Chris Simmons Band Interview

Chris Simmons – Leon Russell, Paul Thorn – Interview Transcript: ALMOST DIED AT 19

Craig Garber (00:00.646)
Hey everybody, this is Craig Garber. Welcome to Everyone Loves Guitar. Got a super amazing blues player here with us today with Chris Simmons, currently playing with the Paul Thorne Band. This guy doesn’t play any wrong notes. And let me give you the Cliff note. I just want to thank Bill Hinds, our mutual friend for hooking us up. Thanks very much, Bill. Another great Alabama guitar player. Chris background, originally from a small town in Northeast Alabama.

CHRIS (00:17.966)
Yeah, thanks, Bill.

Craig Garber (00:25.106)
He’s an amazing self-taught blues and soul guitars, great songwriter, singer, and amazing slide player as well. As I said, this guy only plays right notes. I mean, it’s just a joy to listen to his music. And he’s really in total control of his instrument from tone to technique and everything. It’s just like he’s got his shit together. His professional career includes working with major label acts, Mars Electric,

He was with Leon Russell five years as his lead guitarist and he’s been with Paul Thorn as his guitar player for the last five years. I’m looking forward to getting to know Chris. He’s got a ton of talent and you seem like a very humble guy. You seem like a good student of life. And I always like people like.

CHRIS (01:07.32)
I like to think of myself as a student of life. I mean, when you make a bunch of mistakes, you’re learning, you know?

Craig Garber (01:15.26)
Tuition is not cheap. I know brother. All right. So you grew up in Boaz. Is that how you pronounce it?

CHRIS (01:22.698)
Yeah, Boaz, Alabama. I was born there and grew up in a few small places around there, just Albertville, Alabama. My parents divorced and so I kind of moved, you know, 10 miles away, that kind of thing back and forth, but a lot of small towns. And it was just natural, it was normal, you know, for me.

Craig Garber (01:47.282)
What’s it, because I looked up the population of Boaz and in 2020, the population was 10,000. That’s like the number of people that were in my apartment building. I’m not kidding. What, what was that like?

CHRIS (01:57.49)
Yeah, well, it didn’t seem, you know, it didn’t seem like a really small town at the time. And actually, I moved out way out in the country, right, right as I started first grade. And that was I mean, it was really, if you think backwoods, Alabama, it was kind of that. And then, uh, it was it was to me, it was just normal. But looking back, you know, there was.

Craig Garber (02:18.514)
What’s that like growing up there?

Craig Garber (02:24.539)

CHRIS (02:27.114)

flavors of what you might see on a redneck movie, you know, kind of flavors of that. But it was just normal to me at the time and I didn’t really realize until I, you know, left Alabama and went and saw a little bit more of the world. And that was kind of a shock, you know.

Craig Garber (02:37.801)

Craig Garber (02:53.826)
I got him. But yeah, I got to ask you a question about that here, um, in a minute, but at 13, you got your first electric guitar and you knew pretty shortly after that, you wanted to play guitar for a living. What about the guitar, even at that young age was so compelling to make you feel like that.

CHRIS (03:07.)

CHRIS (03:13.854)
Well, I can’t really, you know, I can’t really put my finger on it completely, but I knew, well, I had cousins and uncles that played country music when I was, you know, all my life. I hardly saw them because they lived in California and Texas, but I would see them maybe once a year, and every time we would get together, Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever, they would sit around and play.

and it intrigued me. I wanted to do it too. I had no idea how to do it. But when I was 11, I guess that’s around when MTV, well, we got MTV. It came out a few years before that. But I saw, I guess I was, it was Jump video. I saw, yeah, and I was just watching that. I said, it looks like a lot of fun. And as I watched him play,

Craig Garber (04:03.671)
Oh Van Halen.

CHRIS (04:13.082)
I said, I believe I can do that and I’d like to do that. I just kind of had the feeling, I think I can do it. So I started begging my mother to get me a guitar from then and by 12 or so she had gotten me a really, really crappy guitar, acoustic guitar at a yard sale. I think it came out of a catalog in the 50s or 60s.

and this was, you know, the early 80s, early to mid 80s. And it was awful. It sounded awful. It’s hard to play. The action was high. And I had no idea it was supposed to be different. But, and when she got it for me, I was like, I said I wanted an electric guitar. So I put it up in the closet and it sat there for months. And I went over to a buddy’s house who had a guitar that.

that I didn’t see him very often. And he brought his guitar out and he showed me this, heard it through the grapevine bass line on there. And I played it, I was like, this plays a lot easier than my guitar. And I was, he showed it to me and I kind of got it pretty easy. I thought, so I went home immediately and picked that guitar up out of the closet and I never let a day pass, I mean, for many, many years.

that I didn’t pick up a guitar. I mean, it was just like that. And I guess maybe, I don’t know, I guess maybe I thought that’s what I’d always do from then. But once I joined my first band, I was almost 16 when I joined my first band. And I was competent in, you know,

I was competent among all the adults, people who had been doing it for years, and I thought, I think I can do this. After going to my first concert, which was Joan Jett opening for Aerosmith, it was before Joan Jett’s set was over. I had chills up and down my body, and I was like, I know what I’m doing. I’m doing this.

Craig Garber (06:27.658)
Oh my God.

Craig Garber (06:38.622)
That’s very cool, man.

CHRIS (06:38.958)
And luckily I’m able to do some of that, you know, sometimes.

Craig Garber (06:44.73)
I think you do it a lot. Were your parents musical?

CHRIS (06:49.466)
Uh, no, but they didn’t play instruments, but they both sang around the house, you know. My dad is a good singer, along with the radio type stuff, and my mother’s same. And she would sing along sometimes at the family reunions. It’s my mother’s side of the family that is musical. Most of my cousins and uncles.

play professionally.

Craig Garber (07:22.386)
So when you broke out your guitar years later at a reunion where your cousin’s like, Holy, what happened?

CHRIS (07:29.974)
Yeah, it took a while, but they gave me my props. It was nice.

Craig Garber (07:38.041)
Yeah, man.


CHRIS (07:41.25)
Nice to join in.

Craig Garber (07:43.718)
read in your bio in your mid teens, you said you played in a few cover bands as well as your few as your own original band for a few years, but you said you were aimless and ignorant, but you were still, you’re still pretty young then, which goes kind of hand in hand with being aimless and ignorant. I was curious. What did you feel you weren’t doing or learning that you should have been?

CHRIS (07:55.134)

CHRIS (08:01.356)

CHRIS (08:06.006)
Well, I guess the me today is a little hard on me then. All the hard work I did, I think I did it when it was fun and it was easy. And then when it stopped being fun or wasn’t easy, I would slow way down. But it was a lot of fun and it became easy, a lot of it. As far as, you know, I…

Craig Garber (08:11.795)

CHRIS (08:34.798)
If I could go back, I would practice my technique with more intent. And I would, you know, I met a guy when I was on the road with Leon.

Craig Garber (08:41.577)

CHRIS (08:54.118)
named Walter Barker. A guy that’s older than me and wasn’t in the music business, didn’t play an instrument, but he was a lyricist. And he got in touch with me after I left Leon and asked me if I would help him take his lyrics and turn it into a song, because he had never done it. And he just… We had met and talked at the merch table, and he said he thought that I was a hustler.

You know, like I hustled, you know, and he thought this guy can get it done. And so we agreed and did a song. And anyways, we did a few more songs that we actually ended up doing a record. Uh, but over that time that took, that took two years to get that done. But over that time, I talked with him a lot and he was a very successful. Um, business man. Uh, I mean, he did, he did, uh,

Craig Garber (09:27.496)

CHRIS (09:49.57)
flying on jets, doing stuff for big companies. And then he started his own smaller company, but very successful. And he kind of mentored me and showed me things that nobody had ever shown me. Like if you’ll just, if you got plans, you don’t just keep them in your head, you write them down. That way you can organize them better and think it through and maybe make an outline of how to get from point A to point B. And I never…

Nobody had ever taught me that. And so when I was a teenager and early 20s, it was all in my head and I was just getting up every day. And when I was motivated, going towards something, but not really with a lot of intent. But just kind of playing it by ear, no pun intended. But, you know, and…

Craig Garber (10:33.968)

Craig Garber (10:44.186)

CHRIS (10:48.762)
It worked out, you know, I learned along the way. But it was about, when I was about to turn 25, I got this scary feeling that I was halfway from 20 to 30, which now seems so stupid, but my 20th birthday was coming up and I’m like, I’m playing locally and not making hardly any money.

I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not working the way I’m doing it. So I thought, I didn’t write this down, but in my head I found this one idea. I said, I’m just gonna go out to the city. I didn’t live in Birmingham, but I said, that’s the closest city. I’m gonna drive to Birmingham and just drive around until I see a place that looks like it has live music. I’m gonna go in.

and see what happens.

And that was a Tuesday morning, I woke up and it just kind of hit me. And I drove about an hour from where I was living. And I went to a place called the, it’s the first place I went to. Went to a place called the Hippo Drum, Five Points in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s not there anymore. And I saw a couple of guys in the window playing acoustic guitar. Didn’t know them, never heard of them, didn’t know anything. I just walked in.

sat down at the bar by myself, got a beer, turned around, listened to them. They took a break. They saw me sitting there watching them. There wasn’t a whole lot of people in there. So they came over, one of them came over and sat down, introduced himself. We started talking, had a few drinks. They played some more. I stayed all night, closed it down with them, enjoyed talking with them, went back to their house, one of them’s house.

CHRIS (12:49.766)
sat up drinking wine and swapping songs all night.

got up in the morning hungover was about to leave and he comes out and says hey man I know some guys that are looking for a new guitar player and I think you might fit in. Is it all right if I give them your number? I said yes it is. I didn’t even know who it was or what he was talking about. I said yes give it to him and that was Mars Electric.

Craig Garber (13:19.84)
Oh wow.

CHRIS (13:23.659)
And those guys that I met were Jimmy and Eric from a band called Suburban Love Junkies. It’s been around Birmingham for decades now. They’re a great band and great guys. But yeah, that one morning I woke up, I said, I’m gonna do this, went and did that. That happened. Auditioned with Mars Electric and then got that and that lasted a year or so. But that was an amazing.

learning experience and just an amazing experience and a step in the right direction, I thought, you know, and it really was.

Craig Garber (14:03.198)
So how did you feel about yourself? Like, you know, you had this thing in your head, you went out and executed and you got a result first time, which is not how life usually works, as you know. How did you feel it? Like driving home, just that they said, hey, they’re gonna hook you up with somebody.

CHRIS (14:13.322)
Right. That’s right.

CHRIS (14:19.021)

CHRIS (14:23.514)
I was, you know, that feeling you get when you’re, with the satisfaction, the self satisfaction, you’re like, I tried something, I thought it might work and it worked perfectly. And then you get that feeling of, look out now, don’t get too, don’t get too confident, don’t get too happy about this because, you know, I don’t know at the time, I didn’t know so much, but now I’m aware that there’s so much in this world that you’ve…

Craig Garber (14:35.431)

CHRIS (14:53.046)
You don’t control at all. It’s chaotic. Yeah, that’s right. Almost everything, you know, maybe yourself you can kind of control, maybe.

Craig Garber (14:55.748)
Yeah, like everything.

Craig Garber (15:05.214)
Sure, sure. I always say I’m not part of the results committee. I leave that to the universe, God, whatever you wanna call it. All I could do is the footwork and hope for the best. Yeah, that’s it. So when that happened, how do you look at things like that? Do you look at things like that like,

CHRIS (15:15.982)

CHRIS (15:23.306)
Yeah, do your best and hope for the best, you know.

Craig Garber (15:35.198)
Serendipity or an act of God or like a combination. How do you frame stuff like that in life in general?

CHRIS (15:44.906)
Well, if I had to, I’d say act of God or serendipity. But it just seems, you know, you are where you are because of the decisions you make. And it just seemed, you can just kind of tell if you’re veering away from the path that seems natural. And I…

Craig Garber (15:51.752)

CHRIS (16:15.222)
For me, I just… Luckily, like I said, when I was 15, I knew for certain what I really, really should be doing.

And so that was easy. You know, my son is 15, same age I was when I knew what I was gonna do for the rest of my life. He doesn’t know, most kids don’t know. And I have no way of helping him really with that, because I say, hey, maybe it’ll pop into your head like it did me. But, and maybe it will, but.

Craig Garber (16:39.966)

Craig Garber (16:47.465)

CHRIS (16:56.722)
I’m not worried about him, but it’s.

It’s very… When I stop and think about it, which I have most of my life, it’s very… matrix-y. Like everything’s set up for me, you know? I’ve had some bad luck, but I’ve had a lot of good luck.

Craig Garber (17:15.122)

Craig Garber (17:23.206)
Yeah. It’s amazing how, how things come about. I agree with you there, man. It’s uh, and I, and I, I try to be pretty observant and I’ve noticed that throughout my life, the people that most people that succeed have done. So doing the things that they want to do, it’s been very organic, you know, and that is a gift and a sort of a blessing that you got at that younger than age to know what you wanted to do. Cause you’re right. It’s not common.

CHRIS (17:50.623)

Craig Garber (17:52.118)
I certainly didn’t know. Thank you. Thanks for sharing that. So you got the gig with Mars electric. They were signed to a major label and they opened, you guys open for stone temple pilots, Motley crew live three doors down, Nickelback, Alice Cooper and others, which is obviously really good. But after a year or so, the record didn’t sell well and you got dropped from the label. So at that point you moved out.

to Austin for five years and you started a new band. And I have a few questions about that. What made you pick Austin? And was it hard to get things going there?

CHRIS (18:29.738)
Well, I picked Austin because I was in a for a short time, I was in an Atlanta band called Cadillac Voodoo Choir, which I had met in Jacksonville, Alabama. They came and played at Brothers Bar and my band opened and we met up and they ended up needing a guitar player. And I went out there and in Atlanta and did that. But they toured East Texas while I was with them. And we toured East Texas. And

and Colorado. And it was just like a new world at the time. It was like coming out of black and white into the Wizard of Oz because everywhere we went, they had a great PA system, they had great monitors, they had a great crew. They treated us like we were somebody when we got there. And then audiences filled the places and loved all the original music they were hearing.

Craig Garber (19:08.963)
Ha ha

Craig Garber (19:23.198)

CHRIS (19:26.234)
And I just couldn’t believe it. I’d never experienced that in my experience in Alabama. And I thought, this is a promised land. I feel like I should move here one day. This is like where I need to be. And that was when I was maybe 22 or so, when I toured there, something like that, 22, 23. And after the Mars Electric thing, that just seemed like the obvious move.

Craig Garber (19:55.754)
to go to Austin.

CHRIS (19:57.341)
But here again, we have, it wasn’t hard when I got out there. I’ll tell you why.

CHRIS (20:07.698)
my wife, now wife, with my girlfriend at the time, decided after she graduated college, she wasn’t too sure that she wanted a guitar player with a dream as her long-term plan. So we took a break, and shortly after that, that’s when I got the Mars Electric gig, and she decided after she graduated, she would do…

travel nursing and she had heard me sing the praises of how fun it was to be in Austin. So she went to Austin without me and the guys from Cadillac Voodoo Choir had already moved to Austin a year or two before so they were established and I knew those guys and it we you know there’s no bad blood I left the band but it just wasn’t a good match for me at the time but so I knew those guys and

Craig Garber (20:39.608)

Craig Garber (20:45.871)

CHRIS (21:09.138)
My wife had established herself out there, girlfriend at the time, but we got back together shortly after the Mars Electra, or maybe, yeah, right around the time the Mars Electric thing was dissolving for me. We got back together. She was on a travel assignment in Atlanta, and when it was up, I said, let’s move back to Austin, and she said, let’s do it. Got out there.

Craig Garber (21:33.276)
Oh, that’s cool, man.

CHRIS (21:34.838)
I got out there, I already had, you know, within a couple of days, I’d already set up a jam with several musicians at the rehearsal space. Let’s get this ball rolling. And put a band together immediately, started writing songs. And they already knew all the places to book, all the people to book, because I don’t know anything about that. I’ve never been good at that. But it just all, you wouldn’t believe how everything lined up.

Craig Garber (21:46.823)

Craig Garber (21:56.926)

CHRIS (22:04.662)
this bad thing happened and then these other good things came from it. You know, when my wife…

Craig Garber (22:08.646)

CHRIS (22:14.334)
we took a break, that was bad. I didn’t like that. But the reason she went to Austin and established herself out there and got familiar with it and it wasn’t like a big risk for her to go back. She knew about it, you know? So it was easier for her to agree to come with me and it was easier for me because she was…

Craig Garber (22:16.542)
Sure, of course.

CHRIS (22:40.726)
Travel nurse assignment, they pay for your housing. So we didn’t have to worry about that. I mean, crazy too, you know, that’s crazy.

Craig Garber (22:48.042)
God, you like, you guys stepped in good, man. That’s awesome.

CHRIS (22:52.702)
Yeah, I’ve been very lucky. Like I say, it seems crazy sometimes.

Craig Garber (22:57.118)
Yeah, that’s really cool man. And back then Austin was booming musically.

CHRIS (23:01.498)
Yeah, yeah. And they used to say, oh, you should have seen it 20 years ago, you know, and that’s what I say now, you should have seen it. It was crazy. I mean, it was just, it was, it was a small town, small city feeling, small town feeling in a, in a city, community, you know, lots and lots of great musicians, lots and lots of places to see music, play music, restaurants.

Craig Garber (23:06.471)
Oh wow. Yeah. Hell yeah.

Craig Garber (23:20.702)

CHRIS (23:30.186)
you know, just nature. I mean, it’s still a great place, but there’s too many tall buildings now, you know?

Craig Garber (23:38.118)
Oh, there’s a lot of tech people had tech, you know, like, uh, what’s his name? Elon Musk is there now. A lot of, a lot of stuff like that. Yeah. I know. So after, yeah, progress, uh, after Austin, you moved out to LA. What made you move there? And then I got to ask you, what kind of culture shock did you have moving to LA after living in like more, much more rural places, most of your life?

CHRIS (23:41.298)
Yeah. It’s progress.

CHRIS (24:01.28)

Yeah, it was kind of a shock. We had gotten married, my wife and I, by that time. While we were in Texas, we got married, came back to Alabama, got married. But we… So I guess we were thinking about…

Coming back to Alabama, I know I was, and I guess she was too, you know. If we’re gonna start a family, which we were thinking about, we wanted to do it near our families, if we could, and we really wanted to, you know. But I thought, you know, instead of heading right back to Alabama, I came up with this idea of let’s go all the way to the Mecca of the entertainment business, as far as we know, right?

So let’s just go out there, commit to a year. You can do a travel nurse assignment. We don’t have to worry about paying rent. And she was on board, so we did it. And it was a shock. And a lot of it is great. You don’t know what famous person you might see walking down the street. And that’s a thrill.

Craig Garber (25:08.03)

CHRIS (25:22.142)
And you go out, you dress up, you go out, everybody’s dressed up and looking at each other, thinking, how cool are we? And everybody’s like, yeah, we’re really cool. And that’s a good feeling at first, you know, but that doesn’t sustain you, obviously. So, but.

Craig Garber (25:33.292)
That’s funny. Yeah. Sure, man.

everybody’s thinking how cool they are like that.

CHRIS (25:42.682)
Yeah, so I mean that’s really the deal. I mean that’s as far as I could see, but you know, I had the plan of going out there and so I started looking on whatever it was at the time, probably Craigslist for bands that needed somebody. And I set up two or three meetings with some folks and actually flew out there before I moved.

After I knew I was gonna move, I flew out there for the Queen with Paul Rodgers concert. Because I thought they were only gonna play in LA and New York. They said two concerts only and I said, well, I gotta go to one of them. So we spent the money and we went and ended up catching the Black Crows too the night before. They happened to be at the Henry Fonda Theater.

Craig Garber (26:15.58)

Craig Garber (26:31.212)
Oh cool.

CHRIS (26:36.95)
But anyways, I went out there and met up with some folks and, you know, just kind of seeing what the deal was out there and seeing if there was something that seemed right for me. Anyways, just like when I moved to Austin, I’d already had it set up. So within a couple of days, I was in a rehearsal space with a group of guys that ended up being the band that I was in for almost a year.

Craig Garber (27:07.05)

CHRIS (27:08.018)
And they were already immersed into the business there as far as the strip and places to play and people who knew people. One of the guys was actually a writer for David Spade’s show, so he had some connections and contacts and I didn’t have to worry about that. I didn’t know that when I first jammed with them.

Craig Garber (27:31.943)

CHRIS (27:36.67)
It just all, you know, all fell into place. And we had a good band and wrote some great songs and had some fun. But after about six months, my wife had enough of it. And so had I, as far as just driving, going to the grocery store, anything, you know, except for actually playing music was…

Craig Garber (27:50.619)

CHRIS (28:01.878)
horrific, you know, when you compare it to the life we knew what we could have in Alabama. So I said, you know what, I’m not gonna, I committed to a year. I told these guys, I’m gonna commit to a year and reassess and don’t be surprised if it isn’t going great. I’ll say so long. But I said, if it’s on an upward trajectory, then I’ll reassess and maybe stay longer. But

Craig Garber (28:02.919)

Craig Garber (28:07.134)

CHRIS (28:28.562)
I tell my wife after six months, I’m not gonna torture you with this. You don’t have to be here. So I told her to go back and get a six month lease on an apartment in Alabama, get a job wherever she, you know, she’s a nurse, so she could get a job anywhere. So choose what city you wanna live in or near, whatever. Let me know. And I stayed out there and lived in the rehearsal space for the last six months. And it…

It didn’t get bad, but it didn’t really get any better as far as I was concerned. I mean, if I’d have stayed out there and did something with that band and really committed to it, it was a great band. I think we could have done something, but at the time in my life, it seemed like the right thing to do just to get back to Alabama.

Craig Garber (29:18.23)
Sure, I can’t imagine you missing your wife. That must have been rough, man. Yeah, that’s gotta be tough.

CHRIS (29:21.618)
It was tough, yeah. I think I flew home once, maybe twice over that six months.

Craig Garber (29:26.743)
Oh wow.

Craig Garber (29:31.762)
Yeah, that’s rough, man. I give you credit for that. What was the biggest culture shot? LA to what you’re used to.

CHRIS (29:39.536)

CHRIS (29:42.946)
Hmm. Biggest culture shock in LA. It was just when it dawned on me, which I don’t judge people, I was there doing the same thing. When it dawned on me that most people are there, they’re looking for people that they think can help them. And once they find out you can’t help them or they don’t think that you can, that’s it. That’s right.

Craig Garber (30:10.054)
Move on. Yeah, man.

CHRIS (30:11.686)
And like I said, I don’t blame people. They have a plan, and that’s part of the plan, is to not waste time on people who can’t do anything for you. Everybody’s out there. It’s a trend. You know, it’s transactional, you know, and that’s fine. It really wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was a learning experience, you know?

Craig Garber (30:20.947)

Craig Garber (30:24.809)

Craig Garber (30:29.034)

Yeah, yeah, I get 100% what you’re saying. Yeah, that’s gotta be difficult, man. You feel like a thing instead of a human, you know?

CHRIS (30:40.918)
Yeah, and I was there to get help. So I felt like there wasn’t, you know, the only thing I can do is play and sing and write songs. So if you need that, I can help you other than that. I don’t know anybody. I don’t know how to, I don’t even know how this business works.

Craig Garber (30:54.281)

All right, now I hear you, man. So you move back to Alabama.

You get a phone call that changes your life. You get an opportunity to audition for Leon Russell who you spent five years on the road with. Was that, did you take over from Bob Britt?

CHRIS (31:18.638)
No, the guy that was in there before me is also from Alabama. He, a good friend of mine named Jason Spiegel. And Leon gave him the nickname Jay Curly. So everybody calls him Jay Curly Spiegel now. But he passed away a little, a little over a year ago now, I think. But

Craig Garber (31:34.174)
Ha ha.

Craig Garber (31:43.132)
Oh, sorry, man.

CHRIS (31:47.774)
And he was one of my close guitar, we’re close friends for a long time, and close guitar buddy, you know what I mean? We played in a cover band together. We did a lot of Allman Brothers. We would stay up late and listen to Allman Brothers and play cards and talk about who’s playing what lick. And

Craig Garber (32:01.576)

CHRIS (32:14.742)
You know, are you going to play that lick tomorrow night? You know, or which part are we going to play? String gauges, pick sizes, amps, tubes, you know, just really just pouring over guitar stuff. He was, I have good, a lot of great memories with him. Yeah, so I was just going to say that Jason Spiegel is the guy who left Leon.

Craig Garber (32:29.994)

Craig Garber (32:37.84)
And he, I’m sorry, go ahead.

CHRIS (32:44.474)
left Leon’s band and that was who I followed. Actually, no, I forgot, Scott Boer Jr. actually took the gig first because I originally got a call while I was still in LA.

Craig Garber (32:54.63)

Craig Garber (33:03.25)
Man, can you hear me all of a sudden? It’s like clockwork. I do an interview and the lawn guys show up.

CHRIS (33:09.431)

Yeah, I can hear. Yeah, yeah, I don’t. It’s not bad. But I had actually gotten a call from my buddy, Zach, who was he was in my band in Austin. He’s from Alabama. He moved to Austin to join my band. After a couple of years, I was out there and he got a job with a booking agent in agency in Austin. And Leon was one of their artists.

Craig Garber (33:14.302)

CHRIS (33:40.226)
So he became Leon’s day-to-day guy. So I knew a guy, right? But while I was in Austin, that’s when Jason got the gig, Jason Spiegel. And that was great. We got to go see him and Leon when they would come through. But I was like halfway through my year in LA when Zach called and said, you know, Leon, he’s a guitar player.

Craig Garber (33:40.532)

Craig Garber (33:44.488)

CHRIS (34:08.158)
He asked me if I knew anybody. I said, I know a guy. So I said, man, that’s that is an opportunity of a lifetime. I would love to. But I committed to these guys out here. And if I had to up and leave, I don’t think I feel good about it. And.

Craig Garber (34:25.658)
Yeah, that was really cool to view actually.

CHRIS (34:29.386)
Well, I tried to recant about like two weeks later. So, I mean, I was trying to do the right thing and I ended up having to do the right thing because Scott Moir Jr. actually got the gig, but he didn’t he didn’t stick around too long.

Craig Garber (34:34.315)
Ha ha

Craig Garber (34:49.574)
His dad was in cowboy, right? Yeah with Tommy Talton. Yeah. Yeah had Tommy on here a long time ago. Yeah

CHRIS (34:51.267)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

CHRIS (34:57.99)
Yeah, I met both the Scott Boyer, senior and junior years ago, you know, around… They played some plays together in Gadsden, Alabama. And then I went to one of the big music parties and multiple shows where everybody was there when I was younger. It was crazy. I was so, you know, nervous. But…

But yeah, Scott Burry Jr., he did a good job. He just didn’t stick with the gig too long. And that was lucky for me. I was back in Alabama and I was just playing in a local blues band getting by.

CHRIS (35:41.67)
I said, or he could get the sentence out of his mouth. I was like, yes, I will take the audition. I will try. I just couldn’t say yes quick enough. But look at that, two, two once in a lifetime, same opportunity the second time, because I didn’t do it the first time. I got a long list of things like that.

Craig Garber (35:41.758)
phone cards.

Craig Garber (35:46.2)

Craig Garber (36:00.658)
Yeah, that’s pretty crazy.

Craig Garber (36:07.07)
Yeah. So you co-wrote two songs with Leon, you traveled the world, you met and opened for a lot of other people like the Doobie Brothers, Little Feet, the Almond Brothers, Edgar Winter, Bob Dylan and Elton John. What did you get most out of that entire experience both professionally and personally?

CHRIS (36:31.043)
Uh, personally…

Um, once it’s sock in.

it I’ve I started to feel like hey I’m doing something here I’m hanging

I’m hanging in.

Craig Garber (36:51.815)

CHRIS (36:53.066)
I, you know, like, it’s not, it’s not always clear to you when you’re chasing something or working towards something that you can actually do it. But it kind of dawned on me, hey, I’m doing it. I’m doing it. And after, after three months go by, you’re like, all right, I haven’t been fired for not being good enough. So personally, that was part of it. And yeah.

Craig Garber (37:07.559)

Craig Garber (37:15.523)

Craig Garber (37:19.818)
It’s a lot like you got your confidence solidified. Yeah, that’s great.

CHRIS (37:23.358)
Yeah, I was working steady, making a steady wage, which is, you know, that’s what you’re shooting for when you’re a husband. And so that felt really good personally and it just, I felt, yeah, felt like, hey, I got a, I got a handle on this right now. And, uh,

Craig Garber (37:33.606)
Sure, absolutely. Yeah, yeah.

CHRIS (37:48.958)
and professionally.

Craig Garber (37:48.99)

CHRIS (37:54.322)
I learned how someone who’s been doing it for nearly 50 years at the time, Leon Russell, how he does it. He’s got things that he’s learned, like what to do and what not to do to get out on time, to get to the gig on time, to do a good job at the gig, and then do it again, and do it with efficiency, and do it on time.

and professionally, you know, learn how to be a professional, be ready, be on time. And a lot of talk about songwriting, you know, he didn’t talk all the time, but when he did, it was there was something to it. He wasn’t just BS and small talking. And sometimes he would really want to talk about songwriting and tell stories about how he learned from Bob Dylan about songwriting.

You know, and it really, it helps to hear the philosophy and try to institute some of that when you’re writing songs. It makes it a lot easier. Instead of thinking about it too much, you just do it. You know?

Craig Garber (39:09.286)
Yeah, he was such a great songwriter, man.

CHRIS (39:12.49)
Yeah, that’s right.

Craig Garber (39:15.17)
I would love you to share that story about Elton John coming over to talk with you early on in the tour where Elton was co-headlining with Leon.

CHRIS (39:27.742)
Yeah, so we did, we were scheduled to do, I think, 12 shows, something like that, over a couple weeks. And we were, we were told you’re gonna come out with Leon, y’all are gonna play like 25 minutes Leon songs, and then you guys, the band’s gonna leave the stage, Leon’s gonna stay seated, Elton and his band are gonna come out, and they’re gonna play the whole new record and

some of Elton’s songs, and that’s that.

And we were like, well, this is great. We’re so excited just to be a part of this. Well, the second night of that tour, Elton comes to our dressing room while we’re getting prepared to go do our set. And just gives a kind of pep talk. It’s great to be on tour with you guys. This is so much fun. We’re gonna have a great show. Just wanted to say hey before the show tonight. I was like, wow, this is so great. Elton John, you know.

You know, you can’t really even get your head around it, you know. And then he before he turns around to leave, he walks over to me and he says, you are you going to come up and play Monkey Suit with us tonight? Do you? And I guess you could see the look on my face because he said, you know, you know how to play it, right? And I said, Mm hmm.

Craig Garber (40:34.291)

Craig Garber (41:00.392)

CHRIS (41:02.783)
So I didn’t know how to play it. I didn’t know I was gonna play it. I didn’t know I was gonna play it. I’d heard it because it was on the new record and I’d listened to it several times and we had hoped that we were gonna play on some of that stuff but we were told we weren’t that they, you know, it was gonna be Elton’s band. So went out and did the 25 minutes with Leon and then I ran back

Craig Garber (41:06.322)

CHRIS (41:28.994)
to the dressing room, put on the CD, got my guitar, and went over that song, you know, 20 times or more.

Craig Garber (41:39.966)
Dude, you must have been sweating doing that. That’s pressure, yeah.

CHRIS (41:43.438)
Yeah, yeah, I was sweating. And then I learned it, got out there, stood beside Davy Johnstone, and to my right was Elton, to my left was Leon, and the whole band, you know. And out in front of us, you know, six to ten thousand people I can’t remember, but at least six thousand.

Craig Garber (42:03.838)
That’s pretty freaking cool.

CHRIS (42:13.538)
and my body was just… But I made it through it and I ended up playing that song that night. And then the next the next 10 shows or nine shows or whatever it was, I came out and played two songs. Every night. And that that’s a that’s one of those things that

Craig Garber (42:37.618)
Oh, that’s so cool, man.

CHRIS (42:42.342)
I don’t think I’ll ever forget, really.

Craig Garber (42:45.31)
You have pictures of that? Did someone get some pictures of you on stage with the whole band?

CHRIS (42:48.694)
There is some video and there is some pictures. It was on my website, which I guess got hacked, but I’d probably be able to recover it if I call the people who know what they’re doing, get them to fix it.

Craig Garber (42:52.554)

Craig Garber (43:03.742)
That’s really cool. What a good experience, man. That’s good. Thank you for sharing that, man. Ha ha ha. If you’re comfortable, what prompted you to leave Leon’s band?

CHRIS (43:06.67)
Yeah, you’re telling me.

CHRIS (43:15.59)
Well, I didn’t prompt myself, let’s put it that way. I’ve talked about this a lot because I was just let go. I wasn’t given a reason. Nobody in the band, I wasn’t able to ask Leon at the time or ever, I never asked him, but I asked the guys in the band and said, what?

Craig Garber (43:20.431)
Yeah, okay.

CHRIS (43:45.71)
y’all know what’s going on? They were all just as shocked as I was. It was just after a show, said, you’re no longer, your services are no longer required. I was shocked. No, there’s no, you know, but right.

Craig Garber (43:57.916)

God, that’s awful. And it wasn’t, it obviously wasn’t your playing because it doesn’t take the guy, Leon Russell five years to figure it out. So like, what the, you know.

CHRIS (44:11.506)
Yeah, so see, I knew Leon liked me. Like like you said, I was with him for five years and I was on time. I was prepared. I always tried to do better every night. But, you know, that wasn’t it. I’m not sure what it was still, but. I it was about two years later.

Craig Garber (44:18.291)

CHRIS (44:41.702)
I went to a show and after the show, I knew Leon would be on the bus by himself. So I knew the code, so I opened the door and plugged my head in. You know, you go up those stairs, you poke your head, there’s a curtain, pull the curtain back. And he saw my face and said, Hey Leon, do you mind if I sit down and talk with you for a minute? And he said something like,

Come on in. You know, like he didn’t really know what was coming. He didn’t really want to, but he said, come on in. And that would have been my opportunity to say, why, why did you fire me? You know? But I had, you know, given it a lot of thought over the, you know, you’re gonna think about it. Why, you know, you know, go over it and try to figure it out. I’d given it a lot of thought. I’d come to the conclusion that

Uh, it was, you know, he’s the one that gave me the job. He’s the one that took it away. Um, I was really glad that I had it for five years. I got a lot out of it. And, uh,

Craig Garber (45:53.898)

CHRIS (46:01.334)
I don’t understand legends. Only legends know how legends are gonna act. And I just said, hey, if Leon didn’t want me in the van anymore, that’s good enough for me. That’s the way I saw it. And when I talked to him, all I did was express thanks. I really wanted to do that. And I said, I wanted to say thank you and.

Uh, he, he gave me a guitar. Um, and that’s what I knew for sure. They liked me. It was, you know, within the first year I was with him, he had this guitar that he had bought from Freddie King and, um, I don’t know if you can see it.

Craig Garber (46:46.89)

Craig Garber (46:51.294)
Dude, I wanted you to talk about that because Freddie King is my all time favorite blues player and like, he did things with that and hit the power. The guy had was just an, and, and all, and Leon was involved with him and all them shelter records, which were his amazing, amazing records, man. Um, so yeah, talk about that guitar.

CHRIS (47:02.278)

CHRIS (47:09.715)
Yeah, yeah, I mean…

Well, he came up to me, he had told me this story, I don’t know, shortly after I joined the band, he had told me the story of how he went and bought that guitar from Freddie. He said Freddie was at the Highland Hotel and called him and said, I got a couple of guitars I wanna sell, you wanna come look? So he said, yeah, I’ll be over. Came to the door, said Freddie was in his boxers and there was a couple of naked ladies on the bed.

He didn’t invite me and he just opened the door and he said, here’s the guitars. And Leon just kind of peeked in and said those ladies were just sitting there staring at Freddie waiting on him to come back.

That’s the story. And he said he grabbed one of me, played it. He grabbed the other one and played it because I’ll take this one. He said three hundred and fifty dollars. I think is what he said. Three or three hundred fifty dollars. And he left with that guitar. Mm hmm. Yeah. Sixty eight, three forty five.

Craig Garber (48:06.698)
Is that one of his 345s? Holy shit. Dude, can you, can you, I’d love to see that, man. I’d love to touch that. Ha ha ha.

CHRIS (48:19.056)
Yeah, I actually took it on the blues cruise because I knew there would be a lot of people that would be pleased to see it.

Craig Garber (48:22.11)
Chris, that’s so cool.

Craig Garber (48:31.646)
Oh my God. So what is that guitar like? Like describe the neck on there. Is it like a big.

CHRIS (48:33.858)
68 345

CHRIS (48:40.378)
It’s big. It’s big. It’s got a narrow nut. Narrower than a normal Gibson nut, but it’s got a fatter fat back. Yeah.

Craig Garber (48:45.598)

Craig Garber (48:50.154)
fatter neck. You know, if Freddie was massive, he just seemed like a huge dude.

CHRIS (48:55.722)
Yeah, no. Text cannonball, you know? But yeah, I mean, there’s a lot… A lot of mojo.

Craig Garber (48:58.087)
Yeah, man.

Craig Garber (49:01.693)

CHRIS (49:07.714)
Lot of mojo in this one. Yeah.

Craig Garber (49:10.51)
Dude, how many people do you meet that are guitar players that don’t ask you to see the guitar? Probably not many.

CHRIS (49:18.247)
Uh, yeah, I mean, I usually volunteer when I, when I feel like some, somebody, uh, will appreciate it. And because, like I said, it was a gift. I’m sure. Yeah, it is. It’s not worth that it now. Uh, but, um, yeah, I feel like it was a gift to me. I appreciate it. And so.

Craig Garber (49:25.051)

Craig Garber (49:29.378)
$350! How nuts is that?

Craig Garber (49:36.242)
Hell no. Oh my god.

CHRIS (49:45.826)
When I can let somebody who will appreciate it too, I’ll let them play it, you know, touch it, play it. Cause I guess that’s, I feel like that’s kind of my, my job if I’m gonna have it. But it means a lot to me just because it, to me it was a symbol that I again, once again, belong there and that Leon thought so.

Craig Garber (49:51.867)

Craig Garber (50:01.98)

Craig Garber (50:13.882)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. You know, I’ve had, you know, I’ve had 930 guests on the show roughly. And I’ve heard so many stories of why artists just do randomly let go of people from their girlfriend or their wife said you need to change your guitar player to I need somebody younger. I need somebody older. I need somebody with a different look to, you know, it’s just

Flavor the month, I need a new one.

CHRIS (50:47.091)
Yeah. Uh.

Craig Garber (50:48.783)
It’s like completely random and doesn’t make any sense. It’s never related to the competency of the player.

CHRIS (50:57.898)
Yeah, sometimes. And I’m sure I may have been on the good end of that deal before, you know, where I was the next guy, you know. So that’s just the way it goes. It hurts.

Craig Garber (51:04.858)
Yeah. Yes.

CHRIS (51:14.326)
Rejection or surprises, unpleasant surprises never feel good, but it’s part of the deal.

Craig Garber (51:19.014)
Yeah, who the hell? No.

Yeah. Well, I give you a lot of credit for having the, um,

for having reconciled that in your head prior to and framing it in a way that, hey, I got the benefit of it, he hired me, he had the right, no blood, let me just go thank him. That was like, it speaks like loads of your character to what, yeah.

CHRIS (51:44.822)
Well, I appreciate you saying that, but when you see that guitar, when you see that he wrote two songs with me, that I put on my records, you know, and all that did was make the records sell easier, which he let me sell after the shows, at his shows. I did his merch, too, so I would sell his shirts and his CDs, but he said, if you want to put your CDs out there, too, you just have to charge the same price as mine.

Craig Garber (52:04.71)
Yeah, you yeah.

CHRIS (52:14.79)
But I made a lot of money doing that. You know, and right after I got the gig with him, my wife got pregnant. So I needed that money. Yeah, that’s right.

Craig Garber (52:16.838)
That’s awesome.

Craig Garber (52:27.982)
Yeah, you needed the bread, man. Sure. Yeah. That’s good that you were able to look at the glass half full instead of half empty because it’s. Yeah, that’s awesome, man. That’s really cool. And when you come down here, I’m just letting you know, I need to see that guitar. Oh, you don’t. I saw you playing on stage quite a bit. Maybe it was local gigs.

CHRIS (52:34.83)
Oh, it’s almost, I mean, it’s overflowing. It’s crazy.

CHRIS (52:44.186)
if I have it with me now. I don’t travel with it all the time but

CHRIS (52:52.978)
Um, yeah, some local stuff I’ll bring it, like if Muscle Shells or something, if I come home, maybe I’ll bring it there and play it. And I don’t mind taking it if I’m going to play it more than one song, you know. I certainly don’t want to fly with it. I’ve never flown with it.

Craig Garber (53:11.178)
Oh, hell no. God, no. Not something like that. That’s forgetting about the money, what it’s worth just like the privilege to play that thing, man. That’s like, you know, yeah, man, this, you know, like you said, the mojo. That’s so funny. Freddie comes out there with two naked women in the back. So he lived a short life, but it seems like a pretty good life.

CHRIS (53:16.481)

CHRIS (53:22.882)

CHRIS (53:26.606)
It’s true.

CHRIS (53:35.67)
That’s the story I was told. Yeah.

Craig Garber (53:40.85)
That’s crazy, man. Um, so then. Bill 2019, Bill Hines leaves Paul Thorn’s band and you get the call audition for that slot. And you’ve been with Paul ever since. What what’s been the most important things you’ve learned on this gig.

CHRIS (53:58.758)
Well, um…

CHRIS (54:03.907)
The first thing that comes to mind…

what I’ve learned how to play guitar better.

Craig Garber (54:12.218)
Okay, in what way?

CHRIS (54:14.226)
Well, I had to learn a lot of new techniques that Bill Hines did that I really, I kind of knew what he was doing, but I wasn’t practiced in it. And I learned about myself there again about how much more I could do that I wasn’t doing on my own, you know. But when I first saw Bill, I was motivated.

Craig Garber (54:36.562)
That’s cool.

CHRIS (54:44.078)
to run home and practice. When I first saw Paul Thorne Band, it was a festival near here in Jasper, Alabama. My band was there and they were there and we met up backstage and talked and kind of hit it off. And they thought my band was cool. I thought their band was really cool. And like I said, I saw Bill playing and I said, I’ve got to go home and practice.

Craig Garber (54:46.366)

Craig Garber (55:14.017)
There are guys that make you feel that way and you see them or you feel like I shouldn’t even be playing this guitar. Combination.

CHRIS (55:16.333)

CHRIS (55:19.782)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s what yeah, it’s that scary feeling. It’s like what am I doing? You know, so and I was watching the band too and thinking man, this band is great. The songs are great. And then I just started thinking to myself. Could I play in this band and my answer immediately was not today, but I said, I think if I practice maybe I could I saw I said in my head no lie.

Craig Garber (55:27.017)

CHRIS (55:50.062)
I promise you, that’s what I said in my head that day. And did go home and practice, but not enough, because when I got the call for the audition, it was tough. I said yes, because it felt like the proper thing to do. I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to work as hard as I knew I was gonna have to.

CHRIS (56:19.67)
That’s another thing it taught me is that I can do more than I think I can sometimes.

Craig Garber (56:29.364)

CHRIS (56:32.674)
if I’m willing to put everything else aside, because that’s what I did. For two weeks, I learned six songs for the audition, and I put everything else that I could aside. And got the gig, and then I had like 35 more songs to learn over six weeks, something like that. And I had to put everything else aside for that too, and just…

Craig Garber (56:32.684)

Craig Garber (56:55.603)
That’s a B-

CHRIS (57:01.362)
warm up, you know, get up in the morning, have some breakfast, warm up, do it, regiment, you know, on for an hour, take 20 minutes or whatever. So my hand wouldn’t wear out and my brain wouldn’t wear out. But I got it done and, you know, that’s, I learned that I could do it, you know, I wasn’t sure I could, thought I could.

Craig Garber (57:27.294)
You know, remember that movie Superbad?

CHRIS (57:31.756)

Craig Garber (57:32.954)
It was like it had McLovin, the kids and yeah, okay. I don’t know if you remember the soundtrack. It was like really cool funk.

CHRIS (57:35.462)
Oh yeah, I remember parts of it, yeah.

Craig Garber (57:43.978)
It was like Bootsy, actually it was Bootsy Collins, I mean, yeah, it was Bootsy Collins, I believe, who played that in his band. And the guy who scored that is a guy in LA named Lyle Workman. And Lyle’s, he’s a fantastic guitar player on top of that, but he’s also a really good arranger. He came on the show and he came out with an album a couple of years back and it was a brilliant, I mean, just a brilliant record. He’s like a virtuoso guitar player.

And the arrangements that he did were pretty phenomenal. And at the end of the interview, I asked him, I said, Lyle, what did you learn from doing this? Because it’s a pretty phenomenal piece of work. And he said exactly what you said. He said, I’ve learned you can do more than you think you can do. And that was really cool to hear you say that, because that means you really pushed yourself and grew out of it, which is I always like to hear those stories, it makes me feel good and optimistic.

That’s awesome.

CHRIS (58:43.378)
Yeah, I hear those stories too, and they’re inspiring. And I’m sure I heard somebody when I was younger or something, and it stuck with me. I was taught that if I wanted to learn how to do something, that I probably could.

Craig Garber (58:48.851)

Craig Garber (58:56.244)

CHRIS (59:14.89)
if I wasn’t afraid to try. But that’s, see, that’s the Stumbling Blot.

Craig Garber (59:16.912)

Craig Garber (59:20.346)
Yeah, most people don’t make it past the starting gate because of that. Unfortunately. Yeah. It’s very unfortunate. That’s awesome, man. What a great story. I want to talk about some of your solo music and I just want to tell people when I listened to Chris’s music, cause I had not heard his solo stuff. This guy’s just a really, really soulful blues player. And I, as I said to him before we started the call, he’s more like, got like a gospel soul and.

puts it in blues. I mean, he’s a phenomenal blues player, but he’s, you know, he just, he hits these notes. It’s just really nice. So I would encourage everybody to check out Chris’s music. He’s got four records out. Let’s start with, I want to talk about some of my favorite tracks on the, your album, old news to me. You got a really cool track called get on board little children.

And that song, I think was written by Paul Robeson, the great tenor singer, right?

CHRIS (01:00:26.538)
Well, at the time I didn’t know who wrote it. I was just, that was my first record that I did myself after I got my first studio built. And I had like, I forget how many songs, 10 are on there, but I had seven or eight songs, something like that. And I thought, well, I need some more songs. Maybe I’ll just get a public domain, some public domain lyrics.

and do my own version of some old gospel blues type thing. So I just got on the internet, started searching and I don’t know if it was the first one I came to, but it didn’t take long till I got to those lyrics and what came out of it, it was just what came out, you know, and it seemed right.

Craig Garber (01:01:21.29)
Dude, it’s phenomenal. What an arrangement of that. I mean, that is so, and I, you played, did you, I think I read you played all the instruments on that record.

CHRIS (01:01:26.808)
Thank you.

CHRIS (01:01:33.17)
Yeah, on the first one I played all of it, and on the second one I played all of it, but I got Matt Slocom to play organ and piano on two tracks on the second one, on Howl of the Million Man. But yeah, but that’s the reason I built my own studio is so that

Craig Garber (01:01:53.851)

CHRIS (01:01:59.718)
I could get, there was things about going in the studio that I hated over the years, which was time limits, engineers who thought they were producers or part of the band, you know, part of the decision-making process. And I thought I’m gonna build my own studio and learn how to work it, learn how to put it all together. I’m gonna learn how to play drums. I’m gonna learn everything. Cause I wanna sit in there all day and make,

Craig Garber (01:02:11.964)
Ha ha.

Craig Garber (01:02:21.386)

CHRIS (01:02:29.41)
go over and over again on a vocal take or a drum track or a guitar solo until I think it’s right. And if I ain’t right at the end of that day, I’ll go the next day and start again.

Craig Garber (01:02:43.854)
Right, right. Well, that’s enough.

CHRIS (01:02:45.462)
Because once it’s done, it’s done, you know?

Craig Garber (01:02:48.99)
But so you played keys on that track on Get On Board Little Troos?

CHRIS (01:02:52.786)
Yes, that was a…

CHRIS (01:02:58.258)
It was a Wurlitzer 200A that I got when I was in Texas. I got a good deal on it and I kept it.

for several years after I made that record, until the sample started sounding so good that I couldn’t tell the difference. But that, yeah, that’s the real 200A. I put a mic on the speaker of the 200A and did it. The drum beat that you hear on there, that droning drum beat, that’s just me with my hands on top of the 200A.

Craig Garber (01:03:20.851)

CHRIS (01:03:39.774)
And I stacked that up until it sounded like I wanted it to.

Craig Garber (01:03:40.323)
Oh wow.

Craig Garber (01:03:45.93)
Well, that keyboard sound fantastic. To me, it was like super old school gospel sounding. I mean, that’s such a cool track, man. Yeah.

CHRIS (01:03:50.918)
Yeah. Yeah, it was the real deal. And it all with all its imperfections and, you know, it that’s the that was the real deal. That one, there was no fake on that on that track. As far as that piano, as far as that.

Craig Garber (01:04:09.158)
Yeah, that was awesome. And then you got a track on there called lion again. It’s another great blues track. I was curious. It sounds like you’re playing a strat and a Gibson in that track. Are you playing both?

CHRIS (01:04:12.407)
Thank you.


CHRIS (01:04:23.042)
I don’t remember for sure. I was probably at some point playing a Les Paul. That one I played that one a blue Sparkle Les Paul Deluxe with full-size humbuckers. It had full-size humbuckers in it. It was routed before I got it. But I don’t remember if I played a Strat on that or not. If it sounds like it I probably did.

Craig Garber (01:04:35.366)
Oh, with the humbuckers? Oh, full size, okay.

CHRIS (01:04:50.582)
I probably had one at the time. And I just don’t remember. I should have wrote it down. And maybe I wrote it down somewhere, but I don’t know where I put, where I wrote it down.

Craig Garber (01:04:58.953)

Craig Garber (01:05:02.474)
Sure. No, it sounded really cool. Cause it, you know, the two guitars were different enough that like, you know, you could hear the sound at it. That’s why I don’t like, I mean, nothing, I don’t want to start slamming guitars, but let’s other brands outside of Gibson and Fender. They don’t really have to my, you know, you can’t listen to like a certain brand of guitars outside. Maybe you’re Gretsch you can, but, and, and you know what I mean? It doesn’t have that sound. And that’s why I like

CHRIS (01:05:25.291)

CHRIS (01:05:29.994)
Whether it’s just something that’s pleasing, you know, and if you deviate too much from what is really great or almost perfect, then you’re just getting farther away from that, maybe.

Craig Garber (01:05:33.112)

Craig Garber (01:05:41.678)
Yes. That’s how I feel. And I listen, obviously there’s a big world and you know, my opinions me or just my opinions. I mean, nothing is tons of thousands of guitars sold from all brands. But that’s why I stick with Fender. And to me, I like to hear, oh, that’s a that’s a strat. That’s a, you know, or that’s a Strat or a Telly, you know, or that’s a that’s a Gibson, that’s a hollow body semi, you know, whatever. It’s just feels good. That track

CHRIS (01:05:53.612)

CHRIS (01:06:03.972)


Craig Garber (01:06:10.542)
It is hard to listen to that song without picking up your guitar and playing along with it. It’s so cool. I was just curious, is that about anything? And I like every time I listen to it, I grab one of these and I’m just like, you know, imagining I can play like you. But but it’s just the vibe is so good. You can’t like leave a guitar sitting there next to you without picking it up. Oh, it’s phenomenal. Was that song about anything in particular?

CHRIS (01:06:23.85)
Ha ha

CHRIS (01:06:30.37)
Well, I appreciate it. That’s good to hear.

CHRIS (01:06:37.686)
I don’t think so. If I remember correctly, it’s just a song about a guy who’s trying to tell a girl that, hey, this is very casual. If I tell you I love you, I’m lying. Don’t worry about it. And that was just me. I wrote that song in my early 20s. And I was trying to be as cool as.

Craig Garber (01:06:58.281)

CHRIS (01:07:06.942)
some of the people I thought were cool when they wrote their songs and sang their songs.

Craig Garber (01:07:11.211)
Right. Sure. Well, it’s a great blues track, man. On Hallelujah Man. Tell me about the title that I don’t usually ask about titles, but that was a pretty cool title. What was that about?

CHRIS (01:07:14.551)
Thank you.

CHRIS (01:07:25.062)
Well, that now, Hallelujah Man is a song that I ended up co-writing with Leon. I had the idea of the lick and the idea of the story in my head, which really didn’t translate all the way to the song, but the story in my head was of a traveling Bible salesman.

who everybody when he came around he did a lot of the same routes and people would they say hey hallelujah man they called him hallelujah man in this imagination of mine he had a station wagon an old station wagon boxes of bibles in the back had one of those ash trays that sits on the dash you know with the bag

Craig Garber (01:07:53.97)

That’s so cool!

Craig Garber (01:08:07.522)
Yeah, those old man, you’re taking me way back. I haven’t even thought of that in like maybe I walk through a market or a yard sale 25 years ago, the last time I thought of that. Wow.

CHRIS (01:08:19.13)
It must, you know, it must be some memory I had when I was a little, you know, a kid or whatever, but it just popped into my head that idea and in the words, hallelujah man, you know, but I was just playing it one day and I thought, I’m gonna sit down and play this for Leon and see what he thinks. And he started singing out lyrics while I was playing the riff and

Craig Garber (01:08:24.926)

CHRIS (01:08:46.474)
I said, hold on, I put my phone on record, I started playing again and he kept singing and he sang a bunch of lyrics and I went into the back of the bus, I wrote them all down, arranged them and I went back and told him, I said, we just wrote a song. I kind of tricked him into it. Well, I didn’t know it was gonna happen either, but yeah, it was organic like that and his lyrics didn’t have anything to do with necessarily what I was thinking, but I put it all together and it tells it’s…

Craig Garber (01:09:00.991)
That’s so cool.

CHRIS (01:09:16.378)
whatever story it tells, it tells that story.

Craig Garber (01:09:18.142)

You got a track on that on the Hallelujah Man album called Farewell for Now, and it is such a great song. It’s like an uplifting, bluesy, gospel-y rock track. And I was curious what the backstory was, and specifically where you say there’s something out there waiting for me. What does that refer to?

CHRIS (01:09:33.976)
Thank you.

CHRIS (01:09:44.438)
When I wrote it, it was the, and I guess still, I mean, it’s what I’m shooting for, shooting for the stars. There’s something, I’m not even sure what it is. I’m just going for it. You know, I’m on the journey. And I started writing that song in my early 20s too. But I didn’t finish it for about 10 years because it was a song about being out on the road.

Craig Garber (01:09:57.319)

CHRIS (01:10:14.014)
and being away from home and I had, I kind of imagined it, but I didn’t really know at that time. I knew a little, but you know, weekend stuff. But after about 10 years of living, I had experienced being gone and being away and wishing that I could, having regrets, you know, wishing that I could go and go home and do something different to change something or whatever, you know.

just being lonesome, being out on the road, but also chasing that something, you know? So yeah, I finished that song shortly before I left Texas. So it was many years later.

Craig Garber (01:10:49.808)

Craig Garber (01:11:00.342)
Love that track and I’m with you. I’m something out there waiting for me. I’m trying to figure out. I’m just on the journey. I love the, the double stops in that solo that you do. Cause I, I’m really trying to learn those. And I, I know they’re not as hard as I think, and I get in my head sometimes, but I love double stops that are done well, which they’re done beautifully in that track and I really enjoyed that. I was curious, you put the title song from old news to me on hallelujah man album.

CHRIS (01:11:22.798)
Thank you.

Craig Garber (01:11:30.099)
What made you do that?

CHRIS (01:11:32.374)
As I recall, when I was doing the Old News to Me record, I thought Old News to Me would be a good title for a song, but I hadn’t written the song and I didn’t get around to it. And between that record and the next record, I had written a song called Old News to Me, and I thought it would be funny to put.

Craig Garber (01:11:58.221)
It was funny.

CHRIS (01:11:59.702)
put that song on the next record. And then I, you know, but I messed around and I put the title of it and the title track on the Hallelujah Man. So I couldn’t do it on the next one.

Craig Garber (01:12:01.843)
You see-

Craig Garber (01:12:09.178)
Right. It’s it was funny. You see that like I’ve seen that maybe like, I don’t know, two or three times in my life. And it was it’s always cool. I always wonder what the story is behind that.

CHRIS (01:12:20.704)
Well, the idea of the song and the album title were just kind of all there, but no song.

Craig Garber (01:12:26.542)
Yeah, on Set Me On Free, you got a track called Demons Won’t Let Go. I love that track, super cool blues rock. The mix on this record is different, I felt like your voice is more out front vocals. Was that deliberate?

CHRIS (01:12:43.694)
Yes, that whole record I co-wrote with Walter Barker.

Craig Garber (01:12:49.51)
Oh, with the guy who had the lyrics and you put this on? Yeah, okay.

CHRIS (01:12:52.314)
Yep. And we did it one at a time and we didn’t have a plan to do the whole record. But for the first time in a long time, I was working with someone else and making decisions with them instead of just making all the decisions. And so I would, you know, we batted the songs back and forth and got the song and I’d demo it and he would say, what about this? And we’d go back and

Craig Garber (01:13:10.217)

CHRIS (01:13:22.898)
we got what we got and I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want it to be just the way I wanted it. I wanted it to be the way he wanted it to, but I also wanted it to be more for everyone, which I think people like the vocals a little higher than I actually prefer them personally.

Craig Garber (01:13:47.898)
Yeah, but you could tell they sounded great, man. You have a great voice. I mean, it sounded great. It was really, it was, you know, I noticed it right away. I was like, oh, this is cool. But on you got some great female background vocals on there and you’ve done that a few times. I was curious, you know, you need to be a good arranger to do stuff like that. Where did you learn how to do that? Or like what prompted you to put that in there? Because it’s, it adds, it’s very appropriate for that track. It adds a lot to it.

CHRIS (01:13:51.224)
Thank you.

CHRIS (01:13:56.824)
Thank you.

CHRIS (01:14:15.278)
Thank you. I don’t know where I learned it. I’m sure, you know, when I think about it, I mean, there was, there’s all kind of 60s soul, you know, that it’s all over, which I really love. It just makes you feel good when you hear that. And Queen, you know, it’s a different kind of thing, but it’s those layered vocals.

Craig Garber (01:14:34.01)
Yeah, really good.

CHRIS (01:14:44.298)
where they get sounding phasy, ELO, when those vocals are so layered, they get to really sounding otherworldly, you know? And as far as how I do it, it just, whatever I feel, you know, and I, you know, having your own studio, you can just experiment all day long. And…

Craig Garber (01:14:47.702)

Craig Garber (01:15:11.61)

CHRIS (01:15:13.378)
cut out the parts that aren’t as good as the others and go back and figure out what note here and there and until it feels right, you know.

Craig Garber (01:15:24.126)
Well, I really like how you do that. And sometimes, you know, people get carried away because they’re like, Oh, let me put background vocals on every track. Let me put horns on. And it doesn’t necessarily, but just, you know, it’s just cause you can do something, it doesn’t always mean you need to do it, but you did it really appropriately on the records. I really enjoyed it.

CHRIS (01:15:37.111)

CHRIS (01:15:43.786)
Thank you. I had to stop myself because it is just fun to do, you know.

Craig Garber (01:15:48.602)
I’m sure with having people with good voices singing behind you.

CHRIS (01:15:53.784)

Craig Garber (01:15:55.434)
Chris, top three musical experiences you’ve had and what made them so much fun or so memorable for you.

CHRIS (01:16:01.982)
Well, probably the top, I was talking about being on stage with Elton and Leon. You know, it’s not necessarily the musical part of it, which, you know, we’re playing music, but just the actual out-of-body type feeling and surreal of standing there where…

Craig Garber (01:16:24.803)

CHRIS (01:16:31.306)
You know, when you’re younger and you see people doing that, it’s magical. It doesn’t seem like a real life thing, but it is, you know, it’s a.

Craig Garber (01:16:40.234)

CHRIS (01:16:45.958)
Let me see that. Hold on a second.

CHRIS (01:16:53.542)
Oh yeah, oh yeah, cut right there. Well, yeah, the…

CHRIS (01:17:01.95)
As far as, I mean, the Bob Dylan tour, same thing. We did like, I think an hour, Leon Russell van opening for Bob Dylan. We did like 21 or 22 shows in a month, over 30 days. I mean, it was, so the musical part of it, you know, the body electricity part of going out to Bob Dylan’s audiences, which were

Craig Garber (01:17:20.498)
That’s busy.

CHRIS (01:17:30.738)
six to ten thousand or more every night. It’s just kind of until you get used to that it’s crazy. You know I kind of got used to it by the end but every night Bob Dylan played too you know and Bob Dylan’s band’s great Bob Dylan is you know he’s Bob Dylan there’s something about him and I really enjoy just watching him do his thing uh just listening to him and

Craig Garber (01:17:57.385)

CHRIS (01:18:02.586)
And he had the McCrary sisters with him on that tour too. Speaking of really great, soulful backing vocals, that was wonderful.

Craig Garber (01:18:08.286)

Craig Garber (01:18:13.322)
It’s funny, Bob Britt is now Bob Dylan’s guitar player. Yeah.

CHRIS (01:18:16.05)
Yeah, that’s right. I heard that. And I saw Bob Brent. I actually, I don’t know if I ever met him years ago. I probably did. But I saw him on the cruise. We were on a cruise with, and Etta was playing, and Bob was playing with Delbert McClinton. And I talked to him a little bit. I’d actually like to talk to him some more, but it’s kind of busy on those cruises. I’d like to get his perspective on Leon.

Craig Garber (01:18:30.241)
Oh yeah.


Craig Garber (01:18:45.242)
Yeah, he was with him for quite some time. I think him and his brother are both with Leon, actually. His brother, Tom. Yeah. Okay, so Elton Leon and then Bob Dylan, what would be number three?

CHRIS (01:18:49.454)
Mm. I didn’t know that.

CHRIS (01:18:56.658)
Yeah, the most musically rewarding thing that’s top of my mind is…

the Leon Russell tribute show, right after he died, they put together a big Leon tribute in Tulsa. And they invited me to come out to that. And there was one or two days of rehearsal, which I always liked rehearsal better than the show because it’s more laid back. As far as those type of, yeah, those type of deals, a lot more of your natural.

Craig Garber (01:19:17.532)
Ah, cool.

Craig Garber (01:19:28.466)
Less stress. Yeah.

CHRIS (01:19:35.37)
stuff is played there. And, you know, so you get to be around a bunch of people, just really being their best, in my opinion, being relaxed. And so that was a lot of fun. And then the show was a lot of fun too. I mean, there was, I don’t know how many people, a hundred, you know, it was Tulsa, a lot of people who love Leon. And I was in pain over that, crazy. You know, it’s crazy how…

Craig Garber (01:19:54.952)

CHRIS (01:20:04.806)
I felt like Leon would never die. I know better, but it just didn’t seem right. So I was, yeah, legend. He lives on, but he died, but I didn’t think he would for some reason. It just, it’s not, I don’t know, it’s different. I don’t know how to explain it. But so I was mourning and…

Craig Garber (01:20:09.482)

Craig Garber (01:20:15.626)
Tracey was larger than life character kind of. Yeah.

Craig Garber (01:20:22.866)

CHRIS (01:20:34.666)
When I was able to go to that and be around everybody else, it was really helpful. You know, the music was great and being around people, it was helpful. And I got to see a bunch of great musicians. And that was, that’s probably one of my biggest, when there’s, you know, there’s a lot of enjoyment I’ve gotten out of playing music in the studio with folks and in rehearsals. But that was, that’s a big one. That’s a big one.

Craig Garber (01:20:40.909)
Oh good.

Craig Garber (01:21:02.846)

Chris, tell me what were some of the low points or dark periods in your life and how’d you get through them?

CHRIS (01:21:12.71)
Well, the way I look at life, I try not to focus too much on the low points. So the only one that really comes to mind is I nearly died in a car wreck when I was 19. So I got busted up pretty good and had a few months recovery and learning how to walk again,

Craig Garber (01:21:29.842)
Holy shit.

CHRIS (01:21:42.57)
didn’t really take that long, but I had a broken pelvis and was in a chair for a couple of months. And then I had to have some more surgery like 10 months later, you know, blah, blah. But that whole period.

Craig Garber (01:21:47.494)
Holy crap.

CHRIS (01:22:00.114)
It was just like, hey, I was 19, I was healthy, I was young, never gonna die. Suddenly I knew overnight, hey, I could die at any time. And this stuff hurts and I can’t just get up and walk. But I got, you know, and everything wasn’t, they weren’t sure about how all the surgeries are gonna work, if it was going to repair me completely, if I was gonna have lingering.

Craig Garber (01:22:10.324)

CHRIS (01:22:30.778)
you know, whatever, you know, to live a life that, you know, I had no idea. But, you know, over that period, I was able to, first of all, admit that I was gonna die, which is a very helpful thing, you know. I didn’t know it at the time, right, immediately. But once you can, once you know that, things focus easier.

Craig Garber (01:22:32.379)

Craig Garber (01:22:55.794)
helpful in a way that you were able to be more grateful for everything that you have. Yeah, I can see that. Yeah, for sure.

CHRIS (01:22:59.062)
Mm-hmm. That’s right. Yeah, and you know, I never I never became as uh, uh As healthy as I was the day before the You know that car accident. I mean I came I mean i’m very healthy now, but uh, I never was never got back to that but I’m so grateful for what I Have more grateful

for what I have now than I was the day before, perspective. And so that was, it was, but it was hard to get through. I had to, I kind of zoned out. I just kind of just didn’t think about the future as far as the negatives. I just thought, I’m gonna get through this next day. I’m gonna get through this next day, get done with this. And then at some point I’m gonna take off.

Craig Garber (01:23:32.836)
Yeah. Wow.

CHRIS (01:23:57.65)
You know, that was a dark time, but not very long. Like I said, I worked it out.

Craig Garber (01:24:05.181)
How long were you like out for?

CHRIS (01:24:08.375)
I think I was, well, first of all, I was unconscious for like three days. And then I think it was like an induced coma or something. But then I was in the hospital for maybe 10 days and then in a wheelchair for a couple of months.

Craig Garber (01:24:09.502)
Recovery, total recovery.

Craig Garber (01:24:15.902)
Holy crap, man.

Craig Garber (01:24:31.678)
Dude, that’s heavy. You’re hospitalized for 10 days. You don’t, yeah.

CHRIS (01:24:35.95)
It was touch and go, they said. I was never worried once I had consciousness. They were all still worried that I wouldn’t pull out of it. But I never had that concern once I was conscious.

Craig Garber (01:24:41.415)

Craig Garber (01:24:48.83)
Good. You can’t man. You don’t have, you can’t afford to have that concern. You need to, yeah. Yeah. Wow. Holy shit. Hey, uh, let’s talk, switch gears on and talk about, uh, guitar for a few minutes. When you’re laying down your solos, do you tend to use a straight improv right then and there, or do you work things out ahead of time or over some days?

CHRIS (01:24:53.254)
Yeah, I thought it was gonna be fine. That’s what I felt, you know.

CHRIS (01:25:15.766)
Well, I usually improv in the studio and if it’s great, I’ll leave it, but it’s usually not great. What I’d classify as great the first time or first few times through. I just kind of improv a while and if the improv is good, then maybe I’ll leave it. But often I will improv, take parts.

and cut them up and then learn that and then write a solo out of that. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s what happened in Farewell for Now. That solo, I pretty much play that solo now when I play that song or an evolved version of it. Yeah. Yeah, and yeah, well that’s…

Craig Garber (01:25:50.526)
So you gotta learn your own stuff in a sense. Yeah, yeah.

Craig Garber (01:25:58.632)

Craig Garber (01:26:04.658)
So you’ve learned it. Yeah, yeah. That’s interesting to having to learn your own stuff again. Yeah.

CHRIS (01:26:12.114)
Well, I say that a lot because while I’m doing it, I’m not really monitoring it, you know? So it’s, once I get to the end of it, then I, if I’m recording it, then I can go back and listen to what happened. But it’s happening, you know? It’s more, it’s somewhat unconscious, you know, right? Yeah.

Craig Garber (01:26:23.186)

Craig Garber (01:26:35.066)
Yeah, no you can’t, you gotta be present. Yeah, you gotta be present when you’re doing that. Tell me the two or three best concerts you’ve ever seen.

CHRIS (01:26:47.04)

CHRIS (01:26:52.094)
Well, my first one, I wouldn’t put it in the best, but at the time, you know, the Joan Jett coming out there and the rock and roll and the lights and then Aerosmith was great. But as far as, you know, I love Paul Rodgers. I got to see Paul Rodgers.

Craig Garber (01:27:00.394)
for Jones and Aerosmith.

Craig Garber (01:27:05.618)

CHRIS (01:27:14.378)
I played on a side stage in Atlanta at an amphitheater and got to see Paul Rogers and that was just like being in the same space as a demigod to me. It was crazy and I’ll always remember that.

Craig Garber (01:27:28.003)
Yeah, he’s got an amazing voice.

Craig Garber (01:27:34.443)
Was he doing a solo gig there or was he with bad company?

CHRIS (01:27:38.066)
It was a solo band gig. And I would love to see Bad Company, but I’ve never had the chance to see them. But…

Craig Garber (01:27:40.143)

CHRIS (01:27:53.13)
Well, I loved Queen of Paul Rodgers. That was great. Black Crows was great. Let’s see.

Craig Garber (01:27:56.859)
Yeah, you had mentioned that.

CHRIS (01:28:06.553)
Let me refer to my notes here.

Craig Garber (01:28:09.167)
Ah, cool man.

CHRIS (01:28:18.27)
Oh yeah, forgot. I love, I, I love the Foo Fighters and.

Craig Garber (01:28:25.722)
Yeah, I saw them in.

CHRIS (01:28:29.066)
You know, there’s no, they’re not holding back, you know. They’re putting it out there and that’s, you can see it. I know what’s going on right now. When I saw Aerosmith, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know backstage, I didn’t know preparation or what was going on, but I know what’s going on now and they’re putting it out there. And it’s real, you know, I love the Foo Fighters. I saw them two or three times.

Craig Garber (01:28:57.842)
Yeah, they’re a good band.

CHRIS (01:28:58.719)
uh and uh BB King

CHRIS (01:29:04.814)
Being in the same space with B.B. King was surreal, just watching him play. And he, Leon, when I was Leon, we played on a couple of festivals with him. And it was just amazing.

Craig Garber (01:29:25.158)
When you saw the foos, I saw them probably 20 years ago. I took my kids who at the time, my sons at the time were I guess 11 and 13. And they did a cover of Creedence song as the encore. And I don’t know which song it was at the top of my head, but the whole show is phenomenal. But that cover of the Creedence song was just great. They do tear it up. They tear it up.

CHRIS (01:29:52.543)
I don’t remember a credit song that they did.

Craig Garber (01:29:56.442)
Yeah, I was just curious if that.

CHRIS (01:29:57.506)
But they probably did different ones because they did, you know, like I said, I don’t think they half-assed it. They don’t just do the same cover every night. You know, they say, hey, tonight, let’s try something we haven’t ever tried before, which is very cool. I saw them a couple of times when I lived in Austin. So that would have been, you know, before 2006. So.

Craig Garber (01:30:03.409)


Craig Garber (01:30:09.37)
Yeah, I agree.

Craig Garber (01:30:19.943)

Tell me guitar wise what’s your go-to guitar right now and what other two would round out your top three?

CHRIS (01:30:28.818)
If I had to pick just one, it would be my Les Paul Gold Top. If I had to just play one, but I’m not going to do that. But, you know, my favorite guitar overall. Oh, you want to hear about the Gold Top? It’s a I think it’s a 03-57 reissue. It’s it’s about eight and a half pounds, maybe.

Craig Garber (01:30:33.512)

Tell me about that guitar. Ha ha ha. Tell me about that guitar.

Craig Garber (01:30:47.782)
Yeah, yeah, like is

Craig Garber (01:30:53.107)

CHRIS (01:30:58.23)
So pretty light, got a huge neck.

Craig Garber (01:31:01.386)
I was going to say, you must have big hands because you love these big neck guitars.

CHRIS (01:31:04.374)
Well, I don’t know how big my hands are, but I just, I like the, it cuts down on the fatigue, it seems to me, when the neck is bigger. I don’t know why.

Craig Garber (01:31:20.174)
Oh, cuz you’re not squeezing, you’re not clenching down. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I can understand that.

CHRIS (01:31:23.494)
Yeah, I’m more relaxed. So I’ve really gravitated that over the last 10 years or so. And it’s got burst buckers. And I never use the tone knobs on my Les Pauls. I may use it every once in a while on the Tele. But tone knobs are useless to me on Les Pauls, as far as I know so far. I don’t use them. I got a Waf. I want to.

I want to get that, Sam. So I split the coils and use the knobs to roll out the coil in increments. Spin a split, that’s what they call it. So I can get single coil tones out of that Les Paul. Now, online again, I didn’t have that capability. Those were just two conductor humbuckers on that Les Paul, that blue sparkle Les Paul.

Craig Garber (01:32:03.429)

CHRIS (01:32:22.414)
And I don’t think I had actually learned how to do that yet. But, so I probably did have a strat if it sounded like one, but now I can get strat-like tones out of that Les Paul and put it, you know. Yeah, turn them into single coils. It’s not strat, it doesn’t sound like a strat, but it’s strat-like, you know.

Craig Garber (01:32:26.216)

Craig Garber (01:32:33.498)
out of the burst, out of burst buckers. That’s interesting. Yeah.

Craig Garber (01:32:44.09)
Yeah, sure, sure. Did it come like that or you modded it? You had it modded or? Yeah, okay.

CHRIS (01:32:47.634)
I modded it. I’ve been learning how to work on my guitars ever since the first time I took it in to get it restrung. Cause it was like $25.

Craig Garber (01:32:59.134)

Craig Garber (01:33:02.703)
Yeah, it saves you a boatload of money when you’re a professional if you could do that.

CHRIS (01:33:06.363)
I was just like, I’m not doing this anymore. Yeah.

Craig Garber (01:33:08.982)
Yeah. I have burst buckers on that classic that’s hanging the black one there. I really like them, actually.

CHRIS (01:33:17.556)
You got a black classic?

Craig Garber (01:33:19.314)
Yeah, Les Paul Classic is right next to the Strat. Yeah, yeah, it’s a regular. Yeah, I like that. No, I like the Burstbuckers on there. That’s my only guitar with Burstbuckers.

CHRIS (01:33:22.662)
I can’t see it, but I’ll take your word for it. Or you can show it to…

CHRIS (01:33:30.094)
Oh yeah, I like verse buckers one and two. You know, I like them not too hot. But yeah, they have a good vintage, loose, open sound to me. And my favorite guitar overall is 64 SG Junior, which was another gift. My best friend, I played Little League Ball with, still best friends with him today.

gave it to me years ago, his granddad gave it to him.

Craig Garber (01:33:59.722)
That’s cool.

Craig Garber (01:34:03.278)
Oh my God. So that’s, that’s a like legit 64. So you got some couple of cool vintages between the Freddy and that. So an SG junior that’s got like one, like something one P 90. Yeah. Okay.

CHRIS (01:34:07.019)

CHRIS (01:34:15.174)
One P90. And it’s original P90. The wood is solid. It’s got a bigger neck. It’s not a weak neck like some of those 60s SGs have. You can do this on some of those 60s SGs and you can hear the strings going out of tune. But this one’s solid. I play open G slide on it most of the time. And it’s just perfect. Perfect for that.

Craig Garber (01:34:42.174)
So how does like, I’ve never played a vintage P90, how does that sound different from like a modern P90 on a Les Paul Jr. let’s say.

CHRIS (01:34:52.946)
Um, the way to describe it, I guess, would be it’s just got a little more width, roundness, and openness. I really don’t know. It’s hard to describe, you know, you use words, but let’s just say this is a uh, I’ve got an 80s P90 in this Red SG Junior over here, and it’s like the tone is like this. The tone on the old one is more like

Craig Garber (01:35:18.195)

CHRIS (01:35:22.359)

Craig Garber (01:35:23.462)
Okay, no, I understand that makes sense to me what you’re saying. Yeah.

CHRIS (01:35:25.586)
opens up and loosens on the edges somehow. There’s air in there somewhere. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

Craig Garber (01:35:30.642)
That’s cool.

Okay, so top three is your gold top, your SG and what would be number three?

CHRIS (01:35:41.326)
Uh, it’s hard to say this, but the Freddie King guitar is in the third place position and it’s, it’s because, and I got spin of splits on that too. I’ve modded that one, but I can put it all back to original. I haven’t done anything that I can’t undo, but the nut being a little more narrow makes it less than ideal for me.

Craig Garber (01:35:47.146)
No, no, I get it.

Craig Garber (01:36:09.261)
To play, yeah, I get it.

CHRIS (01:36:10.27)
Yeah, I’m just, I had to really, I had to get warmed up to that. And it’s just not my preference these days. I actually used to like them more now or not years ago, but my preference has changed.

Craig Garber (01:36:19.305)

Craig Garber (01:36:25.458)
Sure. I totally get that man. Do you have a worst gig ever story for me?

CHRIS (01:36:33.762)
Um, I’ve had a bunch of hell gigs, uh, you know, like I wish at the time I was like, Oh, I wish I wasn’t here. I wish I could have undo this, you know, I wish I had said no, you know.

Craig Garber (01:36:46.366)

CHRIS (01:36:52.986)
But, you know, as far as the worst gig ever for me, in my opinion, is I got a couple, I was at a restaurant, you know, playing covers, acoustic duo type thing. And there was a customer there who really loved the band, so he decided it would be a good idea to bring us Red Bull and vodka, just to show us how much he loved us. And I accepted his love every time he offered it. And I did not finish that gig.

Craig Garber (01:37:13.19)
Ha ha

Craig Garber (01:37:23.046)
You’re serious.

CHRIS (01:37:23.146)
But halfway through it, I fell off of my stool. And I don’t remember what happened after that. I just know they said, I wasn’t available for the rest of the gig. And that happened again at another gig. I did finish the gig. It was just Yeager. Same thing. They loved the band. It kept ringing Yeager and I accepted every one. I finished the gig, but they had to tell me I did. Cause I forgot about halfway through.

Craig Garber (01:37:29.18)
Oh my god.

Craig Garber (01:37:34.074)
That’s hilarious.

Craig Garber (01:37:51.018)
Chris, time to stop. Oh my God, wow. Yeah, man, I feel you on that. Give me your top three Desert Island discs in no particular order and just for this moment because obviously that changes all the time.

CHRIS (01:37:53.062)
This was years ago. Those days are over.

CHRIS (01:38:07.53)
Alright, back in black, highway to hell, appetite for destruction.

Craig Garber (01:38:10.877)

Craig Garber (01:38:14.574)

CHRIS (01:38:15.774)
Nope, there’s no blues in there except for they’re all influenced, you know. And that’s really, and when I first got into guitar, really hard and got my focus on what I really loved, ACDC was it. You know, for a couple of years, it was all ACDC all the time. And then I got curious about, well, where did he get his ideas? You know, where did Angus learn how to play? Chuck Berry.

Craig Garber (01:38:20.087)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Craig Garber (01:38:44.878)
Yeah, Chuck Berry, yeah.

CHRIS (01:38:45.802)
You know, then, then Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Muddy Waters. And then I eventually worked all the way back to Robert Johnson. Uh, and you know, but that all was because of Angus Young. Okay. That’s what got me there.

Craig Garber (01:38:58.462)

Craig Garber (01:39:04.87)
A lot of people I think started that way with ACDC. All right, tell me one or two moments of your life you’ll never forget.

CHRIS (01:39:14.538)
Well, the one that everybody says, the birth of my son, of course, I won’t forget that I actually wasn’t there when he was born because I was on the road with Leon and you don’t take off birth of children with Leon. He’s old school. So I wanted to keep my job because I had a new baby. So I did the gig and my son decided to come two days early.

Craig Garber (01:39:34.345)

Yeah, man.

CHRIS (01:39:43.79)
And so I met him on the second day of his life, but I will never forget that. That was pretty amazing.

CHRIS (01:39:55.426)
And I’m gonna, well, I thought I would never forget, I guess I didn’t write down the notes for that. Yeah, well, something, well, I didn’t write down notes for everything because I thought I’ll never forget that. But you know, the first show was, yeah, you know, first, you know, everybody says first day I said.

Craig Garber (01:40:04.935)
You forgot to write down the notes. That’s funny, man. About the stuff you’ll never forget.

Craig Garber (01:40:15.84)
It always works like that.

CHRIS (01:40:21.734)
I met my child, which is amazing. I remember my wedding day.

CHRIS (01:40:29.614)
The first gig with Leon, I will always remember it, but I also don’t really remember it. Because I was so damn nervous. I’ll always remember it. I have flashes of being there, and the way I felt, and parts of the show. It’s burned in there, but it’s so choppy because it was so unbelievable.

Craig Garber (01:40:38.81)
I gotta believe that, yeah.

Craig Garber (01:40:58.011)
Yeah, understandable.

CHRIS (01:40:58.546)
I played Leon Russell songs at my first pay-in gig with this guy who introduced me to the name Leon Russell. I was 20. And it was my, I had just got past my surgeries, got back out into the world, got a gig, got a day job, and then got a gig playing at the Holiday Inn with this guy who was…

CHRIS (01:41:28.206)
I think he was 37 and I was 20. So he knew a lot of older music than me, but he needed somebody that could pick the lead and sing backing vocals on acoustic. And I said, I can do that. And he gave me this cassette tape of all these songs. Leon Russell was one of them. I was like, I like this, who is this? I didn’t know who that was. And then that night, leading up to that show, I was thinking about that, how crazy is this?

Craig Garber (01:41:43.826)

Craig Garber (01:41:56.218)
Yeah, totally. And here you are playing with a guy for five years. Tough question, what do you like most about yourself?

CHRIS (01:42:02.706)
Yeah, pretty crazy.

CHRIS (01:42:07.972)

CHRIS (01:42:11.947)
This is a hard question to answer without sounding too high on yourself, but I will say that I…

CHRIS (01:42:30.334)
I try to be open-minded and listen to new information and implement change when it’s prudent.

Craig Garber (01:42:41.226)
That’s awesome.

That sounds great. Doesn’t sound high on the horse at all.

CHRIS (01:42:47.702)
And you know, I mean, it sounds obvious that’s what everybody wants to do. And probably everybody says that they do. I think I do it. You know, I try to. I’m sure I’m not perfect, but I don’t want to, I don’t like it. I don’t like the idea of knowing something today. And then that’s all I’ll ever know.

Craig Garber (01:42:59.355)
Yeah, sure.

Craig Garber (01:43:10.886)
Yeah, that’s scary, man, I know, isn’t it?

CHRIS (01:43:12.838)
Yeah, it’s that’s scary. And and also admitting that you’ve been wrong about something for a while is scary, too. Like, I knew this and now I’ve got this new information. It’s hard to say, gosh, I’ve been living with the wrong idea. Yeah, that’s right. Do you want I mean, do is it easier just to convince yourself that you’re right all the time? Don’t even worry about it. Or is it easier to get with the program today?

Craig Garber (01:43:29.202)
Fake news.

Craig Garber (01:43:37.193)

Craig Garber (01:43:41.342)

CHRIS (01:43:42.382)
and continue on from there. And I think what I try to do with that, it involves a lot of thinking about affecting others and the world in total, in a more positive, net positive. Because I’m gonna have negativity. Everyone does, everybody’s positive and negative. I’m just trying to get to net positive.

Craig Garber (01:44:02.099)

Craig Garber (01:44:10.034)
Yeah, man, I’m with you on that. I like that very much. Something about yourself people might be surprised to hear or they may find a little odd.

CHRIS (01:44:21.429)

CHRIS (01:44:26.418)
I guess that they might be surprised. I really don’t know how people see me, you know, or whatever, but they might be surprised that I have a lot of varied interests, you know. I like to go fishing. I got a lot of redneck in me, you know, that, yeah, yeah.

Craig Garber (01:44:49.194)
Where do you get, dude, you go bass fishing up there? That’s so relaxing, man. I love bass fishing. Oh, I mean, I like fishing in general.

CHRIS (01:44:55.998)
Yeah, I’m not a fishing fanatic, but I really enjoy fishing, you know, and I’ll fish for a little while and catch something, yes, catch something, no, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter that much. I like to draw and paint. I don’t do it very much, but I enjoy it when I do.

Craig Garber (01:45:00.762)
Yeah, it’s so relaxing, man.

CHRIS (01:45:16.978)
I don’t know if it’s odd, but I build guitars sometimes and I enjoy it. You know, it’s just that’s one of my hobbies. Yeah, no, I mean, I don’t actually cut the wood and shape the wood. I buy kits, you know, like. I’ll either bolt it together or I’ve got a couple that I’ve glued together. That white Les Paul, I guess you can’t see it on your screen.

Craig Garber (01:45:22.062)
Oh, wow. That’s a labor of love, man, because that is not easy. That is not easy.

Craig Garber (01:45:33.639)

Craig Garber (01:45:45.747)

CHRIS (01:45:46.49)
and the Red SG Junior. Those are precision guitar kits that I put together. And you never get your money out. You might get your parts costs out of it if I sold it, but never get the labor costs out of it. But the labor part is the learning and the enjoyment for me. I like to do things for myself that I could probably get done quicker.

Craig Garber (01:45:51.699)
That’s cool.

Craig Garber (01:46:06.846)

Craig Garber (01:46:11.144)

CHRIS (01:46:16.058)
and labor-wise cheaper, but I like the process of learning it. That’s something that my wife thinks is odd.

Craig Garber (01:46:24.338)
No, I think it’s cool. Man, we got one quick trip around this circle. You know, do as much as you can. That’s my thoughts anyway. Like sitting on the couch is not a super rewarding form of spending your life, to me anyway. So I’m with you on that.

CHRIS (01:46:30.271)


CHRIS (01:46:39.506)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I do my share of sitting and watching TV, but I know it’s part of the process of getting my brain ready and my body ready to do something else. I like, I’m a shade tree everything really. You always hear shade tree mechanic. My.

Craig Garber (01:46:54.89)

Craig Garber (01:47:00.946)
That’s so cool. That’s such a Southern expression, you know that, right?

Say to mechanic, yeah, yeah.

CHRIS (01:47:07.41)
Yeah, my stepfather was a shade tree mechanic. Pretty good, you know, and he taught me that, he’s the one that taught me.

Craig Garber (01:47:10.522)
Was he? Yeah.

CHRIS (01:47:18.07)
If something needs fixing, you could probably do it. It’s scary, but if you’ll try, you’ll almost always, you know, you’ll be surprised at how much you can figure out and get done. I’ve applied that to just about everything. Carpentry, electricity.

Craig Garber (01:47:21.801)

Craig Garber (01:47:41.238)
You said it earlier. You said you could do more than you think. Yeah, man, I agree with that. What’s the most important thing you learned from your mom and your dad?

CHRIS (01:47:44.33)
Yeah, yeah. That’s where that comes from.

CHRIS (01:47:52.126)
Well, for my stepdad, I had a dad and a stepdad. And I had, for a short time, I had a stepmom. But for the stepdad, if I’m willing to let go of the fear of trying, I can probably figure out whatever I wanna figure out. My dad taught me to go to work.

CHRIS (01:48:23.55)
you know, no sick days. Be on time and work hard when you get there. That’s one big thing I learned from my dad. And to, yeah, yeah. And to take up for myself, defend myself. And my stepdad taught me that too. Take up for myself and defend myself. And you know, not just violence.

Craig Garber (01:48:32.663)
So work ethic.

CHRIS (01:48:52.554)
you know, or whatever, but if you’re, you know, just take up for yourself. Defend your views, defend yourself.

CHRIS (01:49:03.986)
be thoughtful about it, but you know. And my mother was the only one who never.

Craig Garber (01:49:04.338)
And from your.

CHRIS (01:49:14.214)
never let me think that I couldn’t succeed at whatever I wanted to do. You know, I said when I was 15, I said announcement, I’m going to play guitar for the rest of my life and I’m going to make a living at it. And my dad was like, uh, and my stepdad was like, mmm. And my mom was like, go for it.

Craig Garber (01:49:29.435)
Ha ha.

Craig Garber (01:49:40.094)
That’s awesome, man. You sound like you have some good parenting messages overall. Yeah, that’s cool, man.

CHRIS (01:49:45.582)
I did, yeah. My parents divorced when I was two, and it wasn’t, it probably, you know, probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it wasn’t the best thing either. So, you know, that was kind of a dark memory, I guess, you know, as far as that goes. I feel like I came out of it all right. Everybody straightened up after a few years and, you know.

Craig Garber (01:50:00.446)

Craig Garber (01:50:13.098)

CHRIS (01:50:14.138)
and got a great stepdad out of the equation. And still, my stepfather passed away a few years ago. I still have my dad and mom, and a good relationship with them. And so yeah, I got another one, lock market down is lucky, you know.

Craig Garber (01:50:24.402)
Oh, sorry, man.

Craig Garber (01:50:28.202)

Craig Garber (01:50:37.062)
Yeah, man, definitely.

Craig Garber (01:50:42.827)
Just a couple more questions.

Favorite place you’ve traveled.

Sorry man, this little kitten is, I’m gonna just pick her up because she’s wanting to be held.

CHRIS (01:50:50.072)

CHRIS (01:50:54.168)

CHRIS (01:50:58.506)
Mostly, my first instinct is my favorite place to travel most of the time is home. Right? But what you mean is, you know, besides how Paris comes to mind, London is cool, Paris probably the top. The art.

Craig Garber (01:51:09.471)
Ha ha

Favorite place you’ve been outside of home, yeah. Oh wow.

Craig Garber (01:51:24.286)
What’d you like most about it?

CHRIS (01:51:27.69)
of everything, you know?

Craig Garber (01:51:28.05)

Craig Garber (01:51:31.886)
pretty wild like Europe in general, their architecture is like, so freaking, you know, it’s like hundreds and thousands sometimes two years old. It’s really

CHRIS (01:51:35.351)

CHRIS (01:51:40.515)
Yeah, you’re staring at everything you’re looking at is older than the United States. You know, that’s amazing. I traveled around Europe and saw castles and old structures, churches, that kind of stuff. But Paris was more squeezed into one spot, I guess.

Craig Garber (01:51:47.318)
Yes. Yeah.

Craig Garber (01:52:05.406)

CHRIS (01:52:07.582)
I can’t even remember the names of the towns. Somewhere in Belgium, there’s a castle that’s over a thousand years old. I didn’t go through it, but I saw it from the outside. There’s not a lot of time to do touristy stuff. I’ll tell you this, this is a helpful hint for everyone. Speaking of Paris, I had one good off day in Paris, and I said, I’m going to the Louvre. And it was a Tuesday, and I didn’t know this, and many people listening to this might not know this, but.

Craig Garber (01:52:21.306)
Yeah, unless you got a day off.

CHRIS (01:52:37.518)
If you’re planning a trip to the Lou, it may be different now, but at the time, they’re closed every Tuesday.

Craig Garber (01:52:42.482)
Oh my god. What a disappointment.

CHRIS (01:52:44.43)
Yeah, so yeah, I was disappointed. So I saw the outside of the Louvre. I was walking. I walked from the hotel, you know, it was a mile or two, you know, just out looking at everything and enjoying the day. And as I got closer, I knew I was there, but I didn’t see a lot of people. I was like, wow, where’s it? Yeah. So, you know, figured out it was closed. But, you know, like a half a

Craig Garber (01:53:02.686)
This is awesome. I’ll scoot right in. Oh man.

Craig Garber (01:53:13.222)

CHRIS (01:53:13.506)
So I walked over there and there was a line for that one. So it was like 30 minute line to get in and lots of people in there, but there was a lot of good paintings and stuff in there. I enjoyed that. Eiffel Tower, you know, went to a jazz bar there. It was great. It’s very, very French, you know, what you, you know, just.

Craig Garber (01:53:17.392)

Craig Garber (01:53:28.402)

Craig Garber (01:53:33.07)
My wife, oh, that must’ve been cool.

CHRIS (01:53:43.63)
You imagine it’s great just to be immersed in it, playing jazz and bluesy jazz in France.

Craig Garber (01:53:55.026)
That’s nice, man. I was going to say my wife is from a little village in England and the church where she went when she was a kid is like from 700 AD. It’s pretty wild. When we went there and we saw that I was like, Holy, it’s just hard to take into that compared to where we’re at. Yes.

CHRIS (01:54:03.736)

CHRIS (01:54:08.59)
Yeah, it’s perspective for this nation, you know, about how young we are.

Craig Garber (01:54:16.938)
Hopefully we get smarter. I don’t see that happening. Doesn’t seem to be doesn’t seem to be moving in that direction.

CHRIS (01:54:18.742)
Yeah, hope so. I’m trying.

Well, you know, like I said, I’m trying to improve myself. I’m trying to get my boy prepared. Everything else, you know, what can you control? You know, just trying to be a net positive. Yeah, that’s right.

Craig Garber (01:54:37.134)
Yeah, very, almost nothing. Yeah, man, I like that net positive, man. What’s the thing in your life that’s making you happiest or giving you the most joy or satisfaction right now?

CHRIS (01:54:50.59)
Well, it’s my family, you know, having my family together and healthy, you know. And, you know, if you want to branch out from the stock answer, I’m working, you know.

Craig Garber (01:55:08.89)
Yeah, right. Yeah, man, for sure.

CHRIS (01:55:11.462)
There was, you know, a couple years ago, it wasn’t too long ago, I wasn’t working. I was having to come up with, you know, new ways, you know, doing the stream thing. But yeah, my family is the hub of everything and working revolves around that. And I’m enjoying my job too. I’m not just working. I’m…

Craig Garber (01:55:25.534)

Craig Garber (01:55:40.282)
Yeah, that means a lot.

CHRIS (01:55:40.534)
I got a good job and I’m enjoying it. That brings me satisfaction.

Craig Garber (01:55:46.162)
For sure, man. And last question, Chris, what’s the biggest change in your personality over the last 10 years and has that change been intentional or just a natural product or byproduct of aging?

CHRIS (01:56:00.46)


Craig Garber (01:56:06.266)
This is a tough question.

CHRIS (01:56:08.724)
Yeah, yeah.

CHRIS (01:56:13.166)
Okay, I think here’s another one of those things that might make me sound too high on myself, but you know what I’m talking about trying to become better and at some point this whole I don’t control anyone else thing kind of sunk in and

I can only maybe control myself. So I’ve tried to figure out a way to everything that happens to me or that I don’t like that affects me negatively. I try to figure out a way to take all the blame that I can. You know, all of it. And I don’t worry about if I don’t have all the blame, I don’t worry about the rest of it. I just focus on what am I to blame for?

and see if I can do anything about that. That seems to help. Yeah, because if you’re in control of something, that is it. It ain’t outside of that. I didn’t know that. A lot of people don’t know that, I don’t think. I really didn’t know that. I thought I’m going to go around and affect others the way I want them, you know, make them do what I want them to do. Not make them, but…

Craig Garber (01:57:16.89)
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, because then you could fix that.

Craig Garber (01:57:25.491)


CHRIS (01:57:41.134)
Ask them. Try to convince them. But you can’t do that.

Craig Garber (01:57:42.206)

No, I have this saying I’m not in the convincing business. Yeah. Well, man, thank you so much for everything. I really appreciate any final words of wisdom.

CHRIS (01:57:48.947)

CHRIS (01:57:57.914)
Oh, well, try to give grace to people when you can, because you’re gonna need it. And when you need it, you’ll hope that they give it to you, too, you know, you’re probably gonna, I probably need it. I need more grace coming in than I give out, you know what I mean? Because I’m gonna make a bunch of mistakes and whatever.

but uh…

Craig Garber (01:58:34.686)
No, that’s good Chris. That’s a great way to end this. Let me tell people where to find you. Please check out Chris Simmons. First of all, I’d love you to listen to Chris’s music. Yeah, everything’s available on Apple. Actually, your Christmas album is not on there, but Old News, Hallelujah Man, and Set Me On Free are all on there. I’d love everybody to check out Chris Simmons, S-I-M-M-O-N-S, and also Chris’s on Instagram. You could follow him on there, and he’ll be.

coming out with some new music in the not too distant future and post it up on there when it’s ready. Man, anything else that you got to sell?

CHRIS (01:59:14.311)
I don’t have anything else to sell, but I do have some more words of wisdom. This is a guitar podcast, so learn to work on your own guitar.

Craig Garber (01:59:19.034)

CHRIS (01:59:26.474)
That’s something that I’m so glad that I did, you know. Yeah, yeah, but. That’s I guess that’s it.

Craig Garber (01:59:30.734)
Yeah. Cause you’ve done a lot of mods to yours. It sounds like it’s helped you out a lot.

Craig Garber (01:59:40.27)
Well, Chris, thanks for everything. Please check out Chris also on the road with Paul Thorne if you never saw Paul, he’s a great singer, puts on a good show. And man, thank you for everything. Everybody, thank you so much for listening. You’re welcome. My pleasure. I’m so glad we got to meet, man. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this, share it on your socials. We appreciate your support. Thanks very much for Chris Simmons hanging out with us and being a real open, good guy.

CHRIS (01:59:49.077)
That’s right.

Thank you, Greg.

Craig Garber (02:00:05.562)
Most important, remember that happiness is a choice, so choose wisely. Be nice, go play your guitar, and have fun. Till next time, peace and love, everybody. I am out. Chris, thanks for everything, brother.

CHRIS (02:00:17.014)
Thanks, Craig.

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