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Bluesman appreciates support of Bowling Green music scene PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:58
A career playing the blues has taken Eddie Shaw around the world.
That globe trotting has included many stops in Bowling Green.
Shaw, the Chicago-based blues legend, said Bowling Green has been a home away from home for him.
More two decades ago, he said, someone invited to come play here and "they kept inviting back and back and back."
That's included many stops at Howard's Club H, and a Grounds for Thought Show. In September he was the closing act on the Main Stage of the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
"I have a lot of friends in that area," Shaw said in a recent telephone interview.
"If they like blues, they want to hear the best blues music that they can find that's around, that's keeping the tradition alive," Shaw said. "I'm just so pleased to be part of that. They know I'm going to play the real deal, the real blues, so here I am."
Shaw and the Wolf Gang returns for a free show at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Saturday at 8 p.m.
Places such as Bowling Green where "they give you some recognition, where people are appreciative," he said. "That's great for the blues tradition to stay alive."
Shaw's roots in the music go deep. He started playing in grammar school in Mississippi and by high school was social and blues clubs. Muddy Waters heard the then 20-year-old and invited him to come to Chicago with his band.
He went on to play with many blues greats, most notably Howlin' Wolf. When the blues legend died, Shaw took charge of the band and continued to keep the spirit of the music alive.
Now 76, Shaw said he had little interest in mixing newer styles with his music.
"I like what I'm doing," Shaw said. "I like playing the old traditional blues. I like to keep the tradition up."
While saying he meant no offense to others who take a different approach, Shaw said: "A lot of guys are playing blues that you really don't know what their playing ,so many changes. They got it, all sweetened up that's not for me. I like keeping it for real. That's for me for me. I've got to have the real deal."  
He's joined in his band by his son Eddie "Vaan" Shaw, playing a distinctive two-neck guitar. Like most younger musicians, Shaw said, his son has interests in other styles. But in his father's band the focus stays on the tradition.
The elder Shaw is optimistic about the future of the music he loves. "Of course the blues will always stay alive. ... We'll always be around like the Ford automobile. Other things come and go but the  blues will always be in existence."
He sees it getting more recognition as the roots of today's popular sounds.
"It's the foundation of the music you hear today. You hear guys playing something else but it's built on the blues." Shaw plans to continue to be part of it as long as he can even though he finds its "harder and harder to stay ahead of the game."
Still, he said, "when I look at my bank account and see insufficient funds, I know I've got to keep going."
"It's my life, man," he said. To keep working "you have to keep yourself together.
"'Retirement is just a word people use an excuse to sit  and get fat. I can't see myself doing that. I want to work as many years as I can get."
He plays about 100 dates a year.  "That's a lot, but its OK with me." He balances his singing, which tells the story, with his tenor saxophone playing which provides the unfettered melody. He still can blow with plenty of energy, he said.
"When I play my horn I play more original stuff. I keep it as pure as I can."
 

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