It's been a few weeks since we've posted here, but there have been a lot of blues to be seen and heard during that time. We've been out and about a bit, maintaining a respectable distance as much as possible, but it's been a while since we've been able to travel very much......almost five years for one reason or another, so we've taken a few opportunities to check things out this summer.
In May, we traveled to Macon, GA. I'd wanted to go there for years. The Allman Brothers Band called Macon home for a number of years and the house they lived in during the early 70's, dubbed The Big House, is now a museum with tons of ABB memorabilia. I became a fan of the band after buying their Dreams box set in the late 80's and really seeing what the band was all about.....how deep their roots dug into the blues, as well as jazz, soul, R&B, and country, eventually forming the foundation for Southern rock.
|A pair of Duane Allman's guitars|
The Big House also had a great gift shop, so I picked up a couple of ABB CD's.....a set from the early 70's with the first incarnation of the band and a 2009 set from the 40th Anniversary tour at the Beacon Theatre with Eric Clapton sitting in, along with a DVD from the early 90's band (I later tracked down a couple of other DVDs from the Beacon.....around 2003 and 2009). The later edition of the band was every bit as formidable as the first edition to these ears. We also visited Rose Hill, the cemetery where Duane, Gregg, Berry, and Butch are buried, along with the gravesites of Elizabeth Reed and "Little Martha" (the inspiration for a couple of their greatest songs).
|Otis Redding statue in Macon, GA|
My birthday is in June, which means Amazon gift cards, which means I picked up lots of great music and reading material. I grabbed a couple of country blues CDs......Bukka White's phenomenal Vocalion recordings from 1937-1941 (some of the most passionate blues ever put to wax), and an excellent early 60's set from Arhoolie called I Have To Paint My Face, which features tracks from Sam Chatmon, K.C. Douglas, Big Joe Williams, and R.C. Smith, and is definitely worth a listen. I also found Johnny Shines' Last Night's Dream (with Big Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, Clifton James, and Otis Spann in support) for a nice price and it's definitely a keeper, which should be obvious given the line-up.
On the rock side of the blues, I picked up a few of Santana's earliest recordings (they were originally known as the Santana Blues Band and the blues runs deep in Carlos Santana's fretwork) as they began to move more into a jazz direction, a pair of Allman Brothers Band recordings with Duane Allman at the helm (the 1970 set at American University and the excellent 1970 performance at the Atlanta International Pop Festival). There were also three Jimi Hendrix sets of previously unreleased tracks from 1968-1970 that were heavy on blues influences (Valleys of Neptune, People, Hell, and Angels, and Both Sides of the Sky). Hendrix was one of the indirect influences in guiding me to the blues, whether I knew it at the time or not.
That's not all we listened to this summer......we'll look at a few more in the coming weeks, Also, in a few weeks, we'll look at some of the books I've picked up.......I'm reading three or four at a time and haven't finished any of them yet. Until then.......