English Dutch French German Italian Japanese Polish Portuguese Russian Spanish
English Dutch French German Italian Japanese Polish Portuguese Russian Spanish
NEW CD!
Tracking Down The Wolf
1/10
00:00/00:00

NEW CD!

home

New Video

 

An inspirational tribute to honour ones hero, Tracking Down the Wolf truly brings out the "Delta to Chicago"
sound in Fred Sampson's latest effort, paying homage to the late Howlin Wolf.
A great album to keep the blues alive!

Dave Steen

Music Director/Afternoon Drive announcer
CJSD Rock 94
Thunder Bay, ON
Canada

________________________________________________________

Absolutely stunning Fred. Beyond beyond!! Will be featuring it on upcoming World One shows
(they run everyday 6am, noon & midnight www.worldoneradio.org) asap.

Gracias for the upful howls.
Man oh man!

Doug Wendt

 WorldOneRadio.org
________________________________________________________

Highly Recommended!

Lucy Pillar

All Right Now Paul - Rodgers Fan club

 

News

This Tuesday, June 7th at 4 pm PST, Radio 98.5 FM Garage a Go Go will examine the influence of international artists on Colombian Rock in the era of the 1960's gogo/yeye. Artists from Mexico, Argentina , Bolivia, Spain, Italy, and the United States will be interviewed. Yours truly will be among them - Don't miss it!
GO HERE

The One World Radio Station www.worldoneradio.org

will be featuring 'Tracking Down the Wolf' on their upcoming World One shows, hosted by Doug Wendt. Tracks from the CD will be presented everyday at 6 a.m., Noon and Midnight shows PST!

Very Exiting News! Thank you Doug!
 

Laying down new tracks at the studio.

Gathering my memories and thoughts to write stories and events from the past

Jamming with local musicians

Stories

 

Beginnings

         I was first inspired to do this project from hearing the Paul Rodgers’ CD ‘Muddy Water Blues’. I thought it was so slick of him to write a theme track with which to bookend all the blues covers [and make a bit of that songwriting/publishing money in the process]. You can tell that Paul had lived with those classic songs long enough to be able to re interpret them and make them his own. He succeeded wonderfully. I remember thinking then that this was THE blueprint for a ‘blues tribute’ type project. I did some due diligence on the internet and found that, while there were a few such albums, none were titled ‘Tracking Down The Wolf’. I was good to go.

“Where the Soul of Man Never Dies”

          The idea for the title track came to me while I was touring in Florida. I sang the chorus melody into my cell phone while watching iguanas sun themselves by a canal in Boca Raton. The arrangement lent itself perfectly to open G (Sebastopol) tuning on the guitar. I found the lyric “where the soul of man never dies” online at wikipedia.com. Sam Philips, Howlin’ Wolf’s first record producer, is quoted as saying: “When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, this is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies’’. Perfect. Thank you, Mr. Phillips!

Tracking Down a Song

         The verses of TDTW were written with my great friend and musical partner Jeff Poppinga while we were driving to a show in Northern California. Jeff had never heard of Howlin’ Wolf, so I explained to him a bit of his back story and about some of the traditional blues mythologies. Half hour later we had it done — two verses and a dandy two line bridge. Now that’s songwriting! Thank you Jeff. We did a quickie demo that night after the gig and I was off and running.

Plan A-Plan B

         The first plan for producing this project was with a big budget investor and a famous blues rock singer all neatly lined up. Then, the money went away, and just as quickly, so did the singer. So, in typical indie fashion I said, “I’ll do it myself”. And I’m so glad I did. What a journey I would have missed if I hadn’t. Thank you guys.

Blues 101

          I’ve know that there are a lot folks who have never heard of Howlin’ Wolf. So, in selecting which songs to include in this collection, I decided to use only the most popular standards in the Wolf catalog.To reinvent these classics yet again in fresh and creative ways was quite challenge. But a challenge that I couldn’t resist.

Help From My Heroes

          But rather than completely reinventing each song from scratch, I had some of my all-time musical heroes guiding me along the way. 'Tracking Down the Wolf’ mixes the Rolling Sones with a bit of Leon Russell. Billy Boy Arnolds' ‘Come Back Baby’ inspired ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’.

’Going Down Slow’ was influenced by the late great Bobby Womack’s ‘Nobody Wants You’. The incredible Little Willie Johns’ original version of ‘Fever’ informed ‘Spoonful’.

‘Smoke Stack Lightning’ has my guitar quoting classic Humbert Sumlin and early Eric Clapton licks. I approached ‘Sitting On Top Of the World’ by using some of the more obscure verses from the Mississippi Sheiks version of the 1930s, and the chorus melody from rock-a-billy king Carl Perkins. And, I definitely had Charlie Patton’s ‘Shake it - Don’t Break It’ on my mind when I cut ‘Killing Floor’. Albert King’s ‘Cross Cut Saw’ lead me to find my own way to ‘Evil [is going on]’. 

 And finally, ’Wang Dang Doodle’ was given the complete John Lee Hooker treatment, abet in cut time boogie shuffle. If you get a moment, please check out all these incredible artists.

Help From My Friends

        And I had a lot of help from my fabulous musician friends as well. David Clark came in to play all those funky and melodic bass lines you hear. Omar Martinez spent a lot of time with me tracking drums, percussion and all those amazing backing vocal parts. Mark Ishikawa played the perfect piano part on TDTW, and tasty organ parts on ‘Back Door Man’ and 'Sitting On Top Of The World’. And my long time friend Jack Jacobsen tracked the burning Hammond organ you hear on ‘Smoke Stack Lightning’. Super talented musician/artist Ben Reno laid in the grooving percussion on ‘Spoonful’. Thank you all!

           As songwriters, we tend to get inspiration at odd hours. Generally, it comes when our conscious minds are performing other tasks, such as sleeping or driving (!). Whatever the circumstances, it’s our sworn duty to respond or risk losing a precious gift from the song gods.
           Sometime in 1988, I woke up with a song in my head. I stumbled into my spare bedroom/recording studio and turned on my humble Fostex 4-track cassette recorder. I plugged in a guitar and a mic and within a few minutes had the basic melody and arrangement captured. I hastily wrote down the lyric for two verses and a chorus. The song was called ‘End of The Waiting”. Over the next few weeks I refined the song structure and made a few rough demos with an MXR drum machine and a few guitar and vocal overdubs recorded thru a Rockman headphone amp. I had the Rockman because, at the time, I was working for Tom Scholz and his company SR&D/Rockman, as his VP of Sales.


           Anyway, my life long friend Gary Pihl (Sammy Hagar, Boston, Alliance, Color 3, All 41) was looking for songs to cut with a female singer he was producing at the time. I sent me over a rough demo of ‘End of The Waiting”. He liked it and cut his own (much better) demo in his home studio using his state of the art Fostex E-16 recorder. By then, the girl singer project was over, so Gary used his friend Charlie Farren (Joe Perry Project, Farrenheit, Solo) to handle the lead vocal duties. Gary made some major improvements in the arrangement, including one of his trademark soaring guitar solos and he and Charlie tracked the song. When it was done Gary shared a cassette mix that same evening with his boss and mine, Tom Scholz. That gesture wasn’t meant to be anything more than just friends and musicians sharing their work with each other. That cassette could still be sitting there gathering dust on the meter bridge of Toms’ studio if he hadn’t been nudged by fate to pick it up later that evening and give it a listen.
          The next afternoon at the offices of SR&D, a fax came through from Tom to Gary. In it Tom described how much he liked the song and how he wanted it on the next Boston record. Tom didn’t like the chorus but said he had one of his own that might fit. He certainly did. That next Boston album became 1994’s ‘Walk On’ and the song was called ‘I Need Your Love’. The song became the lead single from Walk On, and the first single by the group to feature Fran Cosmo on lead vocals. It was certified platinum by the RIAA on September 8, 1994.


        I had to wait four years like everyone else to hear how the song turned out. It was a very difficult wait indeed, but so worth it!. As you may know, Boston albums are never released until they're perfect. I remember clearly when I first heard it on the San Francisco classic rock FM radio station KFRC. I was floored. Simply put, Tom had truly outdone himself. An incredible production job, even by his standards. The song has since found it’s way around the world and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.

 

           Jimmy Dewar (1942-2002) possessed one of the sweetest and most soulful voices in all of rock’n roll.  Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1942, Jimmy’s career started with Lulu and The Luvvers in the early 1960s, graduating to vocals and bass in Stone The Crows with Maggie Bell, and ultimately to fronting the Robin Trower Band in 1973. Jimmy’s vocal prowess can be heard on such legendary RTB tracks as “Daydream”, Bridge Of Sighs”, “I Can’t Wait Much Longer”, “Too Rolling Stoned”, Hannah”, “Long Misty Days”.  


 

          In 1986, Jimmy traveled to Northern California with the possibility of restarting his solo career after leaving the Robin Trower Band. He recorded a song called “Word For Word”, written by two San Francisco songwriters - Janet Minto (the famous “Janet Planet” - the former Mrs. Van Morrison), and Pam Barlow (married to Bruce “Buffalo” Barlow from Commander Cody). It was produced and recorded by John Rewind, a Bay Area producer and old friend of Jimmy’s from his RTB days.  After the session was completed, Jimmy, who was having some health problems, returned to his family in Glasgow. The session was shelved and forgotten.

            Fast forward to January 2015.  John was taking inventory in his studio tape vault and noticed an unmarked box of 1” tape.  Curious, he threaded up the tape. After one listen, he realized what he had and it all came rushing back to him. There was no doubt that Jimmys’ vocal performance on the track was inspired, but the music needed some serious updating. After all, it had been intended to be only a demo and needed to be brought up to master quality.  


 

             John Rewind called me and told me about his find. We're both Dewar fanatics and the chance to work on a song of his was a dream come true. John transferred the tracks to digital, and after a lot of listening and editing, I completely rearranged the song.  Great care was taken to enhance and polish Jimmie’s vocal. I recorded fresh guitars, keyboards and backing vocals, and my good friend David Clark came in to play the rock solid bass line. Hearing Jimmie's soulful voice coming at me over my studio monitors everyday was such a thrill, that I was truly sorry when the project finally came to an end

             The finished track was then mastered by Paul Stubblebine, from the San Francisco Bay Area,. Paul is one of the premier mastering engineers in the world, and one of the owners of The Tape Project, a boutique music company that releases many of the great recordings of history on two-track reel to reel tape.

              The result is a modern/classic track that, though originally recorded in 1986 and lost for 29 years, Has been restored, and released for all his fans to enjoy. A true labor of love. .

 

Listen and download here: 

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesdewar

For more about Jimmy go to: 

http://www.jimmydewar.com
 

I was there.

           The venue was the newly constructed Spectrum Sports Area in Philadelphia PA. On April 12, 1969, The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed an 8:00 PM show with support from Noel Redding's band, Fat Mattress. More than 14,000 people attended. The Experience's set included: Fire, Red House, Foxey Lady, I Don't Live Today, Hear My Train A Comin’, Stone Free, Star Spangled Banner, Purple Haze, and Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
           Jimi and band were set up on a rotating stage in the middle of the indoor basketball arena. The sound system consisted of four Sunn coliseum PA columns. Jimi was plugged into three Marshall stacks, though only two where on. Noel Redding had Sunn cabs and heads stacked haphazardly behind him for his bass rig. They played to a non stop screaming riot of fans. All the hits. I clearly remember how he had the knack of speaking to the crowd and having it sound like he was addressing each one personally. And his stage banter was just hip talk BS nonsense, but when he said it, it sounded so damn cool. This was my first brush with powerful personal charisma. Man, did he have It. At one point, Jimi did a mind blowing shoulder roll across the front of the stage in the middle of a guitar solo. He landed back up on his feet and never missing a lick. He was a showman like no other. You couldn’t take your eyes off him for a second.
           At the end of the show, the Philly police formed a cordon between the front of the stage and the locker rooms that served as the bands dressing rooms. Jimi was bounced back and forth in this gauntlet like a rag doll. Everyone in the crowd was trying to reach out to him and touch him. I happened to be right above the entrance to the locker rooms on the second tier and made eye contact with him as he was swept by. He looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes. He looked utterly exhausted; thin and frail. A year and a half later he was dead.
           Thinking about this show now, my takeaway is this: can you imaging an artist of Jimi's talent and stature being treated so cavalierly today? The world certainly has turned since Jimi left us.
           Years later, in Frankfurt Germany, I got the chance to thank Noel for giving me such a life altering show. He was so gracious. Wish I could have done the same with Jimi and Mitch.

       Chuck Berry invented rock and roll. Just ask the Beatles, The Rolling Stones or The Beach Boys.
       New Years Eve 1990, my band, Johnny Baron and The Bel Aires, were booked to open for Chuck at Caesars Lake Tahoe, Nevada (now Montbleu Resort Casino). We did our show and hurried side stage to watch Chucks’ performance. Anyone who’s seen Chuck in his later years or who has seen the movie ‘Hail Hail Rock and Roll!’ with Keith Richard knows that Chuck can be unpredictable, and at times, down right contrary. Suffice it to say that, on that evening, Chuck was both! After a series of verbal tirades aimed at his pickup band and the house sound engineer, Chuck walked off stage at 11:30 - a full half hour short of the New Years Eve festivities which he was supposed to MC. I was standing next to the general manager of Caesars and he was not pleased. Since Chuck was booked there for two nights, December 31st and January 1st, he definitely had a problem. I immediately suggested that he hire our band to play the next night as we knew Chuck’s songs inside and out. He agreed and insisted on an actual rehearsal with Chuck the next afternoon; unheard of where Chuck is concerned.


          The following afternoon at five o’clock sharp, we were on stage warming up and Mr. Berry and his daughter walk in. Right away he tells us to stop playing and that he was going to teach us how to play ‘Chuck Berry Music”. He shows our drummer, David Lauser, the ‘Chuck Berry beat” - Ba bump Ba Bump Ba Bump etc. Then shows our bass player, Joe Orlando, the simple but critical bass part to play with that beat - Ba Boom Ba Boom Ba Boom etc. Then he moved on to our piano player, Doug Wagner. Then it was my turn - A Rump A Rump  A Rump A Rump etc. Then we put it all together with Chuck playing his signature syncopated chord stabs on top. Magic! We thought we knew all about it but doing it at the feet of the master took it to a whole new level. The interesting thing about that rehearsal was, we never did rehearse any 'Chuck Berry Music'. All Chuck wanted to play was Jerry Reed and Bob Wills songs. A very interesting insight into a very complex man.
        Then it was time to break for dinner before the show. I took Chuck’s guitar, which had been damaged by the airlines, and set to work on it. His guitar at that time was a rare late eighties Gibson Chet Atkins model with gold hardware. A great looking 'show' guitar. Chuck told me later that he flew his stage guitars with his luggage, and when they would wear our or break, he would just write them off and buy another. He seemed very proud of that. This one was missing a bridge saddle and there were a few panicked moments there when I though Chuck was going to have to play my pink custom shop Fender stratocaster. Again, an unheard occurrence, as I don't believe anyone has ever seen Chuck playing a Fender guitar! Miraculously, Joe Orlando managed to create a makeshift bridge saddle in the down stairs machine shop of Caesars!  I took his guitar and cleaned it, re strung it, intonated it and stretched out the strings. Later that evening, as we were all walking out on stage, I hung the guitar around his neck and looked him straight in the eyes. “Don’t touch the tuning pegs!” I told him. He looked at me funny for a second, then smiled and nodded. Showtime!


           I’ll never forget that night. Chuck walked out on stage like the star he was, waving to the audience and already sporting a perfect sheen of perpiration. He was so kind to us on stage. At first, he would play these little games, like slowing down, speeding up, getting louder, then playing whisper soft. We followed him like our lives depended on it; never taking our eyes of him. After each time he would turn around and laugh and smile. 'Play for the money boys” he would tell us on the sly. Another kindness was to noodle briefly on his guitar before each song so that we might have a clue as to the key the next song. No actual song titles were ever disclosed. I would figure out the key and, as casually as possible, pass it on to the guys. He could have buried us like he did the pick up band from the night before, but he didn’t, bless him!
          As the show went on, he loosened up considerably. I watched him as he transformed from Chuck Berry - grown man - into Chuck Berry - very limber 16 year old kid. The years fell away. He started to really rock, and enjoy himself. He totally got that audience on his side and kept them in the palm of his hand the entire night. Half way through the show, he unplugged his guitar and plugged his cord into my guitar. He brought me up front and featured me on all the guitar solos from then on. I did the duck walk and the splits, both patented Berry stage moves. He loved it, laughing and smiling. Time stood still. Suddenly, we noticed half the audience was dancing on stage with us. Magic was in the air! Chuck did a half hour version of ‘Reelin’ And A Rockin’ that was sheer inspired brilliance! New verses keep popping up, each one a bit more ‘blue’ than the next, but always tasteful and never crude. Chuck's true self - the poet - emerged. Creating and rapping out verses, shouting out choruses, leading us all into that hallowed space that only true shamans and magicians/musicians know about. Rock and roll heaven. What a night!
After the show, the band was called back into Chucks' dressing room where he regaled us with Chivas whiskey and answered all my fevered questions about Leonard Chess, Willie Dixon and the early days in general. He could not have been more generous to a bunch of star struck kids. We just wanted him to know how much he meant to us. 
         God bless you Chuck, and thank you so much. Long live Rock and Roll!

           Not every musician gets the chance to design and market their own ideal instrument. With the Chandler 555 guitar, I was lucky enough to do just that.
           I first meet Paul Chandler and his lovely wife Adrian at the International Musikmeese trade show in Frankfurt, Germany in 1988. He mentioned to me that his vision for the future of his company, Chandler Guitars, was to transition away from selling guitar parts and move into manufacturing original design instruments. As luck would have it, I had a rough outline of a guitar design already in mind and he encouraged me to complete it. My goal was to create an electric guitar that combined some of my favorite features from the classic guitars of yesterday and put them together in a new and very performance enhancing way. In other words, a retro style design with modern features and playability.
          The Chandler ‘555’ guitar was first introduced in 1992 and was well received right out of the gate. The February 1993 issue of Guitar Player magazine featured a sleek sea foam green 555 on the cover along with a corresponding article. Feature articles in other trade magazines such as Guitarist Magazine and reviews from players followed. Paul moved his factory from San Francisco to Burlingame California and the transition was complete.
          A few years later, Paul wanted to offer an update of the 555. One that had a slightly different feature set and had a more modern look. So I redesigned the headstock to offer straight string pull alignment and Paul gave the body a belly cut, an arm contour and a more rounded beveling on the edges. This model was called the 555 Pro. The original model became known as the 555 Classic.
          All in all, it was a tremendous experience watching the 555 baby being born, grow up and take it’s place in the ever changing world of musical instruments. Paul was kind enough to build me a custom version of the Classic 555, in transparent crimson, with body and neck binding and special neck carve, and a custom Pro version in white that are still some of my favorite guitars. Thank you Paul!

 

 

  

Way back in the nineties I was playing a very tight show band called Johnny Baron and the Bel Aires. We covered all kinds of music from fifties rock and roll, rock a billy, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, the Everly brothers, and lots of sixties r&b , Motown dance stuff. We performed at state fairs, car shows, night clubs, and lots of private corporate functions all over the western states. We were also regulars on the Reno Nevada casino lounge circuit. One show I’ll never forget was a celebrity charity fund raiser event in downtown Reno. All the sports celebrities had played a charity golf event up at Lake Tahoe earlier that day. The evening party was at the Eldorado casino. We started playing and all was going well. After our first break, someone approached the band and requested our set list, which at that time had over 200 songs. They brought the list back after a few minutes and said 'Alice wants to sit in with you guys'. Ok. Except we know any Alice cooper band songs. No problem, they said, he loves your list and is a huge sixties garage rock fan. So Alice (Vincent Damon Furnier) comes over and introduces himself. What a sweet, polite , sober and intelligent guy - the complete opposite of his on stage persona! We chat about possible songs. He mentioned a few of the early Rolling Stones songs on our list. Fine with us! So we get up on stage and start with the first track of the Rolling Stones’ first Lp 'England's greatest hit makers’. The song is Buddy Holly's immortal 'Not Fade Away'. Then on to Bobby Troops’ classic 'Route 66'. We played on through both sides of the disc until we get to Rufus Thomas’ ’Walking the Dog'. Alice knew all the lyrics, all the Mick Jagger vocal inflections, and had clearly grown up listening to this music. Us too! He nailed every song and all his celebrity friends at the party were very impressed by the depth of his musical knowledge. And such a gentle man on stage. Very aware and open to the bands moods and musical changes. I guess 'easy' describes it best. Wow, what a thrill! The interesting thing was that I had shared a stage with hm and his original band many years earlier. I didn't have a moment to mention it to him that night, but in 1969, after I graduated high school, my high school band and I moved up to Cambridge Massachusetts in the fall of 1969. We played the Cambridge common free shows on Sunday's. One Sunday, we were second to the last band on the bill. And last was this band of long hairs from Arizona called Alice copper. I remember that they played all their own songs and had a door mounted in a door frame in front of the stage. Alice would open and close it, walk through it and take a broom and sweep the stage around it while he sang. Very strange! He was very much into theatrics and production even then , though on a much smaller scale. They were certainly different. After their set, the commons was practically empty. I remember reading later that this 'ability' to clear out venues is what caused their future manager to sign the band and they became very popular and the rest is rock and roll history! And Alice thought us all an important lesson on how to succeed in show biz. Thank you Vince. What an honor and a privilege to meet and play with you - again!

ENDORESMENTS

I'd like to thank these fine maunfacturers for their support and I highly recommend their products.

Contact Me