I’ve been waxing nostalgic about the blues this month. I hope you are enjoying my recollections. Today’s post is dedicated to my favorite blues artist Muddy Waters.
I was very fortunate to see Muddy Waters perform twice live in concert. The first time was on October 7, 1978 at Players Tavern in Westport, Ct. Players Tavern was a small bar and nightclub situated on the same property with the Westport Country Playhouse. Muddy Waters and his band were the only act that night and this club held no more than 250 people. A nice intimate setting, where you could pull up a table close to the stage.
I was walking across the bar room floor, with my head down not watching where I was going. Next thing I know I bump straight into this guy who knocks me right on my ass, my glasses went flying and I was a little stunned to tell you the truth. I look up and there is this big black hand outstretched offering to help me to my feet.
“Are you alright son?”, he says. I am quite embarrassed as he helps me to my feet. I dust myself off and another person hands me my glasses.
“I am thank you sir. I am sorry for the accident.”, I say.
“No son, its my fault I was just heading to the bar to order our table some drinks. What are you drinking? I’d like to buy you a drink for your troubles.”
I realize that it is Pinetop Perkins who has bowled me over so I agree to accept his offer. I ordered a rum and coke.
“Young man why don’t you join us at our table before the show begins.”, Pinetop says as he gathers the drinks.
I smile and say, “I’d be happy to do so.” So I help Pinetop bring the drinks over to the table.
Seated at the table is Bob Margolin and Muddy Waters himself, a woman on each arm. Muddy is entertaining everyone with jokes. Pinetop Perkins introduces me.” Muddy, I knocked this young man on his kiester on the way to the bar. He was a little shook up so I I asked him to join us.”
Muddy Waters smiles at me and says. “Hello son. I trust you’re none the worse for the wear. Feel free to join our table.”
Well as a major blues fan and someone who admires Muddy Waters and his band, I have totally hit pay dirt. I got to hear some great Chicago blues stories. It was very cool to get to meet the band before the show, they were so relaxed and comfortable in this setting.
I was given a seat right in front of Muddy Waters where he sat on a stool and played harmonica and guitar. What a treat it was to be that close to a living blues legend. Pinetop Perkins would smile at me from the piano as he played.
I had a fantastic night. After the show Pinetop said I hope you won’t be too sore tomorrow. I assured him I had forgotten about the pain which was replaced by good fortune.
The second time I saw Muddy Waters was from the seventh row of the New Haven Coliseum on April 29, 1979. Muddy Waters opened for Eric Clapton that night. He had the coliseum rocking with his inimitable style. His mojo was workin. Eric Clapton joined Muddy Waters for three songs, one of which was “Key to the Highway.” I loved the respect and admiration they showed each other on stage. Eric Clapton was very humble to be with Muddy. Muddy Waters was like a father figure to Eric Clapton.