “Why God Why?!?!” BUT I choose to focus on the blessings;
Yes we broke down BUT thank God it was close to the gig and the owners could come and get us.
Yes we lost our ride BUT thank God that someone heard about our trouble and offered to help.
Yes we lost a gig in the shuffle BUT thank God that it was the last gig of the run, 2 hours from home and booked by a friend who will continue to support us.
Thank God that I was surrounded by positive people this weekend who lifted me up and allowed me to get us home.
Thank God that I have a partner to come home to that supports me, encourages me and loves me.
In short and in closing; THANK GOD


Eulogy for a King

Today was an emotional one. My Uncle Wayne passed away on this day and I remember and miss him terribly. It’s already a really sad day for me.
I woke up at 5:00AM, showered and shaved, dressed in black and met my friend Wingnut to drive 300 miles to Indianola, MS. I needed to say goodbye. Riley B. King…I only knew that name as part of the legend…I knew (slightly) B.B. King or “B” if your mentor was Buddy Guy. I had the honor of sharing intimate, unscripted moments with B.B. over the years. I sat on road-cases and watched him unfold his magic over crowds of fans, I sat on the dressing room couch (or floor) and listened to Blues Legends (gods) reminisce and joke, I shared my own private moments of guidance and encouragement, I was truly blessed and rewarded to know him.
B.B. kissed my wife’s hand on first meeting her, (the only other guy, I know of, to have that honor) he signed a photo for my daughter, he signed a postcard for me, he signed my guitar, he gave me picks and pins (which I gave away to friends) he helped teach me the blues, performance, stage craft, class…He was a god. His impact and influence will be dissected and evaluated for decades by others but the truth is this; his melody was only sweetened by his character, his lyric was spiced by his wit, his harmony was weighted by his truth. He was not just an artist, he was an ICON. That carries a different sort of weight. I’ve met presidents, heads of state, rock stars, it’s not the same…Over the years, I watched video of B.B. being greeted by the Pope, The Queen of England, Presidents…I watched rockstars bow and kiss his ring…I watched one of my most high heroes defer to him time and again…REGAL…even when I reached a point where I could have “avoided it” as someone who was in the business, I stood in line as a fan and waited my turn to have an audience with B.B. King on his bus. My heart beats a little faster, even now, just imagining asking him if I can take a photo. This was my last time seeing him. 10401196_67598081480_4468_nI had my wife and daughter with me, Olivia was seeing him for the first time. I pray that she remembers it.
Indianola, MS. is not close to anything. Head to Memphis, pass Elvis Presley Blvd. & Graceland…Get off the highway at Clarksdale and drive past the County lock-up, the Full Of Soul Restaurant and the Mississippi State Prison. Rain comes in mile-markers; it’s on (HARD) and off…We got there at noon and drove up to a small pandemonium, torrential rain, traffic, police cars, news vans, the Gibson Guitar bus…the pandemonium you find at the sight of kings lying in state. Parking is in a nice grassy spot that has been transformed into a mud bog…skip the puddles to the museum…“Are you here to view the body?” A Mississippi State Trooper is holding the door, 7 more troopers are just inside lined against the far wall. Along with a herd of people…a cacophony of voices…A turn to the right, another turn to the right…a staircase…Bobby Rush is to my left but he’s a blur now…he’s being interviewed or visiting with someone…hard to tell…cameras are everywhere…7 (?) wooden steps, a metal rail and to my left are 12 State Troopers in a line, to my right a rope, leading to a casket. B.B. is in a beautiful jacket that I never saw him wear onstage…he looks frail, drawn, smaller, human…not real…his hands (those hands) are under the sheet, or whatever you call the cloth that covers the lower half of the deceased…he looks posed, an entertainer before an audience, drawn up to his fullest, ‘don’t let the crack’s show’ not a negative observation just an observation. Suddenly, I’m at the front of the line…paused…silent…praying…thanking B.B. for his gift…can’t cry in front of the Trooper honor guard and Wingnut…my heart hurts…Lucille is on a stand next to the casket. It’s not his “original” guitar, it’s a symbol…name 5 other guitars that are known by their name…hell, name 2 (Willie Nelson has Trigger, there ya go!!) B.B. King and Lucille…I hope they’re buried together. Don’t put her in a museum where we can go and gawk at her silence. I watched B.B. play that guitar (or one just like it) I watched him BURN on it, I watched him reach on it, I watched him play things I hadn’t heard him play before…I witnessed GREATNESS…then you’re outside…rain is coming down in buckets so you decide to stay under the portico…so does everybody else coming out…soon it’s 25 people, from all walks of life, who have come to say goodbye. NEVER judge a book by it’s cover: man, woman, black, white, young, old, rich, poor…B.B.’s audience…walking back to the car, a guy jumps out of an SUV with a “memorial” B.B. King T-shirt, “$20.00 my brothers”…nope…as I dodge the mud puddles…20 years of my life took 8 minutes to say goodbye…No…I’ll be feeling this forever. Buddy and I will reminisce I know…B.B.’s drummer, Tony Coleman and I are friends…we’ll certainly speak his name…everytime I pick up a guitar and play a note it will be in memory of Mr. Riley “B.B.” King…A mostly silent drive back to Nashville, XM radio seems to be playing more B.B. lately, everytime one comes up, so does the volume.

882344_867864376572437_1412610064932688728_oNo matter how many times I’m met with loss I feel the same things; stunned, hurt, angry, devastated. My British friends have a phrase I find particularly apt; “gutted”. Emotions are selfish. A loved one has moved on and we feel cheated…deprived of their light.
I’ve lived long enough to lose a lot of people. Too many by my estimation. It doesn’t get easier, it doesn’t hurt less, in fact, sometimes the hurt surprises you in how it manifests itself. Driving home from Minneapolis yesterday, I received a message on Facebook, telling me that a friend had passed away. Not a “sick” friend, not something expected but someone who I had spoken with via email recently. Someone who had “liked” things we posted just hours earlier. In this sick age we live in, I hoped it was a cruel joke; a sick kind of Facebook gag. I knew the person that sent it to me wasn’t the kind to do that but I still hoped. Miles went by with the thought; “Nah, it can’t be true…”.
I first met Carl Kurek at a gig at Legends. He was there with his wife Rina and they just had a warmth and a light about them that was magnetic. I don’t remember the specifics of that first meeting but I do know that within a very short time of talking to him, I knew we had a lot of things in common; he adored his wife (check), he loved the blues (check), he loved Stevie Ray Vaughan (check), he was a Buddy Guy fan (check). Carl and Rina never missed a Legends gig that we played and soon they began coming out to gigs in other places. Carl surprised us in Kansas City, he and Rina showed up in Auburn Hills, MI. a few times, one of my great honors was being invited to play his surprise anniversary party for Rina (which I kept referring to as her birthday!) Carl and I jammed together that night and sometimes he would post a picture of us together onstage. That always made me smile. I never told him that, I don’t know how to articulate the idea “hey, you like me and that makes me feel good about me and I love you for that”. One time he took a photo of me onstage at Legends, photoshopped a pic of Jimi with me, blew it up, framed and gave it to me. It’s in my office now and I think of Carl when I look at it.
One time we were in Auburn Hills at Callahan’s and the Beast was really acting up, the next morning we’re supposed to meet Carl and Rina for breakfast before we head to our next gig. I get up and try and start the Beast…nothing…won’t even turn over! I text Carl and he comes over in his BAD&$$ Charger (Yellow with black racing stripes!!), he jumps me off and we start heading to the mechanic…on the interstate it dies again, he U-Turns (!!!) in the middle of the interstate (sorry Rina, I promised I wouldn’t tell you;)), jumps us off and for the next 6 miles or so we do the same song and dance every 1/4 mile or so; Carl got us to the dealer, made sure we were safe and offered to hang with us until we were good.
Carl, single-handedly got Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! His Facebook campaign is why they are in there. I know he’s in Heaven, cornering Stevie and setting up a jam right now! I hope he doesn’t elbow Jimi out of the way to get to Stevie!! Carl had passion. What an undervalued trait! Carl loved his wife Rina, his kids Rachel and Carl, Jr. and he adored his grandson Maddon. He was engulfed in love, an expression of love and a loved soul.
Carl wasn’t a fan, he was my friend. I never gave him anything, I always told him I was there for him but he never tested it and I never had to prove it. I know Carl was my friend because I hurt in my heart like I’ve lost a part of me. I’ve lived long enough to lose a lot of people and I know how that feels.

Happy Birthday King!

Back when I was a virgin, Elvis was my first. My ears were virgin when I got introduced to Elvis. My soul was virgin when I got introduced to Elvis. My eyes were virgin when I got introduced to Elvis. My molecules were virgin when I got introduced to Elvis. When music truly HITS you…arrests you…convicts you…you respond, you sweat, you tingle, you tremble. You vibrate to that frequency. It’s an epiphany…or climax…or the perfect bite of Tres Leche cake… I was HOOKED! It was a done deal. I had been indoctrinated (or inoculated) on RCA 45’s from near birth. I knew Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel and Blue Suede Shoes. My parents took me to see Elvis in 1975, in Murfreesboro, TN. It was my first concert. I’ve never forgotten it; that feeling, the screams, the smell of popcorn, the wax paper Coke cups, the screaming, the lights, the poster, the energy, the screaming…My most vivid memory is at the end of the second song, Elvis threw his acoustic guitar (Black) behind him without looking and Charlie Hodge caught it. I’ve thrown guitars my whole career without a good explanation, until this moment. “I do it because I saw Elvis do it…”
I had an older cousin ( Melanie) that owned the “Aloha From Hawaii” concert on “double-disc vinyl”, I borrowed it (with the promise of safe return) and listened to it on my Realistic turntable. I had a friend (Edwin) who had the “Live From Madison Square Garden” record, I listened to it over and over, trying to put a visual to those sounds. The funky introduction to Hound Dog alone was enough for a 12 year old kid. “You ain’t nothin’…nothin…nothin…
I remember watching the CBS special. I taped the audio on cassette tape. I wanted to capture this moment, engrossed and enthralled: my parents were wincing about Elvis’ appearance and weight. I thought he looked like a god. Remember kids; no Youtube, no Google. Also remember kids; at this point there was NO MTV (MTV was a cable channel that played music, now they are a reality show channel, so how could you know?).
On August 16, 1977, I came home from school, sat in my dad’s chair and watched Gilligan’s Island on the local CBS affiliate (channel 5) at 3:00pm. This was before the days of the “constant scroll” so when something creeped across the bottom of the screen, it was important. “…Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis…” I called my mom at work. My heart hurt. The foundation had shifted. I now lived in a world without Elvis.
I get it …someday… (long time from now) Kanye West will pass or Justin Beiber and people will remember where they were, what they were doing. It’s the natural order of things. Jimi is captured in paisley, Elvis in a jump suit and Kurt Cobain in flannel. I was born and raised with Elvis walking the earth, (and Jimi Hendrix and all four Beatles by the way). I was blessed to have the chance to be in the same room with Elvis and experience that energy, first hand. It was regal. It’s real. It’s not a sweet memory, it doesn’t happen “all the time” and it was no accident. It’s no “figment of my imagination”. I felt it, I saw it, I heard it. I was there. Call him the KING OF ROCK & ROLL. God knows, he earned it. 80 years. Happy Birthday Elvis! #TCB


‘Scuse me while I Kiss The Sky…

In the office today, listening to this record, bringing back so many memories I thought I’d write some of them down. This was the second Jimi Hendrix record I bought. The first being the soundtrack to the Motion Picture Jimi Hendrix. I bought my first copy of this record on cassette at The Sound Shop in Columbia, TN. (I can still remember how they smelled when you tore the plastic wrap off and opened the box.How the cassette would rattle in it’s cradle. This one was clear! Cool!) My first Hendrix record is the one that drove me to play guitar, THIS one was my sonic bible. For a Hendrix neophyte, which I was, this was a great way to dive in; music from all over his career. Randomly sequenced, it had no real chronology to it, just Jimi firing it up for 45 minutes. Live stuff mixed with studio stuff. I hadn’t heard any of the original records or 1,000’s of bootlegs at this point so this was all fresh and new to me at this point. This record was released in 1984 (according to wikipedia) so I probably picked it up because it would’ve been the most recent release. This is the tape that I took to my guitar teacher, Doug Thurman, and asked him to teach me Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). Which forced me to learn my first chord and very nearly ended my guitar playing career before it started!
That E chord, yikes! “Just put this finger here…” I felt like my hand would cramp and fall off! I couldn’t make the chord, let alone play a song that required me to use this contortion in it! Something made me keep going though. I went home and locked myself in my room and practiced. A piece of paper with hand drawn dots showing where my fingers go. Sore fingers, blisters. Friday night; “you want to go out? Nah, I’m gonna stay home and practice.” One chord, over and over, sometimes 4 of the 6 strings would ring, sometimes only 2, days went by and by the weekend I was getting all 6 strings to ring a little. Finally, I thought, a little daylight! One chord = 1 week! That’s my formula! Now I know exactly how hard I’ll have to work to get this guitar under control!

Nah. That’s the beauty and magic of a guitar, it’s just like a woman; once you think you have them figured out, they change BUT you don’t mind the change cause their just that awesome and amazing!

My guitar would give me something and then seem to take it back and then some. She’d give a glimpse at what might be possible and then close the curtain as if to say “But not yet.” The more I dug the more I wanted. The more frustrated I got the harder I practiced. Great sounds would mesh with awful clams so that I was constantly feeling like I was stranded in the ocean just grabbing at anything floating by. Just trying to stay afloat.
I met with Doug once a week (Mondays I think), so I was always in a hurry to learn the next thing. I didn’t have time to learn the solo to Voodoo Chile because I wanted to learn Purple Haze! The next Monday was “show me Red House!”
This was late 1988/89. There’s no internet, no youtube to refer to. You can’t just pull up footage of Jimi playing the songs, or a million guitarists in their homes videoing themselves playing the songs. This is archeology. Sonic Archeology! You had to dig and scrap for any piece of information. By this point, I knew what Jimi looked like from the two cassette covers that I had. I’d bought a poster of Jimi from the Isle of Fehmarn (today I realized where the shot was taken!) Pink pants, multicolored jacket, leopard skin strap! White Stratocaster, man I gotta get one of those!
Doug rented the VHS tape of Jimi Hendrix the movie and invited me over to watch it. 2 hours later, I’m more jazzed than ever. A true disciple! Jimi at Monterey, burning his guitar, Woodstock playing the National Anthem, The Isle Of Wight casually throwing the guitar over his shoulder at the end of his set. I bought the VHS tape and wore it out, bought another one and wore it out, bought a third one, same thing, then they invented DVD’s! (I’m on my 3rd DVD copy as I write this). No MTV in our house yet but we had Night Trax on WTBS out of Atlanta. They showed a clip of Jimi playing the Star Spangled Banner in Berkeley. It came on on Saturday night around 1:00 am. I remember sitting there in the dark in my parents living room, mouth hanging open, in shock! Another piece of the puzzle! Books started flowing into my orbit. Jimi was 27 when he died. He died in London, he was in the 101st Airborne, he’d played in Nashville early in his career, played with Little Richard, King Curtis, Joey Dee…every little piece of information I could find was like a revelation.
So now it’s 2014, I’ve been chasing Jimi’s secrets since 1989 or so so that’s 25 years! Still ain’t playing them right. I’ve met him a couple of times in my dreams but I’m always too excited to remember to ask him anything!