It's very easy to complain about a situation
that bothers you, but it's another thing altogether to do something constructive and
productive and positive to change whatever is that's "not right." Those people,
who take it upon themselves to be the catalyst or leader in a situation where both hard
work (often thankless) and imagination are in demand, are to be admired, comended and
hopefully copied by others. Guitar Mac has become known as the very vocal and very visible
leader in the movement to promote and preserve blues music in the Sacramento area of
A relatively young man by blues standards,
Mac has a unique understanding and appreciation of the blues that few of today's younger
blues artists can lay claim to. Mac was born and raised in blues country; rural Arkansas,
at a time (1950s) when blues music was at its peak as a past time and a form of
entertain-ment. Having experienced first-hand the country juke-joints and the hard life
that made those jukes an essential outlet for Black Americans in the South, Mac was also
witness to the whole l960s; the "decade-of-change" that ushered in Civil Rights,
Soul Music, Black Power and a total change in attitude towards blues music by Black
Now, in the l990s, things have come full
circle it seems with today's African-Americans wanting to study and even embrace the music
they had dis-missed and rejected ten years ago. Guitar Mac has worked diligently over the
last 20 years to build his own career, but one can quickly come to the realization that
Guitar Mac has been working even harder for the greater good, the 'Big Picture' - the
future of the blues. His love for the blues transcends any ego related career promotion.
His work in schools with the children, his concert festival organizing and especially his
blues radio shows all show his desire and dedication to ensure that blues is understood,
accepted and ultimately revered as the single-most important music form in American
Given the successes he's already had and the fact that he's
become one of the most recognized and easily identifiable (thanks to some great looking
hats) figures on the California blues scene, Guitar Mac's Blues Crusade is a perfect
example by which to follow. If we had 100 Guitar Macs in America today or even a dozen
more...there's the big moral/truth in this whole issue. Guitar Mac didn't wait for someone
to lead him. He took it upon himself to get those things done or changed, and the blues
world is a better place today because of his personal crusade.
AG: Where were you born?
GM: Cotton Plant, Arkansas.
AG: I take it it's in the middle of the cotton-growing area?
GM: Yeah, that's right, that's right, so actually in the town
there was a flour mill and a little few other stores and stuff like that.
AG: where was it close too?
GM: I would say Brinkley, Arkansas...
AG: And what year was that?
AG: Do you have a large family?
GM: Pretty large family...well actually I got one brother and
three sisters; there's live of us.
AG: Were your parents into music at all?
GM: They went to church; my mom went to church', and I had a
stepfather, so you know my dad...I didn't really know him too well. He was like a railroad
man, so he was always on the go, you know...it was my mom...everybody was always in the
church - even my brother and my sisters right now; you can call them on Sunday,
"Where you goin'?'...They're goin' to the church...
AG: Are your first memories of music then ba-sically
GM: Pretty much church; then of course there was radio in
Arkansas and then pretty much what we listened to then was what was being played on the
radio, like those big radio stations like WIAC out of Nashville...Randy's Record Shop, and
WDIA which is out of Memphis with Nat D. Williams and Rufus Thomas...
AG: So lots of gospel, blues and R&B on the radio?
GM: Right Lots of blues, gospel and R&B. and I used to
listen to people like...well actually there used to be a gentleman who came by the house
all the time...we'd have stuff like fish-fry's on the week-end; our step-father used to
have them, so he didn't play guitar or anything like that, but this guy...we used to call
him Mr. Hosea, used to come by and he was the first guy I saw playin' a slide guitar when
I was a kid..He used to sit in the back yard and play slide guitar.
AG: So his first name was Hosea?
GM: Hosea Orlando...that's what we used to call him, Mr. Hosea.
AG: How old would he have been when you were a kid?
GM: I guess I must have been probably around about ten.
..Between ten years old and fifteen...something like that
AG: And he would already have been an adult man then?
GM: Yeah, he was already an adult man then. And that was around
Madison, Arkansas; around Madison and Forrest City, Arkansas, 'cause that's were we were
livin' at then...' cause see I was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas and we were raised
around Madison, Arkansas...
AG: When did you first start getting inkling for getting into
GM: Welt, I first got an inkling to get into mu-sic when I was
a kid...actually, you know, we used to go chop cotton and pick cotton and chop soybeans
and all that kind of stuff, and I have a friend named Johnny C. Newborn, well actually he
was just a neighbor...right now he lives in Pine Bluff, Arkan-sas, and he taught me a
couple licks on the guitar, a couple licks on the harmonica and also a couple licks...and
he could play piano too, and he was just one of these guys that played, and he used to
laugh all the time and said, "Well heck, piano is really easy to play because you sit
there and look at it," and so he taught me a couple of licks on the guitar, and the
harmonica and I just went from there. And he was a distant relative of Phineas Newborn,
Please See the current copy of "Real Blues" Magazine for the full