Medicine Bone is the duo unit of Samm Bennett and guitarist and singer/songwriter Ken Shima. They started the group in late 2009, and played together consistently, performing at a host of venues across Tokyo, until Ken returned to the US in mid-2011. Since the two members now reside on opposite sides of the globe, the project has acquired an on-again-off-again status. Fall of 2012 saw the band reunited for four shows in Tokyo, and then again in 2016.
Their tunes and general orientation have been highly influenced by their love of blues, but it's also fair to say that they've branched out a bit from their earliest focus of inspiration, and in several of the last appearances in Tokyo of what they call "round one", they brought some distinctly African influences into the mix. But it was their mutual love of the Mississippi Hill Country sound of blues masters such as RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill (and forerunners like Bukka White and Mississippi Fred McDowell) that initially brought Samm and Ken together. They soon developed a signature sound, rooted in the blues stylings they love so much, but with enough of their own slant to keep the project from falling into stale rehashes of music of the past.
From the start, the group has been an equal partnership, in terms of singing and songwriting duties. Each man brings his original tunes to the project, and their live shows have always showcased equal amounts of their respective songwork. In that sense, the group is a relatively rare bird, since most bands pretty much feature one main singer/songwriter. With Medicine Bone, two heads are better than one!