Troubadour…Fly Me Home

Picture by me- Lyrics by The Skelly- Michael Snow

The Skelly

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Toots Thielmanns, “ Live at Chapiteau Opera, Liege”

Illustration drawn for The Skelly. You know you love Toots!

The Skelly

Imagine, if you will, a frail silver-haired ,ninety year old Belgian harmonica player, confined to a wheelchair, yet still the undisputed master of a notoriously difficult instrument, the chromatic harmonica.

There have been very few players to reach the heights on this instrument…Larry Adler and Stevie Wonder come to mind, but this old guy, Toots Thielmanns, was , and still is, the guy. Ask anybody.

He celebrated his ninetieth birthday with a live concert in Liege, which has recently become available on DVD. “ Live at Chapiteau Opera, Liege”

Not only a wonderful testament to a monumental musician, but living proof that if the musical spirit is deep in your soul, age ain’t got nothin’ to do with  it.

Totally recommended at every level. Feed your souls with this remarkable performance.

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Instrumental Musings … Springfield EWJ-20CE

Guitar Pics by JOtwell 🙂

The Skelly


Clive Gregson and I had heard rumors that there was a store in the sleepy town of Springfield, TN, that  was importing and distributing a hot line of Korean-made instruments of very high quality, so we headed up into the country one fine summers’ day to investigate. We found the store in the old town square, and there was, indeed a shop full of gorgeous guitars, acoustic basses, and mandolins, all bearing the logo “Springfield”. We were the only customers, and they seemed pleased to have two Brits in their backwater as we sat down and began trying things out. At the end of a pleasant afternoon of playing, I had test driven every acoustic bass they had, and this one just stood out, and the price was sooo right. It came with a beautiful case, too- can’t go wrong, can you?

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Illustration and photography by Janin Otwell

The Skelly


Today’s feature in The Tennessean on the efforts of Aubrey Preston and Jed Hilley of the Americana Music Association to solidify The Triangle as a bona fide tourist destination took me back forty years to when I arrived in the States as a true rock ‘n’roll and r’n’b disciple, determined to put down roots in the birthplace of the music which had irrevocably changed my life … the very triangle of which we now speak.

The music had already offered me some success in my native England, where I’d been part of the rock ‘n’ roll boom, then the Soul boom, but with the bloom going off the swingin’ sixties, and waning interest in the gritty, great music to which I was forever committed, I determined that I had to go where that music had emerged and continued to thrive. So, with my young American wife and three-year-old daughter…

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Instrumental Musings … Epiphone Les Paul Special II

New Guitar Illustration. Photos and Graphic Design by Janin Otwell (click the pic to buy :)). Blog management by Celebelle

The Skelly


I only got this because it came as a package with an Epiphone Studio 105 amplifier, which was what I really  wanted, but this unassuming solid body has been a pleasant surprise, especially for retro-funky rhythm guitar with wah-wah. “It bite nice”, as Peter Tosh used to say.

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Illustrations now for sale on Society6

Illustrations now for sale on Society6

I am offering the Illustrations I create for a client and fellow blogger The Skelly Blog/Michael Snow Presents for purchase please stop by the store and check it out.

Happy Mother’s Day Nanny K

A wonderfully written remembrance of a boy’s time spent with his grandmother.

The Skelly


She was my dad’s mother, and with her being a widow and him being her youngest surviving child, she lived with us, as was the custom among the Irish families of Liverpool’s heavily Catholic North End. Most of the families down our street had a Nanny in residence. With the war just ended, many of the younger wives and mothers were looking outside of home and hearth, continuing to work, as they’d done through the war years. The nannies picked up the domestic slack, cooking, cleaning and policing the small army of little kids who’d come along in the conflict’s wake.

During daytime hours, they ruled the street, from their morning sand-stoning of the front steps to their gossip sessions , standing up on chairs, so they could chinwag across the high brick backyard walls that divided the three-up three-down row houses. They ruled the kitchens too, with something…

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Venice Beach Drawing and Art Crawl with Untitled at CoLab

I did some intense work on the face of Johnnie Elbert last night. I wanted to try and get a little further on the drawing since this morning I had a final meeting with my family tree client and knew I would be concentrating on finishing that project in a timely manner. I am pretty happy with the face. I have to do a bit more work on the bottom lip because its not quite right. She looks a bit happier in my drawing than the photo. I sort of missed the dour look she has and I may go back into the eyes to try and fix that. I am having a hard time getting her hand right. It is in a weird position and the way the old photo is so contrasty doesn’t help me. I will continue to refine that area.



I am also showing a piece in the art crawl again this weekend. It’s a rainy night so I hope the traffic is good.

Instrumental Musings … Martin D12-28

Newest Guitar Photography and Photo Styling by JOtwell Perspectives.

The Skelly

HEPWORTH D12-28. (pre-1968 )

I bought this in Sheffield, England in 1968 from a barman at a gig. He was short of cash and I wasn’t, so I got it for 75 pounds ( English pre-Euro ).

In the fashion of the time, this is tuned down a whole tone, and usually capo’d up to concert pitch. A huge tone, very reminiscent of Leadbelly. Unamplified.

Modifications: Original machine heads replaced with nacre “ butterfly” ones, and an upper scratch plate added.

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Louis Armstrong Never Got It Wrong … Part 3 of 4

The Skelly

Louis was a great one for the bon mot.  A few examples:

Satchmo Poster

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