"I wouldn't call him a normal person," says Jeff Andrew, former manager of Tommy's Nightclub — but definitely one of those people who's "just born to perform." Andrew is talking about guitarist BluMeadows. Also known as Maurice Mitchell Mills-Culpepper. And as Looking Bird in Blackhawk County, Iowa, where he was born.
With a wreath of buffalo teeth, bells and deer hoofs around his neck and a black suede hat with Macaw feathers on his head, BluMeadows stands out in a crowd. So does his voice as it drifts through the dark corners of a nightclub and out into the afternoon rain. A crowd watches him from an open window. Some begin to dance.
When BluMeadows performs, it's almost as if one of Seattle's guitar gods has risen from the grave.
BluMeadows and Jimi Hendrix are alike in some ways. Both have called Seattle home. Their ancestors were black and Indian. Their musical love, the guitar. Played left-handed.
Hendrix was, in fact, a big influence on BluMeadows. But BluMeadows says he doesn't suffer from a case of hero worship. He just respects and covers the legendary guitar anthems.
Lamar Lofton, who sometimes plays bass with BluMeadows, says his colleague is able to connect to different types of crowds by playing a few tunes, seeing what moves people and then performing those songs well.
BluMeadows has played jazz, funk, reggae, blues and rock with musicians like Bruce Hornsby, Branford Marsalis and Dave Lewis. He says he's toured with various groups through five continents. This past year, he played on tour with Jamaican reggae star Eek-a-Mouse. He also creates his own music, which he describes as "consciousness rock."
Wayne Rabb, a longtime Seattle professional drummer, took a few minutes trying to sum up his friend: "Words can't quite describe that gentlemen . . . He's a colorful artist, that's for sure."
For his part, BluMeadows says he's "just a visitor among all living things," going his own way. "I try to look through my eyes and no one else's."
As for his passion, "One lifetime isn't half enough to get into music. You are just scraping the surface."