Spotlight on: Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, headlining at RBJS Blues and Brews
By Sarah Hall
It’s been more than 30 years since a Boston deejay tacked the “steady rollin’ ” to the front of blues man Bob Margolin’s name, and Margolin says he’s more than earned it with his decades of traveling and playing.
He stays busy as an ambassador of the Chicago blues style, since demand for his services hasn’t lessened. Interest in the blues has permeated a whole new generation wanting to hear Margolin and others who are keeping the art form alive.
Margolin couldn’t have had a better mentor. From 1973 to 1980, he played guitar in Muddy Waters’ band, recording and touring worldwide with the Chicago blues legend.
Some highlights of his time with Waters’ band included taping “The Last Waltz” on Thanksgiving Day of 1976, and a 1978 performance at the White House for President Jimmy Carter.
In 1980, he started his own band, and since then has recorded two albums for Powerhouse Records, three for Alligator, one for Blind Pig. “The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam” is on Telarc Records. Margolin can also be heard as a guest or sideman on dozens of blues albums.
He won the Blues Music Award for “Best Instrumentalist, Guitar” in both 2005 and 2008.
His newest album is “In North Carolina,” which also happens to be where he lives, in North Carolina, in High Point, to be exact.
So how did the Brookline, Mass.-born, blues gypsy come about putting down roots in North Carolina?
“I followed my heart,” he says. The love of his life, Pamela, was living there. And they married, and he sort of settled down. At least as much as you can settle down when you are touring full time.
Margolin points out that today’s musicians don’t need to live in a major metropolitan area to be successful. “You just need to live near an airport.”
His latest album, “In North Carolina,” features Margolin alone, playing at home, not live or in the studio.
He’s been happy with his base of operation being in the sunny South, compared to his experiences living elsewhere. He lists the reasons: “It’s slow, friendly, and inexpensive.”
The leisurely-paced South doesn’t necessarily seem to be exerting its influence on Margolin who keeps up a dizzying pace with The Bob Margolin Blues Band and The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam: The Legends of Chicago Blues, and The Muddy Waters Reunion Band. He is also a columnist for “Blues Revue” magazine and a regular contributor to “BluesWax” online magazine
Margolin continues to be excited about the future of the blues, with many young people immersing themselves in the art form. He points out that these days, young musicians don’t have to work as hard as he did these to find examples.
“Someone says, ‘Hmm … I’d like to know more about Muddy Waters.’ They just Google ‘Muddy Waters,’ then they can read and listen all they want. And some young musicians are falling into the music really deep.”
He cites an example in our own backyard, Statesville musician Matt Walsh, a consummate bluesman at age 30. Luckily for us, he will be accompanying Margolin to Salisbury this Friday.
When asked what attendees to “Blues and Brews” can look forward to Friday, Margolin says “a party. This is not academic music, it just makes you feel good.
“Having the blues is a feeling. Blues music is the medicine for it.”nnn
Bob Margolin will be the featured performer for the Rowan Blues and Jazz Society’s “Blues and Brews” fundraising event at the Looking Glass Artist Collective’s Black Box Theater Friday. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Sharing the stage with him will be Matt Walsh and Chuck Cotton.
Opening for them will be the band Blueshabit.
Advance tickets for $15 are available at www.bluesandjazz1.eventbrite.com. The cost at the door is $18. For more information, call 704-636-2811.