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TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell
March 1998

True Blue News: Eric Clapton Comes to The Quad Cities

If you haven’t heard yet that Eric Clapton is coming to the MARK, we’ll tell the nurses to go ahead and take you off life support. The rock and blues guitar icon whose influence saw ”Clapton Is God“ sprayed in graffiti all over London (Hard Rock Café and House of Blues founder Isaac Tigrett claims he was the culprit, by the way…) is coming to town. Finally, after two years of rumors and anticipation - it’s true. The British blues, rock guitar master kicks off the first leg of a U.S. tour this month that will no doubt sell-out in record time at box offices across the country.

Dates for the first leg of Eric Clapton's eagerly-anticipated US tour will begin on March 30th in St. Paul, Minn., landing at the MARK of the Quad Cities in Moline on April 5th, and running through an April 26th stop in Miami, FL. For the first time, Clapton will be performing with a 20-piece orchestra. His band will include guitarist-vocalist Andy Fairweather Low, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Alan Darby, keyboardists Kenneth Crouch and Tim Carman, and vocalists Katie Kissoon, Chyna and Charlean Hines. When interviewed recently by Larry King, the guitarist stated that it was necessary to take the larger ensemble on the tour, simply to do justice to the selections from the new album, entitled ”Pilgrim.“ Clapton worked with Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East, Marcus Miller, and Steve Gadd on the new album on the Reprise record label. The original release date was August 26, 1997, but was delayed and is now slated for release on March 10th. Some of the tracks expected on “Pilgrim” include songs left off of the ‘Unplugged’ album, like ”My Father's Eyes“ and ”The Circus Left Town“.

I remember traveling to Ames, Iowa several years ago to see Clapton at the Hilton Coliseum. The concert was part of the ”Journeyman“ tour, and was one of the most uniquely straight forward and simultaneously powerful concert performances I have ever attended. There was no huge lighting extravaganza - just well placed colors to compliment the moods. There were no pyrotechnics, no drop-curtains, no props - just Clapton and the band. Of course, what else would you need? My most prominent memory from that concert was when the guitar master stepped to the front edge of the stage to play an impeccable few bars of Stevie Ray Vaughan stylings, out of admiration and respect for his departed friend. Clapton played those first few SRV notes and the audience, for a brief moment, was silent in awe of the artist’s flawless execution of just a taste of the Austin guitarist’s technique. Only a few seconds later the entire audience acknowledged Clapton with thunderous response, and the guitar great humbly nodded with a smile. No doubt Stevie Ray smiled down from up above, at the tribute offered from one of his mentors.

It’s that same signature, relaxed form and confidence that Clapton has always exhibited - whether live in concert on the world’s biggest stages, during the live ”Unplugged“ session on MTV or in the real deal blues club setting at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. It’s the mark of a master, and a true bluesman.

True Blue Mission: The Blues Foundation

The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee is host to the annual W. C. Handy Awards - the virtual ‘Oscars’ of the blues entertainment world. True Blue is proud to now be a member of this fine organization, and we’ll send along updates as they come to us. This is the same organization that has also recognized our own local Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, on two occasions, for the excellent work they do through their annual blues festival, blues in the schools, and as a blues society in general. Here is the message straight from the horse’s mouth, per the Blues Foundation, as to their mission and purpose:

"Hey! Hey! The Blues is Alright!" Music fans around the world are shouting this proclamation. The Blues is hot: commercial advertising uses Blues music and artists to sell everything from hamburgers and candy to airfare and vacations. Many corporations are putting their names and money behind Blues festivals and events. The Blues is hip: today's popular music proudly declares its roots and influence in the Blues sound. Blues formats and specialty shows dominate airwaves on commercial and non-commercial radio. The Blues transcends color, gender and even age. It appeals to the soul of man.

Organized and founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation’s mission is to promote and preserve Blues music around the globe. With the Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards, Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, The International Blues Talent Competition and the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the nationally syndicated weekly blues radio program Beale Street Caravan, The Blues Foundation continuously encourages and recognizes the highest achievements of artists, writers, promoters and other supporters of the Blues.

If you would like to learn more about the Blues Foundation and/or how to become a member, we encourage you to visit them at on the web.

True Blue New Releases:

  1. ”Hound Dog Taylor - A Tribute,“ Various Artists (Alligator Records)
    Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer has to be beaming over this new collection, with some of the Blues’ finest turning out to honor Hound Dog Taylor with their renditions of his favorite tunes. Luther Allison, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Earl, Dave Hole, Sonny Landreth, Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Magic Slim, Bob Margolin, Son Seals and even George Thorogood serve up their own versions of Hound Dog’s classics. True Blue Track: ”Give Me Back My Wig“ …Luther does this HDT signature tune proud!

  2. ”The Soul of A Woman,“ Shirley Brown (Malaco Records) Grammy Award nominee Shirley Brown just melts down all resistance with her passionate, soulful vocals, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any song she can’t master and make her own. Born in Memphis, having grown up in St. Louis, and then moving back to Memphis she carries the early influences of Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday and the Baptist choirs of her childhood days. Ms. Brown puts heart and soul into this collection, and the result is a virtual showcase of her vocal mastery and artistic passion. True Blue Track: ”You Left A Good Woman for A Good Time“…A man would be crazy to mess with this woman, boy! Oooh-weee!

  3. ”Switching Gears,“ Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers (Blind Pig Records)
    Joe Louis Walker, Lonnie Brooks and Chubby Carrier join guitar-slinger Jimmy Thackery for a rough and ready ride through hot blues, swamp-rock, zydeco and Hendrix-styled rockers. Jimmy travels the full spectrum of the Blues with this collection. True Blue Track: ”Dancin’ on Broken Glass“ …this one sizzles with Reba Russell dishin’ up some sweet backing vocals for Jimmy & The Driver’s smolderin’ blues machine.

  4. ”Just Won’t Burn,“ Susan Tedeschi (Tone-Cool Records)
    This little lady from Boston is all Blues and all business. She bears more than a slight vocal resemblance to Bonnie Raitt in a few places, and her guitar work is hot and inspired. Besides the hot rockin’ blues she lays down on this effort, she shows her versatility and depth of soul by covering a John Prine classic, just as Raitt did before her. True Blue Track: ”Angel from Montgomery“ …sweet, soulful, slidin’ sounds.

True Blue Destinations on the Web:
That ought to give ‘ya all more than plenty to chew on for a while, until we’re back again in March with new true blues news and reviews ‘fer youz. There’s a wealth of blues information and blues lore out there on the Web, and here’s just a few of our favorites for you to bookmark: Further On Up the Road…
Every time we lose another true blue spirit like an Albert Collins, Junior Wells, Luther Allison, Johnny Copeland or a Jimmy Rogers this old world has a another ‘hole in its soul,’ to quote yet another legendary bluesman. You’ll have to guess who said it, children…‘cause I’m out of time, but I aint out of gas. I’m booked and I gotta go! So, until we meet again at this crossroads…

Blues to ‘ya!

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