blues

Me & Mr. Clapton

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The people we idolize when we are young can have such a lasting impact on our lives. Sometime in junior high school I discovered the music of Eric Clapton. This was a pivotal moment in my journey. Clapton was one of the first players I came across that used his guitar as an extension of his voice. I was obsessed with my new found guitar hero, and spent most of my teenage years studying every nuance of his playing and legacy. I've even owned two of his signature Stratocasters.

I quickly identified with Clapton’s persona. He seems a bit introverted and shy, and really lets his music do the talking. His stage shows typically have a pretty simple set up - not a lot of flash, and he is always diplomatic when it comes to sharing the stage. This is something I’ve always tried to embody as a performer. Surrounding yourself with excellent musicians and allowing them space to shine is one the greatest thrills of being on stage.

One of the first Clapton records I got my hands on was a live CD/DVD recording called One More Car, One More Rider. I probably watched that thing hundreds of times. Many members of his live band are some of my favorite players today - Nathan East, Steve Gadd, and Billy Preston - just to name a few. The first time I saw Clapton in concert I remember being overwhelmed to the point of tears.

Whether Clapton is your guitar hero or not, it’s hard to deny his impact on blues and rock music. I think his larger legacy is keeping blues music alive. Clapton has put the spotlight on so many blues artists that may have fallen by the wayside in their later years - B.B. King, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy , JJ Cale - the list goes on and on. He also paved the way for so many younger players from Richie Sambora to John Mayer. Clapton is largely responsible for introducing Bob Marley's music to American audiences as well. 

I imagine our childhood heroes are much like our first boyfriends or girlfriends. Even though we go on to experience other things, they always hold a special place in our hearts. I still find inspiration in Eric’s records today. I saw recently he will be playing two dates this fall at Madison Square Garden. I’ll probably grab a ticket -  it will most likely be my last chance to see my hero. 

Muddy Waters

MUDDY WATERS' CHICAGO HOME

MUDDY WATERS' CHICAGO HOME

Recently I took a pilgrimage to the south side of Chicago.  4339 S. Lake Park Ave doesn't look like much of anything from the street. It stands there lonely and forgotten, many of it's windows boarded, in a state of decay. A closer look reveals two painted flamingos on the front door and an inscription - "Muddy."

The house was built in 1879 and was purchased by Muddy Waters in 1954.  He lived there for 20 plus years during the height of his career. It has been vacant for many years due to legal issues and has changed owners several times. There is a giant push worldwide to have the property preserved as a historical site. 

FRONT DOOR DETAILS

FRONT DOOR DETAILS

 

Walking up to the house I tried to imagine what it must of been like back in Muddy's day.  You could've probably heard Muddy's band practicing in the basement. Maybe you could smell his wife Geneva's cooking on a Sunday afternoon. I imagine the house in it's prime condition. The property would've been a source of pride for Muddy - a far cry from his upbringing in Mississippi. Sitting there on the same steps where Muddy used to sit I found myself overwhelmed with reverence. 

SITTING ON MUDDY'S PORCH

SITTING ON MUDDY'S PORCH