Smokin’Joe were a blues outfit from down south.
If they were any more blues they’d be black but these four white guys know how to play the blues.
Their guitarist was a young guy named Jimi but everyone called him Rix as in Jimi Hendrix.
After seeing them live I could understand the reason.
Like Hendrix, this young guy had huge hands and had taught himself to play better than Hendrix without even having heard him.
Rix was brought up in a strict religious sect called “The Witnesses of Revelation” who believed all of mankind were sinners for being born human.
They lived without the modern conveniences we take for granted, grew their own food and over the centuries, interbred.
Rix once showed me a picture of his family who he missed a lot.
His mum and dad looked like ordinary people as did his two sisters but none of them looked like Rix.
This was because he had been adopted as a baby, left on the doorstep of Rix’s mum and dad who brought him up as one of their own.
Rix was fortunate as his mum and dad although members who were born into the sect, had enough sense about them to know that a lot of what the sect leaders preached was fantasy and rubbish.
They also loved their children enough to want more for them then to live in the past reciting dogma and waiting for an event they knew would never happen.
But they kept their personal views to themselves and in the privacy of their home, would teach the children about the world outside of the 200 acres on which the sect lived.
They wanted their children to be able to deal with the lessons the world would teach them and have a future of their own, not one decided for them by the council of elders.
Lucky for us they were that sort of people or else we would never have had the pleasure of hearing Rix teach a guitar how to sing and man could he make it sing.
As a side line, there is a story about Jimi Hendrix who upon arriving in London for the first time, went to a Cream concert.
Back then, cream were like England’s super group, playing in the stratosphere far above everyone else.
Hendrix asked if he could play with them on one song.
At first Eric Clapton who people worshipped as the best guitarist in the world, thought Hendrix was a bit cocky and would end up making a fool of himself.
Well Hendrix blew them all away and Clapton walked off stage literally shaking so much he could hardly light his cigarette and announced to everyone that he was going home to practice.
I think Jimi Hendrix would have reacted the same way if he heard Rix play.
He would have realised he had a long way to go before he could think of himself as a master of his instrument.
The rest of the band were made up of Honey Boy Johnson on vocals, Slick Mantra on Drums and Tiny Watson on bass.
All amazing musicians in their own right but they really shone once Rix started playing with them.
The album “Mad Hatter”, is a collection of old blues standards and original songs that deserved more credit then it got.
If you ever want to listen to great blues or what a guitar sounds like when it is really played, then this is the album to be introduced to first, I recommend it.
The picture on the cover is a tattoo belonging to Tiny Watsons’ wife, Tina.
A really nice lady you do not want to get on the wrong side of.
The band had already decided on the design of the cover and wanted me to put it together for them which I did one hot summers night as I listened to the blues of Smokin’ Joe, which floated out of my window upon the swirl of the joe I was smoking, into the dreams of my neighbours.
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