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Bob Margolin brings his old-school blues to Fireballz.

Straight from the Source


More than a decade ago, Bob Margolin realized that his blues career should switch some gears. The 1990s were right around the corner, and blues fans weren't coming out to drink and party as much as they used to, especially on work nights. And while there were plenty of bands out vying for gigs, many tried-and-true venues were closing or falling on hard times. With almost two decades of performing behind him and a stellar resume, Margolin figured he'd opt for the less-is-more route, deciding to concentrate on recording his music and playing more high-profile gigs. Through the '90s and into 2000 he sounds pleased with the results of his plan. "Boy, I love it," Margolin says from his High Point, N.C., home. "I'm two or three years behind in catching up with my own life, and this [plan]…is giving me the chance to do that." During the past decade, Margolin has released six solo CDs, including albums for the respected Alligator and Blind Pig labels. He also plays a steady schedule of festival gigs, fronting the Bob Margolin Blues Revue, a position that gives him the chance to perform with some old blues warriors such as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Cary Bell and Nappy Brown. "It's a win-win situation…," he says. "You can make more money, play to more people. It works well all around." That's not to say Margolin has abandoned the club circuit. He just runs the road with band mates Tad Walters and Wes Johnson on a more manageable schedule. The trio makes a club appearance in Richmond Saturday at Fireballz. With Walters and Johnson, Margolin says the music takes on a good diversity. The group plays hard-core, stripped-down Chicago blues, of course. But with Walters' guitar and harmonica talents in the mix, Margolin says the group can change instrumentation within a trio format to veer away from a typical guitar-bass-drums attack into whatever the groove dictates. He's particularly keen on Walters' contributions. "He plays just about anything," Margolin says. "We keep him moving around a lot." Margolin's praise does not come lightly, as he's worked since the early '70s with the best in the blues world. First attracted to the guitar as a teen in Boston in 1964, he initially came under the sway of Chuck Berry. But he followed Berry's roots back to the blues and in the late '60s discovered Muddy Waters. "I said, 'My God. Who is that singing?' " Margolin remembers of his first reaction to Waters. When he found out it was also Waters on the slide guitar, he was doubly sold. But unlike many musicians who never meet their heroes, Margolin's life changed one night in 1973 when Waters heard him play and asked him to join his band. For seven years Margolin toured the world learning from the master while standing next to him on the bandstand. Margolin is still showing how it's done today, and Saturday's show should give music fans a dose of blues, rock and rockabilly that comes straight from the old-school

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