Saturday 21st May 2011
When Jazz and Blues Collide Part 6
Live at The Village Hall, Castor, Peterborough
YouTube video: Dwight Edwards
Dwight Edwards was born on November 2nd 1952 in Indianapolis. His father was in the army and was seldom at home, so his mother brought him up, together with his two brothers. As a six year old he sang in a school play and he remembers hearing a lady in the audience yell out “that boy can sing” and it made him feel good. Three years later he saw Elvis on the television and was bowled over by his singing and guitar playing. One day his mother brought home an anthology of the blues LP entitled ‘The World Of Blues’ featuring Leadbelly, Witherspoon, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and Dwight was captivated and told his mother he wanted to be a blues singer. His mother was less than deliriously happy with this on the basis of ‘it’s adult lyrics’ and warned him that it was ‘suicide music’! Nevertheless she bought him a guitar for Christmas and he was shown the basic blues licks by a friend who played bass. He was just eleven years old and felt ‘that I was in heaven’. His next ‘epiphany moment’ came when he heard B B King’s ‘3 O’clock In The Morning’ and his life as a bluesman began.
A few years went by and Dwight’s mother was working as a hairdresser. One of her clients mentioned that her father played the blues and had travelled around the world and if ‘Dwight was interested’ he could visit him at his house. So began Dwight’s friendship with mandolin player Yank Rachell. In this first visit Yank mentioned that his daughter needed a guitar player in her gospel group and Dwight obliged. In 1972 Dwight moved to Minneapolis and worked with a booking agency owned by Boyd Hunt who found him work playing R&B in local clubs in the mid-west. With this company he learned the contractual, legal and management skills needed for a life in music.
Returning to Indianapolis in 1984 he started his own Sounds Recording Studio recording and booking local bands in the Naptown Metroplex. At the same time Jan Olson, one of Boyd Hunt’s people, phoned and expressed an interest in an exclusive management deal and Dwight decided to sign up for five years. Young organised a record deal in Detroit and Dwight wrote a song ‘Sugar Love’ which was produced by Freeman James, a one time Motown musician who claimed to have played with everybody except the Beatles! The record went nowhere; the contract was terminated, Dwight went home, forgot about fame and fortune. He found work outside the music business and settled down to play the blues at weekends.
In 1996 he recorded his first ‘Vanity’ CD ‘Out Of The Blues’, which received sympathetic reviews and included some nicely self-penned tracks including ‘Party On The Blues’, ‘So Many Tears’, and ‘Snowball Blues’. His standing in Naptown blues community grew. Yank enthusiastically encouraged him saying ‘you’ve got a hit record here boy’ and he found regular work at Indianapolis’s blues mecca ‘The Slippery Noodle’. In 2001 he released his second album ‘Rivers of Blues’ which includes a great self-penned song ‘Dimples’ wherein he somehow reminds me of Screaming Jay Hawkins at his best. Two years later ‘The Heart of The Blues’ CD was released, again to favourable reviews and is undoubtedly his strongest release so far.