Interview with Magic Slim and the Teardrops 2002
Concert photos from Tucson, Arizona
by Tracie Reed
Despite the bus trouble on the way to the Nimbus Brewery in Tucson, AZ. because of bad gas used for the tour bus, Magic Slim and the Teardrops managed to make it in time.
They rocked the house on a Saturday night, November 16, 2002, packed with their fans dancing and cheering on for Magic Slim as he makes his way from the back of the room playing his guitar and heads to the stage. The concert was brought to Tucson by Terry O Productions.
This legendary blues player really knows how to get people moving to the great soothing sound of the blues as the Teardrops played songs from the "Magic Blue," their latest CD.
"Blue Magic" is the fifth release by Magic Slim and the Teardrops for Blind Pig Records. It was produced by Popa Chubby and recorded in Blind Pig's vintage Chicago warehouse.
Standing well over six feet, Slim fills the room with his slash and burn guitar technique and booming vocals.
I asked Magic Slim some personal questions about himself before his Tucson performance.
Slim tells me he writes his own lyrics. His favorite guitar is the Jazz Master. He owns four guitars now, but about three or four others were stolen.
Have you ever heard yourself on the radio? "No, not music- only talking," he replies.
Slim likes working with Popa Chubby. "Chubby is a crazy guy like me," he said, "We come together." Slim plays songs four to five times while in the studio. Chubby had once said to him, "Give it your best shot and lets see what it is." On this last CD, Slim says, he only had to play one song twice.
Have you ever returned to Florence, Chicago to play or visit? Florence is where Magic Slim had played when he first started out.
"Florence is torn down. Florence had passed away. The old building wasn't sitten up right. It was about to fall down so they had to take it down. "
What is Slim's all time favorite singer?
"It's just like a favorite song. I know so many songs. I just love listening to blues period."
If you could do it all over again would you?
"Sure, sure without a doubt. Yes, I sure would."
Favorite drink? "Bourbon Whiskey, Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey. When you drink good whiskey, drink water with it. It don't make me sick. Last 12 to 15 years it's been Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, and Gin. My three things. Comin' up in Mississippi, I used to drink corn whiskey, white whiskey."
What are your favorite foods were?
His reply, "Beef, chicken, fish, and ribs. I like all kinds of foods."
Is this your first time playing in Tucson?
"No," he replied, "I played here once about six or seven years ago at the Rock.
Do you think you will return to Tucson soon?
"I hope so," he responds. Hopefully it will be for his next CD.
Do you plan on making more CD's in the future?
"Well, I'm gonna try and do what I can as long as I've got my health. The more records we make, when I retire I'll be able to have money coming in. I ain't thinking about not retiring yet. I've got my health. I don't have heart trouble. I don't have high blood pressure."
Have you ever had a chance to play with B.B. King?
"Yeah, yeah, sure have. Ray Charles, B.B. King and all of them. I have been on show with them. We have been on tour together. We rode the bus for three weeks in Europe. I was with them all up there - Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughn - a lot of them. Chuck Berry. I've been around all of them. Me, B.B. - all of them get drunk together on the bus."
Have you ever written lyrics together? "We didn't do lyrics together for one, because I didn't want them to know what I was like."
Slim has two sons. Do you see any of your style in your kids?
"Yeah! My baby boy - he's 25 now. He plays when I'm at home. He has his little gigs, you know. He takes me down there with him. Yes, he gets up on stage. 'You know what, dad?' he says, 'I'm gonna have to getchya now.' He's good. But ,when I get tired of him, I set him down. Yeah! I set him down. I say alright I'm tired of you now. I go way back and get one of those old blues and tear the house up with it. 'Cause he can't play the old blues now. He says, 'Dad you know I came out here with you. But I don't want to make you play. ' I said, 'OK.' But he's good."
Do you have your kids help you write your lyrics?
"When I write my lyrics down," he replied, "like I am now, sittin' up in the hotel and I get tired of watching TV, I sit down and I write three or four words down. Then later, like tomorrow, I'll write three or four more. I put them together that way. After I get it all down, then I go and take something or add something. You know, just to make it rhyme. That's how I do it." Slim explains that he plays by ear.
What do you think of music today?
"It's OK. It's a lot of a young whites and blacks playing the blues. But one thing whites and blacks are doing - they put to much funk in it. It's not real They put to much funk. Oh, it's all good. But they put a little to much funk in it. Stick to the roots when your doing it. Most of them spiff it up. I can understand that. But, it don't sound half as good. You hear something sometimes it sounds better. But your either gonna play the blues or your gonna play rock or gonna play funk. Stick to what you do. I'm a blues player. I play up tempo blues. I play ballad blues, belly rubbin' blues."
Magic Slim asked if I knew what belly rubbin' blues is. He explained, " When you dance close, you know. That's belly rubbin' blues." I replied, "OK! You learn something new every day. " Slim laughs and talks in a deep voice which reminds me of how Wolfman Jack, the famous disc jockey, had sounded.
Do you ever get in a quarrel in your band? "Do we fight? Yeah, we fight every day. We don't physically fight. We don't do that."
I read that you've played with Pearl Jam? How was that? "Good! Great! Yeah! I told ya. I been around all of them."
If there's anybody that you haven't played with, who would it be? "I don't know. Because I have been with all the top players."
"When I was little," Slim reminisces, "I got a whoopin' 'cause I tore up my mama's broom. I got the steel wire off of it and leaned it upside down of the wall. Then I put a bottle down there and a bottle on top. I did one of those nine inch jobs. Small." Slim hums and motions his fingers like as if he were playing the steel wire when he was little.
"She whipped me 'cause I tore up the broom and 'cause I didn't tell her. She also told me to absolutely always ask for what you want. She says she would have given it to me. She says she'd would have it fixed it if she'd know that I wanted it that bad. What I'd got whipped you for was 'cause I didn't ask. I was mad at her for about 20 minutes. But it's good that I didn't say nothin'. Then she'd got me a real one. But mother and father are all gone now. "
Slim does have siblings. One of his sisters is 67 years old. Magic Slim himself is 65.
I asked Slim if he still gets nervous before the show. He tells me he used to.
The performance at the Nimbus Brewery in Tucson, Arizona was their last show for the tour.
If you haven't heard Magic Slim and the Teardrops then you've got to catch them when they are in town or nearby. Check out their CD's new and old.
These guys really know how to have a good time. Magic Slim is a very nice man and very talented.
I can say there is only one original Slim. That's Magic Slim. So, will the real Slim please stand up?