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We knows nothing much about the blues... we called it blues, we called it breakdowns, we called it blues and some people say it's square dances... We didn't know what it was; the achin'-hearted blues is slow, breakdowns is fast - Percy Thomas, who played in the Son Simms Four with Muddy Waters, interviewed by Paul Oliver, from Blues Off The Record

Author Topic: Robert Lowery Encounter  (Read 2329 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Robert Lowery Encounter
« on: September 07, 2003, 02:18:44 PM »
Thought you guys would get a kick out of this story. Yesterday my partner, Gre, had a board meeting for Northern California  Orff Association down in Santa Cruz. I decided to tag along, kill time during the meeting and spend the rest of the day driving back up the coast, stopping in at the San Gregorio General Store for some acoustic music and Duarte's, in Pescadero, for a seafood dinner. Couple of our usual haunts. So, I knew there were a couple guit shops in down town SC, grabbed my little Stella (always gives one credibility when looking at expensive vintage guits to have one in hand) and figured if the shops weren't open for a while (mtg started at 9), I'd find a bench and just play for a while. So I'm walking along Pacific, crossing Cathcart, and I notice a mural painted on the side of the protected walkway next to a construction site. The mural, which is right next to a bench isolated by the protective wall, is a picture of a man sitting next to a woman on a bench playing an old resonator. I knew right away it was Robert Lowery, remembering he was a SC resident, and it really looked like him. I decided this was my spot, kinda out of the way, and sat down to play. I actually got up, visited More Music (where I almost got to play an H braced L-1 but it was in storage) and came back. So I'm getting pretty warmed up and all of a sudden RL is standing there looking at me. I said, "Hi Robert" and he gives me a look like should I know you and I told him I'd been to PT and how much fun it was to hear him playin' on the porch. He said, "Man, wasn't that camp great!" then he asked what kinda guit that was and I told him an old Stella. He said he started on a Stella. I said that was why I had one, 'cause I knew so many old players had used them. I handed him the guit and he sat down and started playin' his version of Untrue Blues. I even sang along with him some, and told him I had just played it about ten minutes before he got there. He said, "well, why don't you play something?" So, I played a little M & O Blues, which he really liked, but then he said, "play that song I was playin'" So I played BBF's Untrue blues, as I had learned it from Ari's vid. He really liked that, and after I played something else he asked me to play Untrue Blues again. He sat next to me saying, "now play this part slow so I can get it." I told him I couldn't believe I was giving him a lesson. He laughed and said we all have to teach each other. He had to go, but stopped on his way back passed me and told me that he thought BBF also used that arrangement for a Red River Blues. He had me play it through again and sang some lyrics to it. As he walked away I was on a cloud. Gre's meeting was getting over so I had to go, too. Otherwise I would have played on that bench all day. Robert really gave me some fuel to start working on playing out more, he was so appreciative of my playing. Guess I've gotta make a demo and start passing it around. Still don't think I've got two sets of good material, but I'm sure working on it. The whole experience of PT, working with John and Ari and others, and the connections we make there, is so powerful and motivating for me. Just thought I'd share it with you all.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
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Offline Johnm

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Re:Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2003, 02:31:04 PM »
Hi John,
What a great story!  Talk about affirmation.  It is so exciting when you meet someone who is a master of his art who is still curious and generous to other people coming up in the music.  I feel like it is a sign of someone who really loves music (and people) to be open to a different way of playing a piece he's played for years and years, instead of just saying, "That's not how it goes."  Congratulations on your experience.
All Best,
John

Noflatpick

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Re:Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2003, 03:53:52 PM »
Too much, man.  That's as cool as it gets.  Robert Lowery seems like a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.

Mr. Lowery's music really knocked me out at camp.  I taped the "front porch" performance and I'm in the process of getting it transferred to CD.  It doesn't get any more real than that.

Offline Slack

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Re:Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2003, 05:33:54 PM »
Yes, great story JohnC!  Very cool, I don;t know how old Lowery is (no spring chicken) - but hopefully we'll all be that open to learning new things at his age.

Also, I'd like to see your Stella (actually I'd like measurments from it! ;) ).  You know Alvin Hart was really into old Stellas - he and his wife bought basket cases and fixed them.

cheers,
slack

Noflatpick

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Re:Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2003, 05:50:36 PM »
The Robert Lowery biography I read somewhere on-line has him at 73 years old.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2007, 02:12:13 AM »
Hey, tags rule ok! Had it not been for the tagging of a three year old thread I'd have completely forgotten about Lowery and his first 45 which received a rave review in Blues Unlimited. I used to play the hell out of it. Two others followed but I seem to have missed out on them. Perhaps Lowery could be a candidate for a future discography by Stefan. I do have a sessionography you could use, if that's an incentive Stefan.  ;D

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2012, 09:08:45 AM »
Hi all,
I was wondering if anybody knew whether Robert Lowery was still alive, and if that, still playing.  It has been a number of years since he was on staff at Port Townsend.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2012, 09:53:08 AM »
Johnm, I have no first hand report, but from a little internet sleuthing, it looks like he is alive and still playing at age 80.  It's possible the page may be out of date, but it looks like you can book him and his playing partner Virgil Thrasher here:

 http://www.associatedentertainment.com/aec/Music/Blues/Robert-Lowery-&-Virgil-Thrasher

His wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lowery_(musician)

And for this external link:

http://www.folkplanet.com/musicallives/Bob.html

"In Santa Cruz we?re lucky to be able to hear Robert playing with his longtime musical partner, Virgil Thrasher, at Lulu Carpenter?s every Saturday night."

Surely there is a weenie near Santa Cruz?  Maybe Miller can go check it out.


Offline Slack

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2012, 09:54:37 AM »
about  year ago:


Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2012, 10:04:56 AM »
That is great to hear, John D.  I realized after I posed the question that I hadn't thought to google him.  It's terrific that he is still playing.  It's  a tremendous education in listening to second Robert Lowery, because he phrases lengths just as he hears and feels them, independent of a one-two-three-four count.  He's a bit like Honey Boy Edwards was in that regard, and it's one reason why people backing him who go on automatic pilot with the blues form do so to the music's detriment.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 10:07:40 AM by Johnm »

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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Re: Robert Lowery Encounter
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2012, 04:29:30 AM »
ooh, I missed this so long ago, what a great story from Waxwing.  Great video of Robert.  It's so wonderful when a musician who is sort of a mentor, teacher, etc, takes an interest in your playing and really seems to like it, and is complimentary.  There are a few folks who have do that for me, and it really gives me a lot of confidence when I perform, or think about performing.

If you read this John, hope you are well.

Mike

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