The guy in my avatar is blind Cootie Stark, and true piedmont bluesman I had the priviledge to travel and mentor with. The stories I could tell about Italy with a couple blind black musicians in 2001 would fill a page! Cootie was a riot. Every morning he would get up an drink milk and rum, no joke. Yuck. This man could play guitar like no other. A true savant. But when you spent time with him, it crushed you to literally see the pain he grew up in. Yet, he always smiled, said he was 'blessed'...One of my favorite songs of his had a hook that went
'I looked and looked, I searched and searched, but I never saw a u haul behind no hearse!'....
Another great influence on me was 'Big Daddy' Pattman. A one armed harp player from Athens. He used to wear tacky gold chains and drove a silver caddy and had a wife 45 years his junior. He taught me the harp on tour. His wife and I would love to have me ride in the caddy with then instead of the bus, because even in this day and age, they thought they needed a honky int he car in the deep south! BDP would put his wife and small child in the back and say 'boy, get your cracka ass up here and learn somefin!'..He taught me the harp,driving with his knees. Needless to say it was not hard to pay attention! He also taught me alot about music. Once when I was practising I hit a wrong note and he kinda laughed and said 'boy, if that happens when you are on stage, hit that same note three more times and everyone will think it's JAZZ!'... He tuaght me to play 'country harp' not the chicago stuff everyone else plays. What a great man.
And finally Mr Frank Edwards. A guy I played with for years. Here's a clip of one of his famous songs, 'Chicken Raid'. The vrse is 'if the preacher comes around get on the bus and leave the town 'cause he'll eat you out of house and home, I'll sure be glad when the reverend was gone'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cxajUZ9tLMhttp://steel.lcc.gatech.edu/~jransone/mrfrank/index.htm
I loved this man. When I first met him in the late 80's, he used to do this 'one man band' act with a harp holder and drum machine, one of those old boss 'Dr Rythym' jobs. It was pretty bad, he would start the drum track and then speed it up or slow it down to suit the song. My buddy Mudcat found a power cord that looked like the one Mr Frank had and disabled it and would switch it out before a show. Poor Mr Frank must have bought dozens of replacements but every time the damn thing would 'break' right before showtime enabling me to play the drums behind him! He never got wise to it, and after a while he just gave upand let me play with him
Now if you would have told me in my teens I would grow up and play blues, polka, dixieland jazz, I would have said your nuts. Funny how that stuff works out, huh? It scares me for my future, lord only knows what crazy crap is in store for me next..But, it was nice learning from these guys who have all passed on, but not before they shared thier wisdom and talent with a bucnha young white kids. Which is really neat, because in the dog eat dog world of music, alot of folks wonmt show you thier 'tricks'. These guys, once you gained thier trust, were happy to teach you. Awesome, great men of the blues!