bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 1,638
in the recent SRV thread, guitarredandfeathered mentioned the culture and language of the blues, and it brought to mind a good friend of mine, Jack Cole, who, in his 60s, still gigs 4-5 nights a week in NOLA.  Jack is one of my oldest friends, and he's a rare individual in today's world, a REAL artist.  when you think of someone slaving away in relative obscurity, sacrificing everything again and again over the course of a lifetime to hone their craft, with very little in terms of monetary compensation, well, Jack fits that profile to a T.  over the last four decades, he's backed Irma Thomas, Marva Wright, Johnny Sansone, Eric Lindell, and DOZENS of other artists that probably even HE has forgotten about.  first things first, Jack is a purist in that his idea of a guitar rig is a guitar, a pick, a cord, and an amp, and ten years ago, at Tipitina's, i witnessed him DEMOLISH that sizeable venue in the space of eight bars using a MIM Strat, and a '64 Super Reverb.  

at the time, i had a house gig at Vaughan's Lounge in the Bywater, the bar that helped launch the careers of Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, and many other NOLA repesentatives.  you don't get a gig at that venue unless you've got some chops, and i was probably at the peak of my musical capabilities, such as they were, at the time, so i thought i was pretty tuff, ya know?  well, one day Jack called me up and asked if i was free, buz Johnny Sansone was opening a daylong music festival at Tips, and did i want to come hang (carry his Super) for a bit.  of course i said yes.  well, i get to the venue and get Jack set up, which involved carrying the amp to the stage, plugging it in, setting the volume on 7-1/2, tone controls on 6, and reverb level at 3, and turning it on.  we went to the bar and had a beer and talked about the kind of stuff you would expect people that just lost everything they owned in a hurricane to discuss, smoked a Marlboro, and it was time for Johnny to start.  everybody was just arriving and getting set for a daylong festival, so there was a lot of chatter, grabass, where y'at, etc going on for the first few tunes.  i've known Jack awhile, as i said, and i could tell he was irritated by this, ya know, but Jack's a pro, and fuck it, it's a paying gig at Tips, so he kept plugging away, doing his dutiful sideman routine.  as more and more folks arrived the din of the crowd became louder and louder until it was quite loud, indeed, drowning out the band.  (Tips is no different than anywhere else, the opener never gets the whole PA)  now, Jack always runs his amp near dimed, and controls the volume from his guitar, which is one reason he usually brings a little more amp than he needs.  during his last song, Johnny usually let Jack off the leash a little, and when he got to that point there and then, i don't think he, or anybody else was prepared for what happened.  Jack flicked the selector to the bridge position, opened the volume up all the way and just sliced the place clean in half with the meanest 8 bars of blues guitar i've ever heard in my life.  the sound coming out of that Super Reverb was as cold as ice, and it got everybody's attention immediately.  people dropped their beers.  cigarettes fell from open mouths.  it was as if the whole place had been hit by lightning.  when this kind of thing happens, it's like the whole band and audience are touched by god, or the devil himself, i don't know which.  by the end of Jack's 30 second-or-so ride, people were screaming and cheering like they'd just watched Hagler/Hearns round one.  one of the more remarkable experiences of my life.  in that space of 8 bars, Jack cut himself open and showed the world his guts.  he may as well have committed seppuku on stage, such was the depth of his act.

it was over almost as soon as it started.  the last song in the set, and of course with so many acts on the bill, i ran up and got Jack's gear off stage, and him out of there as quick as i could.  nobody knows when that sort of thing is gonna happen, and it don't matter if you're Albert Collins at Alpine Valley, or Joe Schmo at Lucky's Bar and Grill, or whether you're playing a '61 Strat through a Twin, or a Squier '51 through a Frontman 25.  when the genie comes up out the bottle, you're in for a ride you'll never forget.

i had Jack come out to my gig at Vaughan's later that week.  we're drinking martinis between sets, and i asked him if we sounded ok.  he turns to me and says, "ya know, if you have to ask, well, i don't even need to answer."  haha.  and that's about as real as it gets.  
Post edited by Breakfastime on


  • Great Story!!!!  :clap1:
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    Love it.  Sounds like a great guy too.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • Fabulous post, Bourbonsamurai. Thank you for sharing.

    I notice that there are a lot of self proclaimed music lovers out there who never leave their house(s).  I really think you are missing a great deal of what music is about if you don't go out and see it happen live. And I don't mean a concert in a large arena. I mean something like this in the fabulous and beloved Tipitina's, or any other club, bar or regular scene. You can't really understand music just by hearing a recording or watching a polished act on a humongous stage with a lot of controls in place. There's so much more to what happens while musicians are out and doing their thing. I don't think you can really understand that or hear it on a record if you don't hear the music in its own house.

    And I'll be back down there at the end of October. Where can I catch Jack play? Is there a regular gig somewhere?
  • he gigs all the time in and around the French Quarter and Farbourg Marigny.  hmu as you vacation gets closer, and i get you a schedule.

  • Duojett71Duojett71 Posts: 9,607
    The only times I ever hung out with Jack Cole was at the Vintage Guitar Shop you and he used to work at. I remember I was going to have him build a strat for me....and I never got around to doing that. I always liked the guy, but never really knew him outside the shop. I liked his pissy sarcasm. I heard various stories from you Cary, about him....and almost felt I knew him better that way. I never got to see him I wish I had. Next time I am down there I need you to take me to go see Jack do what he does....

    There are some characters down there for sure....Crazy Brian Berthiaume is another one......
  • yeah, Jack and Red DeVecca (the upright bass player i used to play with in the Hot Wings) are like the two old guys in the balcony on the Muppet Show.  "hey Jack, i didn't expect to see you on this gig!", "yeah, well i entered a contest ya know?", "is that so?", "yeah, I LOST, and now i gotta look at your silly ass all night!"  etc.  i went drinking with Red a few years back at the Maple Leaf after we finished a gig at the Rusty Nail, and we ran into Jack there.  those fuckers started ripping on each other at the bar, and everybody was laughing so hard, people left the music room and came to the bar to see what was so goddamn funny.  it was like the poker game in Goodfellas, except with retarded people.  if Berthiaume had been there, i'm fairly sure the earth would have opened up underneath us and swallowed the whole place straight to hell where we all belong.

  • [quote author=bourbonsamurai link=topic=17656.msg265675#msg265675 date=1441673035]
    he gigs all the time in and around the French Quarter and Farbourg Marigny.  hmu as you vacation gets closer, and i get you a schedule.

    Jack sounds like my kind of Bluesman, we'll be on the look out for him when we're in New Orleans next week.

    The thing about the blues is when the magic happens, it's an uplifting experience.  People say blues is depressing but not if it's done right i.m.o.
  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 1,638
    edited March 2016
    here's a picture of Jack.  with the new forum, it's easier for me to upload pics.  he's playing a Fiesta Red Allparts Tele he built with Don Mare pickups, through a vintage Ampeg Jet, here.  no wonder he's smiling!
    Post edited by bourbonsamurai on
    image.jpeg 435.1K
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