Muddy Waters #25A, 77A, 77B, 52A, 21C & 21B

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January 21, 2017

McKinley Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters) was born on April 4, 1913 in Jug’s Corner, Mississippi. Although he first began playing the blues on harmonica, by age 17 Muddy was playing local parties and juke joints on acoustic guitar. In 1940, Waters moved to Chicago for the first time, but soon returned home. During 1943, he returned to Chicago for good. In 1945, Muddy was given his first electric guitar from his uncle, Joe Grant, and the rest as they say is history. In 1950, Muddy recorded Rollin’ Stone, a song one decade later five young white, English lads would take as the name of the band, who would become the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones. Over the years, Waters would have as his backing band some of the most respected sidemen in blues history, including Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

In 1977, Waters recorded Hard Again, a comeback album of sorts that featured Johnny Winters on guitar, producer and miscellaneous screaming. The first song on the album is a blistering, powerful remake of his 1955 classic, Mannish Boy. For anyone not familiar with the music of Mr. Waters, this is the album to start with. If I could only own twelve albums, and what a hardship that would be, however this would definitely be one.

These photos were shot at a very small bar on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and as such, the lighting was not very conducive to someone wanting to photograph arguably the greatest bluesman of all-time. As a matter of fact, of the two or three rolls of film I shot that night, only one print actually looked worthy of posting on my blog. All others came back underdeveloped. With the use of my computer, I was able to adjust both the color and contrast levels to make them presentable. The one print that looked halfway decent did not even make the final cut to this post. Instead of shooting only two or three rolls of thirty-six exposure film that night, if I had a digital camera back then, I most likely would have shot a thousand photos that night, if not more.

I have always thought the location of this show was Stache’s & Little Brothers. However, when doing some research, it seems the location was a place called High Street Brewing Company, but this might be the same locale, only under a different name. The date of the show was either Sunday February 8, 1981 or Tuesday November 3, 1981, as it seems that Waters played at this bar twice during that year.

Muddy Waters passed away in Chicago on April 30, 1983. The blues are rock and roll and Muddy Waters is the blues!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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It’s All In My Genes

Grandpa's Father's Band (1C)November 13, 2015

As I turn a rather significant milestone number on this date, oddly enough a Friday the 13th, I have begun thinking more and more about life. I have always been one to self-analyze, and events from forty years ago still haunt me to this day, however, lately I’ve been wondering how much my life could have been different, if not for just one or two events. Everything in life has a bearing on each individual’s outcome, and we all could say if only such-and-such hadn’t happened, or if I hadn’t met so-and-so, however the two events that could have greatly shaped my life only caused a much longer period of time for the events to come somewhat into fruition. Or maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

I never knew my father. My mother moved back home with her parents when she divorced him and lived with her father until he passed away sixteen years ago. My grandmother died in 1971, and Mom died maybe two years after Grandpa. All I knew about Grandpa’s musical background was that every once in a while when I was very young, he would get out his Old Kraftsman acoustic guitar that he bought from a Montgomery Ward catalog in 1942 and played and sang all those old-time songs like You Are My Sunshine. Grandpa always complained about his health, and once after listening to him talk one more time about not feeling well, I ask him if I could have his guitar when he died. I did not realize it at the time but this request would cause much trouble between me and all my siblings.

When I bought my first Stratocaster on my fortieth birthday, in the midst of a rather serve mid-life crisis that cost me everything, my next younger brother and an ex-brother-in-law would come out to my old farmhouse every other Saturday (with all three divorced, this worked out well for visitation with the children) and we would play all day, cook a big feast and have a great time. They both had been playing since they were teenagers. I would set the pace on rhythm and they would take turns on lead and vocals. This went on for five years until I finally lost the farmhouse and moved into an apartment fourteen years ago. At first, they would come out maybe once a year, then gradually less often.

That all ended some years back, mostly I believe because of Grandpa’s guitar. Willie, my ex-brother-in-law was killed about five ago when he was electrocuted at work and suffered a massive heart attack and died a week later. When I would tell friends about my playing it was always my two brothers, not an ex-brother-in-law. It was my guitars that gave me the will to live during my mid-crisis. And still do to this very day.

Getting back to the above photo, this is a photograph of my great-grandfather’s band. Looking at the photo, my great-grandfather is sitting in the front row, on the right side playing what looks like a G chord. I grew up living with Grandpa but never knew that photo existed until right before he died. After I asked for his guitar, my brother soon spoke up to request the photo.  When I first saw this photo, I ask Grandpa if they played bluegrass, since there were four mandolin players plus that crazy looking instrument in the front row, not to mention that Grandpa’s father side of the family comes from southern Ohio hill country. Grandpa let me know that they played country music, not bluegrass. It was like he was offended that I asked if they played bluegrass. If anything, they probably played a little of both. When my mother died, riding with my brother on the way to the cemetery, he told me that it was he that should have got Grandpa’s guitar. I told him that he should have ask for it. Fifteen years later, I believe the guitar lies at the heart of why I have nothing to do with any of my siblings.

However, it is on my father’s side of the family where the story get’s interesting. All I knew of the man was that he was a photographer in the Navy. I was born in the Portsmouth, Virginia Naval Hospital. I have an 8×10 photo he took of me when I was very young that I tried to recreate with my son. It is eerie to look at both photos side by side in a photo album. Somebody told me a few years back that he might have been a police photographer in Los Angeles. When Grandpa died, at one of his viewings, my father’s sister showed up, having seen the obituary in the paper. I spoke with her for five minutes and was amazed by what she told me. Not only was my father a photographer but their father had a darkroom in his basement. I do not remember if she told me he was a professional or just a very serious amateur. However, to have a darkroom in his basement, he was definitely serious about photography.

So, on one side of my family I have a grandfather and great-grandfather who were guitar players and on the other side I have a father and grandfather who were photographers. One look at my apartment and it’s easy to see why I have wall-to-wall guitars, amps, stereo speakers, PA system and 20×30 enlargements hanging on every conceivable wall space. In an even weirder occurrence, I bought my first 55 gallon fish tank back in 1982. But it was not until almost twenty years later that my mother thought to tell me that my father’s father also had fish tanks. I now have two 55 gallon tanks plus a 125 gallon tank. A few years back, I had a third 55 gallon tank in my kitchen and a 30 gallon tank in the bedroom.

Taking long walks down to my local library several times a week gives me plenty of time to think and reflect on many things. Reaching an age that I have yet to disclose and will not do so, I think about what could have been. If only I had Grandpa teach me to play the guitar when I was young. I loved rock & roll and thought those songs Grandpa played were as far apart as the aisle separating the two Houses of Congress. If only my mother and father hadn’t divorced and I grew up with a photographer for a dad and a grandfather who had a darkroom in his basement. I could have shot some great photos at all those concerts I’ve attended since the early ‘70s. It wasn’t until I got out of the Navy before I started shooting concerts, having bought my first 35mm SLR camera and lens while overseas right before I was discharged after serving four years. They outlawed cameras at concerts several years later. I wonder what might have been. It seems to me that I was born to play the guitar and take pictures. If only I had known.

I do regret that when young, I was too foolish to think that Grandpa played hillbilly music when I only wanted to rock. I only wish I was smart enough to have asked Grandpa to teach me how to play the guitar and teach me all those old-time songs. I can, however play You Are My Sunshine. Oh yeah, I turned 60. But, don’t tell anyone!!!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

 

Left Alone To Die

October 13, 2015

Twenty years ago today, on October 13, 1995, oddly enough a Friday, life as I knew it ended. Technically, I did not actually die, and there were a few close calls, but that whole day sure felt like hitting a brick wall head-on doing ninety miles an hour. It was on that dreadful day that I was falsely accused by a subordinate at work of sexual harassment, along with several other serious charges. After being interrogated by a couple of “investigators” and after numerous hearings, I was found innocent of all charges by the Auditor of State of Ohio, which I was employed at the time as an audit supervisor. However, the acquisitions resulted in me losing everything that mattered most in life. It cost me my job, career, health, marriage and most of all my precious children.

What cost me my career was that between my attorney and myself, we made the entire Auditor of State’s office look like bumbling idiots. At my final hearing, it was just the two of us against every high-ranking official in the Auditor’ office except for only the Auditor of State himself. And yet, they looked like complete fools. My attorney kicked all their asses. Each hearing led to another with more officials getting involved. I remember one time someone had to warn the Columbus district supervisor that he needed to calm down, so out of control was he. It was far more circus than kangaroo court. If only I had hired my attorney prior to being interrogated. During the interrogation, I was denied repeated requests for legal counsel by the two “investigators.” I was even told I could not leave after stating more than once that I was going back to work. It wasn’t until they brought in their supervisor, that legal order was somewhat restored.

Losing everything all at once was hard enough to take, however to make matters far worse was the ordeal of quitting my medication cold-turkey. I kept working for about six months after the acquisitions were first filed against me, and over that time, with the approval of two doctors I upped the amount of anti-depressants that I was taking four times the amount one should ever take. When I lost my job and benefits, my nightmare really begin. I went through Hell, both emotionally and physically, while withdrawing cold-turkey from the anti-depressants. I still suffer from numerous side affects of the withdrawal, and will probably do so the rest of my life. Only by the grace and mercy of God did I survive.

My children meant the world to me. I grew up never knowing my father. And, to say that my mother and I never got along is putting it mildly. The best way to sum up my relationship with my mother is something my ex-wife once said to me; my mother told her that she had better think twice before marrying me. Wow, what a ringing endorsement (that accidental pun is intended). If truth be told, it was my ex who asked me to marry her. I did, however, end up in a bad marriage.

The relationship with my ex-wife ended not long after our children were born. I place no blame on the children, it was solely the fault of both my ex and myself, but that was what happened. Except for going to a Buckeye football game once a year and an occasional concert, we did nothing together.  Sad to say, we even stopped talking to each other. When my babies came into my life, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Losing them devastated me. I paid a terrible price for any youthful indiscretion that may have possessed me. It haunts me every single day, and will haunt me all my remaining days.

If any good came out of my mid-life crisis it was buying my first Fender Stratocaster guitar exactly one month after that horrific day, which was my fortieth birthday. I can take a decent photograph, but playing a guitar has been a life-long dream. I’m still not very good, but believe I am getting pretty close to being really good. My guitars gave me the will to live during many dark years. And, still do to this very day. My ordeal also gave me some great ideas for putting words down on paper. I pull no punches, and as I once told a psychologist, my mouth has always gotten me in trouble, as I have always spoken my mind.

The following is something I wrote in April of 2001;

Left alone to die,
I was left all alone to die.
No one seemed to care,
No one had the decency to come by.

The look of death, my neighbor said,
Was evident in my eyes.
In and out of emergency rooms,
Was the only way I managed to get by.

Down on the farm and down on my luck,
And with a family that did not give a fuck.
So unstable was I at that time,
That I destroyed my brand new, bright red Dodge pick-up truck.

Left alone to die,
I was left all alone to die.
If it wasn’t for the man above,
I would not have survived.

Physicians whom I no longer had a plan,
Left me all along to die, there is little doubt.
Of the Hell I went through,
When the meds suddenly all ran out.

Down on my knees, shakin’ in pain,
Out of control and out of my mind.
Pleading with the good Lord, please help me get by,
Life was unbearable, all I wanted to do was die.

Lawyers too, had stopped their shout,
No longer cared after the money ran out.
Cost me my job and career,
They had nothing to lose, nothing to fear.

Family whom I no longer had,
Left me there all alone to die.
If it wasn’t for the merciful man up above,
I never would have survived.

Steven H. Spring

Henry Paul Band #13B, 7C, 46B, 23B, 43B, 26C, 63C, 88C & 73B

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February 14, 2014

Henry Paul formed the Henry Paul Band in 1978 after leaving the Outlaws the previous year. While a member of the Outlaws from 1972 to 1977, the band released its first three albums: 1975’s Outlaws, 1976’s Lady In Waiting and Hurry Sundown in 1977.

The Henry Paul Band released three albums: Grey Ghost in 1979, Feel The Heat in 1980 and Anytime in 1981. The title track on their debut album was a tribute to Ronnie Van Zant and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 1982, Paul released the eponymously titled Henry Paul album. From 1983 to 1986, the guitarist and vocalist rejoined the Outlaws.

During 1992, Henry formed the country band BlackHawk, which has released seven studio albums over the years, including their latest, Brothers Of The Southland, in 2014. During this same time period, Paul has played on and off with the Outlaws. With the 2007 death of founding Outlaw guitarist Hughie Thomasson, Henry has assumed leadership of the band.

These photographs were shot on August 25, 1980 at the Agora in Columbus, Ohio, across the street from the Ohio State University campus. The Agora, which bills itself as America’s longest continually running rock club first opened as the State Theater in 1923. It was converted into the Agora Ballroom in 1970 with a seating capacity of 1,700, although seating is a misnomer as there are no seats down front by the stage. The ballroom was purchased by PromoWest in 1984 and changed the name to the Newport Music Club.

The price of a ticket to this show was $4.50.

Steven H. Spring

Rosie #7C, 17C, 39B, 33B, 12B, 19C, 22C, 43B & 26C

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January 31, 2015

Rosie was a rock band from Columbus, Ohio founded by guitarist Mark Chatfield during 1980. The band released three albums, the self-titled Rosie in 1981, Precious Metal in 1982 and Rosie Live in 1988. Chatfield is best known to central Ohio rockers of my generation as the lead guitarist for the band The Godz. From 1983 until 2011, Chatfield played both rhythm and lead guitar in Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.

I came home from Seattle on leave from the Navy sometime during 1978, and all people were talking about were The Godz, who released two albums, 1978’s self-titled The Godz (which was produced by Don Brewer, drummer for Grand Funk Railroad) and Nothing Is Sacred in 1979 during their original incarnation. By the time I was honorably discharged in October of 1979, the band had broken up. However, led by bassist and vocalist Eric Moore, The Godz are still playing and releasing albums.

Their biggest radio hit was Gotta Keep A-Runnin’ off their debut album. However, to Columbus rockers they were most famous for their song 714 (pronounced as 7-1-4, not 7-14), off Nothing Is Sacred, which featured the chorus line “feelin’ fine on 714s,” a reference to Quaaludes, which were then marketed as Rorer 714. I am told that the band had a fondness for ‘ludes while performing. Not that I am comparing the music of Led Zeppelin to The Godz, but Robert Plant has been quoted as saying the only reason Zeppelin kept a doctor around was to prescribe Quaaludes.

These photographs were shot at the Agora, across the street from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, most likely around 1980 or ‘81 when Rosie opened for the Johnny Van Zant Band. As the opening act, the lighting for Rosie wasn’t all that great, as most every opening act will surely attest. Some of the original 4×6 photos that I scanned are pretty crappy looking. However, thanks to modern digital photography software, these photos do not look all that bad.

Steven H. Spring

Is Chris Duarte The World’s Greatest Living Guitarist?

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May 18, 2014

I have seen in concert or have listened to the recordings of most, if not all of the greatest rock and/or blues guitarists during the past forty years, and without a doubt one of the best is Austin, Texas-based Chris Duarte. There have been comparisons made to Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix and there are several Duarte songs that have that SRV sound, but I believe it’s due more to a Texas blues shuffle thing going on than sounding like the man himself.

I have seen Duarte in concert five times and every show has been amazing. As someone who is not widely known, to put it mildly, I always saw him in very small bars and every time he puts on a two to three-hour show of amazing guitar playing for less than ten bucks. The only time I paid more for a ticket, and when he played less than two hours was when he opened for Gov’t Mule, which cost fifteen dollars. These ten photographs were shot at Chelsie’s, a now defunct bar that was located in the Short North artisan district in Columbus, Ohio on January 15, 1999. Needless to say, these photos were shot with film, and then the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer to be adjusted, framed and matted before being uploaded online.

For those who have yet to experience the fury of Chris’ playing, I would recommend starting with his 1994 album Texas Sugar/Strat Magik. However, on his 2003 album Romp, is his incredible version of the Bob Dylan song One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below). This song in itself is worth the price of the CD. It was while listening to this CD for the first time while setting up my computer for a new high-speed internet connection that I came up with the name of my new email address, that being DoTheRomp@SBCglobal.net, borrowing the title of the first song on this CD.

Do not take it from me as to the greatness of Chris Duarte, as on the guitarist’s website is a quote from Eddie Van Halen who, when asked during a 1989 Rock One Radio interview what’s it like to be greatest guitar player in the world, Van Halen replied “I don’t know, ask Chris Duarte.”

Do The Romp? Yes, indeed!

Steven H. Spring

Todd Rundgren #19C, 71F, 35D, 111C, 1B, 44D, 71D, 28B & 103B

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March 8, 2014

Todd Rundgren is a sixty-five year old, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, engineer and producer originally from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.  His first band was Woody’s Truck Stop, a Philadelphia based blues band.  Rundgren and bassist Carson Van Osten left the group during 1967 to form Nazz, a psychedelic/garage rock band along with Robert Antoni on keyboards and vocals and Thom Moody on drums.  In 1968, Nazz recorded Hello, It’s Me, which, when re-recorded several years later while a solo artist, would go on to become Rundgren’s biggest career hit.

Nazz released three albums: Nazz (1968), Nazz Nazz (1969) and Nazz III (1971).  The songs on Nazz III were recorded during the sessions for Nazz Nazz, which was intended to be released as a double album entitled Fungo Bat.  The record label instead released half the tracks as Nazz Nazz, and then released the others as Nazz III a year or so after the band had split up, in order to capitalize on the rapidly increasing popularity of Rundgren as a solo artist.

After Nazz disbanded, Rundgren moved to New York City to work as a music producer.  During his career as a producer, he produced albums such as Straight Up by Badfinger; Stage Freight by The Band; We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad; Bat Out Of Hell by Meat Loaf and the New York Dolls self-titled debut.  In 1970, Rundgren formed Runt along with Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums.  The Sales brothers are sons of famed, pie-in-the-face comedian Soupy Sales.  Runt released two albums: Runt in 1970 and Runt: The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren in 1971.  Although Runt was officially a band, the albums were essentially Rundgren solo projects as his face only is shown on both album covers.  CD releases of the first Runt album are titled Todd Rundgren Runt.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1970, Rundgren released his first “official” solo album, Something/Anything? during 1972, in which he wrote, played, engineered and produced every track on the first three sides of the double album.  After an earthquake struck southern California, Rundgren went back east, to the Record Plant in New York City to record with session musicians the seven songs that appear on side four.  Hello, It’s Me, re-recorded more up-tempo, was edited down into a single and was released in 1973, becoming Rundgren’s only major pop hit.  Something/Anything? is Rundgren’s biggest selling album and most likely his best.

In 1973, Rundgren released A Wizard, A True Star.  Another double album, Todd, was released in 1974.  It is these three albums that probably saw Rundgren at his peak creative ability, while reaching his highest levels in both popularity and album sales.  By 1974, Rundgren was revolving back into a band format, this time as Utopia, which featured Kasm Sulton on bass and vocals, Willie Wilcox on drums and Roger Powell on keyboards and vocals.  It was as Utopia that these photographs were taken.  Utopia disbanded during the mid 1980s.  Todd Rundgren continues releasing albums as a solo artist to this day.

These photos were taken at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, in Columbus, Ohio, USA on December 28, 1980.  Needless to say, they were shot on film, and the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer, where they were tweaked just a little, adjusting both the color and darkness levels.  As such, looking at these photos on WordPress.com does not do justice to the 4×6 photographs.  A great deal of sharpness was lost in the process, especially during the scanning of the print.  One day, I need to break down and buy a film negative scanner.  However, I have my eye on a baby blue Fender Stratocaster with Texas Special pickups and a guitar will most likely be my next major purchase.  I love my photography, but priorities are priorities.  What I really need to do is win one of my state’s two lottery games as I have way too many things I need, or maybe its things I want, but so little cash in which to buy these things.

I was gonna upload these nine photographs in the order in which they were shot, because, during the first half of the show, Rundgren and his band wore dark clothing, then switched to all white outfits after an intermission.  However, I decided to sequence them based on overall quality.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment.  Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring