I’m sadder to hear about James Cotton dying (which I wouldn’t have known except for this post) than about Chuck Berry. Granted, Berry was way more influential in the music scene than Cotton. But Chuck got his propers while he was alive. I liked him, only I never bought any of his albums because he was ubiquitous. Cotton’s harp had a happy sound, rollicking in a good way. I still have one of his CDs in the blues section of my collection, a disc that has now travelled across the Pacific Ocean three times. I’m gonna play it tonight in his honour.
Christmas night, 1977. I’m at my parents house in Chicago over Christmas break while attending the Harvard of the Midwest, aka Southern Illinois University. My friend Ed Lesniak picks me up and we drive around looking for something to do. It’s a different world then – nothing is open on Christmas. We see a newsstand with Chicago Readers in it and grab one. It turns out there is something to do – James Cotton is playing in a blues club on the south side so off we go. Arrive at a place that holds something in the neighborhood of 500 people – Ed and I, and 5 others are the crowd. Shit, they’ll cancel.
No – Cotton and his band came out and played a blistering 2 hour set and came back for an encore – because 7 people were on their feet applauding.
That’s a pro. If 7 people show up 7 people get his best effort.
Thank you James – RIP.