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JFS #64 A Tribute to Sonship with “The Skipper” Henry Franklin…


















Sonship "Woody Theus"

His spirit superseded his own being. An individual steeped in scripture and creative energy. The two worked hand and hand. He would allow the light of his god to shine through him when he played.

He was a audacious performer, what with the knee high boots, multi-colored drum kit and masked marvel eye wear. He was not shy about his outward appearance and felt it was a necessary part of his transcendent spirit.

Sonship didn't party or chase woman like his cadre. He was apt to meditate and gain strength through self-reflection. This is the great spirit forging music with religion. The ability to ask his god objectively about the volume of his drums and whether he should turn them down because another great warrior told him to do that. "I'll have to prey on it and let you know," he would say. He was not one to feign ignorance or display passive aggressive tendencies. He played from his guts with a swing more roll than rock. He did not adjust the volume on his drums.

Sonship came of age when the likes of Harold Land, Charles Lloyd, Woody Shaw and others who had made names for themselves and were trying to open up opportunities for a younger generation of musicians who would further push music forward. The problem occurred when the industry yielded to loud FM caliber music that forced jazz to get louder and play in less intimate settings. The new generation of Faddis, Theus and Nash did not have the leadership to bridge the gap. The record companies shrank as did people's attention spans. Mental music became obsolete and the quintet and quartet became more of a liability when you could hire one guy to spin records.

Sonships true greatness for this journalist lies in the fact that his spirit is inside me. His unique personality and perspective has galvanized my own consciousness shift. Be yourself, be passionate about what you do, believe in your own god and live in the moment. Everyday I look at Finger Rock and thank Sonship for the journey that I am on. Not a journey he put me on but one that he continues to strike with the delicate balance of nature and nurture.

He is now a cosmic dweller but his presence is inside myself. I hope that through this article it will help others galvanize their own passions and be unafraid to express them without any hang ups. Be yourself, be accountable and prey on it.