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Big Muddy 2003 gallery - Day 2

Review by Paul Fields (The Blue Jazzman)    photos by STLBlues
You'll get better odds at any casino or lottery kiosk than you will betting on St Louis weather. All day we shifted between bright blue skies, with white clouds, and short but heavy rain storms. The weather played havoc with the festival schedule but didn't deter anyone who'd already made the trip down to the Mississippi River on Laclede's Landing.

The Chicago Blues Legends and their audience fared well until the last few minutes of the performance when the "liquid sunshine" once again showed up. Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Carey Bell and Hubert Sumlin comprise the main body of the "Legends". What a show! The blues stalwarts who attended, even though they had to have known the weather would be unstable all day, were treated to Chicago blues at its best, the way all blues is best heard - live and up close.

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Bob Margolin and Willie Smith played for Muddy Waters for several years. Carey Bell played for Muddy for a couple of years back in the early Seventies. And, Hubert Sumlin played for Howlin' Wolf from 1954 until the Wolf passed away in 1976. All four gentlemen are still very much at the top of their game.

Sadly, with the weather playing dirty tricks on us, the "Legends" didn't stick around long and your humble correspondent didn't get to present our special "Up From The Delta" CD to Mr. Sumlin. Oh, well, I've got a sneaking suspicion the "Legends" will be back in town. St Louis, being smack dab in the middle of the country, is a magnet for blues artists on tour since it's hard to cross the country without stopping to play for extremely appreciative audiences.

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The Festival headliner, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, didn't fare as well with the weather, though. If I'm not mistaken, his performance was a bit late starting
STLBlues sidebar
A spontaneous moment of musical magic - Bobby Bland is singing "Ain't no sunshine", when he asks of a fan at stageside "can you sing". Not only can this festgoer sing, he was asked to the stage, where he absolutely stole the spotlight! Read more here, at 'Me and Bobby Bland'.
but finished on schedule - a good thing too since the rain was starting up again. But, while he was on stage, the crowd was really into his groove. Bobby did all the crowd pleasers in his extensive repertoire and then some. As folks walked away from the main stage area almost everyone was either singing their favorite from the show or, at least, still snapping their fingers or groovin' to some imaginary beat.

One of my very good friends, Keith Doder, was scheduled to start during Bobby's act so I had to split my time between them. As I walked up to the stage Keith was on, he was performing "Faking Lucky". I got goose bumps because "Faking Lucky" just happened to be the first tune on a St Louis hour from last Thursday - a St Louis hour I turned into an audio CD to give to St Louis talent who weren't already aware of what we do to promote the St Louis blues in over 50 countries via the show. Something like "deja vu all over again"???

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Keith had a sizable crowd around his stage. And, it was raining! The folks didn't seem to mind one bit, though. I've never seen a stage at any of the Big Muddy Festivals I've attended so alive with folks dancing and carrying on - in the rain, yet. Keith and his band were "on fire"! I've also never heard Keith add a piano to his combo before, either. Bob Lohr, a veteran blues piano man on the St Louis scene, was sitting in with the Blues City Band and adding his unique style along the way. Keith and the Blues City Band definitely deserve a tip o' the hat for their performance this year. And, Bob must be one of the busiest musicians at the Festival, sitting in with, so far, four blues bands by my count.

Earlier in the afternoon, Ron Edwards put on a brilliant slide guitar performance for a very appreciate group of early blues aficionados. In my opinion, Ron is one of the best slide guitar players alive today, if not the best. Ron also broadcasts an outstanding blues heritage program every Sunday night on our local community radio station. His show is truly entertaining but also quite instructive as Ron researches and draws on his extensive knowledge of the early blues. He misses very, very Sunday evening shows so, hopefully, most of his regular listeners came out to the Festival to hear and see him in person. It was well worth braving the nasty weather.


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Finally, I spent a couple of hours doing my civic duty as a member of the St Louis Blues Society by working in the Society's tent. What an experience. It allowed me the opportunity to meet some really serious blues lovers and get to know a few fellow members of the Blues Society I'd never met before. And, best of all, I got to dry out for a while in the bargain.

That's a wrap for now. There's one more Festival day and some of our St Louis heavy-hitters are headlining today. I never intentionally miss an opportunity to see The Father Of Rock-and-Roll, Mr. Johnnie Johnson. So...

One apology is in order: On Saturday I interviewed Robert Jr Lockwood without referring to my notes first - didn't really have time less I miss the opportunity. He must have thought me daft when I asked him about recording with Clapton and Keith Richards. But, he was so classy about it, just shaking his head and affirming, "Yeah, we did that" instead of correcting me. Driving to the Sunday version of the Festival, listening to the CD I'd planned on handing to Hubert Sumlin, I was reminded that Sumlin's new CD features the rock icons, not Lockwood's. Oh, well, Mr. Lockwood didn't seem to mind, I guess I shouldn't either.

Have a great blues day!!!

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