When I first learned of Garrett Dutton’s new album “Philadelphia Mississippi,” he and I were sharing a flats boat on a beautiful spring day on the water off Harbour Island in the Bahamas. We were there to celebrate our good friend’s birthday and were excited for a weekend of much needed revelry and respite from the isolation of COVID-19.
A flats boat is a great place for conversation—anyone who fly fishes in salt water is familiar with downtime banter while scanning the sea for fish—and Dutton and I had a lot of catching up to do. In the time that passed since we were last together, he received a Grammy nomination for his 2020 album “The Juice,” and I was excited to learn more about “Philadelphia Mississippi” and his collaborations with some of the greats in the blues world.
Dutton’s excitement about the project was palpable, but he seemed equally enthusiastic about the time we shared wading the flats and chasing bonefish with fly rods. I love the sporting life and admire others who approach these pursuits with the same vigor. That’s why I love spending time with Dutton. I’m a big fan of his musical talents, and I’ve developed a deep appreciation for his love of the outdoors, where he can often be found fishing and surfing near his home on Cape Cod.
Our day searching for Harbour Island’s elusive bonefish was not as productive as we had hoped, but fishing with Dutton reminded me that fly fishing serves many purposes in my life. Sometimes fishing is a means to reconnect with a friend.
In June I received a text from Dutton telling me that “Philadelphia Mississippi” was number one on Billboard’s Blues Charts. I congratulated my friend but couldn’t help reminding him of our bad luck in the Bahamas. He texted back and said we’ll have better days, and I could hear the optimistic chuckle while reading his words. It was music to my ears.