Tommy Harkenrider Blues & Roots

He's got a right to play the blues

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    So Joe Bonamassa is a blues guitar god,right? You can’t pass any of the 278 PBS affiliates on the dial without seeing him,he’s on there more than Big Bird.Joe Bonamassa cds,Joe Bonamassa action figure,Joe Bonamassa lunch box.He is the Peter Frampton of the blues;
    he’s a star dammit,who are you to question it? So is he better than Tom Harkenrider? I say no;I’m a seriously average guitar player and if I could wave a magic wand and be able to play like one of them I’d pick Tom. He is the most inventive and musically articulate
    player I’ve ever seen;if there’s a lick he doesn’t know it aint worth knowin’.So is Tom bitter about it? Don’t think so,he smiles too
    much for that.So what am I so pissed about? Ever heard of Bernard Allison? He’s the son of legendary blues guitarist Luther Allison
    and a damn fine player in his own right.Is he bitter? Oh hell yes.How would I know? Because I saw him playing his Gibson ES346 PJJR
    Snakehead with his name inlaid in the fingerboard on a song called “Leave my girl alone”on Youtube tonight. He was looking every bit
    the blues guitar god,as he should. The next song was called “Life is a Bitch”. Does he have a right to be bitter?,has he earned the right to play the blues? Yesterday I saw that guitar in a pawnshop.


    The baby boomer generation came of age in the Clapton is God era. The guitar was a source of power in those days. Guitar players earned high status with their musical powers. I’ll paraphrase a dear friend of mine who qualifies it best: it was some time in the 70’s (I believe) where Clapton was playing a show with other acts and he refused to go on or leave till someone paid him $10k. Before that, musicians made the least amount of money in the business of live music entertainment. Now, and because of this, major acts could/would get paid. Remember The Stones couldn’t even pay their taxes and fled to France–Exile on Main St.

    There was now proof that you could be a money-making guitar player, not just a guitar player.

    I say all this because the baby boomer generation really seeks out and needs a ‘Guitar God.’ All along their path they’ve had one, or more. I’m not a huge fan of Joe’s musically leanings and tendencies, but I can respect his work ethic and apparent drive. However, he was also lucky–a very necessary component to monetary success, especially in the music/entertainment business–lucky that someone wanted to take a chance on a young kid who could be the next ‘guitar god’. Has he lived up to that role, opportunity?

    To me, and this is just my opinion, he reminds me of Gary Moore in that he became the guitar god he always wanted to be and nobody cares.

    Sure his records get pressed in the thousands and get distributed world wide which translates to some radio play, but it almost feels like it’s part of an elitist system–one that is designed to keep him successful, or rather from failing. As if there is too much invested in him to accept the possibility of him not being successful.

    Ever heard of Jeff Ross? A world class guitar player.

    What’s Paul Size up to? He recorded with Mick Jagger.

    What defines financial success in the music business? I don’t know because I don’t make a living in that field, but I think luck appears to play a very significant role–which is not to say that those who don’t find financial success are considered unlucky, just that luck is as elusive as it is funded (someone backed (money-wise) Joe when he/she/they took a chance on him).

    Remember, the business of financial gains is different than craft of musicianship.


    Interesting conversation. I think partscaster is a little crazy but I am extremely flattered. I can only speak from my philosophy on being a musician. I started this quest when I was really young without responsibility or commitments. I had dreams of being a guitar god. The more years I put into this and time spent with my mentors my goals changed. I realized all my mentors weren’t making big bucks. The journey of creating music was more important than being rich or at that time in my early 20’s financially solvent. As I got older having family and kids the focus was just balancing music and family. I focused on aspects of music that I love that wouldn’t compromise time with my family. I’ve always enjoyed learning and I’m passionate about educating. Performance is an outlet of what I learn. I get to do what I love, provide and be home with my family. I really think I’m luckier than Joe Bonamassa or Bernard Allison. I won’t lie more money would be cool but I found exactly what I am and what I like to do.

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