Bill Stuve

 

 

Bill Stuve

 

 

Bill Stuve

 

They Don't Pay You for Playing

Every working musician lives a life that transcends. It’s a life that is completely different from any other human experience. For example, traveling in all forms of transportation, at all hours, many times, for days at a time, only to play for maybe an hour, maybe all night. And that's after hotel check-in, if your lucky to have one, hanging up your suit, that's if your luggage has arrived. Then,after proceeding to the soundcheck, at the venue, you can really start having some fun! Amplifier problems, sound man problems, bass bridge breaks etc. Then maybe get something to eat, which can be pretty scary. Meanwhile, get back to the hotel, maybe have a chance to sit down for a minute. Then get dressed, proceed back to the venue,where you will be shown to the green room, where you now have nothing to do but wait. Then play the show, which can be in the most funkiest hole in the wall, or in the most beautiful ballroom ever built. Man you got to love it! Hopefully the show goes well. Now it's back to the hotel, maybe get some sleep, get up & do it all over again. Oh yeah baby! All this excitement can really make for some interesting situations. It's a canvas full of color, that runs the spectrum from hilarious laughter, to sad ass tears! These experiences can create memories, that can turn into stories, that somehow make even the worst of times seem like the most incredibly fun filled times ever, and they usually were!

Below I've tried to conjure up a few of my most memorable moments:

Southern Lady

One of the first gigs I did here in Southern California was in Santa Barbara for the Blues Society. The year was 1977. On the show were Shakey Jake, Smokey Wilson,& George Smith, with Rod Piazza, Junior Watson, myself & drummer John Hoke, backing everybody. Man what a line-up! It was really my first time with these guys. The blues is like that, no rehearsal, no charts, maybe you've heard the recordings, maybe not. Its all 'bout feel, either you got it, or you don't. Anyway, we opened the show with Rod ending our part of the show with his signature song, Southern Lady. With this song, we we're all to leave the stage one at a time, starting with me... but they neglected to tell me about this little gem. So when the time came for the big finale, there I stood, continuing to play, with Rod waving bye bye to me. I didn’t have a clue. Finally... which seemed like forever, Watson filled me in and off I went with this being my first big night & memory, I still have to chuckle to this day.

Playing with George

Playing with George ”Harmonica” Smith was always a great treat for me. I’ve never to this day, worked with anyone who played with such unforgettable, from the heart showmanship. Not to mention the great approach, and tone, he always crafted out of his soulful harp. George really epitomized, the true essence of a blues man, and what that really was. He was such a character! Once in the studio we were listening to a play back, always a great time for shenanigans. He leaned over and said to me “You hear those blues”, I said “Yea”, then he says, “Bill were gonna do a religious blues just like that”. I replied, “Great George, give me some of the lyrics so I’ll know”, because with George, you never knew what he was gonna do. He thought for a moment, look me dead in the eye, and said “Oh lord why" and just like that, he went back to sippin’ on his beer... we never did perform that song.

Another time, at the Sacramento Blues Festival, we were back stage waiting to go on when in comes George, wearing a gold crown, decked out to the T’s. We all looked at each other and just started cracking up. We asked “Hey George, where did you get that crown?” Very calmly, with all the nobility he could muster, replied ”Where do all kings get they crown?” He wore it for the whole show. He was the king.  

One time we were up in San Francisco, playing a club. Having come in different cars, George pulls up in his big brown Cadillac. Once again looking sharp as a tack, he called me over to his car. Then he proceeded to open his trunk. Inside must have been 12 or so pairs of brand new shoes all neatly displayed inside their boxes. He was so proud, he told me he had just recently received money for some old recordings he’d done. I guess he was celebrating. The old blues folks hardly ever got any money for their recording work. I guess some things never change. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Stuve

 

 

Bill Stuve

 

 

 

Bill Stuve