February 25th, 2002


Concert memories (4)

Jan Akkerman and guests, winter 1992, Leeuwarden

Whites can't play the blues, they sometimes say. Akkerman might be an exception to the rule, which pretty much is accurate normally. A few days before he was doing a big show for his anniversary 25 years as a professional musician, he plays a small gig, as a try out for the week after. And as he lived in Leeuwarden, that's where he chose to do this show.

Akkerman might be one of the most unknown famous guitar players in the world. In the seventies an English magazine (I think it was Melody Maker) chose him as the best guitar player in the world, in the late eighties he was invited to tour with Sting, on the famous tour with Marsalis, Kirkland and other magnificent artists. He stayed at home. Never one to do something spectacular, he is appreciated by his colleagues does a lot of session work and plays occasionally. He was the man who composed in Focus, famous for their yodelling hit Hocus Pocus.

This night is for him, though I have come for one of his guests. Harry Muskee, Cuby in the bluesband the Blizzards, the only Dutchman who can really sing the blues. Unfortunately for me, the man on stage is most of the time Kaz Lux, a singer who loves the limelight, but hasn't got the appeal of Akkerman or Muskee. My hero is visible at the bar (where else?), probably drinking whiskey, until the big man invites him over for a couple of songs. He does 2 before the break and rushes back to the bar. As this isn't a real concert, you wouldn't expect anything else from him. If you sing the blues, you've got to live the blues first.

After the break Akkerman plays some good tunes, shows his skill, has a few guests participate and tries to invite Muskee back on stage, who pretends he doesn't see it through the cigarette smoke he himself is mostly responsible for, even though half of the crowd seems to enjoy a fag as well. Guessing by the smell it's not only tobacco either. He comes down to the stage once more and sings a great rendition of Brother Booze, before doing what he does best, ignoring the message of said song, an homage to a friend of him, poet Wakowski who passed away after to much booze.

At the end of the night, I leave the building slightly disappointed. I have seen a great guitarist, some wannabes and a blues hero who obviously wasn't interested in this night. But I still have the idea I saw something unique. A decade later I still think that is true.
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