The Blues

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

We still don’t know much about the blues. But we’re on a journey and it started with Eric Clapton.

Have you seen Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007? It was recorded live on July 28, 2007 in Bridgeview, Illinois. Clapton puts on Crossroads Concerts to raise money for Crossroads Centre, a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center on the Caribbean Island of Antigua.

Our favorite song from the two disc DVD set is: “WHO DO YOU LOVE?” performed by Robbie Robertson and Eric Clapton. “CROSSROADS” by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood was also great as was “SWEET HOME CHICAGO” performed by Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Mayer, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan and Johnny Winter!!!

Other performers are:

Los Lobos
Jeff Beck
Sheryl Crow
Willie Nelson
Albert Lee
Vince Gill
B.B. King
John McLaughlin
Sonny Landreth

Eric Clapton’s autobiography “Clapton” was very good. The book tells about his drug addiction and he is clearly trying to help others with similar problems. But we liked the book because we admire his playing and honesty and have recently read the late Bill Graham’s autobiography where he says Clapton was a gentleman through and through.

In “Clapton” E.C. says that music played a big role in his life and was like a healer to him. When he was a child he would sing on the stairs where he could hear an echo. His harmonica playing Uncle Adrian loved Stan Kenton, The Dorsey Brothers, and Benny Goodman and was a huge influence on Clapton.

He saw his first Fender Guitar while watching Buddy Holly and the Crickets on TV. Clapton won a book on America and became obsessed with it. While in secondary school he heard new things like Folk music, New Orleans Jazz and Rock and Roll! He bought a Hoya steel string guitar which was very painful to play and he couldn’t even tune it, but he taught himself how to play the thing. He learned how to play a bluesy version of “Scarlet Ribbons” by Josh White.

He learned that his Hoya Guitar was not made well. The strings were low at the top of the fingerboard and as they got closer to the bridge they got higher and higher which made them hard to press down. So he went to a flea market and for two pounds and ten shillings he bought an acoustic, narrow shaped body George Washburn. (George Washburn Guitar Company was est. in 1883 in Chicago IL.) It was delicate and fragile and it had a wide flat finger board. He played his new guitar and became proficient. He went to hear guitarists play so he could watch their hands and try to reproduce their sounds at home.

He learned Muddy Waters’ song “Honey Bee”. He tried to copy Big Bill Brunsy’s technique which was a staple part of playing the blues. He learned “Hey, Hey” which he described as complicated, full of blues notes which is what you get by “splitting a major and a minor note. Starting with the minor and bending it up to the major.”

When he first heard Big Bill and Robert Johnson Clapton became convinced  that “…all rock music and pop grew from blues roots.”