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Taters, and Other Fascinating People

bobbymurray.jpgDid you know that Taters is a highly accomplished professional musician? I asked him to write about his life:

Hi, my name is Bobby Murray, aka taters. I’m a musician and I play guitar. I’ve been with Etta James (whom I adore) for almost 20 years now, since ’88. We just got off the road, we did Kansas City, Council Bluffs, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, Anaheim a few others in SoCal & Northern CA. Then it was on to Oregon and Washington. Some of the dates included Al Green and pretty much all of them, we were with BB King. (Etta had her first hit record when she was fifteen and went steady with BB when she was sixteen. She says BB’s “Sweet Sixteen” was about her.)

I’m pretty comfortable on a tour bus. My forte is blues but I love and listen to all kinds of music. My classical guitar teacher threw me out of class after he admonished me for playing the Ray Charles classic “What’d I Say.” Even at the tender age of 12, I knew that blues was worthy of the same respect that any other music was worthy of. I’ll always be grateful to that teacher.

Taters (Bobby) continues:

Proudest moments would include performing at Bill Clinton’s first inaugurationand represnting the US with Etta in Barcelona at the ’93 WOMAD pre Olympic cultural fest. To hear all those languages in the hotel and to be with a musicians truly from allaround the world was a thrill I’ll never forget.

Less than proudest would include well that stuff isn’t worth mentioning, right?

Playing with Etta has afforded me many opportunities and I was fortunate to have played on two Grammy Award-winning recordings with her. I also played on a BB King recording which won a grammy. He is a mentor and a dear friend was and always will be a profound influence in my life. Seeing him on my seventeenth birthday reaffirmed what I wanted to be – a blues guitarist. I was with him and played forhim on his 70th birthday and I’m happy that I was with him on his 82nd, last week.
Here’s a link to a review of our last concert, in Washington, where our beloved Susan resides.

And here’s a link to my bio, I also lead my own band when I’m not w/Etta.

Please feel free to ask me any questions. And of course, one of my loves is being here with all of you here at No Quarter.

Love ya,
Bobby Murray aka tates

LINKS:
Here’s a link to a gig I did at the Monerey Blues Festival. It’s got a bio and a good friend linked it on his site. It’s also got an mp3 link to a song entitled “Here I Am” off my first CD entitled “The Blues Is Now” – released in 1996 and recently re released.

Bobby-Murray ( A link to my first solo recording)

Bobby with Etta:

AOL link

Link at CDBaby.

:::::::::

Susan speaking here: I saw a story about this young man today on CBS Sunday Morning (which is a show I tape every Sunday because it tells stories like these, and it has an overall positive tone that is heartening).

He spends his entire life hauling tons and tons of garbage — from refrigerators to bowling balls — out of rivers all over the country, and he’s inspired thousands of volunteers, and coastal cities and towns, to do the same:

Here’s Chad’s story:

In From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers (National Geographic Books), author and crusader Chad Pregracke, with Jeff Barrow, chronicles his incredible journey cleaning up America’s rivers one tire at a time. The book shares Chad’s personal story and the beginning of his grassroots organization, Living Lands & Waters, which has captured America’s imagination and motivated thousands of people across the country to clean up our country’s rivers and waterways. What started as one man’s crusade has become an ever-evolving worldwide movement to educate people and connect them with their environment.

While working as a commercial shell diver in high school and college, Chad was overwhelmed by the amount of trash that littered the bottom of the Mississippi, a shocking sight that launched him on a quest to do something. After four discouraging years seeking government help without success, Chad took his fundraising efforts private. He landed a corporate sponsor who was impressed by the environmentalist’s determination, passion and drive to make a difference.

Ten years later, Chad’s one-man project has grown into a $500,000 operation with more than 60 sponsors. Chad has accepted numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service, which is America’s version of the Nobel Prize for Public Service. His efforts have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Today Show, and countless other national and regional news outlets. His grassroots, can-do spirit thrives aboard a 135-foot barge that serves as home base for Living Lands & Waters, a floating environmental classroom and an inspiration to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Go here to find out how you can pitch in.

P.S. I checked how Chad’s book is doing, expecting it to be at around #21,000 in Amazon sales. It is #88 in sales. Wow. It seems a lot of people are interested in how to directly affect and improve the environment.

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  • http://bigearthweb.com/bobgodwin bobgodwin

    Believe I’ve seen you a few times here in the Detroit area. I play bass with Howard Glazer’s band, the EL34s.

  • Chris Vosburg

    Taters writes: Well Etta’s sons are good pool players….

    Yeah, hee hee, I hadda ask– great comeback, Taters. I always liked this story, whether true or not. Now I’m convinced!

  • taters

    Hi Chris,
    Well Etta’s sons are good pool players. Knowing her mom prior to her passing – and seeing a picture of Fats with her, perhaps a case can be made. As you know, Minnesota Fats was a hustler and did spend alot of time in LA’s South Central during that time. Which, besides being a community – was also a heady world of jazz night clubs, after hours joints and assorted other activities. Bassist, composer, and jazz legend Charles Mingus chronicles this period excellently in an autobiography.
    Etta believes it. I don’t believe DNA testing was done. Dorothy was also her name and she was a hoot. She passed a few years back. I have a bathrobe she made for me.
    Some of this info is available in Etta’s bio, co written by David Ritz, called “Rage to Survive.”

  • Chris Vosburg

    Never mind all that, Taters, what’s the troo fax: is the erstwhile Jamesetta the daughter of Minnesota Fats or not!!!?

    Seriously, Bobby, thanks for the links and bio, much appreciated.

  • wethornet

    taters, all.

    speaking of great music and movies. one of my all time favorites is “the committments.” dublin, ireland working class stiffs who belt out classic american r&b. (it might be the story of joe cocker; not sure.)

    came out in ’91. for those of you inside the beltway the missus and i saw in arlington, va. columbia pike and glebe road. arlington cinema draft house. (where you could get food and booze and watch the flick.)

    just flat out excellent.

    http://www.amazon.com/Commitments-Michael-Aherne/dp/6305622922/ref=pd_bbs_1/105-7831999-1467643?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1190709053&sr=1-1

    • Dee Loralei

      I loved the Committments, Wethorn, absolutely great music and singers, etc. My only quibble was some of the music was STAX and not Motown. But yea, I watched that movie twice in one evening, and I had never done that before. (Ok if you don’t countr Rocky Horror or Hair when I was in HS).

  • wethornet

    minor clarifications. meant to ask, can y’all remember the ed sullivan show? “we have a rea-l-l-y big sh-e-w-w-w-w-w for you tonight.”

    wasn’t trying to say do you remember ray charles on that particular show. that one episode.

    said ray was the master. that should be “a” master. many musical masters. (unrelated, but there’s a great book out about the subject of mastery by thomas leonard. much wisdom. leonard is awesome. very big in martial arts and many other things. akido.)
    ~~~
    also, meant to post a plug for the movie “ray” which i richly enjoyed.

  • Dee Loralei

    Wow, Taters, I love the blues. Iused to go down to Beale Street about twice a month with a good friend. Unfortunately her hubby got transfered to Richmond. And most of my other friends are too old or too married to want to hang out down there. I seriously need new friends (G)

    I’ve seen BB about 5 times at his club on Beale. I love their old house band, Ruby Wilson and the King Bees. But my fav place to just hang out is Rum Boogies, Jams Govan does all that super fun Stax stuff that just makes ya want to dance.

    Sounds like there may be enough musicians in here to start a No Quarter band LOL. Or to at least have a party and do the Que and blues thang.

    • taters

      Dee, Wow. A couple Stax artists I worked with are Little Milton, Johnnie Taylor and Carla Thomas. Carla is one of the sweetest folks. I met Ruby.
      We played Memphis in May and were sandwiched between Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

  • taters

    Mart,
    I’m lucky to be around you guys, and that’s no macaca. I mean that. Larry is someone I really admire and I’ve felt welcome here since day one. I’ve learned a lot from everyone here.

    Thinker,
    That’s really cool. I love Elmore, RJ, MW,CB and LR. Totally nuts about Howlin’ Wolf. I never recorded “Dust My Broom” – I don’t play slide but I can do a pretty close approximation on regular guitar. My wife was classically trained on piano – she played Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” back when we were dating. I’ll never forget it.

  • Thinker

    Taters, I have let it be known before that I am a concert trained pianist who is well known to those who know me. However I was brought up on blues and rock ‘n rolls. My earliest memories are of greats such as Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

    Has you created a verion of “I believe I’ll dust my broom”? If so I’d love to hear it.

  • Mart

    Taters, I’m completely blown away. Your one seriously talented dude, and NQ is lucky to have your voice.

  • Gray Lensman

    I had the pleasure of shaking Bobby’s hand at the last Etta concert at the Botanic Gardens in Denver. The concert was great and Etta looked and sounded fantastic. Bobby is a nice guy and a righteous blues guitar player with a snakeskin Strat.

    • taters

      Hiya Gray Lensman,
      I had the pleasure of shaking your hand. We did Red Rocks this time around, a gorgeous venue ‘though its not as upfront and personal as the Botanic. Hope all is well, thanks for the nice comment.

  • ybnormal

    Taters, you’re playing with Etta? I’m jealous! Seriously tho, kudos.

    I’ve often regretted giving up a music career for the day job, although the benefits plan was useful.

    And so the B3 continues to not leave the living room. At least I can play same at Sunday early AM service.

    • taters

      I love the B3, there’s nothing like it. Too cool, yb – do you kick pedals too?

      • ybnormal

        kick pedals too?

        I didn’t used to, because bands always had bass players. Since I started to play in the local church, it’s become necessity, obviously playing solo.

        The pipe organ in the big church needs a slower more melodic approach, but that Hammond in the chapel can really thump. (an older ’38-’45 Hammond BC with a tall 31H Leslie, like what Booker T. used on ‘Hip-Hug-Her’).

        • taters

          yb,
          I’ve been playing Hip Hug Her for years. :) I love Booker T & the MG’s. Steve Cropper is a friend.

  • wethornet

    taters haven’t read all the links….but, initial reaction: way kewl dude, way kewl.

    coincidently, (or not), a couple of hours ago i was cleaning my office and listened to a great cd the master, aka, ray charles has called, “sings for america.” many classics.

    one song i had never heard of was “hey mister.” (most) people here will flat out love it. puts our current difficulties w/ the u.s. congress in a righteous perspective.

    don’t wanna say i loved that puppy…..but i did play it like 7 times in a row. :-) :-)

    here’s a you tube of what’d i say. ray’s breakout hit. performed on the ed sullivan show — can y’all remember that show people?– on 3 dec. 1967. 2.40
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9h77KzF2iY

    here’s a real player version of “what’d i say,” the song that got our brother taters so fired up decades ago. 4.12.
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2q8er_ray-charles-whatd-i-say-live-1959_events?from=rss

    can’t find a video, or audio of “hey mister.”

    taters, or anybody, can ya help a brother? and post it here? it is a way cool song. (have i mentioned that?) :-)

    gotta run the little buggers in to school.

  • Sandy

    Omigosh, I had NO IDEA there were TWO Ettas — though my husband may have. The late Etta is the one we met….so since she died in 2001, it must have been in the late 90s after all. Hmmm. Gee, I’m disappointed now I didn’t meet Etta JAMES after all! AT LAST…..I LOVE that song. A true classic! Wow, she’s just great, so I’m glad to know you’ve had so many happy years working with her. What a wonderful life! (Though of course we know it can be hard as well.)

    Thanks for the kind words, Bobby Murray. Much appreciated!

    (wow, I’m so impressed….) (smile)

  • taters

    Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for the kind words. We certainly did our share of gigs in NY, perhaps we did have the pleasure of meeting.

    Actually it was the late Etta Jones who was married to tenor giant Houston Person. She was phenomenal. I love her “Don’t Go To Strangers” and pre dated Etta James’ entry into the music scene. They have a lot of commonalities and knew each other. Etta loves Etta, too. Kinda confusing, huh? I met Cedar Walton a few times and Etta James did record a couple of jazz recordings with him. Mixes it up even more, huh? :) Nice guy and a great player. He’s a giant. When Etta Jones passed, my phone was ringing off the hook.
    Here’s Etta James

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etta_James

    Etta Jones

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etta_Jones
    Thanks for responding Sandy. I appreciate you and look forward to reading your book. You’re amazing.
    PS Recently sat next to Kenny Garrett on airplane. I first met him in France. He’s from Detroit – great player and a super nice guy.

    Delia, Thanks The pleasure is mine, I assure you!

    Yeah, Leslie – I love all those artists that you mentioned. Brownie McGhee, Sticks’ brother and a famous and successful blues guitarist and singer was a friend. He had great stories – he was close with Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and recalled alot of the McCarthy hearing stuff. He was a friend of Burl Ives until Ives said all those guys were commies.
    Wow, Art Tatum? He was a genius.

    Brenda, I had my share of good times, good food and good music in Memphis. Great town, huh?
    Etta recorded a tune called “Wayward Saints” thats about Beale St.
    Dang, you got me thinking about catfish, BBQ and southern cooking!
    Bless you for what you’ve done and do.
    Off the music subject for a moment but still about Memphis – and in regards to a healer such as you – St Jude’s Children Hospital is there. Alot of the kids and parents stay at the Marriott there, its a wonderful arrangement. I like staying at that hotel.

    Susan, Our keyboard player in Etta’s band is named Dave Mathews. Dave Matthews and his band and a bunch of other bands including J Geils, BB, Etta, Elvin Bishop & Jimmy Vaughan were all that the same hotel in Davenport, Iowa.
    I met Dave Matthews and the band in the hotel bar – really nice guys, they invited us to their show. (I love his music) Anyway, after a few drinks, i introduced our Dave Mathews (one t) to THE Dave Matthews. (Two t’s) It was fun saying, “Dave Mathews, meet Dave Matthews”
    We kid our Dave Mathews ( Who has serious credits of his own, Tower of Power being one of many and he phenomenal keyboard player) about how he wasn’t specific enough in his prayers to the man upstairs in his request for making him rich, famous, and being on the cover of Rolling Stone. We tell him God anwered his prayed but our Dave didn’t say “One t” and it was the other Dave Matthews who got his request….

    • Brenda Stewart

      Yes Taters, St Jude is still producing great work for the children. It is simply amazing what they do! It really takes some great healers to stay there and get the work done for these kids. I say this with great respect for them. I woked in Childrens Hospital in NOLA for a while and saw for myself some of the most ill children ever. I could not do any more TDY work like this for it simply broke my heart..;o( Come back to Memphis and enjoy the good food. It is wonderful and I know you and others would love the enviroment as well. Beale St is a happening place for sure!!!! I personally am with great pleasure to know who you are. hugs and keep producing the great music…

  • Delia

    Wow, Taters, I love that mp3! Who’d have ever thought I’d be coming to No Quarter for the music?!

    Thanks for the introductions, Susan.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    Oooo, widgets, lots of widgets! :) [Susan confessed to me in an email recently that she's been having lots of fun with widgets. LOL.]

    WOW, Taters…I looooove the blues! Sticks McGhee, Art Tatum, Bobby Bland, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Leadbelly….

  • Brenda Stewart

    Oh my Heavens what this site has to offer…I am humbled!!!!!!!!!! I love to go to Beale St to listen to them there blues on the street..:o)Been there?..(wink, wink)

    Good to have met you there Sir. Thank you for presenting with us your wonderful comments and presence….hugs and keep up the wonderful work that you do…

  • Sandy

    Taters! Wow! Who would have dreamed it! Meeting you HERE! Unless….unless maybe we met you in New York!

    That is, my husband and I met the fabulous Miss Etta James…and her husband (tenor sax) Houston Person a few years back. Do I have his name right? Anyhow, my husband is…among other things (prof&scholar)…a professional jazz musician (piano). He’s 74, and after our son died we’d go to New York to let the jazz music there that he loves so much help us heal…and transport us from our grief. He loves be bop in particular; he’s 74. We LOVE Cedar Walton, and Mulgrew Miller….and all KINDS of people there. Maybe YOU were there? It was at the Jazz Standard sometime around 2000 or thereafter.

    I just went downstairs to make supper, and hubbie was playing a favorite CD with Terrence Hargrove (on trumpet) and Kenny Garrett (alto sax). Love the music!

    How wonderful to hear about what you do! You have spent your life well! Giving joy to so many like us….devoted music fans!

    I’m still boggled “meeting” you here! Thanks, Susan! BIG SMILES!!!

    All the best!

  • http://noquarterusa.net/ SusanUnPC

    More fascinating people:

    Sean Penn — Charlie Rose did a great interview of Penn about his new movie, and about his politics, on Friday. You can watch it here. (Penn talks about how, whatever you think of Chavez, he has engendered intense interest in the vast majority of Venezuela’s people in politics, and they PARTICIPATE!, whether or not they agree with Chavez. That’s huge, and unseen in this country.)

    And I just noticed that Charlie is interviewing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday! That should be a must-see.

    My daughter called me this weekend and asked me why people are so upset that Ahmadinejad wants to lay a wreath at Ground Zero. I couldn’t give her an intelligent reason.

  • taters

    Susan,
    Yes, with Albert Collins. I brought Albert to the Blue Moon one night to see Robert and introduced them. The two became lifelong friends. It was Albert who gave me my first job on the road (After I left Robert & the band)and encouraged my move to CA. I had some good times there at the Blue Moon. At least that’s how I remember it… :)
    There were some great record shops in the U District, too.

    The band in high school with Robert was called Steakface. We were a rock band.
    Here’s link to a site called Pacific Northwest Bands.
    http://pnwbands.com/steakface.html

    After HS, the blues bug had bitten hard. Then we became Robert Cray & the Crayolas and eventually the Robert Cray Band.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/ SusanUnPC

    And Dave Mathews. My daughter saw him walking down the street recently, just after his guest appearance on “House, M.D.,” in which he was very good.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/ SusanUnPC

    Robert Cray too. Say, Bobby, did you ever play at the Blue Moon Tavern in the U District of Seattle?