Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pheaturing Buddy Whittington

Hey, kids, welcome back to the Phile. How are you? So, it's a good thing the SOPA bill wasn't passed, otherwise the Phile would look like this...

That might not actually be a bad thing. So, I was wondering what  U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith, the man behind SOPA looked like, so I looked him up. This kinda explains everything.

Okay, this is weird. Blogger just crashed for a minute as I was trying to post that pic. Creepy. Anyway, I'd had a bunch of politicians on the Phile, but I'd love to get this guy. Let's move on before Blogger crashes again.  It's been a tough week for Jon Huntsman. In addition to dropping out of the race, earlier this week he found out he was not really a Kardashian.  Did you see that new show on TV called "Alcatraz"? I DVRed it and watched it last night. It is so good. From 1934 to 1963, the biggest criminals in America ended up on Alcatraz. Nowadays they end up on Wall Street. The most famous Alcatraz inmates are probably Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. But I think Machine Gun Kelly was destined for a life of crime.  So, I want to host the Miss America show. Right now, the hosts stand there and pretends the girls are making sense. I wouldn't do that. I will only ask ridiculous questions like, “Miss Tennessee, the hippopotamus is said to be the most dangerous animal in the world. If one got into your hair, how would you kill it?” It makes sense that we have a dumb Miss America, right? We're kind of dumb as a country. And we're also overweight. So, if we really want a Miss America to represent us, she should be fat, too.  This just in, Jon Huntsman returned to his former job as the guy in the picture that comes with the frame.  Yahoo’s original founder resigned. If you want to know more about this situation, Google it.  The first couple of episodes of "American Idol" are usually the highest rated of the season. Because there is something magical about watching people with dreams beyond their talent going on national TV and having those dreams crushed. I doubt "American Idol" will ever be successful in manufacturing pop stars. Americans like getting their pop stars the old-fashioned way: from the Disney Channel. After all these years and with all the copycat shows, "American Idol" is still the only show on TV that has the power to catapult a young singer from obscurity to fame and then back to obscurity again, almost immediately.  The second night on "American Idol," the show lost 18 percent of its total viewers and 26 percent of its younger viewers. Of those who did tune in, more than half were just checking to see if Steven Tyler is still alive.  Burger King has announced they're trying out a new home delivery service at select restaurants. I've been trying to get a reservation at Burger King for weeks. Phase two is what they're calling the “Whopper Cannon.” It pairs with the GPS on your phone, to find the exact location of your mouth and fires Whopper after Whopper into your mouth.  A few days ago President Obama visited the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I was hoping he would come and ride Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios but he didn't. Anyway, President Obama he unveiled his new plan to create jobs. He was joined by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse but not Goofy. He had to stay behind to tend to his vice presidential duties. You know why President Obama chose Disney World? It was the only place with longer lines than the unemployment office, so it looks better. Actually, something happened to the park after he left Main Street. Take a look.

Everybody is talking about Obama visiting Disney World, but the same day he went and did a speech at Universal, and really go into it. Here's proof, kids.

Tonight the Giants are playing the 49er's to see who will make it to the Super Bowl. What a stupid name for a team... 49er's. How about the 69er's? Alright, now for some sad news.

Etta James
Jan 25, 1938 - Jan 20, 2012
I know what you're expecting me to write here, but guess what: no go. It's just too easy, and besides, she kicked her drug habit 20+ years ago, and only got sick about a year ago. So now will you leave me alone about it - At Last?
Johnny Otis
Dec 28, 1921 - Jan 17, 2012
Wikipedia says, "In 1969 he recorded an album of sexually explicit material under the name 'Snatch and the Poontangs'." That's good enough for me.

Okay, kids, this week Mitt Romney is gonna reveal his tax returns, so I thought I would invite someone to the Phile to tell us what to expect. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee... Brad Woodhouse.

Me: Hello, sir, so, it's a long-held political tradition for presidential candidates to release their tax returns, right?

Brad: Yes, Jason, and this week, the drumbeat for Mitt Romney to release his returns has steadily grown louder. 

Me: I thought he wasn't gonan release them.

Brad: First he said he wouldn't release them. Then he said he would, after this year's tax season. And when asked at Thursday's debate if he'd follow precedent and release more than one year's worth, the best answer he could muster was an awkward "maybe."

Me: Maybe?

Brad: He hasn't released his tax returns yet, but we do know some things already, and they're pretty outrageous.

Me: What do we know? 

Brad: Check out the five things everyone should know about Mitt's taxes. 
5. Mitt's got millions invested in the Cayman Islands
4. Mitt pays a tax rate lower than most middle-class Americans even though Mitt's worth as much as $250 million. 
3. Under Mitt's own tax plan, he'd pay half of what he'd pay otherwise.
2. Mitt jokes he's "unemployed," but he's still making millions a year off investments.
And the final thing we should know about Mitt's taxes...
1. Mitt made over $300,000 in speaking fees last year, but called it "not that much".

Me: Nice, your own top 5 list. So, does every GOP presidental nominee release their tax returns?

Brad: Every GOP presidential nominee for the past 40 years has released their tax returns. Even some of Mitt's biggest supporters, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, have called on him to level with voters on this issue.

Me: So why is Mitt so shy?

Brad: Perhaps it's because he stores part of his money in the Cayman Islands, a "notorious Caribbean tax haven." Or because even with a net worth of as much as $250 million, he manages to pay a lower tax rate than most middle-class Americans. Maybe it's that when he says he's "unemployed, too," he forgets to tell you he's been making millions off his Bain investments at the same time.

Me: Well, thanks so much for filling us in, Chairman Woodhouse. Thanks again, sir.

Brad: You're welcome. We think voters should know the whole story.

The 10th artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Thomas "Teeg" Ketchen and this is one of his pieces.

Teeg will be a guest on the Phile this coming Wednesday.

Today's guest is an American blues guitarist. He was a past member of the band Point Blank. He has a new album available on Amazon and iTunes called "Six String Svengali". He will be next appearing at Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine, Texas on January 28th. Please welcome to the Phile, the great... Buddy Whittington.

Me: Hello, Buddy, welcome to the Phile, sir, how are you?

Buddy: Hi Jason, so far so good!

Me: You're originally from Texas, right? What part? Do you still live there?

Buddy: Yep, born in Fort Worth, and grew up in Richland Hills and Hurst, kinda between Fort Worth and Dallas. But I claim Fort Worth!

Me: I am guessing you grew up listening to ZZ Top records, am I right?

Buddy: Wore the grooves plumb off of 'em. Saw ZZ in '72 for the first time for $2.50, all three of those guys made a big impression on a 16 year old! You know, guys of my vintage are 'pre-SRV', and we all listened and learned from ZZ, but that doesn't mean Stevie didn't figger in the equation too!

Me: Who else did you listen to growing up? You are an amzing blues guitarist so I am guessing you did a lot of listening to the blues as well.

Buddy: In those days you could see Freddie King hangin' and sittin' in with Bugs Henderson and John Nitzinger at Mother Blue's in Dallas, B.B. and Bobby Bland came through town regularly, Ray Sharpe of "Linda Lou" fame lived right here in Cowtown, Jimmy Reed was on the radio, quite a bit of blues being played in the area if a young man was of a mind to seek it out.
Played in a lotta cover bands, plenty of Foghat AND Savoy Brown tunes! I just played a gig in Oswego, New York at SUNY for my good buddy Rick Balestra, and Kim Simmonds stopped by and played a couple with us, always great seeing Kim, we played together a lot in my Bluesbreakers days. Funny Story: I was playing a restaurant gig a while back, and a little kid comes up and says, "Excuse me, sir. Do you know "Slow Ride"? I said, "Yeah! But how do YOU know it?" Kid sez, "From GUITAR HERO!" Cracked me up. Also played a lotta country music comin' up, pretty much have to know some country tunes to play in Cowtown! Listened to Roy Nichols with Merle haggard a lot, wish it had rubbed off on me a litle better! Eldon Shamblin with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys pretty much invented Western Swing rhythm guitar, I'm still workin' on some of that. And if you've never heard of Phil Baugh, go to Youtube and check out "Country Guitar" it'll change your way o' thinkin'. Same with Leon Rhodes and Buddy Charlton with Ernest Tubb, they wrote and played some incredible instrumental tunes such as "The Rhodes-Bud Boogie". It's all on Youtube, that vast portal of knowledge! ;^)

Me: Great story. By the way, I have a pic of you and Kim jamming. Check it out.

Me: How old were you when you first started to play guitar?

Buddy: I was 8 years old, had a plywood 'Stella' branded as 'Catalina' from a local auto parts store called White's that was an offshoot of the old Western Auto chain. Who ever heard of buying a guitar from a music store back then? Got my strings and picks at the drug store! My big sister had brought home The Beatles and The Stones, and some John Mayall records too, ironically! And, of course, all the local country music TV shows like "Cowtown Jamboree" and "Big 'D' Jamboree" exposed all the players in our area to some cool guitar playing.

Me: Do you remember what the first song you ever played was?

Buddy: Probably the rhythm part to "Honky Tonk" by Bill Doggett, featuring Billy Butler on guitar. Followed closely by "House Of The Rising Sun" by the Animals. I asked Hilton Valentine, guitarist of The Animals once what it felt like to be the guy that spawned so many young would-be guitar maulers! Then came The Ventures, LOVED 'em, still do!

Me: Did you take guitar lessons, or teach yourself?

Buddy: I just kept foolin' around with it 'til it began to 'soak in', mostly. There were a coupla guys in the neighborhood that would show you a chord or a lick, but you usually had to wait until about 3 pm when they woke up to get a lesson' from 'em, they'd been out pickin' all night, you know, and didn't get up 'til the crack o' noon!

Me: My 12 year old son is learning to play guitar, Buddy, through lessons, but he did teach himself to play "Slow Ride". Do you find it easier picking up songs yourself?

Buddy: Well there ya go! ;^) It was always pretty easy for me to figure tunes and licks out, but after a long while when you've kinda gone as far as you can on your own, its beneficial to learn something from somebody that might be a little more well-versed in other areas of music, just to keep yourself interested. it may not prove to be your life's work, but something that you work hard at learning, as opposed to just picking out tunes from a record or the radio. I'll tellya, there are some real musicians, as opposed to guitar players, around here that can really change your course, for better or worse! Guys like Tommy Nash, Bill Ham, Gary Brunner, Clint Strong, Johnny Rose, I've tried to steal a little bit from all of 'em, but I'm still working at it and learning.

Me: You used to be in the band Point Blank which I mentioned in the intro. That band is still together, are you still playing with them?

Buddy: I have known those guys for years, they were managed by ZZ Top's manager Bill Ham (not the afore-mentioned guitar player Bill Ham, this guy was a record promo guy from Waxahachie, Texas that parlayed ZZ Top into an international, worldwide concern). Rusty Burns grew up in the next town over from me, Euless TX, he's a coupla years older than me and I didn't become aware of him until I saw him opening for ZZ in the 70's, then I became VERY aware of him! Most of the other Point Blankers were from Irving, Texas, the next town over from Rusty, and John O'Daniel the original singer is from Waxahachie. Kim Davis was the other half of the double guitar assault of Point Blank, just a great player and singer. Kim's gone now, and Phillip Petty the original bass player too, rest their souls. Wonderful guys, they made some great records and made a lot of people feel good with their music.

Me: They recently had a new album out called "Fight On!". Are you on that album? If not, did you listen to it?

Buddy: I was already out of the picture when "Fight On!" came out. My buddy Mouse Mayes has been playing with Point Blank since I started recording and playing my original tunes on the road, in addition to doing some gigs with me. I have heard some selections from "Fight On!", but not the whole project, they still sound great, Rusty and Mouse are a formidable guitar duo, I don't know how they play those diminished scales that dang fast!

Me: How did you first get to be in the band, sir? You replaced guitarist Kim Davis who passed away like you said. Did you audition for the part?

Buddy: Well, I had known all those guys for quite a while, I didn't really audition, but we rehearsed like crazy to learn all the arrangements of the early P.B. tunes so we could play a benefit for Preston Green, an early Point Blank crew member that needed some serious surgery. The benefit was recorded live and became the first of the two newest Point Blank albums, "Reloaded". We did a couple of weeks in Europe, with gigs in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France, had a great time with those guys.

Me: In the day Point Blank did shows with Foghat, so I am wondering if you ever met my dad, or did shows with him.

Buddy: I only wish I'd been around those guys at that time! That was an exciting era in music, and I don't think its possible that times will ever be quite like that again. I never met Lonesome Dave, but I do know Kim Simmonds a little bit from touring with John Mayall.

Me: Point Blank are mostly known for their hit "Nicole". Did you play on that recording? I know you must've played that song a million times. Do you know who Nicole is?

Buddy: No, that was way before my time, but I have played it with P.B. quite a lot. Bubba Keith, the second singer with Point Blank, told me that he used to sing "Ohhhh, Nicole--My Sweet Nicole" to his daughter when she was little, and it just went from there. Great tune, pretty much a regional hit for P.B. The guitars sound great on that record!

Me: We mentioned you played with personal friend and Phile Alumni Kim Simmonds. What was that experience like? Kim's really cool, isn't he? 

Buddy: It's great when you get to meet and play music with one of your early influences, and its even greater when they turn out to be a quality human being! I love Kim, and I hope I get to play a little more with him. I still play "Tell Mama" nearly every gig, only I do it in 'A' and Kim does it in 'G'. I love his story about buying a First Act guitar at Wal-Mart for $89 bucks to play slide on, and one of his fans told him, "You know, you can get it at Sam's for $78!" Too funny.

Me: You are also in a legendary band... John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. How did you get that gig?

Buddy: Welllll, I was in a legendary band for about 15 years! I was in a band around Fort Worth and Dallas called The Sidemen for about 8 years, we played a lot at the now-defunct Dallas Alley complex in the West End Marketplace. The general manager there was a guy that used to book us some named Jerry Thompson, who now runs Promoter Line. Jerry thought The Sidemen would be a good opener for a big outdoor Mayall show he had coming up in about '91. John was setting his keyboard rig up while we were playing our last tune and he asked me for my contact info, saying he didn't have a record deal at the time, but when he got something together would I be interested in coming out to LA and play on a couple of tracks? So I left John our cassette (it was that far back!) It was about two years later, about September of '93 when I went to work as a Bluesbreaker, when Coco Montoya left to persue his solo run. John let us all go in '08, claiming retirement, but you know he ain't gonna retire as long as he can walk onstage and blow a harp! So he hired my good buddy Rocky Athas, who I introduced him to at a gig we did together in Dallas, and they played 4 tours of Europe last year, he's showing no sign of slowing down at 78, so Mopar to him.

Me: My dad was friends with Mayall and told the story how he went to his house which had a huge fireplace that covered up a whole wall. Have you ever been in that house?

Buddy: That would have been the old house on Grandview Drive up in Laurel Canyon that burned to the ground. That place was apparently legendary for all kinds of debauchery, probably better in the long run for me that it was before my time! John once tore his leg all to pieces jumping out of an upstairs bedroom window into the pool, well almost. Never was at that one, but the first night I ever spent in LA was at the new house they built right next door to the old one. Sure beat stayin' at Motel 6! And the night after I left for the airport, the big Northridge earthquake hit and did quite a bit of damage, a big TV set landed right in the middle of the bed I'd been sleeping in a few hours before, and there was a water leak that ran in the house for a day or so before one of the neighbors finally cut the water main off.

Me: Who else was in that band with you, sir?

Buddy: When I started, Rick Cortes was on bass and Joe Yuele was the drummer, Joe was in there for 24 years! Then we had a succession of bass players that came and went, John Paulus, who is also a great guitar player, was there for a number of years, then Greg Boaz, then Greg Rzab, who is back in the band now, and finally Hank van Sickle, who was there for about 9 years. We all stayed as long as we could!

Me: As well as working with other people, you have released a few solo albums, all which I purchased off from iTunes. You worked with another legend named Roger Cotton, who produced a British blues soul singer named Paul Cox, who will be guest on the Phile in a few weeks. Are you aware of Paul's work?

Buddy: Yep, Coxey always drops in on us when he has a night off and sings a couple, he's a great singer and a funny guy! He's currently working some with a good young guitar player from France named Charlie Fabert, and our buddy harpist/guitarist/singer Alan Glen, guests with Paul's band too. I met Roger Cotton (keys) and Pete Stroud (bass) when they were both working with Peter Green's Splinter Group, we toured together all over the place and had a great time, said someday we'd all get together and play some music, which happened sooner than later when we all got fired! Then Darby Todd (drums) came onboard after a stint with Justin Hawkins' (ex- "The Darkness") Hot Leg.

Me: Let's talk about your latest CD "Six String Svengali" which I love, sir. That's my favorite album I downloaded this year so far. There's a song on it called "Six String Romance". Is that kinda where the album name came from?

Buddy: Well, I had to have something to rhyme with 'Mohammed Ali' on the song "Deadwood and Wire", you see. ;^) And if you'll look at the artwork (IS there artwork on a download? Heck if I know!) You'll see the character Svengarlic from "The Three Stooges in Flagpole Jitters", just funny stuff I used to see on Slam Bang Theater with Icky Twerp here in the D/FW area every morning on TV before I left for school, it scarred me for life! I wrote "Six String Romance" when I was about 21, and figgered it kinda fit in with the rest of the tunes on "Svengali", so I changed up the lyrics a little bit and recorded it again.

Me: Did you write all the songs on the album, Buddy?

Buddy: Yep, I've had a lot of the ideas clangin' around in my head for years, and I just figgered it was time to finish 'em and get 'em recorded. Couldn't have finished it without Wayne Six on bass, and Mike Gage on drums, production and engineering, these guys plus Mouse Mayes (guitar and vocals) round out the band we have here in the States, and I play with Roger, Pete and Darby in the UK and Europe. ALL top notch players and great guys to work with.

Me: You have a great voice as well as play a great guitar. What do you prefer, singing or guitar playing?

Buddy: Thanks, I started trying to sing because no one else in the band would when I was a kid! My sister, who is a very good singer, always said I was pretty good on guitar but I would never make a singer ;^) I like to play AND sing, its just part of what I do. Mouse Mayes is the best singer in any of our bands, and helps me out a great deal onstage taking some of the load off, he has a ridiculous range and stays on pitch, and does all this while playing great guitar.

Me: I have to ask you about the song "For Crystal Beach"... who is Crystal Beach?

Buddy: HA! Well, more like a what than a who. Crystal Beach is a town down on the Texas Coast on the Bolivar Peninsula where we used to take our kids and all the aunts, uncles, nephews, grandpaws and grandmaws for a couple of weeks every summer for a little vacation on the beach. It was pretty much decimated by Hurricane Ike a few years back and is slowly coming back to life as it once was, That little tune just sounded to me like something that would be nice to listen to in the early morning walking on the beach. The working title was "A Flat Tire" since the tune is in the key of A Flat, (and 'G Sharp Tire' wouldn't have worked either) so I went with "For Crystal Beach" as a tribute to all those tough Texans down there rebuilding the place. Their slogan is 'Bring Back Bolivar!'

Me: Buddy, it's a huge honor to have you here, I am a big fan and I hope to see you in concert here in Orlando soon. Go ahead and mention your website, sir.

Buddy: is the website, we're also on Facebook in several places, you can order CD's directly from us at the website if you're in the US or Canada, they're also available most places online maybe for a buck or two less on Amazon, but we'll autograph 'em for you if you'd like and ship 'em to you from Texas for a coupla bucks more ;^). The label's website in the UK is for everybody outside the US/Canada.

Me: Please come back when your next album comes out, and if you run into Mayall again see if he would like to be featured on the Phile. I had a few blues legends on here already. Take care, continued success and bring your family to Disney! We'll hang out.

Buddy: Well, thanks Jason, we're doing good just to get to Sonic today but I'll keep Orlando in mind ;^) Played Pleasure Island at Disney once with The Bluesbreakers and Euro Disney in France with Point Blank, and we used to hang out with our family a little bit in Destin, Fla a little bit too, lotta Texans relaxin' over there.

Me: Thanks again, Buddy. 

Well, that about finishes another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Communications Director Brad Woodhouse and of course Buddy Whittington. The Phile will be back tomorrow with musician Ian Narcisi and a brand new Phile character. Then on Wednesday it's artist Thomas "Teeg" Ketchen. Next Sunday it's singer, songwriter Kyle Carey and on Monday it's also singer, songwriter Charity Chapman. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Go GIANTS!

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