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Archive for September, 2008


Touching Others Lives – Finale

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I hope I have educated many on some of our Greatest Session Players that were intertwined in the life of  Al Kooper, this is the final piece of my recycled end table that will hopefully find a home.

Touching Other’s Lives is one reason we are all here…

Those that are intertwined in our lives can be great influences on many of our decisions.  As bloggers,  we open ourselves up to new opportunities and new relationships on a daily basis.  Intertwining with people of similar interests or those that we can help with the littlest bit of advice, we have Touched Other’s Lives.

I have been blogging for over a year now, and continue to be amazed at the amount of people that come in and leave comments, those that answer the questions that I have pondered.  I am sure I am not alone when it comes to having run into some of the “ego’s” or less than helpful folks out there.  It amazes me that some of these jokers will not take the time of day to Touch Other’s Lives, the big dog’s on the porch so to speak.

The power that comes from helping someone achieve something is over whelming – and in all honesty can we take our knowledge with us when all is said and done? Leaving a mark on someone when you influence them is all part of the learning process.  Learning to communicate, leaving comments on others blogs, sending a small thank you note when someone has helped you, it’s a cyber cycle of touching others lives.

Go forward today and comment on someone’s blog that you usually wouldn’t, keep the circle going..

Categories : Pencil Sketches
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“To me, there’s nothing freer than a bird, you know, just flying wherever he wants to go. And, I don’t know, that’s what this country is all about, being free. I think everyone wants to be a free bird.”  Ronnie Van Zant

Van Zant wanted to be a boxer, a baseball player or stock car driver, it was not until hearing the Rolling Stones that his career path took on new dimensions.

Capricorn Records was based in Georgia, Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s Manager was the younger brother to Phil Walden, big wig at Capricorn, wasn’t interested in Skynyrd.  Al Kooper took a shot, created his own label which was bankrolled by MCA Records.  Skynyrd ended up on Al’s doorstep.  With a late night phone call from Ronnie Van Zant to Al Kooper, after their equipment was stolen, Al lent them 5,000.00 dollars.

Saying of Van Zant, he was a man of his word, he ruled that band with an iron fist, and God help any band member who crossed him.  Not always agreeing with Kooper’s ideas as their producer, Van Zant would listen to his ideas, because perhaps 1 out of 20 of those idea’s would be a good one.

In today’s society, we are often times afraid of ideas, putting them out there and seeing if they stick can bring us some of our greatest moments.  I may at one time post one of my original paintings, I look at this painting now, one that I was so proud of, and go.. OH MY GOD. I can look back now and see how far my skills as an artist have come.   I do laugh though, when I think how proud I was of this particular piece, which I had painted on a jean jacket, and proudly walked around with it on my back.

I am sure others must have chuckled at me.. my point is, if it is something you are sure about, as Kooper was this Southern Rock Band – go for it...

Categories : Pencil Sketches
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A slide guitar great that has been playing blues for 45 years!

I didn’t hit this one on the head, and had to step back and look – I took his jaw on this drawing to much to an extreme.. don’t know what happened, but not all works can be perfect – draw & learn.  Here’s the pic I went off..

Stepping up when a friend is in need when Mike Bloomfield ducked out of another performance due to his insomnia, it was at the Fillmore – Al Kooper was put into a predicament once again to find some players that would rock the house.

Calling up Carlos Santana, Stevie Miller, Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop.  Playing past closing time, the musicians with the passion, showed up, played their hearts out and bailed out a friend in a jam.  Why, because they were and still are passionate about playing guitar and making music.

Elvin Bishop had a guest spot on The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper, not as much of a success as Super Sessions, but still some great instrumentals – The Band’s – The Weight, a Classic Booker T’s – Green Onions, and much more!

It is amazing reading Elvin Bishop’s Bio – the lives he touched and the people that he has influenced.

From his site –

And then, late one night when Elvin was 14 or 15, the atmospheric conditions a little rough, Jimmy Reed’s harmonica came cutting through the static from WLAC in Nashville, and Elvin Bishop’s life was changed

Hooked on the sounds emerging from the radio, Elvin had to find out where they were coming from and who was responsible. When he was awarded a National Merit Scholarship in 1959, he could have gone to pretty much any college he wanted, but chose The University Of Chicago, because that’s where the blues were. And so he landed in the middle of one of the richest and most vital scenes in blues history.

I wonder do we give our children these opportunities now to follow their passions, or do we actually push them to hard? My son is going to be 17 in a few weeks, and we raised him openly, honestly and did not push him in any one direction.  We have treated him as an adult, we did not force soccer, football, arts, after school clubs, or anything of the like down his throat.  We signed him up for soccer, he played for a short while, he did not have the “passion” to go after that ball.  Being 6 foot 3 inches tall, and over 250 – I so could see him playing football, and so could the coaches, but he does not have the passion to do it.

I have watched several of the kids he went to school with, one’s that were forced to do as many extra curricular activities as they could fit into a day, now, coming into their own as teens – and they seem to be taking some of that freedom of choice back, and it’s becoming evident, it’s not always the best choice how they are using that freedom.

To be who we are, do what we love – we can only grow more and share the emotions that the passion from doing so creates!.

Categories : Pencil Sketches
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Stephen Stills, musician & songwriter best know for his part in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – a great line up unto itself.  Also known for his work in Buffalo Springfield.

Stephen Stills was one of the first, if not the last to be nominated into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, twice in one night for his work in both the above bands.

His influence ranged from Blues, Folk & Latin Music – Diversity.  A quality that we often forget about, being diverse, we focus on what’s easy, what we are familiar with.  There is an entire world out there that we know nothing about.  Start exploring and start trying something new!

Al Kooper was in a bit of a predicament when Mike Bloomfield left him a note during Super Sessions… “Dear Alan, Couldn’t Sleep…went home…sorry.  Under the gun with half an album recorded, studio time booked and musicians ready to play..heading for the phone and leaving messages for players he knew would pre-vail.. in walked Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield had just broken up and Al Kooper knew his guitar playing was sizzling.  Signed with another label, and of course, red tape, but great minds have a way of figuring those things out.. Corporate America at it’s finest.. it’s all about the money.

Luck & Diversity…Stephen Stills availability went up to the top twenty, went gold & went into our musical history books! Stephen Stills touches others lifes through the diversity of his music, touching many genre’s and creating memories as we listen to what he has released in his career.

Step out of your known comfort zone… diversify yourself today, pick up an album, cd or something you wouldn’t normally listen to, or normally do.. it may bring a smile to your face, it may open opportunites..

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Still Fallen – Pencil Sketch from Photo

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My music tastes can pretty much go from one end of the spectrum to the other on any given day.  Just depending on the mood I am in.

I would like to introduce you to a local Chicago Band that is up & coming in the Punk/Rock Genre.  Still Fallen is comprised of – left to right – Matt, Kristy, Luke & Nick.  Recently appearing at Chicago’s Double Door.

Many bands are formed in young minds and are set up in garages across the globe, with their dedication to playing & their thirst to move forward, this is group that we may want to keep our eye on.

This is a sketch that I did of Still Fallen, which I just threw together in about an hour and a half, to give to Nick! He’s the one that sold my son the Black SG Junior for 10.00

Check out more Live Chicago Music you just never know what you will find when you step out of your current music genre !

I will also continue my Touching Others Lives Series – it’s a continued work in progress…so check back often.

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Standing the Test of Time

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Standing the test of time, is certainly what this Southern Rock band has done over the years, still with it’s same 3 piece line up.

ZZ Top rocked into my bedroom as a teenager, they have expression & durability when it comes to creating those foot stomping, roll the windows down, put it in drive and turn the dial as far up as it goes and drive.

Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill & Frank Beard have formed a unique and fantastic career.  Truly a team of individuals that have created an image.  Being offered 1 million to shave their beards, Gibbons & Hill declined.  They are who they are and their act continues to be successful.

ZZ Top did a video for Sesame Street with a muppet version of themselves singing – ZZ Blues.

Billy Gibbons appears briefly on the Television series Bones – as Angela’s Father.  An astounding musician, Billy Gibbons formed ZZ Top in 1969 and their career together, standing the test of time is approaching 40 years. My son believes Gibbons is one of the best guitarist ever, I asked him why? “He is precise and meticulous when he is playing and never makes a mistake.

I think we all make mistakes, but do we stand the test of time with such dedication to correct them?

With statistics that show, the average 1st marriage divorce rate is 50%, 2nd marriage 67% and finally the 3rd marriages 74%.  I would say, we do not stand the test of time.  We can take a lesson from the loyalty of the 3 members of ZZ Top, going into any project, relationship or job.  It’s all about the dedication, putting your best effort into any project that you are working on takes focus and it takes acts of selflessness.

Dedication to “things” is not always easy or comfortable, but to excel at anything, it’s the foundation of the end results.  We get what we put into it! Whether it’s a relationship, a band, a project or even a marriage.  If we continue to dedicate ourselves to the final outcome, success will be achieved.

This is a piece art on what I call a  recycled project.. as I paid for my Corona Light, the store was getting ready to toss out a bunch of old cigar boxes, well, wasn’t Buck happy when I paraded in the house with a stack of old boxes for him to sand and prep for some artwork to be applied.  It’s done with a 97-HB Woodless Graphite Pencil and a light coat of lacquer.  A great keepsake box for your Southern Rock – ZZ Top fan.  Contact me for details.. info at

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A name yet again that I had never heard of… Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis.  A Multi-Instrumentalist and performing professionally since the age of 12.  Having to paint on a mustache to appear older, Shuggie Otis is behind the scenes in many places that we are familiar with.

Strawberry Letter 23, a song that Otis wrote has been heard in – Six Feet Under, Jackie Brown, Nip/Tuck, Pulp Fiction and Special K Commercials.  Touching Our Lives I would say..

Strawberry Letter 23 was written about a girlfriend of Shuggies, and recorded successfully by Brothers Johnson.   His girlfriend would write letters to him on Strawberry Scented Paper.

How many of us have given up actual written script? With Email,  Social Networks, Blogs and the entire internet movement, we really take for granted touching others lives through written word.  A few months back, I did a post on a blogger – Ty Hurd I had drawn a picture of Ty to promote his online campaign to win the Top Affiliate Challenge.  He thanked me in a post on his site, a nice email and about 4 days later, I got a hand written thank you card from Ty.  I opened the envelope on my way back from the mail, and had to stop in my steps.  So many of us forget what handwritten words can do.

What can written words do for us? They can encourage, elate, impress and give us warm & fuzzies.  Have you ever listened to a song over & over? Or re-read a love letter from the past, that is now worn at the creases? I know I have, trying to understand the emotion that it brings out in us.  Love letters, they are magical.  Whether it is a love letter to a spouse, a thank you from a friend, or just a line that says “you were thought of today”.

Couples often times loose touch, loose communication with each other, forgetting why they fell in love    This reminds me of a practice my husband and I had done daily for a long while, and since stopped. I shall re-institute it starting today.. our thoughts in written word, we kept a small diary on our kitchen table, so when we sat separately with our coffee we could jot down our feelings and emotions of the day.

I pulled the diary out – as I started writing this post

It was a bad winter, and my husband works for a local municipality and ends up out all hours of the night plowing, a thankless job truly.  He had been but a shadow for a week straight, and on the eve of his last night of call, I left him this – a very simple note:

Sorry you had such a rough and long week on call..soon it will be over”

His response – “Thank you for loving me so much, I can’t wait til it’s over and I can see you

Small & Simple affirmations of love.  Within the diary he even put a small note to my son – He said.. “Jake – remember to try something new today.  Have a nice day, smile alot and remember, I love you both.”

The song that you here playing in this post is, Bury My Body this is Al Kooper with Shuggie Otis on Guitar at the age of 15, a talent that has been amazingly overlooked, a talent that has Touched Our Lives without our knowledge.. Enjoy…


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Even through bad times, we have to realize that we touch others lives when we don’t even realize it.  We may have an issue with a friend, co-worker or family member, remember, it’s just that an issue.  It’s not necessarily the person as a whole.. it’s the action that spurred us to become upset, angry or sad.  It’s tough sometimes to find a place to put that emotion.  If we realize though that we are responsible for our reactions and actions, that emotional bump in the road can be crossed.

Bob Dylan’s songs became anthems for Civil Rights Movements, he is a songwriter, singer, author, poet & painter, talk about artistic juices flowing and coursing through one’s veins.

Al Kooper was invited to sit in on a Dylan Session back in 1965, with the experience of session work he had done in the past, he felt quite comfortable playing and I can only imagine in his mind the night before that he was reeling with excitement at the chance.   He arrived early to this gig, so he could set himself up comfortably and not feel to out of place when Dylan arrived like a spinning tornado through the door with an “bizarre-looking” guy – that would have been Mike Bloomfield.   After hearing a few licks from Bloomfield, Kooper unplugged and scurried off to the control room.  Thinking a dream had been shattered!

With an empty seat at Organ, Kooper decided to jump at the chance, albeit in his mind the night before, he was playing guitar, and not being as comfortable playing the organ, he saw an opportunity, dream achieved in a round about way. Lesson to be learned, don’t be afraid to take chances.  Pages 35-36 in Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards absolutely worth the read!

Years later, there was an issue with Dylan and Kooper, regarding credits on a project, Kooper walked away, and apparently decided it was not worth the destruction of a friendship. Not having spoke to Dylan for many years, Kooper was called to sit in on yet another project… somehow Kooper touched Dylan’s life, his music and his ability must have been engrained somewhere on Dylan’s soul..

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Boring or Quirky – I have been Tagged

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Carol over at She-Lives tagged me yesterday and I didn’t even know it.. I gather I am supposed to tell you six boring or quirky things about me… and then in turn tag some other good folks to continue the circle.

1. I talk to my mother every day – sometimes 3-4 times

2. I thought school was a social event – no time for studies, but passed with extra credits

3. I wanted nothing to do with typing – EVER – until mom made me go back to school and learn, now I type over 90-120 words a minute.

4.  I have a total obsession with Stevie Ray Vaughan – I am sure you would never have guessed that one

5. I could never pick up a snake

6. I used to be wild & crazy and loved the Bad Boys – which still – Long Hair, Rockin’ 80’s, if I could I’d be  groupie!  Yeah.. that’s me below this line………………………………………….. on my way to Laughlin Nevada with some friends.. I ended up getting kicked out of the casino – cuz I was under-AGE.. THE HORROR

With the fact that Quirky is in the title of the facts we must tell, I so all over Quirky Jessi – who I met at bloggeries forum – I’d truly love to get some answers out of Crochety Old Man, Mandy and I’ll throw this out there for Frank – because if I didn’t he would Paddle My Balls – Oh.. I don’t have any!!!.

Categories : Award, Blogging, Thoughts
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Touching Others Lives Part 3

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Mike Bloomfield, Chicago Born musician, composer & guitarist,  took chances, at 14 he was not afraid to follow his thirst for musical talent that he could learn by, become part of and enjoy.  He also took the chance when he decided that heroin should course through his body.

Bloomfield played with many of his musical mentors throughout his career.  At the young age of 14, in search of teachers and talents,  he was not afraid to walk into the smoke filled blues bars on the south side of Chicago.  Knowing music was in his blood, he helped revive Classic Chicago Blues and other styles in the late 60’s.

From the pages of Mike Bloomfields Website: Bloomfield was quickly accepted on the South Side, as much for his ability as for the audiences’ appreciation of the novelty of seeing a young white player in a part of town where few whites were seen. Bloomfield soon discovered a group of like-minded outcasts. Young white players such as Paul Butterfield, Nick Gravenites, Charlie Musselwhite, and Elvin Bishop were also establishing themselves as fans who could hold their own with established bluesmen, many of whom were old enough to be their fathers.

In addition to playing with the established stars of the day, Bloomfield began to search out older, forgotten bluesmen, playing and recording with Sleepy John Estes, Yank Rachell, Little Brother Montgomery and Big Joe Williams, among others. By this time he was managing a Chicago folk music club, the Fickle Pickle, and often hired older acoustic blues players for the Tuesday night blues sessions. Big Joe Williams memorialized those times in the song “Pick A Pickle” with the line “You know Mike Bloomfield…will always treat you right…come to the Pickle, every Tuesday night.” Bloomfield’s relationship with Big Joe Williams is documented in “Me And Big Joe,” a moving short story detailing Bloomfield’s adventures on the road with Williams.

I believe one of the reasons that Mike Bloomfield touched the life of Al Kooper are in the similarities in the lives .  Both being Jewish, raised in big cities and having overwhelming passion for music was part of what was behind the success Super Sessions in 1968.  Bloomfield plays on side one of Super Sessions and it did push him back into the spot light – but his missing in action antics prompted Kooper to have Steven Stills sit in on side two, drugs and insomnia enveloped Mike Bloomfield, truly a part of music scene, known well to many past musicians.
It was this chance that Bloomfield took that ended his life, with a stunning career playing with greats such as Paul Butterfield Blues Band, backing up Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Al Kooper, just to name a few.
27 years has passed since his death, this is yet again, another musician, person, friend that touched many lives, and still continues to do so…..His brother wrote:

To know that my brother’s life has affected so many is very gratifying. Although Michael has been gone for many years, his presence is still perceptible, his energy continues to burn so brightly. How amazing is that? I welcome you to post any questions you may have wondered about regarding Michael and I will do my utmost to answer them.

Allen Bloomfield, January 2003


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