We continue as Bob Eagle recounts his all-time favorite live blues performances….
#6) Performance. Exactly what does that mean? Does a guy singing to you at his kitchen sink qualify? I hope it does, because Roy Brown is next. We were talking at his home, and he told me that “Hard Luck Blues” was his life story. He began singing a cappella — he did not need accompaniment. Although he was initially trying to sing like Sinatra (before 1948), thankfully he found his own voice. And what a voice….
#5) Larry Davis. What a great singer! And, starting as a bass guitarist — which might suggest he had no flair to interpolate time — he turned out to be a great guitarist as well, albeit in the Albert King mold. Larry is my #5. Fenton Robinson gave me his number, but it was awhile before I got to Little Rock. Clearly, Fenton had not called him, as promised (probably thinking, “this Aussie guy will never get to Arkansas”). I called Larry from the Greyhound Bus station, hoping to put him at ease, and after a few sensitive moments, he agreed to come pick me up. He had a rehearsal booked with his band, and we went over there. I asked him to play “Texas Flood,” by the end of which we were both emotional, and in tears. This was before “The Years Go Passing By” — how could this guy record two such different but absolute classics?
(Note: Fenton Robinson plays lead guitar on “Texas Flood”)
#4) #4 and #5 are a toss-up between Fenton Robinson and Larry Davis. I saw Fenton first and so let’s make him #4. When I got to the Bay area, I was told he was shacked up with a white girl in Santa Cruz. I got on the Greyhound and caught up with him (alone) one sunny afternoon. He was really friendly. I told him how much I appreciated “Somebody (Loan Me A Dime).” I was short on resources, so it was either record him or video him — I chose video, although he only had an acoustic guitar with him. He was great, as you can imagine. And he gave me Larry Davis’ phone number….