Two Wabash Valley Shuri-Ryu Karate Academy students were black belted on May 15, an honor bestowed upon them by Sensei Mike Castro (center). Rob Barton (left) and Tommy Music (right) traded in their brown belts when Castro decided that they had earned to move up in rank, according to Music. “It’s an honor to be promoted to black belt,” Music said in an interview with The Paper of Wabash County. “I cried. It’s seven years coming. Almost seven years that Mr. Barton and I have been coming down (to the dojo) anywhere from five to six days a week, one to two hours at a time. It’s been a long road to now and it’s an honor.” Photo provided
The Boscoe France Band, featuring Guitar Center’s 2012 Battle of the Blues winner, is returning to Wabash for the final show in the three-part series Thursday Night Blues: Live At The Eagles Theatre. The show will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 at the historic venue.
Boscoe France, the band’s namesake and lead guitarist, started playing guitar when he was three years old and has known he wanted to be a guitarist since he was in kindergarten. He lived in Nashville for a while and spent a lot of time playing backup guitar for “everybody who was any kind of country act.” He also worked setting up and running stage lights for acts out of Nashville, as they toured the country.
He eventually left the touring life and moved to Madisonville Ky. where he now raises his son, 9, and daughter, 4. During most weeks, France is home from Monday to Thursday with his kids, touring on weekends. He raises his kids 12 feet from where he grew up, on the same block as most of the rest of his family.
“I was going to school and taking care of my kids, and I got a job in a coal mine,” said France. “It was a big change from being 150 feet up on a lighting rig to being six inches from hell. I finally decided I didn’t want anything to fall on me and kill me, so I got out of there and started playing at clubs. I just decided that’s what I was going to do, and I was doing good for me.”
The music world, however, had bigger things in mind for the Kentucky native. France rose to national attention when he beat out more than 4,000 guitarists throughout the U.S. to be named Guitar Center’s 2012 Battle of the Blues winner.
Since the contest, France’s life has changed quite a bit. His guitar collection went from one to over 20. The President of Gibson Guitars invited him to the Gibson Custom Shop for his birthday and told him to pick out any guitar he wanted. He picked a 1959 Les Paul.
“I got a little bread and took the kids to Disney World and bought my house,” said France.
Winning the contest has brought many new things into France’s life, but nothing could possibly compare to when B.B. King asked him to open a show at the Victory Theatre in Evansville, the night before King played at the Honeywell Center this past year.
“At home I’ve got two pictures on my wall. One is of Jesus, and one is of B.B. King, and that’s the truth,” said France, “and Jesus is on top, but B.B., he’s close.”
France recalled that during the performance, he was motioned onto the stage and two very large men (King’s bodyguards) stepped in front of him.
“They said ‘don’t you take one more step young man’ and basically said they would beat me up,” said France. “And then B.B.’s son came over and smacked one of them on the head and said ‘you let him walk out there, daddy said!”
In addition to France, the Boscoe France Band includes John Gillespie on bass and Jimmy Cummings on drums. The November show marks the Boscoe France Band’s return to Eagles Theater, where the trio first played on March 21.
“We made a lot of friends up there,” said France of his experience in Wabash. “I really liked playing up there. It’s a beautiful theatre. Everybody up there was super nice. Afterward we shot pool at a club and then everybody went back to the hotel and we played music and just jammed for a little bit. I really dug it.”
France loves talking to people and learning about people. Even with this success, France is one of the most humble musicians you may ever have the chance to meet.
“There’s some kid playing in his room that’s better than me, and some guy pumping gas that could take the wind out of me on guitar,” said France. “I thought I’d be playing at Moose Lodges. It’s been a blessing.”
The show is sure to be loud and exciting. The three piece band will spend two hours smashing drums, walking the bass strings and ripping guitar solos, only stopping for a minute at a time to tell the audience a little bit about themselves.
“If you don’t like guitar, we’re not the band to come see,” said France. “I’m like guitar with ADD. I’m obnoxious with it. I know I am.”
The band will play for the Thursday Night Blues series, but they walk a fine line between blues, rock and roll, and “real country,” as France calls it, which in his mind are all really the same thing. Even if you don’t like blues, you might like these guys.
“You can expect three people to get up and play music with no synthesizers and no loop pedals or delay petals and no backing tracks,” said France. It’s just the three of us playing music.”
France encourages fans and music enthusiasts to stick around and talk after the show.
“If I paid $12 dollars to go see a nobody perform, I’d want to talk to him and ask, ‘why is a nobody like you worth paying $12 to come and see?’” France joked.
Anyone who saw the Boscoe France Band the last time they were in town would tell you that the show is well worth the money. France also hopes to get in another round of pool at the same spot he stopped at last time he was here.
“They have a little bit of my self respect and dignity, so I hope I can pick that up while I’m there,” said France.
France says the band is looking forward to making the trip to Wabash
“It was one of our first bigger gigs,” said France. That’s huge to me that Wabash would allow us to come up and close out the blues series. Not only does it help pay the light bill, but it helps us grow and move up the food chain. This is the next big thing for us.”
Tickets may be purchased at the box office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday—Friday by calling 260-563-1102 or visiting www.honeywellcenter.org.
Eagles Theatre is located at 106 W. Market St. in Wabash.