( – promoted by buhdydharma )
I’ll always be grateful to DailyKos for providing the avenue through which I have met some of the coolest people on the planet. Way up at the top of that considerable list is a guy named John Hobbs.
I’d noticed the kossack jnhobbs around DailyKos. He seemed to drop in at a lot of the same diaries that I liked, he dropped in on mine fairly often but he never seemed to write any diaries of his own (he’s written 2 now, both shot straight to the top of the rec list and both were soliciting funds for good causes). He really got my attention when I wrote a diary soliciting donations for the Netroots scholarship fund and he very generously offered to match peoples’ donations. That he is a man with a very big heart remains my strongest impression of him.
I finally met John face to face at Netroots Nation in Austin. He shared a hotel room with Phil N DeBlanc, which rapidly became Party Central for a certain group of outlaws, hipsters and assorted DailyKos miscreants.
Anyhoo, I got an email from John back in early December saying he was on tour with Vince Gill and Amy Grant’s Christmas show and would I like to come see them when they played the Fox Theater in Atlanta on December 15. I’m not much of a country music guy but I welcomed the opportunity to spend some more time with John. I asked Daniel if he’d want to go and to my surprise he said sure. John arranged for 4 tickets so I started trying to think of who might want to go with us. I invited SherriG and her husband Tom but they decided to hold out for the Stones. Then it hit me, my little sister Barbie was actually an Amy Grant fan. When I offered her and her hubby Travis the extra tickets they were thrilled.
At John’s invitation we arrived early. Once we found John, he took us onto the tour bus to hang out and chat for a while.
We met Vince’s oldest daughter Jenny Gill and chatted with her for a bit. She’s a song pitcher in Nashville (I never even knew there was such a thing) but sings backup with her dad every chance she gets. Responding to our questions, John explained that he was a natural born musician, started playing trombone at 8 and when his sister got a piano when he was 15, he sat down and just started playing it. Hearing that reminded me of my friend Larry Byrom, who John knows and has worked with in Nashville. Larry was a natural musician like that. He could pick up basically any instrument and start playing it. I guess that’s how you get to be lead guitarist for Steppenwolf – even if you did grow up in Huntsville, Alabama. John and I may take a road trip to Muscle Shoals one of these days to see Larry, but that’s another story for another time.
We went and dined with the crew while John introduced us around and explained how everything worked.
John described the show, how everything was planned down to a science, packed strategically and set up and taken down by a practiced crew of experts who make everything go like clockwork. Then he took us out onto the stage and showed us around.
I mentioned having listened to musicians out in LA in the 60s tune their guitars for an hour. “Yeah, they don’t do that anymore,” John said, pointing out the multi-station digital guitar tuner.
John introduced us to bass player extraordinaire, David Hungate of Toto fame. David had worked a great deal with Chet Atkins and so knew of Travis’s grandfather, who was Alton Delmore of the Delmore Brothers. David and Trav had a nice little talk about that while I chatted some more with John.
So then we watched the show, and it was phenomenal. An amazing powerhouse of talent had been packed onto that stage.
John is very low key and gives off a powerful sense of being exceptionally grounded or centered. He is remarkably accomplished, having won a Grammy for producing Vince Gill’s Best Country Album of the Year, and has worked with or knows a surprising number of those in the music biz whom I hold in extreme high esteem including John Prine and Ry Cooder. For all of that, he remains the picture of humility. He prides himself on being just another working stiff in the music biz. As he says, it’s all he’s ever done, and he’s been at it for 30 years or more.
John has written some 50 songs, many of which have been recorded by the likes of Rebba McEntire, Vince Gill, Ray Charles and Michael Nesmith. Here’s John playing and singing one of my favorites.
Lay Me Down – John Hobbs (Brent Mason on Guitar)
I could go on and on about all the things John has done and all the things he continues to do, but I’ll just embarrass him so I’ll stop. One last little thing, their show in Atlanta raised $10k for homeless children in our city. Thank you John.
If John Hobbs ever invites you to go see one of his shows – go! You’ll love it and he’ll show you a great time. Believe me.
This is John Hobbs in Blue.