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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wayfairing Pilgrim - It's just that thing

I remember the first time I heard Roy Buchanan. I was 16 years old and living 50 miles from nowhere. I was listening to "underground radio" and the advertisement was talking about a guy... Roy Buchanan and the Snake Stretchers coming to Pittsburgh. Now this was back when they talked between songs...not screamed. I'd never heard of him. Big deal... then this song is playing in the background and he gets to the solo... no..not the melody...the solo... this guy was making his guitar cry... scream... wail... it was making the hair stand up on the back of my neck! I called my buddy Anthony and told him to turn on the radio. We had never heard of him only a few hundred miles away. I of course went out and bought his album... song wasn't on it. Then the second album ...not there either. It showed up on a later album thankfully.

The concert was amazing. Here is this guy smokin' up the fretboard with his comb over, turtleneck sweater, plaid pants ... sitting on a bar stool and nothing moving but his mouth and his hands. Now this is like 1971 and he's Surrealistic! This was a small venue in Pittsburgh at Heinz Hall. This place was very small located on Pitt's campus. Maybe a year later he would appear at the now defunct Syria Mosque. Over the years it held numerous events such as Buddy Holly (4 times in 1957-1958), Bob Dylan in 1966, The Who in 1969, The Allman Brothers Band in 1971, Carly Simon in 1972, Pink Floyd in 1972, Frank Zappa in 1974, Genesis in 1976 and Count Basie's final public performance in 1983.

I was fortunate to see the Allmans there before Duane passed with an opening act of Taj Mahal. The Mosque was an amazing place all duded up like a real concert hall. I saw Roy at least 3 times before I left Pittsburgh as an adult. The 2nd time my date, Michelle, puked on my platform shoes. OK...I admit it... it was the 70's. I also saw Edgar Winter with Ronnie Montrose, Grin with Nils Lofgrin, David Crosby, CSN and Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd in this fine establishment. This was the big small hall in Pittsburgh at the time. You'd go to the Civic Arena to see the likes of Clapton, Led Zep or Humble Pie or the Stanley Theatre to see Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra or the New Riders of the Purple Sage. In any case I was fortunate enough to see Roy many times and through many iterations of his career both in Pittsburgh and now out west where I have settled. Hope you got a chance to see him before he passed. He was known as the worlds greatest unknown guitar player (a title later claimed by Danny Gatton) and there was a PBS special done on Roy during his lifetime named just that. Roy most always played a telecaster although did play a short stint on a Les Paul and even co designed /endorsed a tele like guitar called the Blues Master. If you are new to Roy, Check out the Livestock album. It's a good starting point.
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