Just What the Doctor Ordered for the Blues, Medicine Bone

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Just a Drum Kit, a Guitar and Two Vocals, Medicine Bone

There is nothing quite like vibing along to the blues to lift up your spirits.  My friend Samm Bennett from Polarity Records and Ken Shima reunited for a mini tour of Medicine Bone.  I had to travel clear across Tokyo to be able to catch Medicine Bone live in Ogikubo, Tokyo at the Velvet Sun.  I live on the Tozai Train Line which means east west line, and I traveled from as far east and still be in Tokyo to the West.

I caught up with Samm and Ken before their set and asked them to describe their music style.  Ken replied that they are heavily influenced North Mississippi Hill Country Blues, as opposed to the Delta Blues.  Not the blues that Muddy took and electrified in Chicago, but those blues that stayed behind in the hills of Northern Mississippi.  He went on to say that there is a lot fewer changes in the blues pattern than the down south delta styles.

Samm proudly showed me his custom travel drum kit.  I am always impressed with the compactness of his drum kit, which Samm said he is basically limited by what he can carry on the subways and trains.  He switched the direction of his bass drum to be perpendicular rather than flush to the stage.  He also customized his petal so that he uses his heal rather than his ball to keep the bass drum thumping.

Both Ken and Samm shared vocals.  Basically, whoever was singing wrote the song.  The alternated belting out the songs with titles like, Tennessee, Liquor Store, and Little Man.  Simple songs that were packed full of emotion that lifted me up out of the dust, and made me stomp my heals.

It amazed me that Ken had built a custom microphone out of an old Japanese analog telephone speaker.  It gave a perfect sound to accompany the blues rifts and beats.

The blues is simple music with complex emotions.  The blues allows the burdens that weight you down to be lightened somewhat.  I definitely felt a whole lot better after a beer and vibing out to the blues.

Medicine Bone has two more shows in Tokyo, Tonight and Saturday.  Check them if you can.  You’ll thank the doctor later!.

Friday Night September 7, at Juke Joint, NishiAzabu, Tokyo
open 19:00 – start 20:30
2000 yen entry plus 1 drink (500 yen) 

Three, count ’em THREE sets from Medicine Bone
at Tokyo’s newest spot for blues and blues-esque sounds!
Light food available as well as full bar, of course.
Sets at 8:30 – 9:15 and 10:00. Come for one or all!

Juke Joint website
Google map to Juke Joint

Saturday Night at Bright Brown, Nakano, Tokyo
open: 19:30 – start: 20:00

Medicine Bone loves the friendly, casual and lived-in atmosphere at Bright Brown. It’s Nakano’s premier blues spot, and MB is delighted 
to be coming back to perform there! We’ll be doing two (or maybe 3?) sets for our last Tokyo appearance!

Bright Brown website

Thanks again to Samm and Ken for having me out, I was enlightened by their soulful music.

Samm Bennett Drums, Ken Shima Guitar, Medicine Bone


Set List, Tennessee, Little Man, Liquor Store, Medicine Bone


Ken Shima Guitar and Vocals, Medicine Bone


Ken Shima, Medicine Bone


Samm Bennett Drums and Vocals, Medicine Bone

Medicine Bone Performing “Tennessee” live at Velvet Sun


Keep up with Samm Bennett at Polarity Records and Facebook

8 String Bass Guitar Rebirth of the Soul

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Time is a curious subject.  The older I get the more I loose any sense of time.  Time moves quickly, and I often measure time from when I saw a movie, or when I took a trip somewhere.  These are the markers of the years.  I have been thinking about where I want to lead my life from this point forward.  I had a deep conversation with my dearest friend Jerry Kolber who has agreed to help assist me in my search.  He is going to help me focus in on my subconscious and conscious mind.  The conversation definitely set off something in my subconscious because, that night I had an extremely vivid dream.  It was one of those dreams that I knew it was my subconscious trying to communicate with my woken mind.  I woke up and wrote down all the details that I could remember.

Objects from the dream include:

8 string bass guitar

triangular room


exotic beer

emotional content:






artistic/creative world

regular world

I am still in the process of unscrambling the images of the dream, but it already has had an impact on my life.  I took my acoustic guitar out of storage.  I took the old rusty strings off, and restrung it with some shiny brand new metallic strings.  Once I finally was able to get the guitar in tune, thanks to some online tuners, I proceeded to play for the next couple of hours.  I was just having fun.  Playing along with some music, looking up some notations online.  In other words, just vibing out.  It was just me and my guitar.

The weather has really turned to fall and I have the window in our place opened with a cool dry breeze blowing in.  I started to think about the dream again.  This time I took out a blank book I had bought, and I filled its first page with some of the dream images.  It was amazing.  I had tried to paint over the summer, but I couldn’t get anywhere.  Here, a dream led to one of my first drawings in a few year.

I am blessed.  I thank the Creator for stirring up my soul to help get my creative juices flowing.  I am looking forward to the rebirth of my soul.  I am open.  I am trying to be open is better way to look at it.  I am going to keep on searching for truth.

8 String Soul Rebirth

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