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Famous delta bluesman,
Robert Lockwood, Jr., lived in Cleveland
from 1961 until the time of his death in 2006 at the age of 91. In addition to
performing all over the world, Lockwood played regular gigs in the
Cleveland area and on occasion would pop in and sit-in with other
bands. One such occasion occurred at The Brotherís Lounge in
Cleveland when I was with the Tom Bogus Band in the late 1990's.
Lockwood showed up and was invited by
guitarist/leader, Tom Bogus, to join us on stage for a couple of songs. Bogus played a
Steinberger guitar, which is known for its sleek lightweight
modern design which featured no headstock (the tuning pegs are in
the guitarís body). The first thing I remember was Lockwood's
look of disdain when Tom handed him his guitar. Lockwood looked at
it like it was a dime store toy.
Then Lockwood starts to play, without telling any of us the name of
the song or the key signature. Normally, this would not be a
problem, as one would be able to follow the chords and rhythm
pattern. But Lockwood wasn't playing chords or rhythm; he was
playing single note melodic lines.
Bassist Tom Lyons and I had looks of panic as eight bars had gone by
without us figuring out the key. Meanwhile, Lockwood is turning his
head from side to side in disgust.
Suddenly, somewhere around the tenth or
eleventh bar (too late for the first verse), I figured out the key and
pattern of the song and started screaming out the changes to the bass
player. Lockwood, with a sly look and a raised eyebrow nods his head, as
if to say "Yeah you got it now. About f**king time!"
As tense as it was, I feel privileged to have played with a legend; one
of the last of the original delta bluesmen; even just one time; for only
two songs. Rest in peace, Robert.
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