Blues in the Basement, Part 1

Three Friends

Three friends 30 years later!

As I travel around and talk to people, my primary messages is about people shining the light in the world. Most of the time people hear me talk about this, but think about me standing up on stage in front of a large group of people teaching or playing my drum. But on my recent trip to  Seattle, something occurred to me. We can shine our light in the world where ever we are and through whatever it is we are doing.

The story goes like this: a couple years ago I reunited with some old friends. They were friends that I had played music with back when I was nine years old. We played together all the way through our high school years. I moved to California right after high school and lost track of my friends. Then, 40 years later . . . okay, that’s just not right! 30 years later we reunited in the most fantastic way. Every time I go to Seattle, I get together with my friends Terry Kingen and Guy Johnson. They are both phenomenal guitar players, and they are both uniquely different. It is an absolute joy to play with them because they both bring such tremendous talent to the world in their own unique styles.

Guy Johnson

Guy Johnson

Guy Johnson

At 10 years old, Guy Johnson had an old Fender Stratocaster. He was a tall, lanky kid with fingers about a foot long that could move like lightning. Guy had a profound love: Jimi Hendrix. And at 10 years old, Guy could play a lick-for-lick and note-for-note any Jimi Hendrix tune.

I remember when the Led Zeppelin II  album was released. On one of the songs was a very fast and technical guitar solo done by Jimmy Page. I remember little Guy Johnson putting the album on the turntable, putting the needle on the album, and then by hand turning the record slightly slower than 33 RPMs. Each note of the guitar solo was very apparent at the slower speed, and after listening to it three or four times, Guy turned the stereo off, picked up his guitar, and played the solo note for note. It was absolutely unbelievable.

At that time I didn’t know anything about “channeling.” But now I realize that Guy had the ability to tap in to certain energies and literally channel them through his guitar. He really used to piss everybody off because if he heard it, he could play it! Anything!

Terry Kingen

While the rest of the world was listening to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles, there was Terry  Kingen. While we were in the garage jamming out blues licks, bending strings within the blues box, and trying our best to be rock ‘n roll stars, Terry was studying with the most masterful teachers in the Seattle area. He was listening to the great jazz maestros. He was emulating Frank Zappa, John Cole Train, Capt. Beefheart, John McLaughlin and the Maha Vishnu Orchestra.

Terry Kingen

Terry Kingen

Terry was on the outer stratosphere of another galaxy compared to all of us. The difference between Terry and Guy was that Guy could play it, and Terry could tell you every single note of it and how it relates to every other  note and how that related to the chord progression that was holding the space for the solo to occur.

Simply said, Terry was, and is, a musical genius! He is my guitar teacher and mentor. His gift is that he can take his complex knowledge of music and put it into very simple terms, so that even a guy like me can understand.

Discovering Joy in Guy’s Basement

I’m so grateful to have these men in my life. Terry, Guy and I had a wonderful, spontaneous experience on my last trip to Seattle. Terry and I went over to Guy’s house, picked him up, and went out for a burger. After dinner, we went back to Guy’s and slid down the stairs to the music room where Terry and I picked up a couple of old, dusty acoustic guitars. That’s when we went into an amazing blues jam.

Me, being the newcomer at the guitar and not being in the same league as those two, chose to pull out my iPhone and take footage of this masterful, spontaneous combustion of music. And it occurred to me as I was listening with a feeling the joy that filled the room as this great talent was expressed that we bring our light to the world whenever we shine, wherever that is. I realized that in the basement of Guy Johnson’s house was a vortex of great joy created by three friends getting together and sharing their gifts. No spectators, no recording. Just three open hearts connecting in a beautiful way to bring the gift of music to the world.

Setting an Example for Shining Light Into the World

Every time we open our hearts and step into the place of joy and passion, we are shining a light in the world. We are creating a vortex of joy that brings good energy to the planet.

I hope as you watch this video that you’re able to feel the fun that we had that night. Guy had sung for hours the night before and his voice was trashed, but it didn’t prevent him from shouting out the lyrics as best he could!

As you get caught up in the playful energy of this evening, please remember to bring your gift to the world. Shine your light into the world as often as you can! I hope you enjoy.

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One Response to “Blues in the Basement, Part 1”

  1. James Decker February 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I’ve been playing guitar since around 1984, and Terry was my one and only guitar teacher for my first 7 months of playing. I’d like to simply say hello to him. I’d love to hear back from Terry. In 1984, or maybe 85, I lived in Edmonds at my parents’ house. I was 14/15 years old and had a 1976 Les Paul. Anyway, I’m still playing, and the thing is that what Terry taught me all those years ago proved to be the foundation upon which I’ve grown and drawn from to this very day. I’m 42 now, and I often think about how he was so incredibly skilled at teaching. I have teenage children now who play guitar as well, and some of the very methods he used to teach me are what I’m using to teach them. Terry – please write back – no strings attached – just wanted to say hello.

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