The Blues, Views & BBQ Fest earlier this month was fantastic. Yet I am sure I am not the only Westporter to wonder, “WTF?”
Westport is many things. But “Blues City USA” is not one of them.
Jeff Van Gelder — a native Westporter now living in Germany — reminds us of an intriguing moment in town history.
It turns out, Jeff says, that the late Dan Hartman — who wrote and recorded “Relight My Fire,” and worked with Edgar Winter — bought a house in Westport, and set up a studio there.
After Muddy got out of his contract with Chess Records, his #1 fan, Johnny Winter, signed him to his Blue Sky Label. They recorded these wonderful LPs (in Westport) over a period of 2 years. Two years before, Johnny had recorded his “Nothing But The Blues” with members of Muddy, Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton at the Hartman house (called “the Schoolhouse”).
Blues and Music News explains that Muddy and Johnny wanted to record “Hard Again” live, with Winter handling production and also playing.
If the band was composed of competent musicians, then they could make the Blues come across alive and fresh. And make no mistake; the band backing up Muddy Waters for this recording was far beyond competent. They lived their lives for this man and his music!
(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)
Jill Turner Odice adds a bit more on this little-known piece of Westport music history:
I lived next door to Dan when he rented the Reynolds house (6 Edgehill Lane) for $2500 a month…. I got to meet Johnny and Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and .38 Special while they were recording there. Patti LaBelle, Foghat, James Brown, Peter Frampton as well as others made recordings there.
Just as fascinating as the fact that some great blues were recorded in Westport is the look of the house where it all happened.
Chicago or Memphis, it sure ain’t.