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The Ramblin’ Mike

Mick Knight / A World of Blues
by Michael Guthrie

Live Music

Many of us have heard the story of how British rock bands copied the blues from American blues artists—at 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 reasons—such 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 style—they 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 Knight—I'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 heritage—too 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.




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