some of the season’s break has been spent transcribing the Chris Barber interview from earlier in 2015 and it is proving absolutely scintillating. He covers so many periods in the development of British music, the early years of collecting old jazz 78s, Alexis Korner, Muddy Waters, the Marquee Club, the Rolling Stones, Trad. He was there all the way through so here is just a snippet for you about his bringing the Blues singers in to Britain for the very first time:
Having Muddy in the country for the first time was interesting, we had heard him in Chicago and he was not loud. His club where he played in Chicago was in fact an off-licence with table and chairs, a bar. Being American of course it had to show on the wall the maximum number of people allowed to be in there at one time for fire risk. About forty five people, not a big deal you see, if you sat in there on one of the front tables near the band and Muddy would be on one side of the front there and his amp down by his feet, you could hold a conversation with your friends at the table. It would not sound loud so that anyone else would complain, nothing was loud enough to stop you being able to talk. He did not play loud anywhere, he did not want to play loud. When he came into this country of course he played a solid guitar because for the kind of harmonics you want to hear, you need a solid guitar not an acoustic. The only negative thing I ever heard at any of the concerts by Muddy Waters was from one or two jazz critics who came to the concert and walked out while he was playing, the one of same guy walked out of Sister Rosette Tharpe too. She actually played louder than Muddy Waters did but it was not loud. When the whole band is playing ‘Story Monday’ or ‘Down By The Riverside’ she’s playing at the same level as the band, strumming but powerful, not deafening.