“Where words leave off, music begins.”
- Heinrich Heine
All Roads Lead to Memphis
Paul McCartney claimed that "if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles." Being a life long Beatles fan, when Paul McCartney came to Memphis in the early 90's, I really wanted to meet Paul. I had recently done some album art with Carl Perkins and Johnny Rivers. Carl Perkins was such a classic southern gentleman. As I set out to find Paul McCartney the day of the concert, I drove down Beale Street and I just happened to see Carl walking along the street. Knowing that Paul McCartney was a Carl Perkins fan, I asked Carl if he knew where Paul might be and where I might be able to get a photo of him. Then he asked to hire me to come shoot he and Paul before Paul's concert. I told him i'd have to check my calendar to see if I was free. Being a photojournalist, you get paid in life experience. We have a front row seat to life.
I have had so many wonderful experiences with all kinds of Memphis music, especially the blues. I have had a life long love of music. I grew up in Chicago, and my dad loved to secretly listen to "race music" as a rebellious teen. He turned me on to jazz and blues at a very young age. I have always had a special connection to the Blues, Boogie Woogie and Jazz. Much of that music came from the south, with roots back to Memphis, Clarksdale, West Memphis... this whole region.
So many things, you can say, are a coincidence in life or you can just be like me and trust that you are led to where you should be.
I decided to ask the question "What is the Blues, and Who gets to play it?" after watching a 13-year-old boy from Canada come to Memphis and compete in the blues competitions, and a middle aged white women from Australia who was obsessed with i. Everyone and anyone were playing the blues, everywhere. Do you have to have the blues to play it? Must you earn the pain, for the privilege of being a blues man/person? Must you have lived the black experience, in the south, to be authentic? I asked BB King, Charlie Musselwhite and Blind Mississippi Morris, all of whom came from Mississippi and Memphis, what they thought. My multimedia, "What is the Blues" includes their response.