The American music recorded in the '40s and '50s captures the excitement of real players playing with the nascent electrification of instruments in an era as yet unbridled by corporate expectations. It's this music, made for the people that consumed it, that originally and continues to inspire me today.
About half my life ago, I was gifted a classical guitar from a family friend and, despite my best intentions, haven't been able to put it down for too long since. I really found myself musically in college with the Chess recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamsom II and their guitar players Robert Jr. Lockwood, Luther Tucker, the Myers brothers, and Jimmy Rogers. This led me to the West Coast harmonica players influenced by George 'Harmonica' Smith: Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, William Clarke, James Harman, Mark Hummel, and their guitar players Hollywood Fats, Junior Watson, Rick Holmstrom, and Rusty Zinn. Inspired by younger players like Nick Curran and Sean Costello, I had now hopefully found enough different players better than me to steal ideas from to avoid libel suits.
I started frequenting jams around the DC area while I was in college hosted by the likes of Flatfoot Sam, Paul Mastradone, Ed Scott, Bill Kirchen, the DC Blues Society, and others and started to get work as a sideman. There were several guitar players in town that, despite DC not being known as a blues guitar player town, stood shoulders above as national caliber players to whom I will forever be indebted: Pete Kanaras, Mike Dutton, Steve Jacobs, and Rusty Bogart.
In '07, I formed The Idle Americans with Waverly Milor, Wolf Crescenze, and Mike O' Donnell (later to include Zach Sweeney) playing jump blues and rock and roll, and was asked to join the Big Boy Little Band holding down Thursday nights at the Zoo Bar with the unfortunate departure of Rusty Bogart.
In '09, the Big Boy Little Band decided to enter the International Blues Competition. It was an amazing experience that united my family life (as I was born and still have many relations in the Memphis area) with my music life in which I was honored with the Albert King Award for Best Blues Guitar Player in the Finals. Big Boy Little gives a great play by play.
In '13, after spending some time together at Blues Week in Elkins, WV, Phil Wiggins formed the Chesapeake Sheiks with myself, Ian Walters, and Marcus Moore, later to be joined by Steve Wolf and Baakari Wilder. We're a acoustic swing/roots/blues ensemble in the songster tradition of some folks Phil knew like Howard Armstrong.
These are some guitar players I like (in the order they occur to me):
Jimmie Rivers, Hollywood Fats, Magic Sam, Joey Santiago, Reverend Horton Heat, Rick Holsmtrom, Junior Watson, Albert Collins, Albert King, BB King, Freddie King, Guitar Slim, Magic Sam, Luther Tucker, Robert Lockwood, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Blake, Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Jimmy Bryant, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Junior Barnard, Bill Kirchen, Lonnie Johnson, Little Charlie Baty, Dave Myers, Louis Myers, Brian May, Dave Gilmour, Johnny Greenwood, T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, Pete Kanaras, Rusty Bogart, Mike Dutton, Robert Lighthouse, Bill Jennings, Tiny Grimes, Charlie Rich, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Bobby Radcliffe, Chick Hall Jr., Bruce Katsu, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nick Curran, Sean Costello (rip), Robbie Fulks, James McMurtry, Magic Sam