I thought for the first entry in the Riverside’s blog I would describe how I got here. When I found the blues and how my 25 year love for the music got rolling. Why I like it so much and how I became “Professor Blues” as it were.
I think I was always a blues fan but was not aware of it. When I was a kid I remember hearing the music of BB King, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin playing into the night as I was drifting off to sleep. I think I was slowly brain-washed as a child. Who says exposing your kids to quality doesn’t pay off? I’m just glad they weren’t playing The Carpenters or the Grateful Dead (sorry Dead fans) as I was going to bed.
The first record I ever bought was Led Zepppelin I. I was 7 years old. I just thought it was hard rock then but after I found the blues I realised that it was just very loud Chicago blues as two of the songs were written by Willie Dixon, and “How Many More Times” was heavily influenced by Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years.” Blues was the basis of most of the other material on the record which is still a favourite of mine today.
I was always drawn to the guitar too, which as we know is the main instrument for blues musicians. I recall the first time I heard slide guitar and noticed it. My friend’s older brother was playing a George Thorogood record and the song that caught me was “Who Do You Love?” I had never heard anything like it before and I remember standing there just listening and then asking the older brother what that was. I begged my parents for that record. Eventually getting it for Christmas.
As I got older, I expanded into more hard rock and even metal, which strangely enough led me to jazz fusion. I was constantly pushing the boundaries of my musical listenings. Ultimately, the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s and Scorpions of the world were unsatisfying. I never really identified with any of it.
I used to go to this flea market in downtown Vancouver where I knew a guy who sold records just as cd’s were just coming in to the mainstream. So he always had some interesting music due to lots of people selling their vinyl collections to replace them with digital copies. Being the proverbial starving student, I would head down there with some of my old records that I could hopefully be able to trade up for something better.
Normally, I was looking for the aforementioned hard rock, metal or fusion I was into at the time and I suppose I was this particular day too. However, when I walked in I had another one of those moments where I just stood there listening. I had no idea who I was listening to. It was so simple and just had a feel to it that pulled me right in. There was no voice either. Just a guitar playing an up beat melody line over a real good beat. Technically it had nothing on the fusion players I listened to but musically, it had everything over them. I asked the vendor who we were listening to and he told me it was “The Stumble” by Freddie King.
I listened to the rest of the record and ended up trading 4 of my records for this new discovery. I took it home and played it for the rest of the week. The next weekend I went back with all of my fusion albums and traded them in for as many blues records as I could. I remember taking a copy of Roy Buchanan’s “Live Stock” and T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone’s Blues” home with me and a few others.
The blues had found me and I welcomed it. I would love to hear how the blues found you. Leave a comment telling us what turned you on to the blues.