Friday, August 25, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Three

The third track of our Blues Fix Mix CD was an easy one for me.  I became a fan of Robert Lockwood Jr.'s in the mid 90's, when I picked up several of his CDs.  There was no particular reason why I hadn't collected any of his work before, other than the fact that little of it was available on cassette that I could find, other than his Delmark release, Steady Rollin' Man (an essential release of his, to be sure).  I remembered seeing his name in the credits on several Chess blues releases from the 50's and 60's, many with Sonny Boy Williamson (Version II).

Lockwood was born in 1915 in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, and learned to play guitar from Robert Johnson, who had an off and on relationship with Lockwood's mother for about ten years.  For many years, Lockwood was known as Robert Jr. Lockwood because of his professional and personal relationship with Johnson, and he played fish fries, street corners, juke joints, and house parties with Johnson, Williamson, and his longtime associate Johnny Shines around most of the Mississippi Delta.

Lockwood recorded a few 78's off and on during his early career, but was really in demand as a studio musician for most of the 50's and 60's, so he really didn't get into recording his own albums until he was in his 50's.  1970's Steady Rollin' Man was his first as a front man, but he really hit his stride in the 70's, recording a couple of albums for Trix and a tribute album to Johnson.  Along the way, he mastered the 12-string guitar and really expanded his style.  His own recordings also occasionally leaned toward jazz and swing and he combined all of his styles on his albums.

One of his later releases was in 1998 for Verve Records, I Got To Find Me A Woman.  It is my favorite of his albums.  B.B. King and Joe Louis Walker play on a couple of tracks and it's just a really cool set of songs, originals and covers of songs by his influences, Robert Johnson, Leroy Carr, and Roosevelt Sykes.

In fact, the Sykes song, "Feel Like Blowing My Horn," is Track 3 on our Blues Fix Mx CD.  Walker accompanies Lockwood on this song.  I included it for a couple of reasons.....first, I just like the gentle, reflective vibe that Lockwood conveys here, in contrast to Sykes' boisterous in.  You can feel the resignation in his voice, and the playing is just marvelous to me.  Second, in my first and, thus far, only trip to the BMA's, Lockwood performed this song on stage and I still get goose bumps thinking about it.  That was a lean year for the BMA's (still called the Handy's at that time) because a big overseas tour coincided with the date of the awards (something that probably wouldn't happen today) and Lockwood was one of the big stars who did show up (Walker actually hosted it that year).

Lockwood died in 2006 at 91, still playing a regular gig in Cleveland, OH at the time he passed away.  He didn't record a lot on his own, but he made the most of his opportunities.  Hopefully, when time allows, I will get to do a full post on Lockwood, one of the true characters of the blues.  In the meantime, here's Track 3 of our CD from Mr. Lockwood.  Enjoy!

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