Blues heroes | Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy, blues, autobiography

This time last year I was preparing to leave for a trip to New York.

While I was there, I spent a happy couple of hours browsing the Barnes and Noble bookstore on East 17th Street. I love American bookstores. I love American books. They have a different feel in my hand as soon as I pick one up. There are other small differences too, such as the type-face.

The book I bought was a biography of Buddy Guy, by David Ritz.

Life being how it is, it took me almost a year to read it. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

Buddy Guy is considered among the best blues guitarists alive today. He was a regular session player at Chess Records. He was a sideman in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He and Junior Wells formed a band of their own, and in the 1960s he became a recording star in his own right.

His life story (told in his own words) has so much to tell that I don’t feel one blog post could do it justice. Let’s start right at the beginning.

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Blues Heroes | Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin Wolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A lot of peoples holler about ‘I don’t like no blues,’ but when you ain’t got no money, and can’t pay your house rent and can’t buy you no food, you damn sure got the blues. If you ain’t got no money you got the blues, because you’re thinking evil. That’s right. Any time you’re thinking evil, you’re thinking about the blues.” – Howlin’ Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976) was named after the 21st president. His eventual size – he was purportedly 6’3” and 300 lbs (191 cm and 136 kg) – would result in nicknames like Big Foot Chester & Bull Cow but they had already started calling him “Wolf” by the age of 3.

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A scrapbook of blues

Blues is, and always has been, music about the tapestry of life.

I feel lucky to have such a rich stream of inspiration that brings me much enjoyment, as a reader, writer and a listener, as well as a DJ and a dancer.

Being part of a wider community of blues musicians and dancers makes my life considerably more interesting, and I feel lucky to get to travel to different places to play beautiful music for people to dance to.

One of the things I love most is that feeling of complete immersion that I get from blues music and dance. DJing and dancing allow me to be in the here and now; it almost feels like a meditation practice for me at times.

My Blues Journal

I write long-hand most mornings and I have a special journal that I take away with me to blues weekends. This morning I was looking back through that journal, plus another one that I took with me to MezzJelly Blues in New York this summer.

I was inspired to begin a blues scrapbook this year, to collect writings and music notes, tickets, passes, postcards, photos and other memorabilia. I feel quite excited to do that. I’ve already decided that I need to buy a new hardback journal, especially for that purpose.

That idea, in turn, has inspired this post today.

I was going to write a different post, but this idea found its way into my imagination and I had to give in.

Memories of 2017

I would like to offer you a window into my world through a scrapbook of notes, photos and people who’ve inspired me in my blues world this year.

Here we go:

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