Lockwood Remembered

Cleveland mourns its legendary bluesman.

Robert Lockwood
The day after respiratory failure claimed the life of local blues legend Robert Lockwood, more than 100 musicians and fans came together at Fat Fish Blue to mourn the 91-year-old's passing. It's the downtown club where Lockwood's Wednesday-night residency became a hallmark of Cleveland nightlife since its inception back in 1989.

"He was definitely a complex guy," recalls Steve Zamborsky, Fat Fish Blue's managing partner. "He was direct and colorful with his opinions on everything, but I'll remember him as being really generous with his ideas and music. Anytime some young person would show up, which happened all the time -- it was amazing how many skinny, 15-year-old white kids would show up and want to emulate him -- he'd take time to sit down and talk about keeping their life on the straight and narrow and respecting the music."

Born in Arkansas, Lockwood learned to play guitar from blues icon Robert Johnson, who dated Lockwood's mother. With the advent of the electric guitar in the 1940s, Lockwood transformed acoustic-based Delta blues into a new sound. In 1951, he moved to Chicago, where he mentored B.B. King. The guitarist also played sessions for Chess Records, recording with Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, among others.

Settling in Cleveland in 1961, Lockwood counted Bob Dylan among his many admirers. Two discs, 1998's I Got to Find Me a Woman and 2000's Delta Crossroads, were nominated for Grammy Awards. A Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Lockwood received four W.C. Handy Awards and two National Blues Music Awards. Even with his pedigree and longevity, he stayed relevant, progressive, and well-regarded.

"I always thought Lockwood was more jazz than blues," says Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach. "Just goes to show that the genre grows with each new generation. Cleveland has lost one of the few greats who decided to remain local. He will surely be missed."

Lockwood's viewing will by held at the Old Stone Church (Public Square, downtown) Friday, December 1, from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted there at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 2. Fat Fish Blue plans to present a formal tribute in the near future, while Lockwood's All-Star Band continues performing his material at the club (21 Prospect Avenue) every Wednesday night.

· The Whiskey Daredevils -- Scene readers' new band of the year for 2005 -- will celebrate the American release of The Essential Whiskey Daredevils at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) Saturday, December 2. The band's second disc is already available in Germany, via Knock Out Records. A two-week German tour is slated for February.

Essential includes 14 new songs and 6 tracks from the band's 2005 debut, The Whiskey Daredevils' Greatest Hits. Don Depew (Guided by Voices, Cobra Verde) recorded the disc at Cleveland's Metrosync Studios.

"Some stuff is kind of twangy," frontman Greg Miller says. "Some is real no-frills rock, and some tracks have that '60s garage kind of vibe."

The disc will now be available in the U.S. via Pittsburgh's Get Hip Records. The band has already lined up a deal for its next album with Cincinnati's Shake It Records, whose sterling catalog includes releases by the Greenhornes, Ass Ponys, and Kenny Smith.

The Beachland show will be the Daredevils' first with guitarist Bob Lanphier since an October car accident left him with serious head and neck injuries.

· Shredder Michael Kolar will be videotaping performances of his classically influenced instrumental metal shows Saturdays through December 16, for future release on DVD. Performances start at 9 p.m. at Kolar's Kinjiru Academy, 5609 Fleet Avenue.

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