We had a packed house in B1 last night with some friends we hadn't seen in a while coming by to hear living legend Eddy Clearwater sing, play guitar and tell stories. Eddy's infectious enthusiasm that he always shows on stage lit up B1 as well and we were thoroughly entertained.
sketch by Andy Willis
Joined by band member Tom Crivellone on guitar (Shoji unfortunately is under the weather), Eddy launched into a handful of songs to break the ice - classics from his repertoire as well as Jimmy Reed and Little Walter tunes. We were sorry not to have Shoji there blowing harp as planned, but Grant and Kirk filled in and it sure looked like they were having fun doing it!
Then it was into the fun stories of time with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, and more. One story that seemed to lead to a solid theme of the night was this: Eddy was headed to Europe on tour for the first time in 1976 and he approached Muddy for advice about how to conduct himself with a European audience. Muddy's response was "don't try to be fancy; play what you feel". We heard that refrain numerous times last night in other context. Asked what makes a good harp player, for example, Eddy said, "a good harp player plays with his feelings; nothing fancy". It's clear Eddy internalized this lesson and it has served him well.
People asked Eddy, a guitar player after all, how he decides when a song needs harp on it or not. His answer was simply that he can hear that it needs it, that that voice is needed in the tune.
For all musicians and performers, the other big lesson to glean from Eddy Clearwater is about his stage presence. You can't catch a live Clearwater performance and not have fun. What is he doing that makes that happen? In his mind, "I don't play past the people; I try to play with them, like I'm at a party with them."
Eddy, it was a special treat to have you and your friend Tom Crivellone in class with us. It was a joyful night - thank you!
- Remember Joe is on tour in Europe the next four Mondays. Group classes proceed as normal though with the able teaching of Zoe, Grant, Shoji and RickEy, so don't miss 'em!