A while back I received one of Poor David's emails. Close to the bottom there was a simple listing for an upcoming show: May 8 - John Waite.
I immediately replied to David: John Waite? The Baby's John Waite? And he replied back yes! How cool is that. Poor David's Pub is one of my all time favorite live music rooms because people actually go there to LISTEN to the music. (Why do you think we have the KNON Dallas Blues Fest there?) Imagine - a live music room where people actually come to listen to the music. Wonder if that will catch on...
Anyway - this news was cool and kind of spooky to me because I've been on a John Waite kick solid for about a year now. I was always a fan, from the very first time I saw him with The Baby's on The Midnight Special. (And I once kissed him at the old Dallas Hard Rock Cafe - a moment in history I'm sure he doesn't remember, but I'LL never forget ;>) No particular reason - just one of those musical grooves I get into from time to time where I suddenly found myself listening an artists stuff repeatedly night and day. He has a beautiful voice, yes, but his real talent lies as a lyricist. Not usually happy-happy joy-joy kind of songs, which is fine by me - happy-happy joy-joy makes me want to strangle someone. I like songs about real life - where things go wrong and where you don't always learn your lesson the first time - like The Blues. And those are the kinds of songs John writes best. So I can relate to his lyrics - the same way I relate to so many Blues songs.
Those of you who are long time listeners to my radio show know how I love to find the blues in all kinds of music. Sometimes it's easy - there's a LOT of blues based Rock out there, but there's Blues in Country, Jazz, Rockabilly, Punk - you get the picture. But could I find the Blues in John Waite? Was there Blues in John? I was delighted to find the answer is yes, and thrilled that there is more than even I expected!
There are signs of Blues influences all over his excellent solo projects - covers of "Sweet Rhode Island Red" on his newest release, "Rough & Tumble", "Ain't No Sunshine" on "Temple Bar" and a killer version of "Highway 61 Revisited" on "Downtown - Journey of a Heart". But where did it come from - what are John Waite's Blues roots?
Then I found the link I was looking for in a story about his first ever gig at age 17 entitled "Spring Twist". You can read the entire story at http://johnwaite.nl/pages/sub/60855/John_Waite_s_first_Gig_ever_.html but here are some of the passages that nailed it for me:
On the 12th of March 1971,.... John made his first public appearance. It was at The Royal King's Arms, Lancaster. He was seventeen and playing bass and singing in the hastily cobbled together Chalk Farm.....We worked out ‘Hey Joe' and ‘Red House' by Hendrix; ‘I Hear You Calling', Ten Years After, ‘Night Life', B. B. King and various twelve-bars including ‘Dust My Broom' and ‘Mean Mistreated Man' by Elmore James. Of all the numbers that we were to play at that dance, ‘Dust My Broom' is the most evocative of John and the kind of music he was into at the time.....Eight-thirty, the room was packed and it was time to bite the bullet! The lights went down and I felt for John as we cracked off with ‘Rock Me Baby'. ......Nobody danced. Not that anybody ever does first thing. Most people need a few beers before they feel like boogying. As we finished ‘Rock Me' the audience clapped and all eyes were expectantly on John. Counting John and Derek in on four, I took a deep breath and launched into the opening triplet chords of ‘Dust My Broom'. What happened next amazed me! Within seconds, the whole room seem to be on its feet. Those who weren't dancing were stood in a circle round John watching every move as he sang and played his heart out.
So yes, Mr Waite's very first gig was a Blues gig! It seemed obvious to me from the mood of the songs he writes that he must have been bitten by the Blues sometime, but this little tale told me it was from the very beginning. If you dig deep enough, you can find The Blues in ALL great music!
Not sure what he'll play Tuesday night - will there be a blues tune or two? Don't know, but I'll sure be there to find out. Who knows - maybe I'll even kiss him again!
You can too. (Be there I mean. It's up to you and him if you kiss him.) Here's the details:
Up Close & Personal
Doors at 7pm / Show at 8pm
Poor David's Pub
1313 South Lamar, Dallas, TX
Advance tickets at: http://johnwaitedallas2012.eventbrite.com/
Special thanks to promoter Don Wishon for setting this show up, for answering all my questions and for keeping me in the loop.