Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Memory of Robert Lockwood Jr.

Robert Lockwood Jr at the Regatta Bar 6/3/06

We just got back last night from our annual Thanksgiving trip to St Thomas to visit our good friends Marty and Tiffany. Details will be up on the web site soon.

When I got home and logged into my email, I had an email from our friend Francis, saying that Robert Lockwood Jr. had died at the age of 91. Craig and I first became fans of Robert Lockwood Jr when we attended the 2001 W.C. Handy Blues Awards in Memphis with our friends Kevin and Jenn. Robert Lockwood Jr was seated directly behind us, and he was wearing a very styling suit. He received an award that night, and when he went onstage to receive it, he made a cantankerous comment to the effect that "It's about time." We could tell that he was quite a character. Then, two nights later, we saw him perform at the Blues Aid concert at the New Daisy Theater. He was 86 at the time. He played a short set on a beautiful turquoise guitar. A highlight was "Stop Breaking Down Blues." He left us wanting more.

Robert Lockwood Jr, Blues Aid 5/26/2001

When we got home from Memphis, we started to research him. He was the real deal, and had learned to play guitar from the man whose very name is synonymous with blues: Robert Johnson. In fact, Johnson was the boyfriend of Lockwood's mother, and lived with them for a while. We started to collect Lockwood's recordings, and our favorite ones always seemed to be when he played Johnson's material. It was magic. Pure old-school blues.

Lockwood lived in Cleveland, and had a weekly gig at a nightclub called Fat Fish Blue. We wished we could travel there to see him, but his regular night was Wednesday, so that made a long weekend trip impossible.

On June 3, 2006, Robert Lockwood Jr played with David Honeyboy Edwards at the Regatta Bar in Cambridge, MA. Craig and I went to the show with Craig's brother Steve and our friend and fellow blues afficianado, Francis. Each man played two sets, just him and a guitar. Again, Lockwood looked totally styling. He played the same turquoise guitar, and put on an absolutely fabulous show. We put some photos from the show up on our web site here. We got to meet him in between sets and get his autograph. I told him that our friend Frank would have loved to have met him, maybe even did meet him at some point. Frank was one of our best friends. He had been B.B. King's bus driver for 20 years, and we took him to see some blues concerts while he was in a local nursing home. Unfortunately, Frank passed away in August 2005. I am in the process of creating a tribute page to Frank on the web site.

Anyway, I am so happy that we got to see Robert Lockwood again before he passed away. According to newspaper articles, he was doing what he loved right up until the end. He had performed on Nov 1, suffered an aneurysm on Nov 3, and then remained in the hospital until he passed away on Nov 21. On his website, his widow, Mary, invites friends and fans to attend his wake and funeral in Cleveland. We wish that we weren't so far away, or we would pay our respect.

RIP, Mr. Lockwood!
Robert Lockwood Jr at the Regatta Bar 6/3/06

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Kenya Travelogue - June 25 & 26, 2006

We finished up the Kenya portion of our travelogue last weekend. On June 25, Craig went out on a game drive with Patrick first thing in the morning. I slept in, trying to shake off the stomach troubles I had been having. Craig and Patrick saw a pair of cheetahs this morning. They thought they might get to witness a kill as a Thomson's gazelle wandered unknowingly by them, but it was not to be.
Men dancing at the Maasai village
They returned from the game drive and we all ate breakfast. After that, we headed to the nearby Maasai village. James, who normally wears western clothes, dressed up in his traditional attire for the village visit. We were welcomed by the villagers with songs and dances. They immediately included us in the festivities, and we found ourselves jumping and strutting with these friendly and welcoming people. They were wearing traditional Maasai "shukas" made of brightly colored fabric, and elaborate hand-beaded adornments. We took photos and they eagerly looked at the digital images. We took some video clips of the singing and dancing and posted them on the web site.

We were invited into one of the traditional Maasai houses, a hut made of mud and dung. Inside were two platforms used as beds. I sat with a very sweet woman and her baby on the women's side, and Craig sat with her husband on the men's side. A small orange kitten (which the Maasai domesticate in order to keep rodents and snakes at bay) played at our feet. I showed photos of home to the woman and baby.

Our Maasai friend and her babyAfter seeing the house, we went outside and the women from the village had set up their handiwork. We picked out some of our favorite intricately beaded items and purchased them. Everyone in the tribe got a share of the money that was made. We gave the tribe a Frisbee as a gift, and taught them to play. The men were intrigued, and after a few throws, one of them actually caught it. We said our thank you's and goodbye's and got back into the Land Rover. One of the Maasai men posed with the Frisbee on his head as we pulled away.

We went back to the lodge for lunch and ran into our friend Saitoti from yesterday. We chatted with him and then went on another game drive. Patrick was determined to find this morning's cheetah, so that I too would get to see them. We found them, lounging in the grass. All that was visible were their seemingly-disembodied heads. We then continued our game drive and saw buffalo, hippos, and elephants.

Saying goodbye to two good freinds: Patrick and James
We returned to the lodge for dinner. During dinner, we were serenaded by the staff with a Swahili song and a goodbye cake, as it was our last night at the lodge and our last night in Kenya. We would be sad to leave Patrick and James, they had become very good friends. But we had many laughs during our last dinner together. It was bittersweet.

The next morning they drove us to Namanga, the border town between Kenya and Tanzania. We said our goodbyes and embarked on a new phase of our journey...