Sam the Dot Man

inUncategorizedon November 26, 2013

Guitar Gabe posing with a Sam McMillan artwork featuring his likeness

Guitar Gabe posing with a Sam McMillan artwork featuring his likeness

In 1991, Guitar Gabriel and I were playing at a public radio station where we performed in front of a live audience. After the show, an old black man dressed completely in dot-painted clothing introduced himself as “Sam McMillan the Dot Man.” He was a famous outsider folk artist who had enjoyed our show.

At that point, I had just heard the news that Gabe and I were scheduled to be performing at Carnegie Hall. When he heard that, Sam offered Gabe, our piano player and myself custom painted suits for our show. We brought him our suits, shoes, and ties, and a few weeks later we were dressed up head-to-toes in the beautiful duds, ready to perform at the prestigious venue.


sam m and tim

Sam McMillan and Tim Duffy

Sam traveled to the show at Carnegie Hall, where our suits were a big hit, and a Hamptons-based gallery approached him, hoping to sell his work. Since that trip Sam has been supplying Music Maker with all sorts of art. When Guitar Gabriel died, I did not know what do with an old throne someone had given him; I dropped it off at Sam’s to give to him. The next week Sam brought it back all painted. We have photographed almost every Music Maker artist sitting in Gabe’s throne since that time.

The most interesting part, for me, was that Guitar Gabriel, Willa Mae Buckner, Macavine Hayes, Mr. Q, Preston Fulp, and most all of our early Music Maker partners entered the world of Sam’s art after that first chance meeting. For the next 30 years, Sam continued to adorn his artwork with these friends he had made. Sam is now 89 years old and has decided to retire from painting. He was a constant inspiration to me as an entrepreneurial artist. Sam made art, which helped both him and his art dealers earn a living. Almost as importantly, Sam knew how to market himself and make a name in this world – if you met him or saw his work, you’d always remember Sam the Dot Man.

Sam McMillan and Captain Luke

Sam McMillan and Captain Luke

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