The Golden Age of Blues - was there one?

Louis Erlanger louisx@MYFAIRPOINT.NET
Thu Sep 2 17:38:34 EDT 2010

I agree that you did indeed live through the golden age of blues. I wish I
had been born a bit earlier, but then again, I'd be older now.

On another note, does anyone on this list have info about the Mississippi
label out of Portland Oregon?  I just picked up a release of samplings from
the George Mitchell collection and it is great.  On vinyl.  Thanks for any

----- Original Message -----
From: <jinxblues@AOL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 2:50 PM
Subject: Re: The Golden Age of Blues - was there one?

>I really hope that this does not come across as arrogant or self-serving
>but I think that I lived through a Golden Age of Blues.
> It had nothing at all to do with me other than the coincidence of birth. I
> was born in 1935 (same year as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis) so I was already
> old enough for fresh new Leiber-Stoller hits of the 1950s.
> I got to Greenwich Village to see Brownie & Sonny, Jesse Fuller and Josh
> White in the late 1950s and I was a newspaperman and almost 30 years old
> when The Rooftop Singers had a huge hit with "Walk Right In," written by
> Gus Cannon.
> I was involved in the rediscovery of blues artists and formed a booking
> agency to take care of their work. So I was listening to the music as done
> by the originators, not the second generation.
> I heard Arthur Crudup sing "That's All Right, Mama" and "Mean Ole Frisco,"
> Skip James do "I'm So Glad," Fred McDowell do "You Go to Move," Big Mama
> do "Ball and Chain" and countless others.
> I met Muddy when he was just turning 50 and B.B. King was about 42 when I
> first met him.
> The fact that I want to stress here is that a few of us were acutely aware
> that we were seeing giants performing an art form at its highest level.
> That's important because we could take it all in and know "This is as good
> as it's going to get. Remember this moment because it is never going to
> pass our way again."
> Son House (among others) was incredibly difficult to work with because
> hiding his alcoholism and getting great music from him was a job that took
> intense focus and effort. But I realized just how great he was and knew
> that I had undertaken the responsibility of getting him before an
> audience.
> I heard Jimmy Reed sing "Oh, Baby, You Don't Have To Go" and the memory
> still brings chills.
> I met Bonnie Raitt when she was in college and when we would go to see
> Muddy, he would always sing "She's 19 Years Old" for her as his next song.
> Remember that the American Folk Blues Festival brought some of the
> greatest blues artists of all time to Europe for a number of years and
> that should be recognized as being a "Golden Age" for that audience.
> There was a time when Son and Skip and Booker and Lightning and Mance and
> Mississippi John and Sleepy John and Robert Wilkens would all share the
> same festival stage just like there were nights when you could see Junior
> Wells, Lefty Diz, Otis Rush, J.B. Hutto, Little Walter and a bunch of
> others on the South Side.
> I have artists that I really enjoy hearing today and I make it a point to
> go to their shows.
> It's just that I heard the Big Boss Man sing "Big Boss Man" and it'll
> never be as good as the real thing.
> Again, this is not intended to be a "been there, done that" post. By
> coincidence of birth year, I think that I was fortunate to watch the
> parade of "The Golden Age of Blues."
> Dick Waterman
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