Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Blues Is the devil's music."

Last spring my good friends Dave, Jim, and I were talking about starting a blues music society. All three of us are blues fanatics, We love the blues. At the time there was not a Chicago Blues Music Society. Why nobody thought of it before us is beyond me. Maybe because the uneducated populace fears the blues and it spread like wildfire to the educated. Don’t flood me with emails, I’ll try to explain. Bear with me as I reminisce a bit and tell the tale.

I grew up in a town called Burbank, Illinois. It is located just southwest of the city of Chicago. When I was about twelve or thirteen I came across a John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt album in an old EJ Korvette store. That store was similar to Target or Wal-Mart only smaller. It was the only store around that sold records. I could walk there and that would take most of the day. Back then kids of all ages could walk everywhere and nobody would bother them. If I goofed off in public my parents would hear about it. Everybody knew everybody's kid and they would report any shenanigans to their individual parents. My dad got a bad report once and only once.

E J Korvette sold new albums for about 3 bucks each. They were called LP's (LP stands for long playing kids). The ones that did not sell were discounted to about fifty or seventy-five cents. I would buy most of those discounted LP’s with money earned. I took bottles back for deposits. Back in the day, all bottles had a deposit on them. Milk bottles were the best 5 cents each and regular pop or beer bottles earned 2 cents each. I would go from house to house knocking on doors asking for them. People seemed to like the service I provided and I had quite the market cornered on the corner. Sorry I just had to do it.

I remember knocking on this run down old codgers’ never painted, paint peeling, dry rotted door. That old codger was the grumpy old man that every neighborhood had. My neighborhood has one also his name is ME. That old man never, ever took his bottles back. I almost passed out when he opened his garage door. Jackpot, that garage was loaded from floor to ceiling with bottles. It was the mother lode. I had my little red wagon and I worked for about three days hauling bottles. I think I made about two hundred bucks on that deal or it seemed like two hundred. I bought my first bass guitar with that money ($40), Teisco double pick-up. I learned how to play it and by the time I was fifteen I was playing bass in a “Shadows of Knight” (Gloria) copy band.

I earned about $1,500 one summer playing that bass. Before that summer of money (not summer of love that was prior) I had to beg my Dad for a ride. When he learned how much money I was making he became my chauffeur. That group played a lot of Rock and Roll and a handful of blues tunes. You know the regular ones just like the way the “Shadows” played them. “Oh yeah, Mojo Workout, I just wanna make love to you” and one other that escapes me now. I miss that group.

Ron K was the guitar player in that group and just the other day we were talking about the Gibson SG Les Paul Custom Guitar his dad bought him for Christmas and also, his birthday. They happened to fall on the same day. Every year he got taken for a ride. I mean each year he got one present for both days. His dad told me he paid a whopping $287 for that Gibson. Man oh man, if we only knew then, what we know now.

A friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, just bought the exact same model, same year. He purchased it from a women preacher. I tagged along to help authenticate it. It was the real deal. He paid 8k for it. At a recent guitar show he was offered three times that by a Chicago dealer. I started a conversation with that 80’s something women. I asked her if she would play the guitar for us. She did. Guess what folks, 12 bar blues. I told her she was an excellent blues player. Wrong thing to say to a preacher. She barked back, “Boy that ain’t blues, that there’s gospel music. I said “Sounds like blues to me”. She said, “Son, the blues is the devil’s music and Gospel is God’s music.”  It then

I started to think about that incident this past week and all of a sudden it dawned on me why the blues music societies popped up. Not only are they cool places to exchanges ideas, it is also a social club that has a common interest amongst it's members namely the music. One other role of a blues music society is to educate people about what the blues is and not what they think it is. Thank you preacher for ringing that bell in my head or lighting the light bulb above it.

You all know the old story about the blues man standing at the crossroads with a guitar in one hand and a blood tipped quill feather in the other hovering over the devil’s own contract. That contract probably contained this wording or a facsimile thereof;

“In exchange for instant international worldwide recognition and the best guitar-man-ship I hereby pledge my soul to you, the devil, Lucifer or whatever you call yourself and said debt is collectible upon my demise, sooner or later, blah, ba blah, ba blah, ba blah.


Sign here red ink only.

Some people actually think that a person that plays outstanding blues, must have sold his soul to the devil.

That crossroad story lives on to this very day. People, for god’s sake come on, it did not happen or……. did it? Mmmmmmm,,,, you know if it did and I’m not saying it did, I would give anything to find that contract except of course my soul,,,,,,,, referring of course to my musical soul not the religious one.

Blues Me Or Lose Me,

Terrance B. Lape AKA Gatorman

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