Archive for August, 2011

Gunslinger

During my youth this grinning gunslinger was my favorite quarterback. I actually got to see him play in an exhibition game in the Orange Bowl in 1958. Once, he threw the ball so high it looked like it was going to hit a seagull, then it settled down softly into Lenny Moore’s hands 50 yards down the field for a touchdown. I still have a football card of him.

Then I moved to the Bay Area, saw Joe Montana in action, and Johnny slid into the number two slot.
Wikipedia: John Constantine Unitas (pronounced /juːˈnaɪtɨs/; May 7, 1933 – September 11, 2002), known as Johnny Unitas or “Johnny U”, and nicknamed “The Golden Arm”, was a professional American football player in the 1950s through the 1970s, spending the majority of his career with the Baltimore Colts. He was a record-setting quarterback, and the National Football League‘s most valuable player in 1959, 1964 and 1967. His record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games (between 1956–1960) remains unsurpassed as of 2011. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time.
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“Heaven done called another blues stringer back home.”

David “Honeyboy” Edwards (June 28, 1915 – August 29, 2011) was a Delta blues guitarist and singer from the American South.

Edwards was born in Shaw, Mississippi. Edwards was 14 years old when he left home to travel with bluesman Big Joe Williams, beginning the life as an itinerant musician which he led throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He performed with and was a friend of blues musician Robert Johnson. Honeyboy was present on the night Johnson drank poisoned whiskey which killed him, and his story has become the definitive version of Johnson’s demise. Edwards knew and played with many of the leading bluesmen in the Mississippi Delta: Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, and Johnny Shines.

He described the itinerant bluesman’s life:

“On Saturday, somebody like me or Robert Johnson would go into one of these little towns, play for nickels and dimes. And sometimes, you know, you could be playin’ and have such a big crowd that it would block the whole street. Then the police would come around, and then I’d go to another town and where I could play at. But most of the time, they would let you play. Then sometimes the man who owned a country store would give us something like a couple of dollars to play on a Saturday afternoon. We could hitchhike, transfer from truck to truck, or if we couldn’t catch one of them, we’d go to the train yard, ’cause the railroad was all through that part of the country then…we might hop a freight, go to St. Louis or Chicago. Or we might hear about where a job was paying off – a highway crew, a railroad job, a levee camp there along the river, or some place in the country where a lot of people were workin’ on a farm. You could go there and play and everybody would hand you some money. I didn’t have a special place then. Anywhere was home. Where I do good, I stay. When it gets bad and dull, I’m gone.”

Seems like I never stray too far from the blues in my musical preferences. I like my jazz on the bluesy side. I like my rock with a side order of blues. Rhythm and Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Delta Blues, Chicago, Memphis, Texas and New Orleans Blues. Shuffles, 12 bars, jumps and hollers.

It pains me to say I had never taken the time to listen to Mr. Edwards’ music. I have listened to a lot of bluesmen from famous to obscure but it took his demise to inspire me to draw his picture and listen to a few selections of his art. I can tell you that I will be going back to the youtube well for another taste of that purity very soon. I chose this link to two nice cuts, “Going Down Slow” and Highway 61 Blues” which showcase some of his adventurous guitar variations on familiar material. Hope you like them as much as I did. There are some nice photos of Mr. Edwards at different stages of his life. Here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4PBSeMkUaw

featuring Danger Gramps