Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Friday night I saw Robert Jr. Lockwood play a set of Robert Johnson tunes at the Chicago Blues Festival. Lockwood, in his mid to late 90's, was Johnson's only student back in the 1930's. Over the past seven decades, Lockwood has played as much jazz as blues and established a much more flowery and elaborate playing style, so when I saw him play last year, it was interesting, but not what I was looking for. This was different. Dressed in a suit on a very hot day, he sat on a stool, looking like the famous old portrait of Johnson with his guitar. It was old school and real, chilling in its satanic majesty and unflinching violence. Strange that with Ray Charles dead, Kurt Cobain dead, Joey Ramone dead, Jimi Hendrix dead, Elvis Presley dead, Hank Williams dead . . . such an old voice lives on. Like a gnarled old tree in a full cemetary. Like an 1840s farmhouse mouldering, forgotten, on a neighborhood street. Like the ruins of Canterbury cathedral, left to crumble next to its shiny modern replacement as a warning. All my love's in vain, it says.
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