Imagine taking a road trip and finding yourself in Clarksdale, Mississippi at 3am. Maybe you noticed the highway signs…maybe you didn’t. But you could definitely FEEL it. There was something special about this place. So, after a night at the hotel, you decide to explore the town.
It doesn’t take long and you see a dusty blue sign featuring two crossed guitars,that reads, “The Crossroads”. As you get that sudden and unexpected chill, it all starts coming back to you. The legends of the Delta Blues and Robert Johnson- the undisputed King of the Delta Blues. He walked these streets. Maybe, if you get lucky, you can find his true burial site. Of course, there are only three to choose from.
The legends of the Delta Blues cut their teeth in this region and began a movement which lead to the beginnings of electric “Chicago” blues and rock & roll. If you spend time looking around, you may see the Riverside Hotel, where Ike Turner, Sony Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and others stayed. Before becoming a hotel, it was a hospital where blues singer Bessie Smith died in 1937, after succumbing to injuries she received in an automobile accident while on her way to a concert in Clarksdale. You may drive down Johnny Lee Hooker Lane. Or see the marker where Muddy Waters lived, on Stovall Plantation. And, if you visit the Delta Blues Museum, you can see actual remnants of the cabin where Muddy lived and a guitar made from planks of wood salvaged from Muddy’s cabin, which was used on tour by ZZ Top. Clarksdale is a combination of the old and the new. The memories and evidence of the 30’s and 40’s are everywhere. It’s an iconic town, declared by FODORS (publishers of vacation and travel guides), as the “Second Music City” behind Nashville TN. One could say that Clarksdale, Mississippi is “Ground Zero” where the blues all began!
There’s a world famous nightclub next to the Delta Blues Museum called “Ground Zero Blues Club”. Hence, the name, that will be featuring a local band from right here in Aiken, in October of this year. Ground Zero has three owners, one of which is the famous actor and academy award winner Morgan Freeman. (To appreciate Ground Zero Blues Club, visit their website at http://groundzerobluesclub.com )
Local musician Edward Phillips and his band, “Edward Phillips and The Blue”, will be performing there in October of this year.
So how does a local cover band get booked at the world’s most famous Blues Club?
When Edward was a young kid he was really into music, like most kids his age. As he grew older and began listening to other genres, his taste in music went back in history, not forward – back to the deep roots. Certainly, he liked the classic 7O’s rock such as Ted Nugent, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc., but the 80’s and 90’s rock didn’t appeal to him that much outside of a few bands.
During those young years, he met and became friends with local musician Joshua Martin. They formed their first band together. Ed learned guitar from his Dad, who was known to be a very accomplished musician. As time went by, Ed grew as a player and his bands played local venues such as the Silver Bullet and Swamp Fox here in the Aiken area. His bands went through some changes, as all bands do, depending on the personnel in the bands at the time. His bands all performed cover tunes but leaned more toward blues or blues-based rock.
As it happened, Ed and his band (Joshua Martin – Bass, Mark Howard – Drums) were performing at Wild Wings in Augusta not long ago and parts of their performance were captured on video. Two songs on the video were sent to one of the staff at “Ground Zero” in Clarksdale. Not long after, they received a phone call! Basically, it was “We love your sound and what you are doing. It is very authentic.”
Key word here is “authentic”. Period. One can go to hundreds of music venues across the country and hear the blues. However, much of it is blues that have been watered down, translated, or altered- even if just a little bit – away from the original intent. You can hear Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Ike Zimmerman, and others, in this band’s music. Aside from traditional cover tunes, that most enjoy listening to, “Edward Phillips and The Blue” dish out the blues that even a purist can enjoy. I’ve seen them perform several times. It’s always fresh and enjoyable. They perform here in Aiken, Augusta, Columbia, Beaufort, and soon, Clarksdale MS.
As for their blues, close your eyes and see the cotton fields along Hwy 61 or 49. See the smoky bars and juke joints dotted around the countryside. Feel the oppressive heat and the sting of sweat in your eyes. Smell and taste the collards, hamhocks, fatback or the fried chicken and grease. Think about the woman who left you or the hard times you’ve been trying to deal with. The blues are as real as it gets. “Edward Phillips and The Blue”. You don’t want to miss them.
- Red Anchor (Monetta) July 27
- Patriots Smokehouse (North Augusta/Clarks Hill) August 11th
- Joes Bar and Grill (New Ellenton) August 17th
Michael Eubanks is a local professional musician with both stage and studio experience and is also a popular music lessons instructor in the Aiken area. He has had major label interest in his works as a songwriter and from several top music publishers. He holds a degree in audio recording and production with several awards. He has performed and taught guitar/bass/songwriting and performance in the CSRA for many years. He worked in the music industry working at several large studios with some of the finest engineers and producers in the music and entertainment industry while living in Nashville TN, and has worked with many of the top artists in music. He returned to Aiken in 2005, and has since produced award winning students that have competed in talent shows both locally and regionally. He has served as a judge for “Aiken Idol” and other competitions.
For lessons, visit www.facebook.com/MikeEubanksMusicLessons/