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Really The Blues … by Amos Garrett


"David Clayton Thomas is an incredible life story. He was a golden gloves fighter and a pretty big boy maybe a light heavyweight.

He was abused by his father very badly. He used to beat him with a 2x4 when David was bad. Well once David got to be about 16  all of sudden he was like 180 lbs and had been studying boxing getting really good.

One day his  father said, "David, you've been bad go down to the basement." So David goes down stairs and his father comes down and David just wasted him. His father had him charged with assault. His own father.....this is really the blues.

White Out:

There was a great jazz club in Toronto called The Colonial. Everybody played there, I remember Duke Ellington played there. I don't know how he got his entire band up on stage. It was a decent sized stage for a 6 piece Dixieland group.

I remember Maxine Sullivan came there and my parents invited her to our house for dinner. Toronto was a very, very white city in those days it was not cosmopolitan in any way. It was all Scotch-Irish, some Jewish, huge Italian population. Probably bigger then most towns in Italy. Maxine was very dark. I remember she got out of a limousine in front of my parents house and she was dressed to the nines.

The neighbors looked askance at this! They couldn't get it. This was the 1940s so if a white person saw a person of color in their neighborhood  they assumed she was a maid. Here is this elegant black woman wearing an evening gown, with her own limo and a driver.

Breau Love:

Lenny Breau was light years ahead of any guitar player in the states. He turned out to be Chet Atkins mentor. Chet worshipped the guy. I remember the first time I saw Lenny was on television. We were living in Montreal but we were in TV range of Burlington, VT.  Lenny's parents had a local country western TV show once a week on this local Burlington station,

Speckled Steel

I was in a band with Ian and Sylvia Tyson who were folk singer stars in their day. They were right up there with Odetta and Buffy Saint Marie. They progressed on to forming a full band, a full rhythm section with bass and drums, electric guitar and a great pedal steel player named Buddy Cage. The band was called "The Great Speckled Bird."

After about three years we were at the forefront of country/rock. This coincided with my style which was really emerging. I bend more then one string at a time in harmony. This was inspired by playing with pedal guitar players who could do that with levers and foot petals and strings. I did it manually on a regular guitar. I found that I was coming up with other bends and phrasings that was bluesier and worked in other kinds of music.
I didn't want to be in a band that played just one genre of music. I wanted to be in a band that was more eclectic and had different styles. Geoff and Maria Muldaur had a band together when they were married. They were just pleading with me to leave Ian and Sylvia and come to Woodstock to become part of this new musical adventure. Bill Keith was a part of that along with Billy Mundi who was the original Mothers of Invention drummer.

There was a recording studio that Albert Grossman had built called Bearsville. Bearsville had a stable of artists along with a label so I got a fair amount of studio work when I was there. I also commuted up to Montreal to record with Jesse Winchester. He had fled to country to avoid the draft and couldn't come to the US to record until amnesty under Jimmy Carter.