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A couple of years ago, after watching Seasick Steve, I had a hankering for a Cigar Box Guitar (CBG)
Why ? I can’t play guitar!
Having struggled to master 6 strings, I thought at the time, I had a better chance with 3 strings.
After trolling the Internet and contacting several CBG makers, I happened upon “Smootheads” Little Shop of Blues.
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Not only does Ivan make CBG’s, he also paints and has a gallery on his website. I bought one of his paintings "HOMAGE TO DALI 2"
Then I bought a second CBG – a resonator this time !
Another part of the business is printing T-shirts which can also be seen on the website.
Ivan lives and works in Croatia and to add to his talents, he is also restoring an old stone house. A “House of Blues” in his own words.
Check out his shop & gallery here :- http://www.smoothead.co.uk
And there’s more - Ivan plays his CBG’s and has several videos on YouTube, videos he made himself and they are amazing ! Check them all out and particularly this one :- )
RE: Jesus Just Left Chicago
This is one hell of a performance. Smoothead is distinctive, his music buzz's with a haunting intensity. For me, his voice has a hint of of Bob Hite (Canned Heat) and ZZ Top, underscored with the gravel of the old blues men. His playing is superb.
Three strings justifies the case that less is more. The list of guitarists who could take a leaf from this gentleman's book grows each time I listen to 'Jesus Just Left Chicago'.
Play it loud.
CBBlues: When and how did the Blues find Ivan “Smoothead” Petričić ?
- ISP: My first contact with the blues music and musicians was when I was 12 years old. However this was not my first contact with music because I started to play violin in music school when I was six. I became a little saturated with classic music and I left music school and the violin.
When I was 17 I made my first rock blues band. We played songs of Led Zeppelin, Canned Heat, John Mayall, Peter Green, The Allman Brothers etc
My first experience with the blues was through the music of British and US heroes of 70’s who are discovered the roots of forgotten blues music from 30’s and 40’s.
In my first band and all others I was lead vocal and harmonica player. In ex Yugoslavia scene I recorded few LP albums and played with most of the recognised vocal and harmonica players.
Of course, when I tried to reach the real truth and the roots of blues music I discovered the real treasure of a culture and people - musicians like Robert Johnson, Son House, Mississippi Fred Mcdowel, Leadbelly and many others from Delta. They changed the music from the roots...like my life after that.
CBBlues: Why did you decide to make Cigar Box Guitars?
- ISP: Cigar Box Guitars happened accidentally. Modern revival of this instrument (90's) has been gathering momentum with an increase in cigar box guitar builders and performers in US and Great Britain and after that in most of the world. In 90's my music activity was almost dead. I didn't do anything. This CBG movement was really something special. I met many musicians, friends and CBG builders from all parts of the world.
It was a good opportunity to make my new band, this time – a one man band. No more fights with other band members, no more absences from gigs etc. For all faults the blame is on me :)
I built a few CBGs and started to play, but I was never a guitar player. I thought "no problem”...if I can play violin with four strings , I can try with a 3 or four string guitar. Simple as that.
- ISP: My biggest blues hero is Robert Johnson. Ok, there are many good blues masters but he is on the top of my list. I can mention Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Blind Willie McTell, Howlin' Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi Fred Mc Dowell, RL Burnside, Sonny Boy Williamson and many others.
CBBlues: How is the Blues scene in Croatia?
- ISP: Blues scene in Croatia? I can tell that for a country with 4 million inhabitants the blues scene is quite developed and strong. We have a lot of blues bands, blues concerts which are well attended. We have an association named CROATIAN BLUES FORCES, annual blues contest CROATIAN BLUES CHALLENGE, and a few big annual blues festivals.
CBBlues: Do you still do live gigs?
- ISP: Yes I do live gigs but at this moment I quit with any activity for private reasons. I am still moving to another location where I will build my new home and new studio.
CBBlues: In your opinion, who is the number 1 Bluesman/ Band and your favourite Blues Album?
- ISP: Definitely Robert Johnson. The album is "Complete Recordings of Robert Johnson" (29 recorded songs + 12 alternate versions of the songs) My opinion is that these 29 songs changed blues music and music in general forever, influenced rock and roll and all sorts of music decades later.
CBBlues: Which famous Blues musician, living or dead, would you like to meet & why?
- ISP: Robert Johnson again. Why? I want to ask him to meet me with Mr Devil on the Crossroads.
A true Bluesman – we hope that someday Ivan will make his way to Spain and entertain us at CBBlues.com