The Blues — a cure for the blues

I’ve mentioned before in this column that life has been throwing a number of curve-balls my way, and I’ve been flailing at them to no avail. I can look out my kitchen window and see the huge wind turbine in the north end of Fall River, and I’m reminded of myself, just swinging at air.

I guess when it comes to life, I’m a fast-ball hitter; but as usual, I digress.

There are a few things that I lean on to take my mind off my lack of success against life’s curve-balls, and one of those is music.

I have always loved music.

When I was a pup, I’d carry my trusty little Philco transistor radio around and tune the AM dial to 630 to listen to WPRO and the latest top 40 rock hits. It was also the place where I could listen to the venerable Salty Brine chime out, “No school Foster-Glocester,” on snowy weekday mornings.

This was also the radio I would keep under my pillow when I went to bed, plug in the big old ear plug and listen to the Red Sox broadcasts when they were on the left coast. Unfortunately, it was also the source of my first hearing that Robert F. Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.

That trusty little AM transistor radio, with the black leather case, was my comfort food back then.

From there, as I grew older, I got a Panasonic AM-FM portable radio. I was growing away from the AM music scene and entering the world of FM rock — a whole new world, but just as comforting to me. It was there where my musical tastes expanded in many directions. Moving up and down the FM dial, I found myriad musical genres, other than the usual AM top 40.

It was also there where I first heard and developed a passion for the Blues. The Blues seemed to touch my soul more than any other genre, except of course, for Sacred music.

When a musician plays the Blues from the soul, it’s not difficult for the music to transfer into mine. It’s not so much the lyrics that make the Blues the Blues for me, it’s the melody, the back beat, the lead, the melding of hands and instruments into a single feeling — a feeling that’s difficult to describe.

When Emilie’s beau Danny and I pull out our guitars and jam on Sunday afternoons, much of what we play is the Blues. It’s not a genre you can fake. If you’re playing it from the soul it’s magic; if not, then it’s not.

I can’t count the concerts I’ve been to through the years. I’ve seen and heard some prolific bands and performers, and I’ve been trying to pass on that tradition to Emilie and Danny, when I can afford to. Today’s concert ticket prices are a far cry from when I was a teen and in my 20s.

There is a method to this madness I’ve taken you through for the past several paragraphs.

As I mentioned in the column opener, life has been hurling curve-balls my way for a while now, and music is one of those diversions.

Just recently I got to take Emilie and Danny (and Denise) to a concert at The Narrows in Fall River featuring the great Blues legend Jimmie Vaughan. Vaughan is of the Texas Blues genre, hailing from the Blues mecca of Austin, Texas. He brought with him a tight band featuring someone on saxophone, trombone, the upright bass, a drummer, a fellow guitarist, and a singer, her too, hailing from the Austin music scene.

Our seats were practically on the stage, and Vaughan would solo within arm’s length of us.

I had a smile on my face I simply couldn’t wipe off. My gaze would dart from musician to musician, but mainly focused on Vaughan. The way he handled his Fender Stratocaster was effortless. I, too, play a Strat, but the sounds I produce are a bit different!

Danny, who is also a Blues fanatic, was in awe of Vaughan, so much so, that his countenance was one of disinterest. That was far from the case! But Vaughan picked up on it and during a song actually came up to Danny, bent down, while playing and asked him, “Are you OK?” Danny replied, “More than OK.” Vaughan smiled and went back to work.

To me, that was an incredible moment I’ll never forget (Danny either). A legend caring so much for his audience that he took the time to do that.

For two-plus hours there were no curve-balls hurled my way —  because of the Blues. Vaughan mentioned his iconic brother Stevie Ray (the best guitarist ever, in my opinion), and played one of his songs. I was in Blues Heaven.

After the show, I got to shake hands with the legend — not one of those glancing high fives, but a warm hand shake. Again, I was blown away by how down-to-earth and genuine the man is.

It’s been a few weeks since the event, and I’ve replayed the evening countless times in my head.

Sometimes life can make me blue, but it was the Blues that lifted my spirits for a couple of priceless hours that evening.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts