Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Steady Rollin' Bob

Picture above are photos that Bob Margolin graciously granted me permission to share. The top photo is of Robert Jr. Lockwood, who was the last and one of the only bluesmen to learn directly from Robert Johnson (his step-father). The bottom photo is of the gentle giants, Taj Mahal, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins. Whoa! Legends All.

Daughter Megan's move to Atlanta a few years back to earn a masters degree in health education gave me the opportunity to visit the venerable blues club known as Blind Willies (named after Georgia's native blues son, Blind Willie McTell and author of one of the Allman Brothers' hits "Statesboro Blues"). Before leaving Texas I checked the club's website calendar and saw that Bob Margolin's band featuring Carey Bell on harmonica was booked during the weekend of my visit.

Carey Bell was one of the last old school Chicago bluesharp players (I say was because, sadly, he passed away recently)) and I had never had the opportunity to hear him play. Bob Margolin is becoming quite legendary as one of the few musicians still out there promoting the style of blues music that he played as Muddy Waters' guitarist from 1973-1980. I found an e-mail for Bob and he answered my request for details about the gig and was genuinely appreciative of my excitement at getting a chance to see a couple of the "Real Deals" sharing their craft with the rest of us. I was also excited about the chance for Megan to hear blues played the way it is supposed to be played.

Megan and I showed up early at the club to ensure a seat and since the club turned out to be surprisingly small, we were glad that we did. Bob and band blew in slightly late and shrugged off greetings and small talk explaining that they had fought traffic jams, had to get set up, and earn their keep. And earn it they did! Bob and band worked through several numbers before calling Carey to the stage and it gave me the opportunity to chat with Carey about playing techniques, his current health, and his son Lurrie. He didn't believe me when I told him that I had driven all the way from Texas just to hear him. Bob had Mookie Brill on bass (who also proved to be accomplished on the harmonica before the night was over) and Big Joe Maher on drums. Big Joe was filling in and is quite capable of carry a show on his own. Once summoned to the stage, Carey blew through some of the numbers that he was known for and worked in some of Muddy's classics that he himself had play on and Bob played slide guitar that evoke the ghost of his ex-boss exquisitively.

During the first break, Bob dropped by my table for a short chat and I found him to be very friendly and gracious and I was so glad that my daughter got the chance to meet him. I had several of Bob's cds (and cassettes) back in Texas, but listening to him do his thang live was exponentially better. Wish it hadn't taken sending a daughter to grad school to finally get to hear these guys.

Don't pass up a chance to hear Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin live. If not, grab one of his cds. Oh, he also writes a nice column for Blue Revue magazine every month and shares his take on the state of the blues from the perspective of one who knows.

I'm evoking Bob's memory at this point in time because I wanted to post the pictures that he sent me that he had taken of some true legends that he was billed with on the blues circuit a few years ago.


Anonymous said...

You need to profile a
hot shot guitarist from Willis.

Ricky Bush said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricky Bush said...

Oh, yeah, that's a great idea. When the world is ready for it.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you ever make it to Austin, but Pinetop's got a standing gig at a somewhat new club on 6th Street--Nuno's.. Its not at all uncommon to walk in there (usually no cover) and see him smoking a cigarette (he's the only one "allowed" to since Austin's banned smoking in public places) at a table that only he can sit at and signing autographs. Occassionally he makes his way to the stage to bang out some Muddy Waters tunes. Its always a great time!

Ricky Bush said...

Thanks, Justin. Yeah, I knew that Clifford had brought him to Austin some years ago to see that he was taken care of, but didn't know if he was still there since Clifford passed.