The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76272   Message #1350060
Posted By: GUEST,anonymous member
07-Dec-04 - 01:10 PM
Thread Name: Who influenced you to become a musician
Subject: RE: Who influenced you to become a musician
Who influenced me to pick up the guitar? Too numerous to mention.

Who influenced me to seriously try my hand at performing? Mississippi Fred McDowell.

I met Fred when I was a college student. When he came to give a concert, I was given the duty/privilege to guide him around campus, hang out, make sure he got fed, etc. We wound up staying up all night after the show, drinking gin from the bottle (Gordon's), smoking reefer, swapping songs, and jamming.

Fred couldn't have been more encouraging; he told me he'd never met a white boy who really understood the blues as well as me. My first reaction was that he was, you know, blowing smoke. But the next day we were talking with his manager, Dick Waterman, and Dick told me that yes, Fred was dead serious and that I should really give performing a shot. I told him I was strictly a "closet" player (really, a dorm-room player), so he advised me to go out and get some experience and then give him a call after I established myself.

Fred told his manager, "you should have booked me to make that record last week with this kid, not that guy Mike." I later learned that Fred had just come from Chicago, where he had recorded the "I Do Not Play Rock n Roll" album with Mike Bloomfield. Now, I would never claim to be in the same league with Bloomfield as a guitar player, but -- based on Fred's expert opinion -- I just might be a better blue-eyed blues singer.

Within a year, I was busking for a living and playing the occasional basket house gig. I kept at it for a couple of years, had a lot of fun, but never managed to break through to a higher level of professionalism, and never gave that call to Mr. Waterman. I still suspect that I might indeed be the world's bluest white singer, but I realize that, even if true, that plus five bucks won't get me more than an overpriced cup of cafe latte.

I love this story, but usually keep it to myself because I don't want to sound like a braggart and a namedropper, and also because there's no dramatic happy ending -- I don't really have anything to brag about in the end, anyway. Hence the anonymous posting. If you recognize my voice, please don't tell anyone it's me (i.e., don't respond in this thread and give me away.) Shoot me a PM if you must.