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I've Got the Blues (Update)

Several years ago I used to play electric guitar with the legendary Denver band The Clamdaddys. Moses and Tommy are both great Denver bluesmen with long beards. they hosted a Wednesday night blues jam at the Dnote, which was nextdoor to the Olde Town Pickin' Parlor where I worked.

Kit Simon, who owned the Pickin' Parlor, was very generous to me and let me borrow electric guitars to take to the jam. Honestly, I'm not a great electric guitarist and I still don't understand amplifiers as well as I should. But it took those Dnote jams to teach me those lessons.

Moses and I are both fans of Martin Mull. I know several of his songs, and Moses knew several different ones form me. He always sand a great version of "I'm Usually Bombed Anyway" and from time to time I will sing "Flexible" or "Lick Off of Records" or "Why Don't You and I Get Normal". So we developed a friendship around mutual fandom. Consequently, I got to sit in with them a couple of times at the Appaloosa Grill and elsewhere. They were super nice to me, especially considering I wasn't a blues electric guitar player.

Moses played a lot of cool old jazz standards and swing music as well (honestly, he has one of the coolest repertoires). He strums the guitar with his fingers and plays all these cool swing chords. One night I asked him about those chords and he told me he would show them to me sometime. So, the next week, before the Dnote jam, he stopped in the store and showed me all these cool moving bass-line chord shapes that sort of focus on the low strings of the guitar.

Around that same time, a fantastic guitar player named Jonathan Stout would come into the Pickin' Parlor from time to time. He is an amazing jazz and swing guitarist who plays music for swing dances and posts some amazing videos on his Instagram. Kit is an archtop guitar enthusiast so he and Jonathan would always chat archtop guitars and play swing tunes together. I would listen in on their conversations and jams while I was tuning instruments, changing strings and answering phones. I learned a lot.

I don't think that Jonathan Stout would remember me, but he recommended the book Rhythm Guitar The Ranger Doug Way as a great way to learn swing guitar. We ordered a few copies that week and I bought one. He was (of course) right. It is a fantastic book full of amazing tricks for playing swing and jazz rhythm on the guitar.

I would practice each of the chord changes slowly. I would repeat them over and over again, look for patterns, and try to change from each new chord to each of the other new chords I had learned. Throughout that process, I started to hear my own melodies. Soon they coalesced into songs. The best of which was this song I've Got the Blues.

As soon as it was done, I knew that it would be great with Mollie O'Brien's voice on it. I could hear it as a duet, and her voice was the voice I imagined on the song. I was lucky enough to have her come into the studio and lay down the harmony vocals.

Thinking back over that whole process has really shown me how all of these influences and important people came together in this song. I've often heard that records are a snapshot of your musical life and there's no better example of that for me than this song. People I know very well and people I barely know all had a and in influencing the creation of this song. Thanks to all of them, not only for the song, but also for the influence, and reminder to keep my mind open.

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