samm bennett

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

Samm Bennett and his Chance Encounters in Japan

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Samm Bennet is an amazing musician.  He is at home with just about any instrument that can vibrate and be used to make music.  His specialty is as a drummer and a percussionist.  Making those beats, to soothe our souls.  Drumming is a mimmic of the human heartbeat.  Boom, boom, it goes on and on, telling the world that we are alive.  We are full of life.

Many of you may not know this but Samm is an amazing photographer too.  I actually knew him first through his eclectic images of his wanderings in Tokyo through his Flickr stream Flapjax at Midnight.  I really dug his way of seeing the Japanese world.  His eye to pick out the ordinary beautiful urbansacpes of Tokyo attracted me to his work.  I didn’t come across images of temples and shrines, i came across Nobori (advertising flags)  and Humans melding into an image of chance encounters.  Or there were amazing details of architecture that were landscapes in the macro details.

We decided to meet up and check out an area neither of us had photographed before in Sugamo.  Sugamo is famous for the elderly crowd to get their red power inner garments. I first met Samm a few years back because of Flickr.  It was a great time wandering around and watch each others photographic styles in action.

I really want to focus in on Samm’s Chance Encounters ongoing series as of this posting includes 421 photographs.  These are images that he has framed between the inhabitants of Japan and their advertisements, posters, and two-dimensional art.  He has created a visual language of how we react, or do not react to the environment that we are in.  Conversations (lucid ones) occur in these images, and at other times the two-dimensional humans are ignored by the flesh one.  I has so impressed with this series that I was inspired to create a few Chance Encounters of my own, as an homage to Samm’s style.

I got a chance to talk to Samm Bennett about his photography the other day.  His replies can be found below.

Please take a minute and introduce yourself to Lucid Communication.

My name is Samm Bennett: I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, and have lived in Boston, Massachusetts, New York, NY and, since 1995, in Tokyo, Japan. I am a musician (singer and songwriter, drummer, percussionist, and player of certain idiosyncratic string instruments like the stick dulcimer and the diddley bow, as well as jaw harp and mouth bow). I am also an avid photographer.

(Author’s note, Samm is a very avid photographer.  He is constantly uploading images to his flickr stream.  Samm has such vitality as an artist)

Where do you like best to take pictures?

I take pictures pretty much anywhere and everywhere: from macros of weathered tape affixed to telephone poles to street scenes to walls to shadows to reflections to objects… to what I call “chance encounters.”

Tell me a little about your chance encounter images?

I spend a lot of time riding the Tokyo rails, going to my various jobs and gigs, and I’m in a great variety of different train stations all around the greater Tokyo area. The stations are a world of advertisements: there are ads everywhere, and many of them rather large ones, like billboards. I began to be intrigued by how actual living, breathing humans, waiting on trains or moving through the stations, interact with the human representations in the advertisements. The two-dimensional humans that are forever trying to sell something to the three dimensional humans: they are like two different species, yet they somehow complete each other. Even though they are in fact essentially oblivious to each other’s existence! I document the way these species coexist: how they complement or battle or challenge or ignore one another. These interactions are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes touching, sometimes banal. An epic drama, played out daily, over and over again, by millions of souls across the vast network of the Tokyo rail system.

Do you see a connection between your music and your photography?

Not any glaringly overt one, but there is a connection. I’m just not entirely sure of how to put it into words!

(Author’s note:  the connection that I see is pacing and rhythm to Samm’s photographs.  In addition, Samm often posts multiple images that are slightly varied from each other that generate patterns, and variations on a theme, much in the same style of jazz riffs.  Samm also will post before and after like images, of humans passing through a space.  This is using the medium of photography to be a story teller, and to create a timeline to his images.)

What are you trying to communicate to the viewers of your images?

This varies widely, depending on the type of photo we’re talking about, because I actually produce a pretty big variety of images, and these have varying objectives. But if I had to define some sort of overall intent, I’d say that I hope to introduce to the viewer something that is in some small way “fantastic”. And I mean the “fantastic” that resides in the “mundane.”

(Author’s note:  there is such beauty in the unseen mundane beauty in the world.  I believe this is the reason that Samm and I get along so well, because we view the world through similar shaded lenses.)

What is your internet presence? ( we can see your music, works, videos, anything you want to share with us)

Polarity Records



Samm is a prolific photographer, and narrowing down some images to share with the Lucid Communication has been a difficult fast.  I do ask that you check back in with Samm now and then to see what new images pop up on his Flickr stream, and if you are ever in the Tokyo area, make sure you pop in on Samm playing live somewhere in the crazy nights of Tokyo.

he'll eat you next...

multiple personalities

for me? thanks!

his three girlfriends

under my thumb

our eyes met, as the train whisked you away

fresh victim

don't go disrespecting Tommy Lee_2

all the above images are copyrighted Samm Bennett 2011, with permission to post.

My homage to Samm Bennett’s Chance Encounters

Double O's


A Meeting of the Ghost Buffalo Shirts, at the Pink Cow

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

A Meeting of the Ghost Buffalo Shirts was an event I attended on Friday night.  It was a gathering of the tribes of different methods of artistic expression.  We had Frank Spignese reading some painful, and alternatively hilarious poetry.  Samm Bennett performing with mouth harps, homemade guitars, and a foot box hooked up to a mic.  Also was the energetic vibrating Marcellus Neally who flowed with a group of musicians on stage at the Pink Cow.  Also there was Taylor Mingon reading some passages from his upcoming new book of poems.  All in all it was heights event, people dug the vibe, and could just cool out away from the hustle of Shibuya in a quiet corner filled with word, sound and power.

I will surely head out to the next Meeting of the Ghost Buffalo Shirts

Frank Spignese Reading His Poem

Frank Spignese, Closing it Out with One More Poem

Book of Poems

Marcellus Neally, Word Sound Power

Taylor Mingnon, Poet

Samm Bennet and the Spaghetti Cords

Samm Bennet on Triangular Guitar

Samm Bennet on Homemade Box Guitar

Copyright 2007© m2c LucidCommunication - Jacob Schere