House of Blues Entertainment unveiled its restaurant, “Crossroads at House of Blues,” a new dining experience featuring a menu created by noted celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez, known to television viewers for his appearances on numerous Food Network shows and culinary events across the country.
“House of Blues is all about music, love, art and spirituality,” said Chef Sanchez. “In many ways, those are the same ingredients for great food and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to capture in the new menu for the Crossroads restaurants.”
The junction of Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Clarksdale is also designated as the famous crossroads where, according to legend, Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues, the truly American art form that the House of Blues clubs pay tribute to every day.
While Chicago and the deep south get a good bit of notoriety as legitimate homes to The Blues, Texas has a rich, almost mythical history when it comes to the very large umbrella that covers the diverse styles of tunes that make up the blues.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, an electric guitar-god, who is claimed by folks both in Dallas and Austin doesn’t exactly sound like a clone of Robert Johnson, yet they are both masters of the blues craft, unquestionably. In fact, the legendary Johnson (who, for those of you who have lived under a rock, is the one that reportedly sold his soul to the Devil at a Mississippi crossroads, in order to become a master bluesman), has musical ties to Texas, even though he wasn’t a native.
Legendary tunes, such as: “Kindhearted Woman” and “Cross Road Blues” were recorded in San Antonio, while Dallas was where, in 1937, Johnson laid down more tracks that went on to sell thousands of copies – a large sum, at the time.
Another man who is as influential, if not more so, than Johnson, and yes, grew up in Texas, is Blind Willie Johnson. Although Johnson died in 1945, his story resonates still. A recent Texas Monthly article not only thoroughly described the difficulty in piecing together the facts of Johnson’s real-life, but it also described his musical mastery and what makes him such a lasting figure in music, especially to many prominent guitar players of the modern era.
After reading the article, it was understandable why so many would hope to gain a greater understanding of a man who wasn’t only an immense talent, but also an enigmatic figure in history. With that said, however, it’s likely that the specific details which would help solve most of the mystery to his life will ever surface. Luckily, in this case, as also with East Texas’ Blind Lemon Jefferson and others like them, the music lives and lends tremendous insight into a uniquely American, and in the case of the aforementioned artists, Texan, art form.
Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob
I’ll get to some lighter fare in future posts, but I thought I’d talk right now about history. Specifically, how we as a state treat things that should be cherished, and how sometimes we let some of the things we should most respect fall through the cracks.
Several years ago, while I worked in Fannin County, I became fascinated with the life of Charlie Christian, who eventually helped Gibson put the electric guitar on the map. The home he was born in was neglected and boarded up at that point, but there was some interest in getting it rehabilitated for use as a museum in his honor.
Sadly, that never happened, and the house was eventually razed as a hazard. Read more