Charles Shaar Murray, legendary music journalist, is in full flow, his reading gaining momentum, rattling along, building, unstoppable. But the content comes over loud and clear, too: how the blues is a healing force, a shared experience between performer and listener. He’s reading from his book about John Lee Hooker, Boogie Man. He’s describing the visceral power of Hooker’s grunts and moans over the stomping beat that transcends language, how hearing the bluesman’s despair touches that of the listener, connects, and uplifts, through.. the boogie! The ‘Black Dog’ whipped by a stinging guitar!

Charlie’s reading is really intense, a synthesis of content and form, and you know it’s reaching its climax… But now, an outburst of clapping from the back! One-man clapping, and a voice heckling. This is extraordinary – heckling a reading? and one that’s so gripping? All heads turn and see a smug-looking, carefully-long-haired middle-aged man, and angry voices are turned on him, not least Charlie’s. He sits there, pleased with himself – he’s broken the spell. Somehow, he remains unpunched.

Charlie recovers, finishes, goes out for a fag. When he returns, he straps on his golden National-style guitar, and hits the strings with a heavy brass slide, and you hear that classic blues sound: brass on steel on brass, slur, whine, crunch. Hunched into his leather jacket, he sings the story of cruel Staggerlee, and his love of Beer, Bourbon and Barbecues. And of the Blues.

http://www.michaelmunday.co.uk

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