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Brian Kramer

Blues Dreams

By Brian Kramer

My Name is Brian Kramer, I grew up in Brooklyn NY and I have been on this Blues Journey for over 25 years. I never dreamed I would be recording albums or playing along side legends like Junior Wells, Mick Taylor, Larry Johnson, Eric Bibb, etc. as I sat in my little basement apartment as a teenager playing guitar to used blues records. In the early 80's it was the height of the "Disco" age and blues was being swallowed up and almost forgotten in the marketable sense. However the local music scene was thriving in NYC and you could find great musicians and jam sessions all around town.

I first saw Larry Johnson at a small NY club called Dan Lynch (the main watering hole for raw blues). I was just learning how to put simple chords together on the guitar when I saw this amazing fingerpicker playing his six strings like it was a whole orchestra! I learned many of his songs from his records (particularly an album called Fast & Funky -Blue Goose) and made this style of playing the focus of my attention...

About 8 years later, I met Larry and had the opportunity to put some shows together for him. He invited me to sit in on stage at NYC's Tramps and realized I knew most of his repertoire. We played together constantly for many years and recently recorded a wonderful album called Larry Johnson with Brian Kramer & the Couch Lizards- Two Gun Green (Armadillo-Armd00013).

I met Junior Wells through a drummer who was his friend in Chicago. It was at the old Lone Star Cafe in NY and he & Buddy Guy were playing two nights. There were very few people in the club and I wound up hangin' with Junior & Buddy all night (I was about 21 years old). The next night, I showed up with my Dobro & asked Junior if I could play something with him (a very ballsy move). After the show, I waited in the dressing room when Junior walked in, dripping with sweat from his
performance. He saw me sitting there, with my guitar out & said "Whut you wanna play?".

We jammed for an hour, with Junior showing me how to do it right! We became good friends and a few years later, I got my first record deal. When I asked Junior if he would play on the record he eagerly said "just tell me where & when". We recorded an album together called Brian Kramer & the Blues Masters Featuring Junior Wells & Mick Taylor (unavailable).

I moved to Sweden in 1996 and met Eric Bibb when he was playing a regular gig in a tiny, dark club called Lilla Maria's. We hit it off right away as we were both New Yorker & found that we both knew many of the same musicians from back home, including Larry Johnson. Eric's career was just about to take a better direction and he asked me if I would accompany him for his first tour in California for two weeks, partly because I had a driverís license. I agreed, but made it clear I was a very inexperienced driver... He had no concern about this, though.

When we arrived in LA, via Sweden & the UK for a meeting with his agent, we had been flying & traveling for over 20 hours with little sleep. We rented a car right away and made our way carefully onto the LA freeway. This way the FIRST time I ever drove on a freeway, let alone the most notorious one on the planet! Eric held on to his hat for the next 5 hours as we drove to our first "official" gig together ever. I told him "you be my eyes in the rear & I'll watch the front, until I get my drivin' legs!" When we pulled up to the art center, Eric sighed with relief "I canít believe we made it!"

We performed & traveled together all over the world for the next two years and I am featured on his album, Eric Bibb Home-To Me (Manhaton) Needless to say, he never let me be a driver on tour again.

These are just a few, brief moments of Blues Dreams come true in a long history of discovering myself through blues music. Through these travels I've been personally introduced to many Idols like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Buddy Guy, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bernard Allison, Jimmy Dawkins, Bobby Rush, Otis Rush, the list goes on & on!

My whole life has been shaped around these experiences and each one opens up a new chapter...The Journey continues!
Brian Kramer
More info. www.briankramerblues.com
CD's available at www.bluearmadillo.com
 

Read more Blues Heroes Stories
from the bookTouched By the Blues


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