Many of us have heard the story of how British rock bands copied
the blues from American blues artistsat least that's the
perception. The truth of the story is that musicians all over
the globe have been playing the blues of people such as Skip James,
Willie McTell and the Reverend Gary Davis for a long time. Some
musicians started out playing old blues music, such as Bob Dylan.
American country/roots blues music has a worldwide following.
Radio stations in Argentina and Denmark have played one of my
modern blues tunes. I never thought people in Argentina would
love our blues musical heritage but they do with a passion. In
this country blues has a small following when you consider the
total population, and many musicians put blues music down for
all kinds of reasonssuch as "it's too simple"
and "the lyrics are just about losing someone or some other
hardship." I think this country needed the rest of the world
to show it what a treasure it has in blues music. Mick Knight,
born in London in 1954, is one of the world pickers who has a
feeling for the blues.
Mick started out playing rock music at 15 years old, and was heavily
influenced by the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and American West
coast rock of the sixties. He met someone who played like Mississippi
John Hurt and was hooked. He sold his electric guitar and bought
an acoustic. In 1971 Mick met Piers Clark, who introduced him
to ragtime blues guitar, and he attended the Cambridge Folk Festival
to see Rev. Gary Davis. On the day Mick turned 18 years old, Rev.
Gary Davis died.
Mick grew up in the beach town of Hastings, which was a haven
for great musicians and artists. "You had to be good there
to get a gig because there were so many good musicians,"
Mick said. This made him work hard, and he learned a lot from
watching people like John Martyn, who lived in Hastings. He received
a book for his birthday, "The Story of the Blues," which
had a big effect on him. He read about all the great legends of
the blues such as Willie McTell, who was born on the same day
(in 1900) as Mick. Practice took up a lot of Mick's time, and
he recalls that he didn't have time for a girlfriend at that time
(now that's what I call dedication).
In 1976 Mick formed the group Dupree with Barry Denyer and Andy
Bannister. After several changes Mick left the group, which then
changed its name to Delta Wing. A couple of years later Mick embarked
on a solo career and also performed as a duo with Ivor Pickard.
In 1989 Mick moved to New Zealand, but not before he stopped off
in Mississippi to play at The Sunflower Blues Festival. In New
Zealand he played at the blues and folk clubs; Mick found that
he is equally at home playing in either type of venue. Dry Bones
Shuffle, a group including Rory McLeod and other New Zealand musicians,
was formed in 1992. They toured the UK and did support work for
Burt Jansch and Wiss Jones. While in New Zealand, Mick also did
a series of shows for the Auckland and Hamilton Blues Societies.
The Port Townsend Blues Festival caught the eye of Mick. He attended
a couple of them, and in 1998 was invited to be a guest tutor
at a week-long workshop. He was invited again in 2000. Mick took
an interest in the Seattle area as a result of meeting people
at the festival, and he liked the Seattle area so much he that
and his wife moved here in 2001. He has become a part of the music
community here and loves the weather.
Aside from being a very accomplished musician, Mick is a dedicated
student of the blues and has a lot of respect for the legends
who carved out this form of music. He plays old blues standards
with the feeling of the old legends who wrote them and he writes
his own songs in the same stylethey sound like old songs.
Mick has performed for the Folklore Society and Bumbershoot, and
he still occasionally does shows at venues like the Highway 99
Blues Club. He is a Seattle blues treasure.
If you want to hear some great ragtime blues done in the traditional
style, you should catch Mick KnightI'm sure you'll see his
name around. He also teaches at Al's Guitarville on 15th Ave NE
in Shoreline. You can read more about Mick Knight and hear song
samples at www.dryboneshuffle.co.uk. There are also some great
blues links at this site, as well as a discography.
You see, the Stones, Clapton, Dylan and Knight are just a few
of the people who love the blues! It doesn't matter what country
they are from. It's a good thing people in other countries want
to preserve our heritagetoo many Americans apparently have
no sense of history. Blues and jazz players alike have had to
go to places such as Europe and Japan to be appreciated.
Michael Guthrie is a singer/songwriter who regularly plays venues
in the Northwest and is a Victory Music sound volunteer. He has
produced his own CD and run his own coffee house/cafe, The Village
Green Cafe, in Kaslo, BC from 1973-79. He studied sound engineering
and recording at Sound Master Recording Studios in North Hollywood,
CA in 1987.