Thursday, June 2, 2011

Louisiana Blues - Shreveport's John Campbell

We were sitting on the front porch on what was just another one of those all too hot summer days of my youth. Three, four neighborhood kids taking turns banging on a couple of beat up guitars making a terrible racket when out of nowhere, an old hobo of a man appeared and asked if one of us would be so kind as to fetch him a cold drink of water. As I handed him the glass, the old man thanked me for my kind hospitality.

He mentioned that he had been known to play a little guitar in his day and offered to tune our guitars for a little pocket change if we could spare it. You know teenagers, especially the motley crew that we were, just can't resist and we were no exception. "Do we look like we have money to spare?" "Didn't you tour with Jethro Tull?" "How about playing The Song Remains the Same by Zeppelin?"

Just then my Mom appeared with a brown sandwich bag and a small fist of change and inquired, "Sir, are my boys troubling you?" Mind you, I was her only boy in the group but she was always willing to accept responsibility for any kid in our neighborhood. "No ma'am not at all and may God bless you for your kindness." "Ma'am, will this side road take me to the bus line to Canal Street?" "Yes sir, it will. Best to you."

You know that uncomfortable feeling of guilt that you once got when one of your parents put you in your place without saying a word to you? Next comes silence. We then jockeyed for position to hand him a guitar to tune.

Before he left, he tuned those two guitars and played some lightning blues in the process, unlike anything we had ever seen before. "Boys, that might not have been your style but if you ever get a chance to see Slim Campbell play a show, do yourself that favor." And, off he went toward the cut-through without a look back.

It didn't take long for the banter to start up again. "You don't suppose that was Slim Campbell?" "He'd have to lose thirty or forty pounds before anyone would call him Slim." "I still say I saw him on tour with Jethro Tull." "Who the hell is Slim Campbell, anyway?"

To my regret, I never got to see Slim Campbell play and I never saw the old man again.

To John Slim Campbell, RIP. To the old man, a true fan if I ever saw one, hope you're resting easy too.

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