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Tale Feathers by Michael "Hawkeye" Herman

The purpose of this article, and others to follow, is to shed a bit of light on the human side of many deceased blues artists who have become legendary figures, and as a result, distant icons to younger/newer enthusiasts. The new generation is left with some photographs, records, and somewhat academic biographies, but with little knowledge of the what these "old guys/gals" were like, as people. A simple description of how they appeared and sounded off stage and on, is helpful in making these heroes more understandable as people who expressed their human experience through their music. I will rely on my own experiences, and on interviews with other other long-time artists/enthusiasts, for my articles.

Tale Feathers
by Michael "Hawkeye" Herman

We were standing in line to purchase tickets for a concert that was going to begin in ten minutes and looked like it was going to sell out. The year was 1969 in Berkeley, CA. The large concert hall was not the best place to hear acoustic country blues, but this promised to be a special night. My ladyfriend and I were starting to get anxious about getting in to the show. Lots of advance ticket holders were showing up and being ushered to their seats. The line we were in was moving much too slow. "If I'd only bought tickets in advance, I wouldn't be waiting like this. If I'd only had the money in advance, we would already be inside." Finally, we got to the ticket window. The woman selling tickets said what I didn't want to hear, "Sorry, we're sold out!" Pause. My heart sank. "But if you don't mind sitting on the side of the stage, you can purchase tickets. "Two, please!" was my immediate response. An usher took a group of about ten or twelve of us latecomers and led us up on the stage about fifteen feet from the solitary chair and two microphones that marked center stage. We folded our coats to sit on, and settled in for a night of music with Bukka White, Mance Lipscomb, Son House, and Lightin' Hopkins. I will try to describe the evening's events. Many moments are crystal clear, many have slipped my memory. I am open to correction from others who may have been present at the concert.

This story is continued at it's permanent location


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