I’ve been playing and singing the blues for over 50 years and with more and more feeling that I have a good reason to do so as I age and life presents its various scenarios. The fingers may have slowed… but the voice still works. At my age, it’s always good to be able to sing “Woke Up This Morning”.

As I’ve got older I’ve found the applause lasts a bit longer and is louder. Have played clubs, pubs, bars, concerts, festivals – wherever there is a good atmosphere and someone in the audience, appreciates the performance. I was proud to be inducted (at last) in 2017. I’ve been performing acoustic blues for the past 50 years and still happy to find “I woke up this mornin’!” So, my Top 10 they start from when I was 17 and run chronologically for just three years.

1 – Twelve Gates to the City – Rev Gary Davis

I saw him in 1965 (there is a photo to prove it) and the power of the vocal delivery just blew me away – his guitar mastery was otherwordly at the time.

2 – Smokestack Lightning – Howlin Wolf

Was on an EP (couldn’t afford albums) no performer can match the menace of Mr Burnett.

3 – Sky is Cryin – Elmore James

Was the loudest track I owned and always played it at full volume in a small room (was a small house).

4 – Willie Mae – Big Bill Broonzy

One of the first numbers of his that I mastered and still play it today – am proud of my Broonzy thumb. He remains my all-time inspiration and favourite performer.

5 – Crossroads – Robert Johnson

This was a mind-blowing revelation and prompted me to play slide.

6 – Weeping Willow – Blind Boy Fuller

Was pushed to listen to him by Rev Gary Davis being so dismissive. I thought his songs would be easier to learn – they are. Was the lyric “and my mind got to wanderin’ just like them wild geese in the west” that grabbed me.

7 – Wife Drove Me From My Door – Charlie Lincoln

One of the many memorable tracks from a double album called ‘The Rural Blues‘ Xtra 1035 – My first wife did meet me at the door but she was less lyrical and said ‘Why don’t you just **** off’

8 – Hard Time Killing Floor – Skip James

First heard him perform courtesy of a late-night John Peel show in the late 60s. Haunting.

9 – Matchbox Blues – Blind Lemon Jefferson and Cow Blues (Speckled Red)

Care of an album on Xtra 1047 – Mike Raven’s Blues Show – sorry there are two but I couldn’t choose between ’em.

10 – Blue Guitars – Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang

This track from the double album is sweet – I also love his vocal on Tomorrow Night – this came out in 1967.

I expect I could make a list for each decade of my life but these are the tracks that shaped my love and passion for the blues. I’ve been performing for over 50 years and still have just one simple thought – play and sing like you really mean it. It matters.

Cheers
Dave

For More Info – Dave Speight