An important part of music is making connections - encountering new acquaintances, peers, and mentors. Music often brings people together more easily and naturally, and creates close bonds and long lasting friendships.
Here are some of my musical friends and peers that I have befriended over the years.
Noah Zacharin is a fine Canadian poet, a singer and songwriter
who also plays some mean acoustic Blues guitar.
His live album "Big Daddy Z" is highly recommended, as well as his many studio CDs.
Johnny Mayer was a dear friend and the creator of the Blues For Peace organization.
It was John's idea to put together the Touched by the Blues book,
and I probably would not have created my own website without Johnny's inspiration...
oh, yeah, he also played a mean harmonica and had a great touch on the electric guitar!
My mentor in Ragtime and Blues guitar, and a good friend .
Champagne Charlie a.k.a. Thom Roberts was a very colorful character and a great Blues and Jazz musician.
Del Goldfarb is a fine acoustic performer with a long history
in the American Folk and Blues tradition.
From the Washington Square days in Greenwhich Village,
to travelling all over the south, midwest, and north western United States.
Del is an amazing person, with a wry sense of humor and many amazing stories, musical or otherwise.
Dov Hammer has come a long way as a Bluesman. Born in Chicago, and raised in Jerusalem,
Dov is an accomplished Blues harp player and singer with many record albums and bands in his history.
Colin Linden has come a long way from the early days when we were
buddies in the Toronto Blues scene of the 1970s, when we both had not a penny to our name.
Colin was a boy wonder of Blues guitar in those days, and has since become a respected recording artist
and an in-demand record producer in Nashville.
Guy King is a very smooth and cool player and singer who is primarily a Blues artist, but also loves to play some R n B and old Jazz standards. Guy literally has a magic touch on the guitar...
Canadian artist Peter Mathieson was a gentle soul, a phenomenal guitarist, and a singer and songwriter with a wry wit.
Paul Moore is an old friend whom I met here in Israel in the Folk music circles.
Paul is a very creative and humorous performer of old Jazz, Jug Band, Blues, Hokum,
Tin Pan Alley, Dixieland, and all sorts of Ukulele music.
Avner Strauss is one of my closest personal friends.
A virtuoso guitarist who can play Flamenco, Classical, Blues, Jazz and Rock guitar.
Avner is one of the few people to consistently succeed in writing Blues songs in Hebrew.
Another of Avner's loves is collecting antique whistles (and fountain pens), check out his Whistle Museum website.
Joe Mendelson, a.k.a. Mendelson Joe or M. Joe was a friend in the Toronto music scene, and a peer in music as well as life philosophy. In music as in life, he had a unique style and rhythm of his own.
Joe used to say: "I'm idealistic, but realistic!"
Joe created a record label called "Nobody" so that he could truthfully state in his posters and press releases: "Joe Mendelson records for Nobody!".
A founding member of the Toronto Blues band McKenna Mendelson Mainline,
Joe was also a prolific painter who painted wonderful colorful nature scenes, as well as portraits of friends, colleagues, and famous persons.
Ruby (Reuben) Harris, King of the Blues Violin, is a musical party just waiting to happen!
I first met Ruby when he was with the "Diaspora Yeshiva Band" back in 1979,
and following a concert a the U of Toronto,
the entire band slept on our floor in the Toronto Jewish Student co-op house!
Aside from being a genius at the fiddle, Ruby is a fine guitarist and harmonica player,
with an encyclopedic knowledge
of music styles as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, traditional Irish tunes, Grateful Dead,
classic Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Klezmer and spiritual Jewish music.
Candye Kane was a special breed of Blues musician, someone who you might say was saved by the Blues, someone who never gave up on life or her mission
to bring the Blues to many different people and places.
In recent years, Candye gained more and more well deserved attention worldwide, winning many awards in the Blues world,
and performing in festivals around the world, including here in Israel at my own SummerBlues Festival in July 2004, and again in the summer of 2015.
In the days when I knew him in Toronto, Doc Maclean was still Jim "Kid" Maclean,
and was the perfect accompaniment to guitarist and singer Mose Scarlett. He has traded licks with some of the all-time great legends of Blues history,
and together with Colin Linden,
recorded an historic and classic album with the great Sam Chatmon.
I met Ron Thompson back in 2006 on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise
and I fell in love with his guitar playing.
He had a very unusual touch (a Magic Touch like the title of one of his albums),
as well as a very spiritual approach to the Blues.
He could also surprise everyone and rip out some fine Boogie Woogie and Gospel piano!
No wonder he was one of John Lee Hooker's favorite backup guitarists
and played with him for many years.
Yet, it defies explanation why he is not more widely known today.
I first met Steve when he did a tour of Israel in 1993. I was his rhythm guitarist,
and I was thrilled and terrified at the same time.
Now based in California, Steve is a Blues "guitar slinger" who was the right hand man of the legendary
Sunnyland Slim for many years in Chicago, as well as backing other greats
like Koko Taylor and others in the Chicago scene.
Ron Levy is a legend in his own time, having cut his teeth on the organ
behind Blues greats like Albert King, BB King, and others in the early 70's.
He went on to become a prolific producer and session man on hundreds of Blues recordings.
In recent years, Ron has produced some of his own very funky instrumental Blues-Jazz recordings as "Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom", as well as putting out a book of his life experiences-"Tales of a Road Dog".
Don Ross is a an amazing virtuoso of the acoustic guitar.
He also sings very nicely on some of the earlier albums.
I first met Don when he was still in high school, and a bit too shy to get up on stage
at the Fingerboard Coffee House that I was managing at the time.
I gave him all the encouragement I could, and the results are pretty amazing..
Charles Sawyer is a one of a kind Bluesman who also teaches at Harvard!
Charles is the first man to write a biography of BB King (1980),
and is also a fine Blues singer and harmonica player.
His band "2120 South Michigan Avenue" has a very authentic Chicago Blues sound.
Woody Mann was a virtuoso "guitarist's guitarist", as well as a teacher and fine acoustic Blues performer
I had the great pleasure of seeing Woody perform here in Israel in a tour with Bob Brozman which I helped arrange and promote.
Gor is a personal friend who has had many personal ups and downs in his life,
but the Blues have always been some sort of anchor for him.
Gor plays slide 7 string acoustic and electric Blues, and is a master of home recording.