Everyone has a Prince story, right? Mine comes in the 4th paragraph here in a blog post from 2014: Iconic Guitars Long before I really knew how to play a guitar, I was fascinated by them. The resonator on the cover of “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits. Hendrix’s upside down Strats. Vince Gill on The Nashville Network playing a Telecaster. Johnny Cash strumming a black Martin. The cigarette burn on Keef’s ‘Micawber’ 5-string. All of them. The list goes on and on… I am from Memphis. At a store called Strings and Things back in the 80’s, they had Eric Clapton’s 'Brownie’ guitar on display. It was a 1956 sunburst Stratocaster that was most famously featured on the cover of the classic album, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and The Dominos. One day I was in there as they were taking Brownie out of the display for cleaning and maintenance. Against all logic and reason, I got to watch this process…a 17 year old fat kid with no skills to speak of…and I got to play it for a brief moment. It was magical for me at the time. I was a big fan of Clapton then, and touching a guitar that made music I loved really meant something to me. That record was full of amazing songwriting, and I still enjoy those songs today. “Bell Bottom Blues” and “I Looked Away” were largely the work of Bobby Whitlock, a true unsung hero of that record. But Eric’s guitar playing, and that of Duane Allman, really hit home with me in my youth. Brownie later sold for about half a million dollars at an auction to benefit Clapton’s rehab center, and it is on display in Seattle. A few years after this encounter, I was a young guitar player at Memphis State University and working some gigs on Beale Street. I got to meet B.B. King one night at his namesake club, and for another brief moment, I got to play one of his ubiquitous 'Lucille’ Gibson ES-355 guitars. It probably wasn’t the original, but it was something that B.B. himself had played on, and again, I felt this connection to something by even touching it. The fact that I was, at that time, able to play a little bit of “Rock Me, Baby” on it didn’t hurt. Then fast-forward to 2010, where I find myself at the after-party jam session at a Prince show. Sheila E., Jon Batiste, Gregoire Maret, Herlin Riley, John Blackwell, Cassandra Wilson and many others are there. Cassandra picks up Prince’s legendary Hohner Tele. The one from Purple Rain. Like the real guitar he played the Purple Rain solo on. She noodles a bit and then offers it to me. Prince is on bass at this point, and I ask if it’s OK for me to play it. He smiles and says yes. So I grab it, completely nerding out on the experience. My best friend Ted is there. A lifelong Prince fan. We laugh together. I’m laying in the cut playing rhythm for a while. Prince moves over to the keyboards and directs traffic, eventually setting up this gospel piano and drums breakdown. I’ve never met Prince in my life. He looks towards me and says, “You got your slide?” Now…I’m not particularly well known for anything to be honest, but I guess people who do know me know that I love to play some slide guitar. So this shocked me. “Does Prince know who I am?” I still don’t really know for sure. But I do know that I had a slide…brass in pocket, as The Pretenders might say…and I pulled it out and played a 10 minute solo over a nasty groove that Prince was laying down. He eventually came over to me and politely asked if he could play. I giggled like a teenager and handed him his Tele just in time for Larry Graham to show up. Prince, Larry and John Blackwell, the amazing drummer, gave that little room backstage at the Izod Center an hour of funk that no one will ever forget. Here it is four years later, and I find myself in Los Angeles with my son Charlie and my best friend Ted in North Hollywood. Raphael Saadiq is sitting at a table next to us at the coffee shop and we strike up a conversation. Raphael has been around for years. Tony! Toni! Toné! broke out in the late 80’s, and he went on to work with everyone from TLC to D'Angelo, in addition to making some great records on his own. He invited us to come to his studio, and I got to play him some music I was working on that was influenced by him. And sitting in the studio was an old Gibson 335 that was the guitar used by the late, great Chalmers “Spanky” Alford on the entirety of the D'Angelo record “Voodoo”, which was a huge influence on me and most everyone I know. I got to spend a little time with it, and once again feel that connection to some music that so profoundly shaped my artistic life. (update: Spanky passed in 2008, but did play some tracks on “Black Messiah” which came out in December 2014.) I’m grateful for all these moments, and I look forward to the possibility of more of them in the future. Life is so full of opportunity and wonder…there are times when it all seems so hard, and so bleak. But then there are days when magical things happen, and it’s tough to overcome the temptation to be jaded and really embrace it. Probably the best thing I get from being a father is to never reign that feeling in. Let loose and feel what you need to feel. Allow yourself to be un-jaded and giddy at a fun moment. Don’t be afraid to be happy that something good is happening. It doesn’t mean you aren’t cool. It’s the exact opposite.