Ken Luk Shares his Travels to Blues Country, August 20, 2018 in the Red Room

RGC member Ken Luk, who recently earned his Master of Arts Degree in Music Theory Pedagogy at Eastman School, took us on a PowerPoint tour of Blues Country. While studying in Atlanta, Ken traveled in Georgia and Mississippi visiting a number of sites of particular interest to Blues aficionados. Among these were Mississippi John Hurt’s (1892-1966) home in Avalon, Mississippi, Robert Johnson’s grave site near Greenwood, Mississippi, the B.B. King (1925-2015) museum and grave site located in King’s home of Indianola, Mississippi. Ken also told us about the Delta Blues Museum as well as the nearby Riverside Hotel for musicians in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Mississippi John Hurt’s home evoked images of him playing on Saturday evenings on the porch in front of his house.

Other blues men discussed were the legendary Robert Johnson (1911-1938) and Big Joe Williams (1903-1982), who played a nine-string guitar he made himself over a period of time by adding a string at a time with the extra tuning pegs on the end. These sites as well as the Howlin’ Wolf Museum in West Point, Mississippi are part of the Blues Trail being maintained by Hurt’s granddaughter.

The discussion eventually led to blues musicians in other areas, mostly in Georgia. These included Peg Leg Howell (1888-1966), Charley Lincoln (1900-1963), Barbecue Bob (1902-1931) who played twelve-string guitar as did many of the Atlanta players, and the rediscovered Son House here in Rochester. There was also Blind Willie McTell (1898-1959) where Ken left a flower on his grave, just as Blind Willie suggested in the song “Lay Some Flowers on My Grave.”

Many of the sites Ken visited are not well maintained as one would expect, the museums being little more than memorialized shacks, and most grave sites are difficult to locate. Most of the photos in the presentation were taken from websites or postcards. Ken was reluctant to take his own original photos, particularly in cemeteries, partially due to cultural taboos of his own country. Ken’s enthusiasm for this music and its musicians was plain to see. Ken’s own area of expertise lies far away from the Mississippi – Georgia region, mostly in the field of classical music. The evening was a great learning experience for all of us!

Ken’s talk was followed by a brief round robin session. Here is the play list:

John Williamson, “Love Potion Number Nine” (Leiber/Stoller)
Tanya Wurzer with John accompanying, “Diamond Head” (Danny Hamilton)
Ken Luk, “Little Martha” (Duane Allman)
Kinloch Nelson, “Blues for Joni” (original)
Tom Napoli, “Till There Was You” (Meredith Wilson)
Ted Peck, “Original of Overused Blues” (original)
Jeremy Carter, “Pallet on Your Floor” (Mississippi John Hurt)
Bernie Lehmann, “San Francisco Bay Blues” (Jesse Fuller)

… and more:
John, “Got to Get You into my Life” (Lennon/McCartney)
Ted, (original)
Jeremy, “Separation Blues” (Patrick Sky)
Jeff, “Come on in my Kitchen” (Robert Johnson)
Kinloch, (twelve-bar blues with walking bass)

~Richard Taglieri/John Williamson

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