In honor of my dad and Father’s Day. . .
W H A T M Y F A T H E R T A U G H T M E A B O U T T H E B L U E S
The day my father bought himself a Green Bullet, he looked like a boy producing sound for the first time. A white guy blowing the blues. He understands the lessons of Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy. Did you know The Doors stole a Willie Dixon song? he will ask me. So did Led Zeppelin. Listen to this—
And I will listen as he listens to me play the revolutionary songs of my people on A Grain of Sand, recorded in 1973 by Chris Kando Iijima, Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto and William Chin. Did you know imperialism is just another word for hunger? I will ask.
He has a show for the Rotary Club he’s played on the radio, telling the history of blues through those notes he blows into the Green Bullet to get that crackling sound he loves. He draws from his collection of over 129 harmonicas to free style. He can’t read music. He just feels it. I used to make fun of his passion, but race and American history are also felt in the moment, learned without having to read the notes.