Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memorial for piano genius David Maxwell

Holly Harris, Fred Taylor and Bob Margolin.

At the Memorial for piano genius David Maxwell Tuesday night in Boston, David's hat and these flowers sat on top of the grand piano onstage. David, in his last days, had actually planned the memorial requesting that nobody play piano.
The other photo is me with friends who are very important to the Boston Blues scene, and me and David Maxwell personally. Holly Harris has a Blues radio show that has been at the center of the scene for years. Fred Taylor books Sculler's Jazz Club, where the memorial was held, but he owned in the 1960s and '70s 2 clubs in the same building in downtown Boston, The Jazz Workshop and the slightly larger Paul's Mall.
In early 1972, David Maxwell and I went to The Jazz Workshop to see Freddie King. David sat in and Freddie hired him on the spot and took him on the road. In August 1973, I went to see Muddy Waters at Paul's Mall on the first night of 6 in a row there. Muddy had just lost a guitar player the night before and invited me to come to his hotel the next day and bring a guitar. He could see I wanted to play his Old School Chicago Blues and he hired me and took me on the road, a big "Crossroads" moment in my life.

Mr. Taylor, bringing in fine musicians to his clubs more than 40 years ago, when many more legends were alive, literally set the stage for the Blues careers of both me and David Maxwell. To give you an idea of what it was like then: Later in the night with Muddy I was speaking of, B.B. King came in from a rained-out concert and sat in with Muddy. You should have heard the two of them sing "Rock Me" together! And a couple of years later, when I played at Paul's Mall with Muddy, Bob Marley and the Wailers were playing at the Jazz Workshop, relatively unknown, but Mr. Taylor could see how special they were way before most people ever heard the word "Reggae." I was running over to the Jazz Workshop to watch Bob Marley on the Muddy breaks.

One more story: in 1978, at a Muddy show at Paul's Mall, an older woman was sitting in the back of the club but clutching her purse to her body. 

After the first set, she asked me: "Can you take me back to see Muddy? I'm Robert Johnson's sister and I have photos of him that nobody's seen (yes, THOSE famous photos) and I'd like to see if Muddy had ever seen Robert in Mississippi." I brought her to Muddy and Muddy was as excited as any other Blues fan to see what Robert looked like. Muddy told her he had tried to go see Robert play once, but there were so many people he couldn't get in.
All of these stories converged last night, and many more historical and living friendships and music were all there, brought together to give our love to David Maxwell, who departed last February.
— with Holly Harris, Fred Taylor and Bob Margolin.

No comments:

Post a Comment