Author - Musician - Teacher - Painter - Actor
I was born in Elsene, Belgium in 1959 and grew up in a little town in Flanders called Erembodegem. There was nothing to indicate that blues music would become so important in my life until that summer evening in Flanders, Belgium, almost 50 years ago, when I heard Sam Lightnin' Hopkins for the first time. The memory is still as vivid as ever. The warm parlando voice of Lightnin', the soft flowing guitar, the humor, the direct and straightforward lyrics, it all felt like coming home to me, a 15-year-old novice musician. I still do not know why the music touched me so deeply, but it felt like I could be part of it. Even living in Flanders, it was my music too. That moment changed my life.
My brother Marc and I first went to the Delta in 2011 to write a book about its culture. I eventually went on to write several other books as well as magazine articles about the origin of the blues. These books are my story too, my quest for the roots of the music that has fascinated me since the first time I heard it. Now, nearly 50 years later, the blues is still the music that soothes me most.
At this moment, my wife Jackie and I live in Mississippi, and I am grateful for the people of the South who have welcomed me into their homes and hearts as one of them, shared their stories with me, and in doing so, made it possible for me to write these books.
My life has been filled with blues music. Almost everything I have done - writing, teaching, painting and acting - is related to the music.
Author: I have written four books about the culture of the Mississippi Delta and the origin of the blues: 'Catfish & Cotton – Drivin' Down The Blues Highway', 'A People – Reflections On The Deep South' and 'Highway 61'. The fourth book is coming soon: When Patterns Are Broken, New Worlds Emerge.
I am also contributing articles for each edition of the Belgian blues magazine Back To The Roots.
Musician: I have been working as a guitar and harmonica player in Europe for over 45 years. Since 2011, I have played the Mississippi stages with my own music and backing up several artists: including Blind Mississippi Morris, Chris Gill, Libby Rae Watson, Jimmy Mayes, YZ Ealey, Eddie Cusik, King Edward Antoine, Kern Pratt, Eden Brent, Dave Sherman, Brint Anderson and Matt Willis, among others.
Teacher: In 1992, I founded the non-profit organization Double Deal VZW with the goal of teaching as many people as possible to play the harmonica. The Double Deal workshops have already exceeded 3,000 participants, with more people subscribing each session. If you are interested in private harmonica lessons, or if you would like to organize a harmonica workshop in Mississippi, please contact me.
Painter: The theme of blues music is also reflected in my paintings. The portraits are a bouquet for the blues that pays tribute to blues artists and their music. In addition, the colorful and refreshing landscapes depict life in the South. My painting style fits into the rich folk art tradition of the Delta.
Actor: I enjoyed acting in several short music video's.