19-27 March 2010, Fuerteventura, Spain. This looks tempting. A blues festival and some sun. Larry Garner, a superb R&B guitarist and story-telling singer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is playing at the festival.
Larry was the first ‘real’ R&B guitarist I saw playing live. (I’d seen Clapton play in Birmingham, but caught him on an off day.) I saw Larry play at a community centre in Woodford, near Stockport, backed by the Norman Beaker Band, a partnership that remains (they’re playing in Selby, 16 April 2010).
Larry’s gig had a genuine effect on me and is mainly responsible for kicking off an interest in the blues/R&B that’s remained with me ever since. I remember the immaculate silver suit, trilby, Gibson Firebird (vintage sunburst, of course), piercing eyes, his mid-song stories with bare accompaniment, sense of humour and a fondness for Guinness.
I saw him play live once more, a year later, at Manchester’s Band on the Wall.
Being a nervy, fresh-faced 18-year-old, I would arrive as early as possible to listen to the DJ, Martin the Mod, soak up the ambience, and hope not to be noticed.
On this particular night, Larry was one of the few people there in the venue so early. He accepted my offer to buy him a Guinness, spent time chatting about his blues journey and happily answered my yappy questions of ‘have you played guitar with… what’s your favourite song?’ and so on.
A real gent. And a chuffing brilliant blues artist.
Festival image via vallebrown.com