I’m carrying a sense of sadness around this weekend with the passing of Magic Slim. It is always sad, now, when we lose any of our blues greats, as so few remain on the planet. But Slim was a friend, and we go back to 1988. I had a very special affection for the man, and I like to think he felt the same. Rarely was there a time when I would play at the ZOO BAR in Slim’s adopted home town of Lincoln Nebraska, that he didn’t come out to hang out, sit at the bar and shoot the shit, and then sit in with us. When he wasn’t there, I would miss him, but know he was on tour, often in Europe.
My initial Magic Slim encounter would not be the start of our friendship! I was on tour with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers in Brazil, performing at a big Blues Festival in Reibeiro Preto. With his giant sound and size, Slim seemed unapproachable to me and I was shy and new out there on the scene. As we began to do many festivals with Slim, I soon realized that he was a big teddy bear, and I was so in love with his sound! I always looked forward to seeing him and hanging a bit, and of course, hearing him and the Tear Drops!! I don’t think I am missing any of his CD releases.
One of my favorite Slim moments was a few years later when, with my own band, I was opening for Magic Slim and the Tear Drops at a club called Slim’s in San Francisco. Both of us were signed to BLIND PIG RECORDS at the time, so we ended up in conversation with Edward Chemeleski, one of the executive owners of the company. Edward says, “Slim, I think it’s time to make another record. I’m gonna book some studio time and I want to make sure the studio is OK with you.” Slim’s answer, which I will always cherish, was “as long as there’s no stairs!” Spoken like a true blues man!!