Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Albert Collins--Don't Lose Your Cool

I'm pretty sure I told at least one blues story about this joint in St. Paul, MN called Wilebsky's Blues Saloon.  As I probably stated, Wilebsky’s was this old Polish community center (or something like that) turned into a nightclub.   You entered on the ground level where they had a bar and pool tables.  Then you went up into the hall to hear the music.  Wilebsky’s was way off the main streets of St. Paul in the middle of a residential area so it was hard to find if you didn’t know where it was.
Often times, bands would get lost along the way and they inevitably started their gigs later than expected.  This problem was exacerbated in the middle of winter.  The bus carrying the band would sometimes get stuck in the snow, slip off the road in icy conditions or sometimes, it was so damn cold, the engine wouldn’t start.
It was just such an evening when I was all riled up to see Albert Collins.  When it seemed that he wasn’t going to show up, people started demanding their money back and I was one of them.
Just then, someone ran upstairs to the bouncer and said, “He’s here!”  The bouncer looked at me and my friend and said, “If you want a show, go help him with the gear!”
My buddy Pat and I bolted down the stairs and out the door into the frozen night.  Right there was Albert himself, pulling out his gear from the bottom of the bus.  As we approached, I said, “We’re here to help.”  Albert said, “Cool baby.  Take this.”  He handed me a guitar case.  I grabbed it and bolted up the stairs.  About half way up it suddenly occurred to me that I might be holding Albert’s Telecaster.  “Could it be?”  I thought.  However, there wasn’t time.  I burrowed through crowd, dropped it on the stage and went back to grab an amp.
To their credit, Albert and Soko Richardson (his great drummer) and the rest of the band didn’t dick around.  They plugged everything in, did a quick sound check and tune-up and then went to it.   No attitude, no nothing.  Just good times from that point on.
Anyway, here’s another Albert Collins tune.



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