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An Open Letter by Frank Butler to Steve White and Some Q & A with Steve
A lot has happened since our last interview for Share My Guitar back in the Summer of ‘09. When I saw you perform at Dizzy’s in San Diego shortly thereafter (which was awesome, by the way), I noticed that your voice was gravelly when you spoke and that you were smoking heavily before and after your set. I believe you were on your way to Finland to record another album soon after that.
The next thing I heard was that you had throat cancer and were in serious physical trouble. It weighed heavily on my mind that you were so ill as I felt we had bonded in some way through our interview. We had an unusual connection with both living in Southeast Asia in our youth and, of course, the blues and guitar connection. I monitored your condition through Alda and your website, but I didn’t want to contact you and appear to be capitalizing on your illness for the sake of an article.
Click through for more:
A Q&A interview with Steve and a great performance video from his show at NAMM.
Having been involved in your last spoken interview leaves me with mixed emotions. My crossing paths with you gave me the milestone interview I had with you and even the honor of being included in the documentary film about you that is in production now. The truth be known, I would rather not have done that interview if it could mean you would not have gotten ill.
As it turns out, you lost your voice box to cancer and are now rebuilding your strength and performing again. I recently saw you play, and I have to tell you, it was with a sigh of relief. You have the ability to speak again with your music. As I watched you play world-class blues, I noticed that your audience was having a great time interpreting your humor and wit through your expressions and posture. We still hear you.
Having said all that, I have been eavesdropping on your fans and they (and I) have some questions for you …and I would like to address some of them with your permission.
BFMN: Can you tell us how you are doing now?
SW: Getting better all the time.
BFMN: Your friends have come out of the woodwork to support you thru music. Lots of benefits have and are going to take place on your behalf. Did you expect the support you have received so far?
SW: I did not but I am sure grateful.
BFMN: Can you convey how losing your ability to sing has affected you or does the inability to just talk have a bigger impact on you?
SW: I am still processing all this but I find that I’m routing the vocal energy/melodies through the guitar now.
BFMN: Do you think your throat cancer was caused by your smoking?
SW: Could be…I sure enjoyed it though!
BFMN: I ran into you @ Winter NAMM 2010 recently. It was great to see you out and playing there. I noticed that your treatments have caused you to drop some weight. At the convention, I spoke with Udo Roesner, the head of AER, which is one of many companies that endorse you. Udo, who may very well be your biggest fan, told me that you are going back overseas in a few months and he would like to see you put some weight back on to help you maintain your strength for the trip. Is that a possibility or is the treatment regimen keeping your weight down?
SW: The treatments were over by Winter NAMM or I could never have done the show. I will not be touring this year but I am going to the trade show in Frankfurt in support of my foot percussion board for AER. I am hoping for a happy, healthy medium for my weight.
BFMN: Alda made an interesting comment to me the other night at your concert at Old Time Music in San Diego. She and I were standing against the back wall of the room while you played your set. As you were performing, I leaned over to Alda and asked her “You get to listen to this live around the house?” She said “No, not often", which surprised me. What do you play around the house or do you keep home life and your music separate?
SW: I live in a place where it is impractical to perform at volume. I keep it simple at home, scales, rehearsing melodies and chasing ideas.
BFMN: The harmonica - you have played it so well for so long. Can you still play the harmonica or is that physically painful or even possible at this point?
SW: Due to the surgery, it appears that my harmonica days are behind me as they’ve rerouted my breathing to bypass my mouth and nose.
BFMN: Since you have had to face your own mortality, has it changed you for the better?
SW: I sure hope so, but that is not for me to say.
BFMN: Will you continue to write lyrics?
SW: I am waiting to see what will be…I am just glad I didn’t have cancer of the fingers as well.
BFMN: Amen to that Steve…
Amen to that.
For more information on Steve White, visit www.stevewhiteblues.com.
Editor’s Note: Frank Butler has the unfortunate distinction of conducting what turned out to be Steve’s last vocal interview. This follow up interview is actually Steve’s first interview since his ordeal. There is a special bond here. Frank, an awesome blues man in his own right, was touched and forever changed, not only by the quality of Steve’s style but the sharing of the journey from there to here. It has been delightful to witness this friendship grow.