Blesok no. 36, May-June, 2004
Beginnings. My mother sang and played piano, we used to play duets, then I heard Meade Lux Lewis on the radio and started playing boogie woogie by ear at 5 yrs old. First band was in high school, Denny Lee And The Ramblers. Mike Bloomfield had the rival band and we would compete for sweet 16 party gigs. That’s when I first met him. Influences were Meade Lux, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino. Each time period has had memorable moments, but the early blues, and rock ‘58 through ‘64 was the most fun. Not a business yet! Sitting in for Otis Spann, and playing with Muddy. Michael and I on the West side of Chicago, playing with Howlin’ Wolf. Playing on Charlie Musselwhite’s “Stand Back” album with Harvey Mandel, and last year’s Chicago Blues Festival Reunion with Sam Lay, Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, Charlie Musselwhite, and Corky Siegel. Also San Francisco Blues Festival with Steve Miller and James Cotton. And time you play with great musicians you are influenced by them. There is a level of greatness, they bring you up to, musically,and spiritually. I miss that with Michael.
Actually when I was 5 and started playing piano, my aunt bought me a drum set, and I also played drums which was very helpful for my sense of timing, and the groove. Listening to the radio in Chicago, and the great blues shows. Also our housekeeper listening to gospel radio.
Keyboard favorites: Otis Spann, Johnnie Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Meade Lux Lewis, Little Richard, Huey Piano Smith, Fats Domino, Nicky Hopkins.
Muddy Waters was magical, James Cotton can really blow, nobody can shake a string like Michael Bloomfield or Otis Rush. Charlie Musselwhite, and Harvey Mandel are inspirational, I love Nick Gravenites singing, Tracy Nelson and Marcy Levy vocals, Michael Bloomfield’s intensity was unbelieveable. Steve Miller’s Texas shuffle, Buddy Miles powerful drumming. Mick Taylor’s slide playing, Bob Dylan’s funky rhythm guitar, Duane Allman’s slide, Jimi Hendrix’s all around amazing chops. Playing “Hey Joe” with him! I always wanted to play with Elmore James! Top five albums: Phil Spector’s Greatest Hits, Blonde On Blonde, here’s Little Richard, Chicago Blues Anthology on Chess, Best of Muddy Waters. The Jerry Lee Lewis’ Greatest Hits on Sun.
The band I am playing with at blues festivals: Harvey Mandel, Zach Wagner on guitars, Don Heffington, Sam Lay – drums, Marcy Levy, Nick Gravenites, Tracy Nelson – vocals, Corky Siegel, sometimes Charlie Musselwhite on harp, Rick Reed – bass.
The old blues scene is almost gone. Most of the great masters are in blues heaven, but there is nothing like the power of playing the blues, and the ones that are left must keep that alive! It is synonymous as life itself.
The people in Europe have always picked up on American jazz and blues more then the American people and have traditionally supported and respected the music and the artists more. That’s unfortunate, because its right here in their own backyard.
I like Harvey Mandel, Charlie Musselwhite, White Stripes, Soledad, James Cotton, Jimmy Smith, Johnnie Johnson.
I would tell the people of Macedonia to embrace the blues, because it is real and true and free! It helps you when you need it. When you’re up, or when you’re down the blues is always there to help you through! You can have a good time with the blues, it can be your friend when you’re down! You can always count on the blues! We would love to bring the Chicago Blues Reunion to Europe and Macedonia. Maybe there is a way.
Dear Vasja, it’s always nice to hear from people who appreciate your work. Thank you for your interest, and love for the blues, blues forever, Barry Goldberg.