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On guitar, the person who flavored my playing most was Jim Klockner. Known mostly in the Northwest, Jim was another Tacoma player who was taken with blues. He became one of the funkiest, most rhythmic down-home guitarists I’ve ever heard. We played a lot together in my apartment in the late sixties and whenever we could since then. Jim has passed away, but his spirit is in me when I play something syncopated.
Of the old guys, Blind Willie Johnson plays the way I like it best.
Barefoot John of the PH Phactor Jug Band taught me Mississippi John Hurt’s version of Franky and Johnny, and I employ some of that finger style in the riffs I do.
Another great rhythmic player I like was Joseph Spence. And if anyone who likes slide can’t find something they want to steal from Ry Cooder, they’re flat nuts. He took to heart Joseph Spence, Blind Willie Johnson, and others, blended it together, then added Ry Cooder to make a new standard. Sonny Landreth is another fantastic innovator on slide. Lowell George’s playing, writing and singing. He’s a pretty good guy to do the town with too. Mellower than you might think. At least when there were women present.
And rhythm itself brings me to The Meters. I love that New Orleans beat. The brass bands and the R&B. Huey ‘Piano’ Smith.
This could go on and on.
I am torn about the recording process itself. I have lately realized that the the less sophisticated, less perfect sound of the old Sun Records and similar studios of the era really appeals to me. It reminds me of my first bands or going to the Evergreen Ballroom to hear bands on the R&B circuit. The machinery has come so far that the quality of sound reproduction is hard to ignore. As much as I like old things, I wouldn’t really want to do it the old way with a couple of mikes on one or two tracks. We also couldn’t be a band without over dubbing, and I write for a band in most cases. We are using vintage instruments, and though I like the tight drum sound of the L.A. studios I wanted the sound of my antique mahogany Ludwig drums and especially the old sizzle cymbal on the hi-hat. I also use what could be called, after the fact, a low hat, which is really a sock cymbal. So sound quality will be modern but the sound should be retro.