Cambridge Park, western suburbs of Sydney. Early 1980s.
I can’t remember exactly when or just how old I was, late teens perhaps, even 20, but I sure do remember the sound of the song Les, an older mate of mine, played on a tiny little record player that was set up in his makeshift music room.
‘Have a listen to this,’ he said, handing me the album cover. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band an Electra recording. Self-titled. First album. Les pointed out the little note on the sleeve that said to play at the loudest possible volume. I had never seen that before and it got my attention.
Then the first track hit me. It started right off with a smoking blues harmonica solo that had me spellbound. It was an upbeat riff driven 12 bar blues. Paul Butterfield, I decided there and then, was God.
I asked Les, “Is that one guy playing the harp? That sound, how does he do it? What is it?”
It blew me away and blew me straight into The Guitar Factory music shop in Mt Druit to get one of those blues harps. It was a Hohner in the key of A. I needed one in the key of D to play Born In Chicago, but I soon worked that out.
The song was written by Nick Gravenites, the lyrics were simple but worked; it wasn’t so much the story but the music, the groove, the tone, that grabbed me. I wanted to play like that so bad I could taste it.
Thirty odd years later it still grabs me and I still can’t play that well. I am still in awe of Butterfield ….he was only 23 when the song was recorded in 1965.
Les , a friend of my step father’s, encouraged my music, made me think I could do it and let me play along with the jams he had at his place. I even joined his family band, With A Beat. He put up with us not being good musicians and he let us find our own way by playing along to mostly old 50s and 60s rock and roll a few Blues Brothers and some upbeat country a real mix. You got to start somewhere.
© Luke R Davies.