Back in 2005 I decided I wanted to become a certified barbecue judge. So, I signed up for a course with the Memphis Barbecue Network, drove to Memphis, and learned the fine points of what makes a competition worthy piece of pork.
Afterwards I spent several days prying around where the blues was born, the Mississippi Delta. One of my first stops was Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale for a fried catfish lunch. Afterwards I was sitting outside on a worn stuffed sofa and got to talking with a group of women who were on a bus tour of the Delta. One of them asked me a question about the blues and that led to an in-depth discussion of blues history. Just as we were finishing up a tall black fellow walked up and introduced himself as Josh “Razorblade” Stewart and proudly announced himself to be a bluesman. He widened the discussion to include knowledge of himself and younger players who were keeping the genre alive in the Clarksdale area. It was an interesting discussion and I ran into Stewart several more times during my visit.
Earlier this month I was again in Clarksdale and stopped into a record store owned by a man I had met before, Roger Stolle. I asked Roger if Razorblade was still around and he said, “Yes, and if you see him he’ll probably try to sell you a CD. ”
That night my grandson, Cyrus, and I walked onto the porch of Ground Zero and sure enough, Josh “Razorblade” Stewart was capturing the ear of two young blues fans. I introduced myself and said we had met years before and his immediate response was, “But, do you have my music?” Before I could blink he reached inside his jacket pocket, produced a homemade CD, and as if by magic his CD was in my hand and a $20 bill of mine in his.
Part of keeping it alive is the talent to recognize and work a gullible tourist. I’m still a happy camper, however, since the CD is pretty good and I got a story out of it.