I started playing guitar in late November 1965, at the age of thirteen. Johnny Richardson, a middle-aged Black man from Jamaica, Queens came to our apartment in Astoria and gave me four lessons. I had a funky pawnshop nylon string at the time. In the first lesson, he showed me how to play Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side.” I practiced four hours a day for the next week and got it down. By the time the December holidays came, I had learned a number of simple chords, a few songs (all by Dylan) and one rudimentary folk strum.
I spent the next year and a half flailing around, teaching myself a bunch of other Dylan songs (often with the wrong chords), attempting rock rhythm patterns (I particularly liked Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones)…and dreaming of playing like Michael Bloomfield. Even though I was listening to a lot of top shelf urban blues guitar (Buddy Guy, BB King, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin) and the hottest guys in rock (Danny Kalb, Harvey Mandel and, of course, Bloomfield), I had no idea how to get there.
Until I met Gil Schwartz. Continue reading “Gil Schwartz”