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Blues Masters at the Crossroads. Produced by Acoustic Sounds, a global audience returns year-after-year to worship the blues at Blue Heaven Studios in Salina, Kansas. For the first time we're presenting six sets recorded live in 2014 at Blues Masters at the Crossroads Oct. 17-18.
This Friday night Blues Masters set is as good as it gets — and it gets pretty damn good in Salina when Blues Masters comes along. These three headliners are backed by young superstar, Marquise Knox and his pal, drummer Mike Battle. Bobby Bland's long-time bass player, Loui Villery sits in, keeping rock-solid time.
Born and raised in Ashland, Mississippi, guitarist Joe Beard was surrounded by aspiring and veteran blues musicians. Matt "Guitar" Murphy and his brother Floyd were Beard's childhood buddies and his guitar inspiration. Beard moved to Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s but time spent visiting his brothers in Chicago enamored him of the blues.
Beard — always classy and understated — sings two of his own songs. It's over far too quickly, but he has more time on Saturday evening so it's just a teaser.
Lester walks on stage and instantly connects with the audience; he's making jokes and can't wait to perform. Working with Knox, who has been by his side all day, Lester launches into some of his older tunes recorded for Excello. Big George Brock is Knox' cousin — although the one-time youthful boxer has many decades on Knox. His eyesight is fading but his thick harp playing and growl are in great shape as he conjures up Muddy and the Wolf.
Youth was a factor in these timeless bluesmen's lives as they learned their craft. His father bought him a harmonica when Brock was 9 years old and by age 12 he was performing at Saturday night fish fries with friends Lee Kizart and Big Jack Johnson. Knox is still only in his early 20s. Hands down there's no other young bluesman who's worked with more of the masters — Henry Townsend, Brock, Pinetop Perkins, Michael Burks; Lester and more. Lester, born Leslie Johnson, as a boy growing up near Baton Rouge, worked at a grocery store, where he purchased a harmonica and Little Walter's famous "Juke" record. Lester learned to blow harp and strum his brother's guitar. Renowned for his harp work today, he loves to take up the acoustic guitar at every opportunity.
|2. Reap What You Sow|
|3. When I Get Drunk|
|4. Blues Stop Knockin'|
|5. Patrol Blues|
|6. Instrumental Introducion|
|7. Two Trains Running|
|8. Killing Floor|
|9. Hoochie Coochie Man|
|10. You Don't Have To Go|