“Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me supreme pleasure to introduce to you a treat and a tribute to the world of boogie-woogie and blues. Can we all get together and give a nice warm Montreux welcome as we bring on the stage the king of the boogie, the prophet of soul, and the godfather of blues, Mr. John Lee Hooker!”

A glutton for late-night radio and black and white movies, I find solace in yesteryears glorious sleepers such as the newly released John Lee Hooker: Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990. This is a fine moment for both old and young since the blues is timeless and it seems to circle back when rock becomes lacklustre and loses its flare within pop-rock shenanigans, which you could argue has happened recently. If the rats don’t get ya, the dogs will.

“I Didn’t Know” teaches a kid another thing or two about not knowing nuthin’ other than basic rock. Watching The Blues Brothers on HBO one night past bedtime I learned a whole lot about soul. Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and John Lee Hooker spoke in tongue on the silver screen, relinquishing the gospel as Aretha cooked up a whole chicken with dry white toast for a couple of crackers. These are lessons money can’t buy, and if you’ve ever been blessed enough to live in a neighbourhood and ride your bicycle past some gentleman sitting on his front porch sipping on Ripple and whiskey I hope you slowed down, stopped and asked questions.

As a ten-year-old, I had no idea why a black man would sing a song like “High Heel Sneakers.” When “Roots” came out I still didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew I wanted to say, “fuck you white ass rich motherfucker.” I wanted to know what “Don’t Shake My Tree” meant and since I already lived on the wrong side of the tracks I was going to spend every minute of my life finding out. Living across the street from a country and western swing band I learned guitar, heard mandolins, pedal steel, harmonica, and heard improvs of songs like, “If You Take Care Of Me.” Learning as much as I could without knowing any notes, I learned how to bend a string and hit it really hard when I meant to, or broom it when I wanted to be quiet. There was a lot to learn from Jimi Hendrix and his $2.99 records at Kmart.

I moved up around Kansas City where I had never seen hustlers before. Black dudes with trench coats which, when they opened them up, had gold chains and whatnot for sale. Maybe a leather wallet or two, a pretty ring for your girl. I was twelve years old. I didn’t have any money, or a girl, but these cats appealed to me. I walked into the music store and carefully grabbed a brand new Fender Stratocaster, just like Jimi’s, off the wall and started to play unplugged, which I still do today.

I was probably playing a teenager’s version of “Johnny B. Goode” or “Wild Thing,” and these hustlers came into the store and approached me. “Boy, how long you been playing guitar?” About a year I said. I wasn’t scared of them, they had already shown me their gold chains in the parking lot and I considered us friends. One of them spoke up and said, “boy, you already got the blues.” Well, I knew what blues was but I didn’t feel it until I stared at Patti McGuire’s photos in Playboy Magazine. The gentlemen asked me to play again and, drunk on whatever the day held, they started to jig and dance as I waited for my mom and dad to pick me up from some boring shopping mall. Not long after I heard this white dude named Pat Travers play an incendiary track called “Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights” by Little Walter, and soon after learning it, I wished the trenchcoat-wearing hustlers could hear me play it.

Getting older I thought, “‘Crawling King Snake,’ what’s that even mean?” “You know I’m going away now baby but I’ll be back again, and when I come to town, baby I’ll be the same old snake again.” I later learned about women and the blues, “snatchin’ the wig off her head you bought her as you run out the backdoor,” and I would sing that shit southern gospel style laughing all the way to the liquor store. Kids today ain’t going to learn this off a computer or YouTube and I think blues is a dying art because you don’t learn the blues in a guitar store or online.

Hopefully, someone’s grandad will have the optimistic outlook to gift a guitar and hand over a copy of John Lee Hookers’ Live At Montreux 1983 & 1990. “Ladies and gentlemen in the whole wide world, there’s only one man that can look through Muddy Water and spot dry land.” God bless the blues and John Lee Hooker.

Live At Montreux 1983 & 1990 Track Listing:

1983 – LP 1
Side A:
1. “It Serves Me Right To Suffer”
2. “I Didn’t Know”
3. “Hi-Heel Sneakers”
4. “If You Take Care Of Me, I’ll Take Care Of You”
5. “Boom Boom”

Side B:
1. “Worried Life Blues”
2. “I’m Jealous”
3. “Crawlin’ King Snake”
4. “Boogie Chillen’”

1990 – LP 2
Side A:
1. John Lee Hooker Introduction
2. “Mabel”
3. “I’m In The Mood”
4. “Crawlin’ King Snake”
5. “Baby Lee”

Side B:
1. “It Serves Me Right To Suffer”
2. “Boom Boom“
3. “The Healer”
4. “Boogie Chillen’”

Release Date: November 6, 2020
Record label: Eagle Rock Entertainment

I was born in the late 60's amongst hippies and bikers. Cut my teeth on 70's rock and roll surrounded by motorheads and potheads, and in the 80's spread my wings and flourished as a guitarist. In the 90's I became a semi-professional musician knocking on death metals door, as well as entering the world as a freelance writer. In the 2000's I moved to Hollywood and watched the music industry crumble in front of my dreams and then took a break. Now, in the early 2020s I'm ready to rock again… or swing, blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, classical, etc. Its not so much a job to me anymore, but a great way to express myself and have a good time, and, "I know, its only rock and roll but I like it".