Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tidbits: RIP-- Blues Great "Pinetop" Perkins

I was sorry to hear that blues pianist "Pinetop" Perkins died yesterday. He was 97, but had been performing recently, mostly in Austin, Texas. I had the privilege of sitting with him and talking backstage at a Tokyo blues festival in 1999 (photo) while doing research for the liner notes that eventually accompanied And This Is Maxwell Street, the recordings from Mike Shea's 1964 documentary film And This Is Free. Perkins played for many years with the Muddy Waters band but had also known Robert Nighthawk, the guitar wizard featured on many of the Shea Maxwell Street recordings. We wanted to talk with people that had worked with Nighthawk. Perkins was a soft-spoken, slow-moving man that gave an impression of gentleness, but, like many aging blues musicians I've met (notably Frank Frost, B. B. King, and R. L. Burnside), he dropped about 50 years as he got up on stage and began to make music. RIP


  1. Hi Colin! I finally have a little time to myself, and went to your blog. Wow! What interesting reading. I'm not sure when you sleep. I was at the Brahms concert, did not hear the out of tune playing, as you did, though I noticed her tuning, of course. I adore that violin concerto, especially the joyful last movement, and I was practically raised on the 4th symphony. I think going to live performances are so important. To me that is when I am willing to listen to music I wouldn't ordinarily listen to. For example, the opening piece at the last symphony concert--I don't have the title in front of me--I found boring. I heard a couple of references to Brahms, but I really want to hear some kind of melody in a piece--that is what hooks me, usually, though sometimes rhythmic pieces with dynamic changes work for me, but...that piece had none of the above, in my opinion.

    So, I listened to your viola piano piece and really enjoyed it. I especially like the rhythmic piano part--and liked the pizzicato in the viola. I would love to hear it with real instruments. I am sorry I could never get my friends to play your other piece. The violinist became very ill.

    In reading your music criticism, I realize I listen with a much less critical ear--and my taste in music is much different from yours. I have grown to enjoy Wagner--though not everything. The piece that helped me appreciate him more and want to hear more was Liebestod, then Das Rheingold. I think one has to listen more than a few times.

    Thanks for the interesting blog! Gael

  2. Gael,

    Thanks for stopping by and for leaving comments.

    About Wagner--I haven't given up. As I say, there must be a reason his reputation is what it is and that people like him. I will keep an open mind.

    I know what you mean about the opening piece the other day at the concert. I didn't think it would appeal to everyone, but I liked it. Having said that, it WAS a bit ponderous.

    I went back and listened to that Viola and piano thing. I hadn't heard it since I wrote it. It has a few good moments, but now seems very repetitious to me. That's a good thing, I suppose. That I can easily hear its faults suggests I'm better now that I was then. I had only been fooling around with composing for a couple of months at that point. I'm now working on the final movement of a 7th string quartet, which I think (but I'm hardly objective) is a leap forward. Anyway, writing music has been fun and it provides a kind of catharsis when it goes well.

    Again, thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you soon.



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