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I was fortunate enough to play with BB a couple of times. Once in Spain for a show called “Legends of the Guitar”, and once in Rome, Italy for a show that was broadcast all over Europe called “Legends of Rock”. BB was and will always be a legend…but he was also a true gentleman. He treated all of us in the band with the utmost respect and kindness…he was fun and funny, and it was such an honor to be on the same stage with him. Long live the King…
As for the Stones playing a song in tribute….I’m sure it will be discussed…but in any case, all of us in the band love what BB has done for the blues and music in general, and we have all been inspired by his musical expertise, his work ethic and the love he showed us…
Yes- that was from the Hail, Hail sessions. It was a great opportunity to more or less say “thank you” to Chuck Berry for the great music he gave us in the ‘50s and the ‘60s.
When I know I have some kind of gig coming up….a tour with the Stones, recording dates, gigs of my own….I start practicing about 2-3 weeks out. I’m usually up early and get to the piano around 6am. I do some stretches and exercises (like Hannon)….then just play some songs that I feel like playing or that I think I can find ways to improve. And I always try to do some improvisation in the mix…just blank the mind and let my hands take over. It’s sometimes tough when I’d rather be doing other things….working on the land, taking care of errands, whatever…but I think playing music is like being an athlete…when it’s time to gear up for the big event, big game…you’d better put in the time it takes to prepare!
Some of my influences include boogie-woogie pianists Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons and James P. Johnson, as well as rocker Elton John and jazz greats Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner. Here’s some Elton…
Here is Otis Spann, one of my heroes from the Chicago-style blues playing.
Digital is zeroes and ones, man, anyway you look at it..whether it’s a CD or a download, there’s a certain jaggedness to it. Vinyl wins every time.
To everyone who attended the workshop,
I mean it when I say you are my heroes for what you do for music in the schools.
When you practice, the most important thing to remember about interpreting a song is to play it over and over again until it becomes your own. Once you have the song down, experiment with the arrangement and make it your own. Even change the key to one that suits you.
I went to a Ray Charles concert(Billy Preston was in the backup band) when I was 12 years old and it literally changed my life. Ray and the band played an incredible show, It had such an impact on me that I made up my mind there and then that that was what I wanted to do. I decided that night what I wanted as my career.