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Hello my friends ...

Well ... since my last Blog post so much has happened, which i'm very sad to say includes the loss of a beautiful musical soul by the name of Michael Ledbetter.

Now, i'm going to be very honest with you here, because i have no wish to be anything else nowadays.

I didn't know Mike very well. We didn't spend lots of time together. I'm not claiming to be his devastated best friend.

BUT, the times that we did meet and spend short amounts of time together left i big impression on me.

Mike was a VERY talented singer.

Mike was confident.

Mike was kind.

Mike was empathic.

Mike was honest.

Mike was a force of nature!

He was a rare talent. An opera trained rising star who chose to follow the path of a blues singer/musician, (he was also a great blues guitarist), because he LOVED the blues.

The life of a blues musician is rarely paved with gold, so you better LOVE it.

Mike had so much LOVE for the blues!

I found Mike to be avery inspiring man. A man that made me feel good to be around. A man who was encouraging to me, and many others.

Here's a little story for you ...

One time in Memphis, during the Blues Music Awards week, i found myself at a rehearsal.

The rehearsal was for a tribute to Bobby Blue Bland.

In that room was the late great Bobby Blue Bland's band, which included his son Rod Bland on drums.

Also in that room were the featured special guest artists, Janiva Magness, Mike Welch, and

Michael 'Mike' Ledbetter.

Ladies and gentlemen, right there are three of the best blues artists on the planet.

So, after the usual understated arrivals, setting up of kit, coffee, friendly greetings, small talk, and jokes, the rehearsal started ... and the vibe in the room shifted.

Now let me tell you, i'm used to being around very talented pro musicians, but the vibe in that room was electric!

As the songs were slowly eased into, and worked out, by the band and the guest artists the interplay got warmer. The trust built, the relationships got stronger, the smiles got bigger, and the light in the room seemed to get brighter. As i sat there, very aware of how lucky i was to be in that room, i could feel the energy rising. Sometimes it's good to be the quiet observer. Watching, listening, learning. This time was a masterclass ... and i was SO lucky to be there.

At one point during a short break i was talking to Mike and he told me how much he had enjoyed my harp playing earlier in the week. He looked me in the eyes and in the kind, gentle but powerful way that he had, he made sure i knew he meant what he said. That was a very humbling moment, since i knew how good he was at his craft.

Fast forward to recently on the day of Michaels passing. I saw a post on social media, and thought, NO ...

How could someone say something so horrible. That couldn't be true. Michael is only 33. he's booked to be on the Legendary Blues Cruise with Mike Welch in a few days. So i checked with someone that was very close to him. It was true. OMG his family. And i cried ...

Over the next few days i played his music, and cried, and smiled, and cried some more ... and i keep crying at times when i don't expect it.

This wonderfully talented, kind, caring, cheeky, powerful, inspiring man, was a credit to the world of blues.

His swagger could be mis-read, because his heart was even bigger.

He always hugged you when he met you.

The LOVE he had for the music, the life, and just life, was so obvious.

SO, i am telling you this ... Michael Ledbetter's sad passing reminded me once again of the effect that music played from the heart and soul has on people ... Forever.

As long and slow as this journey feels. As frustrating as it can be. I promise you this.

I will keep working to be better. I will keep working to make new music for you. I am busy quietly working on the next chapter of TJ & THE SUITCASE.

I LOVE this music. I LOVE the feelings it gives me, YOU, and everyone else who hears it and feels it.

I am ...


My love goes out to Michaels family and friends.

RIP Michael Ledbetter x

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