I find it so inspirational and invigorating, albeit temporarily here in California, to be in a society where drummers and bassists know how to play the blues, jazz and swing correctly.

When I was a kid back home in Oztraylya, the great Billy Thorpe told me to go to Austin and check out how they play the blues. I said with wild enthusiasm ‘I’d love to go play there’ and he replied ‘Don’t touch a guitar, just listen, watch and learn’. I felt gutted he said that but I took his advice and how right he was! A couple of visits later and I was sitting in with cats in Austin like Derek O’Brien, Frosty, Chris Duarte, Chris Maresh, Malford Milligan and so on.

That now is the best piece of advice I could hand on to anyone else contemplating a career in this genre. Go hang out in clubs and bars in the USA. Everybody else is just playing a derivative of this music and MOST of them aren’t getting it right. Go to the source and learn. Watching YouTube vids ain’t gonna cut it. You need to BE THERE. Music us a wonderful gift we share but we can’t afford to take shortcuts. We need to learn how to play certain styles correctly to do IT, and the audience, justice.

There is a LOT of bad blues out there - guitarists who can’t play rhythm, drummers who can’t shuffle, sit behind the beat etc. Bassists who have no idea how to walk without sounding white. I’ve seen bands in England who can’t play the blues for shit, SIGNED TO EURO BLUES LABELS. If you keep your ears and eyes open, this could fix all of that.

I’m not running anyone down. Some of these guys just need help and a kick up the arse. You really have no idea how frustrating it is to play with bands who have no idea about grooves. Listen to Chicago, Texas, Louisiana, New Orleans blues and develop your ear so you can identify each style. Get swampy.

I hope this helps someone. Passing on information is what I like to do. See ya in some stinkin’ club somewhere down the road!

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