Elwood the Apprentice samples some juicy blues folklore
The problem with the information age is that there’s just too damned much of the stuff. With all this delicious info floating about in cyber space, who has time for real life? Instead of playing harmonica, I can fritter away hours watching harp on YouTube, listening to harp on last.fm, reading about harp on forums, thinking about playing harp all the time but never actually doing so.
This is a filthy habit, as I’m sure you’re well aware – but like most filthy habits, worth indulging in every so often. One such indulgence is this treasure trove of interviews conducted by the other Elwood, Dan Ackroyd, on his House of Blues Radio show.
His team has released dozens and dozens of little podcasts, representing a kind of bite-sized bank of blues legend wisdom: Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor, Ray Charles, Taj Mahal, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, and many, many more. [I would like to emphasise the “many, many” aspect.]
These are titbits, tasters, little snacks of information to be taken in complement to a more substantial meal. But delicious they are: did you know, for instance, that Albert King’s struggle with literacy made it a challenge for him to learn lyrics? I didn’t, until William Bell of Stax described how he used to whisper the upcoming lines to King during recording sessions.
I’ll leave you to root around in there, get lost for a few minutes or a couple of hours, and harvest whatever wisdom you’d care to. As a small sample of the flavour, though, here’s a little anecdote from Robert Plant about the day he met Sonny Boy II:
I was taking a leak, I was in the bathroom and Sonny Boy came in. He was about 8 inches taller than me and he was wearing a harlequin suit… Now he’s taking a leak and I’m taking a leak and I’m saying – as a million people have said to me – “Mr Williamson, I want to thank you; you’ve been such a great influence and inspiration. Can I have your autograph?”
And he looked down at me with those big eyes and open mouth with one tooth in, and he said… “Get lost, son.”
And I said, “Thank you.” Great moment for me…
Nice one, other Elwood. I’ll even let you keep the name.
[P.S. if you’d like to be responsible and focus on your playing instead of gabbing around on the net all day, make a pit stop at The Good Doctor’s new page, Harmonica Warm-ups and Workout]