Muddy Waters, Mike De Vita

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Big Mike meets Muddy

Big Mike DeVita

In 1964, I was a student at Southampton College of Long Island University. One night a few guys that I played with in a rock band wound up down in Greenwich Village,NYC looking for reefer,music and girls, not necessarily in that order. As we swung down Bleecker Street, one of the cats spied a sign outside a club that declared Muddy Waters was on that evening's bill. I cant say if I had ever heard of Muddy at that time. In those days, the club policy at many venues in the Village was that they'd let you "preview" the acts on stage by letting you stand near the inside of the doorway, behind ropes like on a movie theater line and check out a tune or two. Which is what three of us did because they wouldn't let six people stand there at one time

.There, up on the stage was Muddy, with a drummer and an upright bass player who may have been Willie Dixon ( didn'tknow who he was then, either) and a second guitarist.The joint was maybe half-filled but the crowd was digging the music. And the sound was raw, just pure raw delta blues delivered with immense power and emotion. I was riveted but I didn't know why. My musical tastes included R&B, fifties doo-wop, artists like Chuck Berry, whom I had seen, Bo Diddley, the soul acts, James Brown whom I had seen, Elvis, the Everly Bros. and the new rockers like the Beatles, the Stones and Dylan. But, Muddy Waters,live, was a whole other wavelength and his voice and guitar just radiated with deep feeling that was more primal than anything I hadever encountered.

I wish I could say that I sat down and listened for hours but that didn't happen. My pals didn't want to hang out and we had to drive back to Long Island. I caught as much of Muddy as the club's door man would tolerate and left without paying the three buck cover charge and then I was back into the New York wind. But the sound of the deep blues was pulling at me even if I didn't know it then...

It didn't take long for me to get my hands on a copy of Muddy Waters records and it was there that I first heard the wailing sound of Little Walter's hypnotic blues harp. The combination of Walter's harp and Waters' voice will always signify the blues to me. I have heard it said that music is a transfer of emotion from the artist to the listener and if that is so, the blues is, for me, the purest form of transfer. MuddyWaters and Little Walter have recorded the most profound blues that will ever be made, it hits you straight in the heart. All I have done ever since is try to grab a hold of some small piece of that pure powerful feeling every time I perform.

 By Big Mike Devita

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