Back when the earth was still cooling, as my kids like to point out, I heard good music. My father derisively called it jungle music. Love you Dad, to this very day even though you're gone, I do, but Les Brown and his Band of Renown didn't get me rockin', nor did Kay Keyser or Chesty Morgan. Chesty did have her high points though.
Muddy and his pork pie hat played alone in a basement bar in Boston due to a nor'easter. I had been sitting there since noon thinking that was the only way I would get a seat in what was going to be a crowded bar for a performance by a master of the Blues. The snow kept falling, buses stopped running and the bartender got there about 15 minutes after I did. So did Muddy.
There was a young singer by the name of Bonnie Raitt along with just her bass player Simbo. Rambo or something like that who was to appear before Muddy who wanted to check out the accoustics. The snow kept falling and cabs stopped running.
Post lunch became pre-dinner and some boiler makers started appearing as nervous jokes about the steps down into the bar being filled with snow were fullfilled by God himself. As pre-dinner became cocktail hour for the finer folks on Nob Hill the stairs disappeared under the weather. The snow fell and the wind jammed it into the cracks in the mortar between the bricks while the bums, winos and drunks pleaded to be let in. Muddy smiled and the bartender cracked the door wide enough for the nearby nonmusical Tom Waites to sidle into the warmer basement bar.
Muddy started playing guitar. Bonnie started playing dobro, whatshisname on stand up bass. I sheepishly offered spoons on the bar. Toothless smiles from the cold visitors warmed by coffee and in hopes of something more smiled a chorus seldom heard in concert venues. Thus the evening was cast.
"Dust My Broom", "Hootchie Cootchie Man", many others and a 35 minute rendition of "Got My Mojo Workin" was unplugged because the power went out and candles were lit.. Muddy talked about his friends, competitors Bo Diddley, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter and others, but not the way I had heard him talk before. It was warm, maybe fun, but challenging in his pride of his own work. He picked as he talked.
Muddy was known as the master of Chicago Blues, but he played the silk sounds of the Delta liked born to it. Laconic sliding tones of inconcruent, yet musical toning meant to be together just to make a swamp of a basement in Boston into his. That night quietly. That night quietly sounded voluminous by the quiet that surrounded the music as sounds bounced off three foot thick walls, floors and empty tables.
The bartender, a strapping lad with red hair, gave us all a cuppa cold coffee, a shot of Jamison and a word of sorrow that we'd be staying the night.
Muddy Waters sat most of the night in a chair so his back wouldn't stove up on the cold floor.