From a distance my musical influences were about the same as any other suburban yank kid. The Beatles, Stones, all the 'British Invasion' stuff from the mid-sixties. The 'Mersey Beat' sound was everywhere. I grew up in Cleveland and could hear music coming out of Detroit from a 50,000 watt AM station called CKLW which played a 'ton' of Motown. Went with 3 other neighborhood guys to a local movie house right on the border between the 'black' and 'white' ghettos. My grandmother lived in the city and I was able to get an 'urban experience' I wouldn't have had without her living where she did. Anyway, we were the only white kids at the theater to see a movie called the T.A.M.I. Show. In later years I found out it sat 400 people. The place was packed. Jan and Dean, Leslie Gore, The Barbarians, James Brown, Rolling Stones and others I can't remember. I'll never forget the combination of fear and excitement I felt when James Brown hit the screen. The place erupted into a frenzy of dancing and screaming. A bunch of kids ran right down front and rocked out. James Brown did his cape routine and the place was going crazy. I'd never felt that kind of energy in my life. Completely blew the walls down on my provincial perspective. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I'd never be the same afterward. The funny thing was they went just as crazy for the Stones. I say 'they' not in a racist sense, but I was too shocked, scared, or inhibited to move. Shortly thereafter I read a newspaper article about some local kids who'd signed a recording deal and I recall having it effect me in that they were going to record their own songs. These were neighborhood guys of my own ilk doing something way beyond my understanding at the time. They were called 'The Mods' patterning themselves after the Carnaby Street fashions of the times. They had to change their name for legal reasons and became 'The Choir' and had a regional hit with a song called 'It's Cold Outside'. If you ever hear a copy of the song listen to the bass line and realize the player is 15 at the time of the recording. They didn't effect me musically as much as they showed me possibilities beyond my societal limitations. I'm grateful to them for that. In my early twenties I got hooked up with a guy named John who used to do stuff like record The Wizard of Oz off his TV set run through a wah-wah pedal. Through him I was introduced to the more pure strains of folk, country, bluegrass, blues, etc. We smoked alot of pot, too, needless to say. There's been more as I began to get good enough to make money playing. A huge influence on my guitar playing was a guy at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. His name is Jim Hirsch and he's the director now, I believe. He had a very clean, unadorned way of fingerpicking that I still use today and give him full credit for showing me. I learned how to read tablature from him, also. My songwriting was affected by Tom Dundee. We hung out together in Chicago at the time and I consider him the best of the crop that produced John Prine and Steve Goodman to name names. Song to song with a comparitive body of work he's the best. Never became as well known as his contemporaries as he's got a very laid back performing style. Another lessor known songwriter from back then was a guy named Al Day. He was a monster guitar player and completely original as a vocalist and writer. He was such an intense performer you'd think he might explode. Michael Johnson recorded several of his songs over the years. Al Day sat with me all day once and showed me some exercises to improve my left hand that I still use for warm-ups. Rod Macdonald from the Village was generous, too. Sorry to have gone on for so long. Great thread, it really made me dig deep.