“My oldest brother was in his mid-teens in the Bay Area in the mid-’60s, so whatever was going on, you picked up on early. I picked up the Bill Graham phenomenon. His motto was, ‘We’re not going to give you the music you like. We’re going to give you the music that’s good for you.’ Whatever kid bands he’d have at the Fillmore, he’d throw John Lee Hooker at them too.
I was there, outside Chicago, in my teens. At that time, Muddy Waters was still alive. I saw him a few times when I was living there. There was that heavy influence. That was all fun too. One day I’m going to see Muddy Waters and the next day I’m going to see Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath.
People say I refuse to be boxed in. I don’t know if it’s refused or if it’s who I am musically or as a person. Being boxed in is just another form of segregation.
Playing the guitar is an exploration. I’ll be fooling around and I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll get some country lick I never got before or something. Maybe I’ll be playing lap steel and something will hit me. It comes in a lot of different ways including learning the nuts and bolts of guitar and guitar repair—building up this cache of instruments. Hopefully each one of them lends itself to a song.
I got called to do a tour with Bo Diddley back in ‘06. When I got out there with Bo Diddley, and he found out I was a pawn shopper and a tinkerer, he took a liking to me. Once I got out there and communed with Bo Diddley—that was it. Spiritually, when all is said and done, and I’m long gone, that will be the only validation that I’ll ever need.
When someone asks what kind of music I play, I cross my fingers and say ‘Hopefully good’ and ‘Sometimes really loud.’”