How did I become a blues man?

I grew up with the music Jimmy Swaggart. His music was basically all that played in our house as I was only allowed to listen to Christian music. When I was 12 years old my parents bought me a classical guitar and with my pocket money that I saved up I bought a music book of Jimmy Swaggart’s popular songs. In it there where guitar chord shapes and that is how I learned how to play the guitar and how chords relate to each other in music.

As Gospel music like Don Francisco became available in South Africa I became aware of other musical styles. I bought this tape cassette of Don Francisco with a blues style song on it. A new world of emotion caused by music opened up to me. The guitar solo on that song blew me away and I listened to that song over and over and over. While on a youth conference during 1991 in Johannesburg I came across the album that not only changed my musical future, but also my view on life from that point forward. It was “Trimmed and Burning” by Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield. From there on I was sold out to the blues. I searched for every blues album I could find. Resurrection Band also came to my attention through Trimmed and Burning and that changed my view on South Africa and the injustices of Apartheid (I’ll someday write about that journey in another post).

Shortly after that I bought my first electric guitar, a candy apple red Fernandez copy of a Fender Stratocaster together with a book from Progressive “Lead Guitar” and for a long time I was a closet blues man, while playing in worship bands. While at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, I played and sang Mary Had A Little Lamb (as done by Stevie Ray Vaughan) as one of my performance songs during exam and by that came out of the closet.

In 2001 we played a rewritten version of Before You Accuse me as support to a sermon series we preached in church. As I looked up I saw this surprised face looking into the front door of the hall. It was my new friend Gert. After that we started jamming together on the blues and talked about starting a band which we did in the end. The band went through quite a bit of changes being called Oom Gert’s Blues, then Blues Burglars, and finally Bayside Blues Band.

Glenn Kaiser said on the album sleeve of “Lament” by Resurrection Band something to the effect of that the blues is to be found in the Psalms. When faced with our pain and we work through it we find the truth of hope on the other side. That is what the blues is all about.