Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blue Tuesday in Winnipeg, MB, La Garage

I just can't get enough of this blues town. I'd love to get here in good weather again- but what can you do? It's pretty damn cold- something like -30 BEFORE the wind chill factor. There's snow and ice and sand on the road, and when you walk it sounds like breaking styrofoam. The silver lining to down time in Winnipeg is simply the great number of fine players that live here. Having visited with Big Dave last night, today I'm catching up with his former harmonica player, Gord Kidder.

Back about 1973, when Colin Linden and I were an aggressive young blues duo, Mitch Podolak invited us to play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. The first people we met were Big Dave McLean and Gord Kidder- an aggressive young blues duo from Winnipeg. I think we all played extra well that weekend, as none of us wanted to come out second best! We did become friends and- as some of you might know- have played in different combinations over the years. I don't remember whether or not that was the weekend where an even younger Colin James followed us around for guitar lessons... I'm thinking it's now been about 35 years since I last played the Winnipeg Folk Festival. It now costs money to ask them if they would be interested in having you on the bill! So unless I get an agent, a manager, a record label, or pay to attend a conference with them- all pretty unlikely- I will probably never appear there again. Barring some health crisis or accident I've probably got about 15 years left as an active performer- so I suppose there is still time.

Sam Chatmon didn't have an agent or a manager and, so far as I know, neither did Bukka White, or Blind John Davis, Roosevelt Sykes, or Martin, Bogan and Armstrong. But whatever. Tonight I'm hanging with Gord Kidder at Debra Lynn Neufeld's place, and we're playing records from his collection. The Winnipeg Folk Festival couldn't be farther from our minds.

Gord is one of my favourite harmonica players anywhere, anytime. It's a real pleasure to hang out, play these records and talk about the parts, the players, the instruments. I don't get to do this often enough anymore. Most of us are on the road all the time, or playing with Muddy. I miss days and nights like this one.

But these things come to an end. By eleven o'clock I'm on stage at La Garage. My friends Rockin' Ronnie Lindsay and Dancin' Lou are in the audience, so I play a couple of requests for them. Great sound in this room! Ronnie has hosted Winnipeg's number one blues show for over 25 years. He knows his stuff, and I'm always honoured that he will come out on a cold and snowy night to hear me play. I'm extra honoured that he showed up wearing one of my Tour jackets. Guys like Ronnie are the glue that hold the blues scene together, keep it alive, keep it growing.

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