Knockin' Around These Blues....
John Primer and Bob Corritore
Delta Groove Productions
An interesting name for two musicians, John Primer and Bob Corritore, to choose for their just released CD. It made me smile when I, the non musician, had been Knockin' Around These Blues for several years with a great group of blues fans to keep the blues alive and well in Pittsburgh.
John Primer and Bob Corritore are two men whom I really like and respect as people and as musicians. I began to listen, and listen and listen some more. The more I listened to this new CD, the more I was transported to a time when the blues were being played on street corners and clubs...just as you would expect. The music, the lyrics, the timing...it was old school blues with a modern twist. A twist that can only be accomplished by the most accomplished of players and singers.
I sat back for a long while as I listened. I felt a story coming on. Yes, another story that makes the music offerings all the better... at least for me. I drifted back to many years ago when my late blues partner and I were Hubert Sumlin's guests on a stern wheeler making its way up the Mississippi at a pre-party for the Hall of Fame inductees in Tunica, MS. (The next day was the Blues Music Awards).The grandeur of that boat as it chugged and churned its way upriver, the majestic "Big Muddy" ebbing around us, the breathtaking sunset in the distance....and the music were all beyond compare at this soiree hosted by the Blues Foundation. It was the night that Hubert Sumlin was going to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Yowsa....What a night to have envelop us... steeped in blues history, blues aura and blues intrigue. Mingling and observing, my reporter's ear was listening for anything and everything to report back to the burg. Someone across from me whispered, 'Hey, look, there's Bob Corritore.' I was new to the blues world and did not know who they were talking about. I looked up. Standing in the doorway was a man who stood larger than life. In reality, he is tall but his persona stood tall and large. He had a smile bigger than the Mississippi, stylish clothes that were tailored and eye catching, an ambience that was gracious and down to earth. He appeared to be someone you would want to get to know. I stood there fixated at "this Bob Corritore" and the extremely beautiful woman at his side. They were both statuesque and attention getting....his accolades were well deserved and earned, from what everyone was saying.
Bob and I caught up several years later in Switzerland. Actually, he "rescued" me during a tumultuous time in my life. I talked, he listened. We walked, we sorted out the trials of life. He says he was just being a friend. ....and friends we are. We both have traveled many miles, crossing paths in the years since, always a smile, a kind word and a big hug. Bob is a busy man who works hard at his craft. He works just as hard or even harder to promote and preserve the blues. The Rhythm Room, his club in Phoenix, hosts bands travelling the Southern circuit in the states. His radio show on Sunday evenings is a blues show worth giving a listen. His blogs and newsletters are noteworthy and heartfelt. Yes, Bob has been a friend indeed... sharing the music and an enduring friendship.
Fast forward....Hushed voices were excitedly talking about the next act, John Primer, who was to take the stage at the Sharon Blues Fest. I had heard of this man but had never seen him in person. Just as his act was starting, I was called into action to rush an hour's drive away to help close up a blues booth that was getting bombarded with an autumn downpour. (The trials of having two blues booths on the same day). The next opportunity was on the blues cruise. Quietly, John Primer sauntered to the stage. Quietly, he talked with the assembly of players on the stage. Quietly, he looked up at the audience. Quietly, that generous, warm smile lit up his face. Quietly, he took the audience hostage as he slipped into deep concentration as he began his performance. Not so quiet was the sizzling foray of guitar and deep, heartfelt vocals. He finally looked up and seemed surprised that we were still there. A big, warm smile exploded across his face. How that quiet, humble demeanor belied the intensity of what he had to offer! I stood glued to the deck of the ship. The ship was rocking and rolling ....from the rough seas and from the dancing of the dancers. The sun was blazing hot. John Primer's set warmed up the audience and heated up a voyage that was expecting the best. John Primer had packed his "A" game for the cruisers. Later during our days at sea, I had a chance to chat with him and his family. His young daughter was onboard and proved to be a quiet, mannerly young lady that was a tribute to the quiet man and his wife that sat and worked with her on her reading and her art work...it was pure family style. It was Americana at its best. John Primer is someone whom I now call friend.
Fast forward....it was Blues Music Award week in Memphis, Tennessee. John Primer and Bob Corritore were Knockin' Around These Blues everywhere. It was hard to find anyone who worked harder than those two performers. They were on stage at the Pinetop Perkins fundraiser, the Beale Street Mess Around and the Raise the Roof Fundraiser for the Blues Hall of Fame. Together... they tore it up at Ground Zero when the Blues Caravan headed to Clarksdale, Mississippi. They were an inspiration to everyone that they worked with and to those that came to listen. The music and the intensity of the week were profound and appreciated.
Need a big dose of soulful harp, sizzling guitar and outstanding vocals???? Get yourself a copy of... Knockin' Around These Blues. You owe yourself the experience of "old school" blues at its finest to yourself. You won't be disappointed! ~Jonnye Weber