Music is Life's Blood🩸
Music is Life's Blood🩸
My first and most important experience witnessing a live Blues performance from a master guitarist was watching Redbone play a dirty lowdown dive in G'ville, Florida.
At a time when players were loading up on effects and playing fast, Redbone, first and foremost, delivered a song with grace, nobility, patience, passion, soul, Integrity and Authenticity. Redbone's performances weren't about "flash."
He came to play and crush your heart with a living memory.
He always had the very best players around him, and they laid the deepest pockets, so Redbone could fall in and throw down. You could drive a cement mixer into those pockets!
From North Mississippi Hill Country to Jump to Swing to Chicago to Stank to Fonk to Boogie, he could switch gears and do it all like it weren't nothin' but a chicken wang.
Redbone taught me the meaning of restraint and lyrical phrasing on the guitar. Close my eyes and I'd hear a human voice singing from the amp. Restraint. Restraint. Restraint. Wait for it! Wait! Then . . . Bam!!! Shazam! Into the Mystic! Stunning and elegant phrasing . . . and wonderful singing in the soulful vein of Jimmie Vaughan, too. Cheshire Cat smile. He would look you dead in the eye. Fierce. Authority. Stage command!
And he had Tone for days, toggling between pickups mid- song to get the brightest tones that would spit, snarl, whisper, cry, moan, howl and pick the trash out yo' eye . . . to lush and warm rhythmic comping that would thump and make yer big toe shoot up inside your boot! An expert with dynamics: he'd break it down, turn a corner and suddenly take the roof off!
Hands! He had the Magic hands. I watched him squeeze the most exquisite tone from a guitar jacked straight into an vintage Fender. No effects on deck. The Real Deal. Carrying the Blues Torch forward; not just playing Blues and preserving Blues, but LIVING BLUES. BEING THE BLUES. Sometimes, in listening to him play, I'd forget where the hell I was, transported to the mystic front porch of a North Mississippi Shotgun Shack.
I'd sit, watch and listen in stunned amazement. He played to serve the song, always. While I was trying to play 20-note passages, Redbone showed me how he could play 4 notes, break my heart, melt my face and blow my mind! So, I started playing fewer notes, striving to be like my new Hero, Redbone: grace, elegance, soul, minimalism, and for God's sake, Authenticity. Honesty. He had all that in spades.
I also appreciated that he dressed sharp, old school nobility; he was conversational and humorous with an audience, too. Always at ease with himself. Centered. In his element. A Natural Born Good One!
In the presence of Redbone, the Master performer, I quickly placed him alongside my heroes where he rightly belongs: Muddy, Lightnin', Albert King, Freddy King, T-Bone Walker, Guitar Slim, Buddy Guy, Little Son Jackson, Frankie Lee Sims, on and on . . . . Men who gave their lives to the art and craft and SPIRIT of Blues and changed my life forever. The sound of pleasure and pain that Redbone first sparked in me to create such a sound is a force that can never be underestimated. His mojo is always there. For Redbone, he's dedicated his life to making sure the blues not only stays alive, but remains full of life and an inspiration to all who listen.
There can be nothing less than a revelation, because that's how the music stays alive. It's almost like an alchemy exists, where instruments and voice join together to make a joyful noise. And above all else the blues, in the capable of hands of Redbone and his musical cohorts, is a path to salvation. One that is birthed in the ability of songs to make life on earth a better place to be.
Redbone. I'm proud to count you as my friend, brother, inspiration in Music and Life. Stay mighty in the Great Beyond.
Blues Power, forever.
I'm forever indebted to you, which debt can never be repaid.
Rest in Peace. I'll meet you on the other side.
~ Brother Byron