In recent months, there has been another nice benefit of participating in the Mando Blues explosion and visiting the taping of the shows at the great OmegaLab studio tent complex, getting to know Roy Futureman Wooten better. He has been making frequent stops to check out the magic that is happening at OmegaLab. As a result of that, we have teamed up on several projects like radio broadcast interviews, discussions and playing together as a duo. I am also working a bit with him on his Black Mozart story and performances. I was delighted when he said he would sit in with Cotton Blossom Band at the Mando Blues 3rd Anniversary Festival at the Mississippi born, Soulshine Pizza Factory near the Gulch and Music Row in Nashville. Futureman is a 5 time Grammy winner as one of the Flecktones with Bela Fleck, banjo extraordinaire. There is much common ground with Futureman and I. As we were going over some of the details for a virtual concert we did together in Second Life, he said, "Yeah, I like you, you have your hand dipped in the future." I have always been a futurist and it nice to find like minds. I love to be in the moment, but I like to dream in the future too... Thanks Roy, for taking the time to slow down and really see a part of what I am all about and I love to speak the universal language with you.
My recent show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville was the most pleased I have ever been with any of my singing/band performance projects. The extreme professionalism at the Hard Rock, coupled with excellent sound in the venue and on stage made it a very smooth, drama free, performance environment. I have posted a link to this concert online on youtube. - The Cotton Blossom Band at the Hard Rock Nashville.
The initial spark that started the Cotton Blossom Band project was a local radio program called the Mando Blues Show. I have been the guest for 2 of the shows since it started just over 2 years ago. The show was started by Whit Hubner, who continues to DJ and put together great programs each week...
The most recent show in the spring of 2012 included Mason Stevens on guitars and diddly bo, and B.B. King's bass player of 17 years, Michael Doster, on upright acoustic bass. This was the start of the Cotton Blossom Band. I have known Mason since 1986 when we recorded the critically acclaimed space music album, Cosmic Flight, which debuted on the popular Hearts of Space program in 1987. I met Mike Doster in 1990 where we both opened for Ladysmith Black Mambazoo as members of Aashid Himon's band. Mason and I rehearse for a bit getting tunes together and then have Doster come in for time or two prior to a live performance either on radio or in a venue, as our recent Hard Rock Cafe gig. We just really enjoy playing this roots music this is at the root of all three of us, obviously. The biggest enjoyment for each of us, however, is the space blues songs that we do spontaneously on stage. This is probably the reason we continue to do this project is for the enjoyment of the space blues in our own flavor. The show at the Hard Rock was about half and half, space blues and more traditional blues tunes.
The first show I did was with Douglas Flint Dillard on banjo and Tom Shinness on harp guitar and cello. We had a fun time with that project. Doug Dillard passed away in May of this year and he will dearly be missed. But his music will continue along this earth bound plane. Knowing Doug and playing with him is one of those "gems" you get in life. I listened to his "Heaven" album when it first came out in the 1970s a lot, as I was playing banjo then, learning and playing in a bluegrass group in my hometown in Indiana. I looked up to Doug on the musical part
of my life, so to meet and become great friends with later in life is a blessing.
We have been, and will continue to include some Aashid Himon's songs in our repertoire. Aashid left the planet in the first half of 2011. Peforming with him over the years also was an inspiration and playing in the Mountain Soul Band with him makes it very comfortable to perform some of his great songs, and versions of traditional blues songs. His mountain blues type of acoustic music was where I really connected with Aashid musically in the beginning of our 25 year friendship. I will continue to be inspired by his music and viewpoints of life.